TV Review: 30 Rock – Kidney Now!


30 Rock, NBC, Airs Thursdays at 9:30/8:30c

Episode: “Kidney Now” (Season 3, Episode 22)

Synopsis: Due to the recognition she received for being on the cover of Time Out New York, Liz accompanies Jenna as a guest on a talk show where she parlays the “that’s a deal breaker, ladies” slogan into more fame.  Kenneth tries to convince Tracy to speak at the graduation of his old high school, which he abandoned out of embarrassment before completion while Jack calls in numerous favors for a musical fundraiser to supply a kidney to Milton (Alan Alda) after Jack finds out he’s an incompatible donor.

Review: 30 Rock‘s third season wrapped up as it began: with an overload of celebrities.  The season that featured celebrity cameos from Oprah Winfrey, Steve Martin and Jennifer Aniston – just to name a few – comes to an end while being serenaded by the likes of Mary J. Blige, Elvis Costello, Clay Aiken, Moby, and The Beastie Boys – just to name a few.  It’s just natural to assume that the more A-list names attached, the more explosive the episode, right?  Wrong.

Remember last week when I expressed the need for the season to finish up strong and how I was hesitant that would happen?  I do because I’m a self-important writer, but “Kidney Now!” is exactly what I was afraid of.  Don’t get me wrong, it was a good episode – there were a good amount of gags, one or two lines that’ll show up as Facebook status messages tomorrow (“Jim has sexually transmitted crazy talk”), contributions from the supporting cast and an appearance from Dr. Leo Spaceman.  But this is a season finale, my friends; it shouldn’t be good, it should be great.  A season finale should either have me rolling on the floor holding my gut with laughter as Season 1’s “Hiatus” did or leave me guessing what will happen next as Season 2’s “Cooter” did.  Neither instance occurred during or after this episode.

Tracy’s bastard child didn’t return for a second episode, but the honorary high school diploma he received when he finally worked up the guts to speak at Frank Lucas High School apparently will lead into the next wacky misadventure for he, Grizz, Dot Com and Kenneth: college.  It sounds like it could lead to a lot of hilarity next season if they decide to go with it, but seeing as how non-chalantly it was brought up then sort of dismissed in this episode, I’ll hope, but won’t expect.  How would TGS be able to carry on without its top star?  There were a couple of good lines from the fundamentalist Kenneth during an exchange with Grizz and Dot Com:

  • Grizz: Campbell was actually Mr. Campbell, [Tracy’s] science teacher.
  • Kenneth: His science teacher was a drug dealer?  That’s terrible.  Science was my most favorite subject, especially the Old Testament.
  • Grizz: He wasn’t a drug dealer.  Tracy dropped out of high school because Mr. Campbell wanted him to dissect a frog.  He couldn’t do it.  He cried in front of the whole class.
  • Dot Com: It was bad.  I had to deny ever being friends with him.
  • Kenneth: Just like Peter did to Jesus in science.

Other than that, Tracy just sort of stutters and stumbles through this thread.  Props should go to the writers for the reference to Frank Lucas High School, which will make sense to anyone who’s seen “American Gangster.”

When Liz cements her celebrity status on the Vontella show by giving relationship advice capped with plenty of “that’s a deal breaker” slogans, the fame finally begins to get to her.  Encouraged by Jack to “get hers,” Liz agrees to a book deal despite being ill-equipped to dish out relationship advice and sees the help she tries to give the wives of Tracy and Pete backfire when the two men angrily confront her.  Undeterred, she decides to press on with the book anyway claiming, as Jack did, that TGS has two years left at best.  This thread seems to have the most potential for intrigue crossing into next season and also provides – unless I’m mistaken – a fun little jab at Tina Fey’s television alma matter, “Saturday Night Live”:

  • Jack: After all, how many years do you think TGS has left?
  • Liz: I don’t know, 20?

Of course, “SNL” has been on the air for more than 30 years, but maybe I just want to make fun of a show that hasn’t been good in over a decade.

But with the arrival of Milton Green in the last episode, “Kidney Now!,” as the title suggests, was primarily focused on the acquisition of a kidney for Jack’s biological father.  Two great things came out of this thread: the hilarious incompetence of Dr. Spaceman, played, as always, marvelously by the underrated Chris Parnell, and a chance to make fun of celebrities and their heavy-handed causes:

  • Jack: I asked you three to be here because you are all deeply committed to charity work.
  • Mary J. Blige: My Mary J. Blige foundation is celebrating its 10th year of searching for the Loch Ness Monster.
  • Jack: Well, musicians have banded together before to solve all kinds of problems: world hunger, the collapse of the American farm, global warming, uh….you’re 0 for 3, guys.

It’s pretty great to see that Blige, Elvis Costello and Clay Aiken all have good senses of humor (Costello was particularly funny), but it seems like the creative minds behind the show were so focused on putting together an A-list finale that they forgot about ending the season on a high note.  Or a low note.  Or any note for that matter.  The choice to end the episode of a mildly humorous song instead of on a scene that makes us think “I NEED to see what will come of this” was a bit lame for me.  Will we see Alan Alda again?

I’ll be tuning in to Season 4 on Day 1, don’t you worry about that.  But, “Kidney Now!” capped off a season that was up and down a bit too much, leaving me afraid that the show peaked at the excellent Season 2.

Grade: C. This hurts me to say it more than it hurts you to hear it, Tina Fey.

Favorite Quote:

[Liz] – I’m not sure I’m qualified to give relationship advice.

[Jack] – You’re not.  Suburban 7th graders have more sexual experience than you do.

Read More: 30 Rock Recaps

What did you guys think of Season 3 and its finale?  What are you looking forward to for Season 4?

Jim Rohner knew he wanted to get into movies the very first time he watched Night of the Living Dead on a dark and stormy night. However, instead of moving out to Hollywood after he graduated film school to pursue his passion, he opted to work in New York City and write snarky things about other people's movies. He loves horror movies, Tina Fey, and Groundhog Day. He hates the French New Wave, hipsters and Armond White. One time he ate 2 pounds of Swedish Fish in one sitting and threw up profusely later that evening.

Read More from Jim Rohner
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