Wednesday, December 9, 2009

30 Rock - Dealbreakers Talk Show No. 001, or Liz the Hag

Well, there's nothing like pressure to make a good thing go bad. It's finally time to start taping Dealbreakers when Jack gets a threatening call from one Devin Banks. If NBC loses any money on Dealbreakers, the show will be over for Jack. So, in a frenzy to prepare, he criticizes everything about Liz: her glasses, her clothes, her smiles. Pretty much everything except her hair, which is fine. How can they trust her to perform? "She's a writer with zero performance experience!" Jack exclaims. Of course, this whole episode is a riff on the real Liz Lemon's foray into acting on Saturday Night Live. Unfortunately, it looks like Tina Fey's alter-ego will have a more difficult time.

While Liz is gone, she arranges for Frank to assume control of TGS. Frank unhinges, starts nagging, wearing cardigans and glasses, and turns into Liz. But, the Liz he's becoming is no longer the Liz we know.

After getting a terrible haircut and faulty lasik surgery, we see a painful scene of Liz shooting the opening credits for her show. She's unimaginably stiff and unlikeable, and Pete has to constantly coach her into acting normal. "Now wave!" he shouts from behind the camera. "Like a human!" he has to clarify. The worst comes when Liz steps in front of the high definition camera, which makes her look...let's say, not great. (A quick and delightful sight gag if you missed it - when Jack stepped in front of the camera, it showed him during his Hunt for Red October days - the camera is sure good to him!) Even though both Jack and Pete console Liz and tell her she's doing a wonderful job, she collapses and locks herself into her dressing room. Suddenly, Liz has become another neurotic actress like Jenna.

Jack succeeds in taking the door off its hinges and getting to Liz, who's in the middle of a psychotic breakdown. She's developed a whole other personality, Performer Liz, who threatens to take control and usurp the kind, warm Liz we all know and love. Writer Liz wins the day, but Dealbreakers is over. Luckily, it wasn't a complete loss, as Jack was able to sell the opening credit footage to Sheinhart Wig to use as TV footage in the background of all their soap operas. So, anytime anyone on those program is watching TV, Liz will be there. Plus, it has the added benefit of keeping Devin on Jack's back for another day.

The B-line this week was Tracy trying to win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony, after seeing a piece of bling with the word EGOT. His crack team of researchers (Kenneth, Dot Com, and Griz) find out that most EGOT winners are composers, so Tracy sets out to write the perfect song. It fails, of course, but Tracy gets some life lessons from EGOT winner Whoopi Goldberg on how to succeed. Her advice is that it has to come from your heart. Aaaahh, heartwearming.

Overall, it was a cute gimmick having Liz move into the performance world just as Tina did, and it was definitely foreshadowed with all the impending noise about the talk show. Of course, it would be far less hilarious if Liz succeeded as brilliantly as Tina has, so some missteps were definitely in order. It's still upsetting, though, to see Liz constantly portrayed as an ugly hag (see: high definition camera gag), even though she's absolutely gorgeous. I suppose I can suspend my disbelief, but please, Tina/Liz, let's have an episode where everyone realizes that you're a smokin' hot babe. Thanks.

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