Morning TV Round-Up: '30 Rock' & 'The Office'
It's morning round-up time, with thoughts on last night's "30 Rock" and "The Office" coming up just as soon as I talk on my Bluetooth to a guy at the octopus auction...
Tina Fey and Liz Lemon are not the same person, though they often share similar concerns and beliefs. It's not hard to look at a "30 Rock" episode like "Mazel Tov, Dummies" and imagine Fey the executive producer (and/or the episode's writer, Tracey Wigfield) and Liz the character struggling to reconcile their desire to have Liz be married and to have it not be a traditional wedding. And I think both pulled it off. Liz got to be a princess, but it was Princess Leia (the costume making its third appearance on the show, I believe, along with the second appearance of Saul Rosenbear), the rings were from a police auction (and one wasn't a ring but a grill), Dennis and his drunken wife and their adopted son Black Dennis were the witnesses along with Jack (who read from "The Fountainhead," because of course he did), and yet there was an obvious joy to it — and not just because Tony Bennett(*) was there to serenade the newlyweds. An amusing, sweet, very "30 Rock" approach to the kind of trope you so often see in a final sitcom season like this.
(*) Hands up, everyone who thought they would just put Alec Baldwin in his "SNL" Bennett makeup rather than produce the genuine article.
Tracy's misery at having to grow old and start living like an adult wasn't exactly a new theme for the show — we saw him go in a similar funk after he EGOTed — but the variations were amusing, and any chance to have Alec Baldwin play a great figure of American history — this time trying to sexily eat corn on the cob as Harriet Tubman — is a welcome one. Plus, that subplot in the same episode as the wedding meant we got the rare treat of a half hour featuring both Dennis and Dr. Spaceman.
Meanwhile, last night's "The Office" was one of the better outings of what's been an uneven but improved final season. Andy's off on his boat so that Ed Helms could go and do a movie (just as Jim's time in Philly will be used to justify the same for Krasinski), and his temporary absence has relaxed the atmosphere nicely and spread the wealth a bit more among the ensemble. The Jim/Phyllis/Stanley drunken lunch and Pete's house of complaint cards both felt like the kind of smaller stories the show would have told in its early days (though the latter made Pete even more blatantly into New Jim), and most of the characters have started to feel like themselves again.
Dwight arranging a hitman for Angela was definitely on the broader side of things, but I have to admit to laughing at their their attempt to get Toby (who, for some reason, has always been the person Dwight goes to with sex questions, going back to him asking, "What is the clitoris?" back in season 2's "Sexual Harassment") to explain gay sex to them. It's completely cartoonish, in the same way Kevin is now, yet sometimes a cartoonish gag on a realistic show can be pushed so far that it becomes funny despite not fitting in with the rest. And some of Angela's conversations in that story's second half were the most human she's been in a while.
What did everybody else think?
1993 | Sports | PGSummary: Emotionally powerful sports classic featuring Sean Astin as a skinny high school kid with big football dreams and the determination to make his way towards his dream team at Notre Dame.Director: David Anspaugh
Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
2008 | Science Fiction | PGSummary: Animated series continues the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they battle the Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous, but also takes time to explore other smaller characters in the Star Wars universe.Director: George Lucas (creator)
Cast: Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter
1997 | Crime | RSummary: Quentin Tarantino adaptats an Elmore Leonard novel into this story of a few increasingly desperate people scraping to get by. It has deep soul, a wicked sense of humor, and Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro, Pam Grier, and Robert Forster.Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster
2013 | Drama | RSummary: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have boundless energy in the story of a real-life commodities crook who earned millions through scummy small-time stock trades.Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
1995 | Mystery | NRSummary: Denzel Washington plays an out of work WWII vet who takes the wrong job and is soon neck-deep in a mess of politics, murder, and jazz in '40s Los Angeles.Director: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
2007 | Comedy | PGSummary: Newlyweds Nick (Ice Cube) and Suzanne (Long) decide to move to the suburbs to provide a better life for their two kids. But their idea of a dream home is disturbed by a contractor (McGinley) with a bizarre approach to business.Director: Steve Carr
Cast: John C. McGinley, Ice Cube, Nia Long, Aleisha Allen
2013 | Thriller | RSummary: Based on the true story of Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) a Miami bodybuilder who wants to live the American dream. He would like to have the money that other people have. So he enlists the help of fellow bodybuilder Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and ex-convict, Christian bodybuilder Paul Doyle (D...Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub
1996 | Crime | RSummary: Jerry, a small-town Minnesota car salesman is bursting at the seams with debt... but he's got a plan. He's going to hire two thugs to kidnap his wife in a scheme to collect a hefty ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. It's going to be a snap and nobody's going to get hurt... until people start ...Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Cast: William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare
2013 | Comedy | NRSummary: Insanely funny comedy show created by Amy Schumer, who stars in brilliantly funny sketches about sex, city living, dating, and friendship.Director: Daniel Powell, Amy Schumer (creators)
Cast: Amy Schumer, Kevin Kane, Mike Houston
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