by Za’chary Westbrook
“Operation Righteous Cowboy Lightning” 4 out of 5
Well, it’s finally happened, the switch to KableTown and the inevitable everyone forgetting that that is a thing. So, with jabs at corporate mergers up on the shelf, we get the return of “Why reality TV is crap”. A 30 Rock soap box that is near and dear to my heart.
Reality TV jab #1: Now that Angie Jordan has her own reality show (complete with Meth addict nephew), the cameras are following Tracy who has been nominated for an Oscar for his role in Hard To Watch: Based off the book “Stone Cold Bummer” by Manipulate. So, the cameras want crazy, but Tracy is trying to look respectable, while still blowing off his duties as usual.
Liz, seeing Tracy trying to be a model actor, attempts to exploit this by dragging him through extended rehearsals etc., to which he must agree. However, Tracy is a committed lunatic, and starts singing his crazed actor prima donnas to the tune of Uptown Girl, which the producers don’t have rights to. Liz gets the world’s largest auto-tuner (seriously, Lemon, just download ‘I Am T-Pain’) and Tracy responds by putting on a NY Rangers helmet; copyrighted logo, which works somehow because whoever is doing this reality show hasn’t figured out how to blur things.
Meanwhile, Jack is chasing the ratings unicorn of an exclusive disaster benefit. Disasters happen, celebs do a benefit, but every station has it, so no one benefits. The things take too long to prepare. So, Jack begins recording a fill-in-the-blanks disaster relief with Robert de Niro reading off every possible disaster including one involving getting drunk at Appleby’s (when you reach that stage, you have found a very dark place).
When the disaster does strike, a tropical storm near fiji, Jack launches Operation Righteous Cowboy Lightning in a moment of Jared Hess eloquence. But then, “TWIST”, the island devastated by the storm belongs to Mel Gibson. His house, his cars’ house and his sex jacuzzi have all been devastated and pre-recorded Jenna is pleading with people to give money for Mel and reality TV jab #2: Jon Gosselin.
Meanwhile, meanwhile, the writers were working on every possible disaster for Jack’s relief prep, when they realized New York could be hit and put together a plan. A plan which, ultimately, hinged on otherwise useless Lutz having a car. This begins a Bachelor-esque competition to love on Lutz, even though, reality TV jab #3: Lutz doesn’t have a car.
Even the resolutions jab at reality TV’s “magic. We call it ‘staging it’ or ‘lying’.” A recut scene becomes an apology between Liz and Tracy, complete with stand-in actors. Lutz is left weeping on the street. Jack’s disaster relief was so horrible, it was reality TV dynamite. Huzzah.
This is 30 Rock doing what it does best; heavy-handed satire with enough outrageousness to make the heavy-handed part feel natural. Of course, like all great satire, it goes unheeded, but there’s comfort in knowing that it’s out there. Also, this episode got every character in and doing their thing. We have Liz trying to control the crazy of others without compromising her own (“I would angle so you get no boob!”), Tracy finding increasingly bizarre ways to entertain himself (“I’m trying to buy an island!”), Jenna cluelessly attention whoring (“I’ll do it! But I hate my dress.”), Jack being too-honest about TV execs (“Ssh, shh, Lemon it’s okay.”); even the writers get their moments, each one throwing their specific quirk into the competition for Lutz’s seat belts (Kenneth: “Right before the ark leaves, I’m supposed to castrate reverend Gary.”).
Of course, this doesn’t quite match the high tension ridiculous of “MILF Island” or even the character tension we got last week in “Mrs. Donaghy”, but this is still 30 Rock doing what we tune in to see it do. Non-sequiturs on top of jokes on top of gags.
WORST LINE: But I’m so identified with New York, you bloody tosser.