The Morning Round-Up: '30 Rock' & 'Suburgatory' reviews
It's (very late) morning round-up time, with quick reviews of last night's "30 Rock" and "Suburgatory" coming up just as soon as I own a Fuddrucker's with Scottie Pippen...
Four years ago, Tina Fey was responsible for me declaring my blog a No Politics zone. It wasn't her fault, but rather the insane, hostile reactions — from both sides of the aisle, I should note — whenever we attempted to discuss her Sarah Palin impression on "SNL." I've tried to keep both the old blog and this one pretty free of political discussion because it's unfortunately become one of those subjects that very few people in this country can discuss with any civility anymore. That said, it's occasionally unavoidable (when writing about, say, a David Simon show), and while I ultimately begged off writing about last week's "30 Rock,"(*) I thought last night's episode was both balanced enough and ultimately apolitical that I'm comfortable dipping a toe into these waters. (And if I'm proven wrong and people can't behave, well, then I'll just shut down the comments like I did for my "Game Change" review.) Just remember: we are here to talk about the show, not about the merits of Romney or Obama. Thank you.
(*) In part because "The Voice" is now going to air tonight due to Sandy, and in part because NBC wants to have "30 Rock" end on a specific date, they decided at the last minute to plug this episode in place of the last scheduled episode of "Animal Practice." Based on comments to an earlier post today, the decision was made late enough that most DVRs still listed it as an "Animal Practice" ep, so you only saw it if you either knew in advance to record it or happened to channel surf past it.
Where last week's episode tried to talk about issues a bit, "There's No I in America" became more of a straight competition between Jack (who admits he doesn't much like Romney, but likes the idea of a super-rich president) and Liz (who's so politically illiterate that she can't name a single thing Obama has achieved in office. The Pete subplot (an excellent showcase for the underused Scott Adsit) dealt a bit with the disappointment some Democrats feel compared to the great optimism of 2008, but was mainly a funny (and oddly poignant) story about the suffering of poor Pete Hornberger. And many of the episode's best jokes (Liz's ringtone for her gynecologist is "Surfin' Bird," Liz's impression of 1968 Jack, the running gag about why Tracy was banned from Twitter) had little or nothing to do with the election plot. I wouldn't call this two-parter a high point of this young final season, but I can appreciate a former "SNL" head writer wanting to satirize an election one more time while she still has a venue in which to do it.
"Suburgatory," meanwhile, gave us a sweet episode, with Dallas once again serving as the show's best example of a character who's simultaneously a cartoon and very human, Dalia continuing to be so funny (this time with her list of the attributes that make every one of her mom's previous beaus superior to George) that it doesn't matter that she's more two-dimensional, and Ryan Shay landing in the middle ground between the two. (The only false note of the whole Shay family storyline is the idea that Lisa has a nicer room than Ryan, and/or that she gets to choose her Monopoly piece ahead of him, given all we know about how Fred and Sheila spoil him and shun her.) Tessa and Ryan with a baby both clicked (whether Tessa singing "Sussudio" in the dark or Ryan cooing "Shut up" over and over), and even a Noah-centric subplot didn't bother me for once (though it helped that it was so brief).
My one real complaint is something that the creative team can't entirely help, and that I raised midway through last season: more than any other ABC sitcom, the way the network structures its shows (with one more commercial break than sitcoms on the other networks have) makes every episode feel really choppy, even when watched on Hulu or a DVR. There just isn't enough time for scenes to breathe, especially in an episode with this many stories, because the show has to race towards its next act break. (George and Dallas' first date, and the way that H. Jon Benjamin's unlicensed life coach disrupted it, felt particularly hurt by this.) Short of trimming the cast and number of stories (which I wouldn't object to but assume Emily Kapnek would), I'm not sure how to solve this. But a solid outing overall.
What did everybody else think? And, again, please keep it civil and away from the election itself.
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
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 | 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
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
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
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
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
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 | 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
Let Streaming Genie help you.