Apr 21, 2011

30 Rock: 100 Episodes, 20 Hours of Comedy

The 100th episode of 30 Rock may not have been the show's best hour (the bar is set SO high), but it gave fans pretty much everything that they wanted: meta commentary, tons of guest stars, flashbacks, and some emotionally resonant character notes. Let's take a look back, shall we? (Also, click to enlarge the pictures - They're meant to be enjoyed at the highest definition!)

Jealousy, Love, Betrayal, Comedy
Down to the plot:
Due to a gas link in the GE Comcast Kabletown building, everyone in the TGS is experiencing vivid, nostalgic (not to mention convenient) flashbacks and hallucinations. Janitor Michael Keaton needs to fix the leak fast, as the 100th episode of 30 Rock TGS with
Tracy Jordan is airing and the fate of the show hangs in the balance!

One of the best things that the show did in the hour was quick references to oft-forgotten plot points of the first season. The only skit we see is Pam, the Overly Confident, Morbidly Obese Woman (who apparently has appeared in 107 skits over the 100 episode run of TGS), who was the first skit in pilot - natch!  We also get more explanation as to why Pete was fired in the pilot (a nice moment for Scott Adsit and a reminder of how the once sweet Pete has become so weirdly and amazingly demented over the course of five seasons), the welcome return of Rachel Dratch as the Blue Dude and animal trainer Legreta Johansen, Dr. Leo Spaceman, strip clubs, Tracy screaming "I am a Jedi!," and so much more. It was call-back-a-palooza, and it was glorious!

Does anybody work around here?
The gas leak also caused hallucinations and weird reactions from the cast and crew at TGS. New cast member Danny (Cheyenne Jackson) started flashing back to old Josh episodes, slowly but surely losing his grip on reality. Jenna gets it in her head that the best way to be famous and loved is to be pregnant, which results in a very real looking hysterical pregnancy (because it is Jane Krakowski's real pregnancy). Of course, as Dr. Spaceman points out, all pregnancies are hysterical because they involve a penis. Liz's light-headedness results in her calling Dennis Duffy, who is still a good fifteen years behind in technology and ready to settle for Liz (flashes of Wesley Snipes). Tracy's hallucinations lead him to believe that the only way to be seen as crazy is to shoot Kenneth (who is more than happy to go along with it). And Jack is confronted by his past, alternate, and future versions of himself, all pulling him in different directions.

The show had lots of guest stars, including Rachael Ray (blerg times 2), Brian Williams, Matt Lauer, Michael Keaton (Mr. Mom), and a great turn by Tom Hanks, who, in the space of fifteen seconds, used a special red phone to call George Clooney to alert him of Tracy Jordan's impending B-Status, worked on some sort of rug or throw pillow, and sang the theme song to Bosom Buddies. American Treasure Alert!

Is that drunk drunk or Business drunk? Either way it's legal to drive
Even with all the guests and craziness, Jack and Liz are very much the focus of this episode, which examines their relationship over the past five years. They have become increasingly co-dependent, and Jack fears that he should have fired Liz five years ago when he had the chance. Perhaps his over-mentoring has made him softer and maybe he should have gotten out of NBC and moved up the GE corporate ladder when he had the chance. And maybe Liz should have kept dating Dennis, freak though he is. But Jack and Liz belong together (in a completely platonic sense, 'shippers), so the end of 30 Rock's 100th episode sees Jack and Liz, standing at the podium that they stood at five years ago, filled with gas-induced laughter. And they're better for it.

Syndication, here we come! If this show doesn't last another ten years, my mood level may drop 'til I pee myself:

So, Tableau-niacs, what did you think of the episode? Favorite Moments? What was up with that creepy closing tag? And what are some of your favorite episodes so far?  I'm still partial to "Rosemary's Baby" and "Succession", but I'm open to your thoughts.
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