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

Episode: “Larry King” (Season 3, Episode 12)

Synopsis: An adult photo that Liz took of herself comes back to haunt her when she accidentally leaves the cell phone with which she used to take it in a cab.  When the driver threatens to email it to all her contacts, she ventures to a dangerous section of Queens with Kenneth to retrieve it.  Jack realizes he wants to take his relationship with Elisa (Salma Hayek) to the next step, but their plans to consummate their relationship are interrupted when NBC begins to hemorrhage money thanks to misleading comments Tracy Jordan makes about the Asian stock market while appearing on Larry King Live.

Summary: “Meh.”  That’s the word I would use if asked to describe tonight’s episode in only a single word.  The recession is in full swing in America and also apparently in 30 Rock as well.  Brief synopses of tonight’s episode will say something like “… Larry King, whose interview with Tracy includes a misunderstanding that sends everyone in New York City into panic mode,” which would lead many people to think that Tracy says something borderline racist psychotic to cause New Yorkers to freak out.  Most of the time, you’d be right, but not tonight.  No, tonight Tracy just rambles on mindlessly, never once scratching the surface of anything funny while, for some reasons that don’t make much sense, New Yorkers panic in response.  No one has been more polarizing this season than Jordan, who pendulums from hilarious one week to mind of a mildly-retarded child the next.  This week’s Jordan clocked in as the latter and the supposed “panic” he causes because of his brainless comments about the Asian Stock Market crash is not even so much a panic as much as it’s references to a panic that we’ll have to believe on blind faith thanks to vague hints: some guy steals a TV from somewhere, Elisa comments that cabs to JFK cost $500, and…..well, that’s really it.  30 Rock has never been known for large scale production value, but they could’ve used the money wasted on a terrible CGI tarantula to help simulate some type of mass panic.  Or maybe they could’ve left out Larry King who is neither surprisingly funny nor glaringly unfunny.  He just is.

At least we have Salma Hayek, right?  Wrong.  Though she does make an appearance on her fifth episode, it seems like it will be her last for a while if not forever.  Jack, who has slowly started to become a – dare I say it? – better person thanks to Elisa’s influence has finally decided he wants to take his relationship with her to the next step – no, not marriage.  No, not moving in together.  Intercourse…of course (couldn’t resist).  Being the money-loving bastard that he is, it’s clear that he’ll have to choose between his professional duties or the love of his life.  Though it seems for a while that Hayek’s departure will come due to Donaghy choosing money first, he quickly changes his mind and runs out to get her back (“I was about to do the whole ‘run to the airport’ thing like Ross did in Friends and Liz did in real life”).  This really is a beautiful moment, if not because of the somewhat emotionally bland reunion/marriage proposal on the streets of NYC, then for the moment when Jack, a step away from tears in his eyes, makes the decision that he truly does want to be with her.  This makes Elisa’s decision to leave him because she believes he was caught up in panic all the more frustrating and anti-climactic, ending the relationship of an unfulfilling note.  There’s not even a goodbye joke.  Just a goodbye, even if that goodbye does show off Hayek’s marvelous breasts.

Liz and Kenneth’s piece runs both hot and cold because Liz is incredibly funny and, as has been the case more often than not, Kenneth is not.  I don’t know why at 25 the word “boobies” is still funny (as in Liz describing the picture on her phone as a “boobies” picture) but it is, though probably because it comes from Tina Fey’s mouth.  The random acts of insanity her and Kenneth encounter on the way to Queens are pretty boring – someone spray paints Kenneth, little kids steal Liz’s purse – and the culmination of the trip is pretty lame thanks to the nonsensical subplot of Frank, Pete, and Toofer looking for a hidden stash of money that Tracy actually hid inside Kenneth’s coat.  This cash is used to pay off the blackmailing taxi driver and reunite Kenneth and Liz as friends after she lied to him so she wouldn’t have to travel to Queens alone.

And where is Jane Krakowski?

Favorite Quote(s):
Jack: Lemon, you’re a woman…
Liz: Of course I am, that doctor was a quack.  I don’t even know why my parents listened to him.

Grade: D+ By far the weakest episode of the season as the laughs were few and far between and Tracy Jordan’s part was apparently written by an A.D.D. afflicated 9-year old.

Read More: 30 Rock Recaps

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