“30 Rock” tends to do a great job of lampooning some of the more familiar tactics that TV networks use to reel us in; part of its success lies in its ability to remind us that pop culture can be absurd as all hell. Such was the case with this episode which found Jack resorting to some pretty unethical maneuvers to assure that ratings stay high. It made for some good comedy, thankfully.
- Director: Beth McCarthy-Miller
- Writer: Robert Carlock
- Cast: Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, Jack McBrayer, Jane Krakowski, Robert De Niro
Episode Title: “Operation Righteous Cowboy Lightning”
In order to keep ratings high, Jack makes the TGS cast and crew write and shoot a generic celebrity call-in show, hoping that one day a major natural disaster will occur and he will be able to air it the very night of the disaster. In the meantime, the new reality show about Angie is filming around the studio, and for once, Tracy is on his best behavior, much to Liz’s pleasure.
- Robert De Niro! De Niro makes an awesome cameo as one of the celebrities for Jack’s benefit show. Sure, he does an awful English accent, but that may have been the point.
- Natural Disasters: When the TGS staff was tasked with imagining some potential natural disasters that could occur in the future, they had some pretty funny ideas. A tornado that crashes into a gun factory and causes a bunch of pistils to start firing? Absurd, hilarious. We’re glad some actual thought was put into making this subplot worth the time that was spent on it.
- Baldwin: Alec Baldwin has really shown his stuff in the role of Jack Donaghy, and his freak-out at the end of the episode when he discovers that he is accidentally airing a benefit show for Mel Gibson and Jon Gosselin was simply priceless. It gave him the chance to go all-out comically.
- Lurz: The TGS writing staff has slowly been worked back into the show this season, and they do a good job getting some laughs this episode, especially poor Lutz, who lies to become popular and then has his lie come back to haunt him. His mirror scenes were fantastic.
- Liz and Tracy: Simply put, Tracy is a lot funnier when he misbehaves. Sure, he finds some loopholes in this episode, but we enjoy seeing him be unpredictable more than we enjoy seeing him grudgingly obey Liz. It was a decent try for a subplot, but it went nowhere.
- Final scene: Jokes that the audiences knows are coming never really work all that well, so when Liz makes a legitimate comment about the way in which reality shows manipulate our emotions, only to end the episode much like a reality show would, well, ya know, it’s funny enough, but it just isn’t clever if it’s been telegraphed to the audience already.
A good episode of the show that reminds viewers that “30 Rock” is often a very clever satire of our modern society. This isn’t as funny as some others episodes, but it’s not one anyone would be complaining about.
“30 Rock” airs every Thursday night on NBC!
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