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

Episode: “The Funcooker” (Season 3, Episode 14)

Synopsis: Liz finds herself stretched too thin when she has jury duty added to her already hectic life.  With her out of the office, no one can help curve the behavior of Jenna, who is using experimental drugs to keep herself awake, and Tracy, who keeps cursing on live television.  Jack takes advantage of Liz’s absence to force her writers to come up with a name GE’s legal department will approve of for their new pocket-sized microwave.

Review: Now, THIS is what I’m talking about when I refer to an episode that fires on all cylinders.  Though, seeing as the feedback from last week’s review was dissenting at best, perhaps that means everyone hated tonight’s episode.  Whatever, that’s why Film School Rejects pays me (no they don’t) to write the reviews.  “Funcooker” was great from beginning to end with a plethora of side-splitting jokes to enjoy glued together with multiple little chuckles in between.  When 30 Rock is at its finest, it’s just a constant barrage of humor that barely lets you recover from laughing before it comes at you again and that’s exactly what tonight’s episode did so well.

The episode starts out strong with the winning combination of bumbling dunces Jenna and Tracy being reprimanded for ruining NBC’s coverage of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.  Jenna, working on TGS during the day and her movie “based on, but for legal reasons not based on Janis Joplin” at night, fell asleep during the broadcast.  Tracy, having no filter between his brain and his mouth, told her to, “wake up motherf****.”  Right away the show has established the egotistical Jenna and the juvenile Tracy that we’ve come to know and love and both actors stick with it consistently through the rest of the show.  Also, seeing as the topic of discussion was St. Patty’s Day and the show has no quarrels with making fun of the Irish (who does?), it provides an ample opportunity for Baldwin to flex his muscles: “passing out and cursing on St. Patrick’s Day?  Is nothing sacred?”

While on jury duty, Liz finds herself oddly relating to woman on trial – an employer who burnt down her business because she felt overwhelmed and under appreciated at her job.  This not only allows for a great scene in which Liz dresses up as Princess Leia and pretends to be a hologram in order to get out of jury duty (a failed effort), but it also leaves a power vacuum at TGS leaving the employees to wonder who’s in charge during her absence.  Could it be Kenneth who won’t abide beards and mustaches in the workplace?  Could it be Frank who won’t wear pants because it’s boiling in his office?  Could it be Tracy who’s determined to be his own advertiser so he’ll be allowed to swear on national TV?  Could it be Lutz?  Shut up Lutz!!  As it turns out, it doesn’t really matter after Jack forces the writers change the name of GE’s latest product – the biteNUKER, which is offensive to the French and Dutch (“I’m sorry, Ms. Laroche Vanderhoot”).  Unfortunately, all efforts on the writers’ parts are offensive to some language including English (“they knew what a Hot Richard was?”) and this leads to a gag that builds hilariously as Jack decides to pick random letters from a Scrabble bag.  However, the “random” efforts bring about a V-A-G (snicker from Frank), an N-I (nasty look from Toofer), and a H-I-T-L-E-R when Jack picks 6 letters all at once.  It’s ultimately Kenneth who picks the name of “Funcooker,” a name that only reveals itself to be a bad idea only after Tracy pulls his pants down on TV and tells everyone to look at his funcooker.

But the highlight of the episode has to be Dr. Spaceman’s appearance.  Chris Parnell has only been on 10 episodes of 30 Rock, but he’s been consistently hysterical in every single one.  His delivery, his mannerisms, his smug little smile, everything about his performance is gut-busting and it seems like the writers save the best jokes for him.  He’s able to give Jenna an experimental drug to help her stay awake because his lab work is in the field of sleep research (“mostly because I checked the wrong box on a form once”).  However, when the lab rat on which he’s tested the drug dies after prognosticating Jenna’s side effects, he’s forced to knock her out on live TV to ensure she gets some sleep.

Favorite Quote: [Jack] – “I’ve spent the better part of the last three years developing a portable, miniature microwave oven.  Most of that time has been spent focused on coming up with a hip, edgy name for the product; something that will appeal to the marketing holy trinity: college students, the morbidly obese, and homosexuals.”

Grade: A. Welcome back, 30 Rock. I missed you.

Read More: 30 Rock Recaps

Did anyone else see this week’s episode? Your thoughts?

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