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30 Rock 2.13: Button Classic Monday, April 28, 2008

Posted by The Bad One in the balls.
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Don Geiss (Welcome back, Rip Torn) is in to see Jack at his office, but he’s feeling the effects of his diabetes. Meanwhile, future son-in-law Devon Banks is off picking out floral arrangements with Cathy. In Devon’s case, this consists mostly of flirting with the flower shop employee about Fire Island. Maybe he’ll run into Will. In the background, Cathy’s testing out the edibility of the arrangements. She’s probably been watching a little too much Bear Grylls. Don appears to let Jack down softly about the GE chairmanship, but it’s a feint:  Jack will be his successor. Jack immediately reddens and begins to well up. It’s hard to tell if he’s happy or having another cardiac episode. Don: “You get one cry in life; you’ve chosen well!” “When will this be made public, sir?” asks Jack. “I want my mother to know before she dies so that she goes to her grave a defeated woman.” Geiss says that it has to be presented to the board and Jack has to get his successor in place. Well, now that we’ve got our plots in line, time for the credits.

Liz is ripping into Frank. The virus he downloaded onto her computer lost an all-nighter’s worth of material. “You idiot, with your stupid face! You look like Gene Simmons had sex with a basset hound!” We’re talking about Gene Simmons, so this isn’t an unlikely scenario. Frank tries to defend himself. “First of all, the subject of the email was ‘Check this out’. Do you expect me not to open that? And second of all, it is your fault, ’cause if you hadn’t created the show, we wouldn’t even be here.” Liz starts to lose it. “I had dreams! I was going to live with the gorillas!” She flounces off.

Grizz is doing some sort of card trick with Kenneth, who guesses that Grizz’s card is the eight of diamonds. It is, but Grizz pretends he’s wrong. Tracy:  “Pay attention to me! I’m inconsolable!” Tracy drove to his son’s school to deliver his flute, only to discover that it was Bring Your Dad To School Day. Finding out that Tracy, Jr. was too embarrassed by his own father to invite him, Tracy, Sr. took it well. By which I mean he took his shirt off and danced around with the banner while weeping. Tracy:  “I gotta do something important so that my children will respect me. Like be a senator, or a wizard.” Dotcom suggests that he open a school in Africa like Oprah, but Tracy shouts “Eureka!” They should call Eureka; she always has good ideas.

Liz is reading More Human Than We: My Life With the Great Apes in a storage area when Jack finds her. “Oh, Jack. I was just reading about gorilla researchers for a sketch we’re doing making fun of them. For devoting their lives to the jungle and its noble inhabitants.” Beautiful reading by Tina Fey. Jack lets her in on the secret of his succession. He paints his approval as a formality, as the board is made up of Geiss’s golf buddies, hunting buddies, unemployable family members, and his hunting dogs. And in walks Devon Banks. Jack:  “Ever since they cast Clay Aiken in Spamalot, I knew it was only a matter of time before you showed up here.” Banks has decided to hold his bachelor party on the TGS stage, and Jack is invited. As Banks walks off, Jack warns Liz that Devon can’t be trusted. “Stay clear of him, little buddy,” he advises as he gives her a push on the shoulders. It’s hilarious every time I watch it. Give Alec Baldwin another Emmy.

Tracy’s having trouble coming up with an idea. “Why’s leaving your children a legacy that’ll live forever so hard? It’s been almost half an hour.” Kenneth and Tracy decide to take a break so he can clear his thoughtsicles. He’s trying to choose between video games and porn when inspiration strikes:  A porn video game. It’s worth noting that Tracy’s copy of Army:  Game of Death is rated “Y:  Yes For Everyone” and I’m pretty sure T.O. was photoshopped off the cover of Thick Thighs.

Liz can’t get the doors on the elevator to close before Banks worms his way in. Her attempt to deflect his questions about Jack is wildly transparent, then she flubs the question about Jack and sale of NBC to the Germans, revealing that he was off canoodling with CC while Liz was practicing her language skills. Devon:  “Oh, god. That was so easy. Like taking candy from one of those guys who gives out candy at gay nightclubs.” Liz threatens Devon, telling him that if Geiss hears about the Germans, he’ll also hear about the security camera footage of Banks cheating on his daughter with another woman. Banks realizes what she means as Liz launches her face at him. He escapes when the elevator opens its doors and tears off down the hall. Liz taunts him down the hallway. “You loved it!”

Frank is telling Tracy that he just doesn’t think Tracy’s porn video game is possible. History’s greatest perverts have failed at it, all due to the Uncanny Valley. “As artificial representations of humans become more and more realistic, they reach a point where they stop being endearing and become creepy.” “Tell it to me in Star Wars,” asks Tracy.

Frank: We like R2D2 and C3PO.

Tracy: They’re nice.

Frank: And up here we have a real person, like Han Solo.

Tracy: He acts like he doesn’t care, but he does.

Frank: But down here we have a CGI Stormtrooper or Tom Hanks in The Polar Express.

Tracy: Get me out of here! I’m scared!

Tracy won’t accept that the Uncanny Valley is something he can’t work around. His genius will not be denied. “I’m like Mozart. You’re like that guy that was always jealous of Mozart.” Sounds like Frank’s going to get a bullet courtesy of Butch Cassidy.

Jack and Liz are viewing the security camera footage. “Wow. Well played, Lemon.” Liz:  “To get through it, I pretended he was a sandwich.” At this display of loyalty, Jack starts thinking. He wants to know where do Liz sees herself in five years. “Realistically, teaching improv on cruise ships.” Jack has a different idea:  He’s promoting her to head of East Coast Television and Microwave Oven Programming. Liz doesn’t think she has the temperament of an executive, but when he shows her the position’s starting salary, she gasps and slaps him. She stomps into the writers’ room. “Suck it, monkeys! I’m goin’ corporate!”

Liz, in a suit and with her hair up, is out to lunch with Jack and some other executives, and the prospect of the board meeting comes up. Liz:  “Hey guys, let’s change the subject to Sucking at Golf so Donaghy has something to talk about.” She apologizes to him; she doesn’t know where that came from and she’s feeling pretty drunk. Jack:  “It’s Business Drunk. It’s like Rich Drunk. Either way, it’s still legal to drive.” They decide to get down to business, and Jack presents the new microwave start button they’ve spent $10M on so far. Liz skeptically says she kinda liked the old button. “Button Classic, I love it,” says Jack and the rest of the table enthusiastically agrees. Liz just saved the company $2M in future R&D. She’s worried she’s wrong, but Jack explains that there is no wrong, you just need a subordinate to push the blame onto, like Jorgenson across the table. Jack tells her he thinks she’s ready to meet the old man. Liz:  “Jeez, Jack. Offer to buy a girl dinner first.” “Classic Lemon!” chuckles an old guy.

Kenneth has never seen Tracy so dedicated to a project before. “My genius has come alive, like toys when your back is turned,” explains Tracy. He sees the potential for erotica everywhere. Pete comes to fetch Tracy over to wardrobe, but when Tracy tells him what he’s doing, Pete demands that everyone leave him to his work. Frank jealously expresses his skepticism.

Liz sloshes into the writers’ room. “Hey nerds, guess who’s got two thumbs, speaks limited French, and hasn’t cried once today? This moi!” Pete fears Liz’s abandonment, but she reassures him that she’s going to promote him up to the ranks of the executives. She shows him his starting salary. He gasps and slaps her. She smiles back.

Later, in a dressing room adjacent to Devon’s bachelor party, Liz meets Geiss. He’s already heard about her pioneering work on Button Classic. Geiss’s blood sugar is low, so he asks her to go pick him up something from the dessert tray.

Back in Amadeus, Frank asks Kenneth whether a passed-out Tracy has finished. He hasn’t, but he was up for over six straight hours working on it. Frank picks up some of Tracy’s notes. “My god, he’s a genius.”

Jack and Liz are at the bachelor party, watching Devon. Liz:  “Ugh, look at that loser. Sitting all alone and sad. He’s like me yesterday. I hate him.” Jack is actually starting to feel sorry for Banks. Liz:  “Boy, you got your period? Woo! Business Drunk! More business juice, please?” She suddenly remembers about Geiss and hurries off, while Jack goes over to Banks. He sees how miserable Devon is and tells him not to marry Cathy; it may not be worth it. He lies, “She loves that I work out a lot and talk to people, and I love how she enjoys crawling into cabinets and vents and other enclosed spaces. Like behind the dryer, for instance.” Jack thinks Devon’s misery is due to the impending nuptials, but Banks laces into him that it isn’t the wedding that has him down; it’s that he knows Jack will be Geiss’s successor. “Geiss told me it was going to be you, Jack. At my own sham bachelor party.”

Liz apologizes to Geiss for taking so long, but he doesn’t respond to that, due in large part to his being unconscious.

Jack is sympathizing with Devon, as they’re the only ones who know the sacrifices required for the job. Banks:  “It’s like when Christian won Project Runway even though Rami was clearly the better draper.” OK, but draping was the only thing Rami could do, guy. The real issue was Christian looking like a Blue States Lose candidate. Banks leaves to go call off the wedding. Liz arrives and tells Jack that she thinks Geiss is dead. He immediately goes to call Dr. Spaceman.

Spaceman races through the halls, his cloak billowing behind him as a classical choral piece plays under the scene in a great homage. Cut to Tracy furiously dictating his opus to Frank. “Duet becomes a trio; trio becomes a quartet; and on and on! Do you have it?” Spaceman stops his run to buy some candy from the vending machine, repaired after its attempt on Pete’s life last week. Frank sweeps everything off his desk, furiously jealous. “I’ve given my whole life to porn, and he does it in one day! ONE DAY!”

Dr. Spaceman has arrived at Geiss’s bedside. “To the untrained eye, he’d appear to be what we in the medical community call ‘sleeping’. But he is, in fact, in a diabetic coma, which could’ve been avoided by what we call ‘eating’.” Spaceman squeamishly gives Geiss an injection. When it doesn’t work, he expresses his disappointment that the placebo had no effect. “I was hoping this was psychological. He may not be faking it for attention.” In pops Jorgenson, recognizing Geiss passed out on the couch. As more people gather, Jack tries to explain Geiss’s condition and put himself in charge, but some have reservations about a power grab. Banks, the only one who can provide independent confirmation, sees his chance to get back in the race and denies all knowledge and feigns distress. Meanwhile, Dr. Spaceman can’t remember if he’s supposed to call 411 or 911. The operator picks up. “New York. Uh, ‘Diabetes Repair’, I guess.”

The next day, Liz is expressing her doubts to Jack whether she’s cut out for life as an executive. Jack agrees that almost killing Don Geiss was not her finest hour, but hey:  Button Classic. He’s confident the board will see he’s the best candidate and follow Geiss’s wishes. In walks Banks. There will be no meeting after all, as he convinced the board to hold an emergency meeting last night. “I tried to call you, but not on a phone, so you may not have heard me.” The board agreed with him that continuity was what’s needed now and appointed Cathy Geiss to fill her father’s place. “Of course, she’s going to need some guidance. But that’s what her fiancee is for.” To add insult to injury, he’s taking Jack’s office.

There’s no question, this show has its fastball back following the hiatus. Both last week’s episode and this one are two of the best of Season 2, alongside Carrie Fisher’s episode. Will Arnett is great; he plays Devon Banks like the opposite side of the GOB coin. I’m glad we’ll be seeing more of him in future episodes.



1. DougOLis - Tuesday, April 29, 2008

“Suck it, monkeys! I’m goin’ corporate!” may be one of the best lines in the show’s brief history

So we are going to be seeing more of Will Arnett? Sweet!

2. The Bad One - Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I haven’t checked to see the next time he shows up, but with the way they left things, Will has to be part of the boardroom drama. One thing I’ve been thinking of is that at the end of last season, there was all that noise over Alec Baldwin possibly leaving the show (This was shortly after the stuff about his delightful manner on voicemail came out). I wonder if the corporate succession arc was an escape hatch where they convinced him to give it a go for another season and if he wanted out, they could do it gracefully by promoting Jack out of the series, or at least into only a recurring role. If this were the case, having Banks in charge would be good news for seeing Jack Donaghy back again for Season 3.

3. Peter Cavan - Tuesday, April 29, 2008

All the music was Mozart, in an homage to/parody of “Amadeus.” Once Tracy thinks he’s Mozart, Frank becomes Salieri, and it just goes from there. I thought it was brilliant.

4. Jerkwheat - Tuesday, April 29, 2008

This episode provided me with “business drunk” and for that, I am eternally grateful.

5. Matt - Saturday, May 3, 2008

Good review!

The Amadeus parody was brilliant. I love Dr. Spaceman running around in his cape! Maybe the best B plot ever. (Only rivaled by the B plot in Sandwich Day.) This show keeps getting better and better

And hopefully we’ll see a lot more of Devon Banks in the future.
According to Robert Carlock (the show runner) The Jack-Devon relationship is 30 Rock’s Sam and Diane!

6. wordtoyourmother - Tuesday, May 10, 2011

button classic.

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