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30 Rock 3.02 – Believe in the Stars Monday, November 10, 2008

Posted by The Bad One in 30 rock, nbc, The Bad One.
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Jack’s taking a call, so Jonathan is forced to run interference when Liz walks in.  He tells her that Jack will be multitasking his conversation with her.  Liz explains to Jack that she’s going to need some time off to fly back to Chicago for jury duty (she never changed her address because she wanted to vote in a swing state…and stay on the mailing list at Chicago Pizza Explosion).  No big deal, she’ll wear her Princess Leia costume and get bounced from the jury pool.  Jack is OK with this; he’ll even have Jonathan upgrade her flight and give her some of his comanaprocil.  Liz reads the side effects:  “May cause dizziness, sexual nightmares, and sleep-crying.”  Jack:  “It’s very good.”

Jonathan has Tyler Brody on Line 2.  Jack comes clean to Liz; NBC staged additional events so Americans could win more medals.  Now Tyler Brody, tetherball silver medalist, is threatening to go public.

Jenna is being countersued by Tracy for defamation of character, which Jenna finds remarkable given that Tracy has been arrested at three separate Chuckie Cheeses.  When Jenna declares she won’t be speaking to Tracy anymore and Tracy confuses how to play that game, Liz decides so set up a mediation through HR for the two of them.  Jenna:  “I told you, I don’t drink that much at work!”    After Tracy leaves, Liz sympathizes with Jenna about how difficult it is to be a woman in the US.  Liz:  “It turns out we can’t be president, we can’t be network news anchors,  Madonna’s arms are <i>crazy</i>…”

Tyler Brody is bitter at not getting picked for the gold, threatening to go public about the sham sports of tetherball, synchronized running, and octuples tennis.  For the record, I think Russia would have a lock on women’s octuples tennis.  He manages to disillusion Kenneth before Jack buys him off by giving him a job as the voice of Knight Rider, “the film.”

Mediation spins quickly out of control, though I think everyone can agree with the mediator that it’s not easy being an overweight transgender in this country.

On the plane to Chicago, Liz is experiencing a side effect as she dreams.  “No, Conan, no!”

Kenneth is shocked and saddened that various Olympic events were faked for TV.  Kenneth:  “Was any of it real, Mr. Donaghy?  Beer pong, jazzercise, women’s soccer?”  Jack and Kenneth hold different opinions about the real world vs. doing the right thing, and Kenneth tells Jack he’s lost a hero.

Tracy and Jenna continue their argument from mediation.  Tracy:  “If it weren’t for you people, I’d still be in Africa!  Gorgeous, politically stable Africa.”  Jenna claims being a beautiful woman is especially hard:  “Everyone assumes I don’t try in bed!  It’s discrimination.”  Tracy says she couldn’t make it as a black man, but Jenna flips it that Tracy should try being a white woman.  Dotcom tries to head this off, but it’s Tracy we’re talking about and Liz isn’t there to wrangle Jenna.

Where is Liz?  “I don’t think it’s fair that I should be on a jury, because I can read thoughts.”  Judge:  “Dismissed.”

On the flight home Liz takes some champagne to go with her comanaprocil.  She gets a call from Jack letting her know that Tyler Brody’s deal involves a spot on TGS.  He also establishes that someone would have to be a complete monster to lose Kenneth’s respect.  Liz quickly gets another call, this one from Jenna, appraising her of the situation. Tracy, back in his <i>Honky Grandma Be Trippin'</i> makeup, calls as her old college roommate “Becky” and promising her, “Minds will be blown!”  As Tracy rants, Liz finds herself sitting next to her hero, Oprah.  Her moon-faced grin takes us to commercial.

Liz takes the first possible opportunity to wildly overshare about adoption, losing her virginity, wearing shorts to work, O magazine, emotional overeating, kissing a girl, feet, and a sex dream about <i>Oprah</i> guests.  Oprah embraces Liz and her enormous, crazy eyes.

Jack tries to convince Kenneth that he’s still a good person.  Unfortunately he tries using a metaphor about an overloaded lifeboat, and Kenneth doesn’t believe in hypotheticals.  He has, however, defended his virtue.  Despite his love of television, he doesn’t steal cable and sticks with the ol’ rabbit ears.

Oprah counsels Liz about her emotional overeating and how she allows Jenna and Tracy fill the role of children in her life so she doesn’t have to take the next step.  Then she starts talking about her new favorite things (Saltwater taffy from Rhode Island!  Sweater capes!  Calypso music!).  She offers to stop by in order to straighten out Tracy and Jenna.  Liz falls asleep immediately.

A terrifying, blonde Tracy whose skin is now the color of coffee with cream in it attempts to convince Frank and Twofer that he’s a white woman.  An incoming Liz manages to herd him back away from Jack, but only temporarily.  He explains to Jack that he and Jenna are doing a social experiment, prompting Liz to wonder what Jenna’s doing.  As luck would have it, Jenna is coming down the hallway singing “Ease on Down the Road”.  Oh, and she’s in blackface.  Twofer protests how offensive Jenna’s half of the experiment is, and Jack informs both of them that it’s white men who have it the toughest, making the unpopular, difficult decisions, cleaning up messes like this.  Liz tells him, that, for once, he doesn’t have to fix anyting, because (as her eyes go wide), Oprah is coming!

Kenneth steps into a crowded elevator with Jack, one that comes to a sudden stop.  Jack informs him that they’ve tripped the emergency brake and hermetically sealed the car.  Unfortunately, one person must die, because they only have enough air for eight and nine are aboard.  without hesitation, Kenneth grabs the gun Jack has placed in the car, puts it to his temple, and pulls the trigger.  When he finds it’s unloaded, he puts his belt around his neck as the doors of the elevator open.

Liz, flanked by Cerie, Jenna, and the rest of the women who work on the show, tells them about Oprah’s Favorite Things.  Jenna kneels before the hand that was touched by the Oprah and presses it to her forehead before a sunbeam.

Jack:  “Well Kenneth, you’ve proved me wrong.  I thought pure morality died with Chuck Heston, but you’re better than all of us.”  Jack declares Kenneth his hero.  And not like sandwich.  When he gets home, Kenneth takes off his NBC jacket, puts on his NBC cardigan, and finds a brand new flat screen TV, about 46″ or so, sitting on its new stand and flanked by a new sound system.  A note from Jack reads, “You deserve this!”  But like most gifts from Jack, it comes with a catch:  The cable hookup is pirated.

Liz walks into an office blaring calypso music wearing her Oprah-approved high-heeled flip-flops and sweater cape and chewing taffy.  She goes up to Jack’s office, where Tracy and Jenna are waiting.  Tracy:  “I haven’t seen Oprah since she did that episode about Worst Celebrity Dads.”  Jonathan, with an odd note of disdain in his voice, tells Liz, “Your <i>guest</i> is here.”  It is not Oprah.  Liz’s guest is an African-American tween named Pam.  This explains a number of things Liz now remembers from their conversation.

Meanwhile, Pam lays out her student council mediation materials and gets down to solving problems like a good class vice president.

Kenneth confesses to Jack that he couldn’t resist the lure of cable, even illegal cable, on his new TV.  “Is Spongebob Squarepants supposed to be terrifying?”

Liz is having another revelation, namely that she probably shouldn’t have asked Pam for a bra-fitting consult.  Pam has Jenna and Tracy explain their emotions through drawings.

Even though he thinks he’ll be cleaning up another of Liz’s messes, Jack is sympathetic.  He met M. Night Shyamalan while on in-flight medication.  Jonathan:  “That was the best day of my life.”  But it turns out that Pam is at an emotional level to really connect with and help Jenna and Tracy.  Jenna has even resolved to stop being his frenemy and really trying to be his BFF.  And all Liz has to do now is show up at Pam’s parents’ for dinner.  Jack tells her to act like a white man and take credit for Pam’s success as Jenna and Tracy strike up a chorus of “Lean on Me”.  Jack’s just not ready for that.

The episode ends with a scene back on the plane, with Liz giving her wine and Pam trying to explain that she’s not Oprah.

I really enjoyed this episode.  Very quotable, excellent rewatch factor.  Oprah was at her best being Oprah, though she clearly had a good time being Pam.  Jack and Kenneth is generally gold.  Next week we get Jennifer Aniston as a loon, so that should be interesting.

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