Liz' new pal Kenneth catches her on the way into 30 Rock
and offers to help carry her inordinate amount of bags from some sort of container store. As she babbles about the "round plastic thing" she got to hold her shoes "with a compartment to put a picture of what shoe goes in there" on it, she thinks she will finally become a well-adjusted, wonderful person. And then a guy flies off her bike and lands right on top of her. And suddenly she gets it: this is going to be the worst day ever-- but what is horrible for her usually ends up as great fun for us, so I say bring it on, "Funcooker!"
Inside her writer's room, things only go from bad to worse as she points out she chipped a tooth, Frank isn't wearing any pants, and Cerie informs her that she has jury duty-- despite the fact that Liz thought she was registered in another state. And since two out of three of these are plot points that have been done before, I'm beginning to think that Ms. Tina Fey no longer wants us to laugh at the sad state of Liz' affairs but rather emphasize with her, offering us our own reasons to grumble about a bad day.
Jenna and Tracy are in trouble for their unprofessional behavior at the St. Patrick's Day parade: she passed out and he cursed. Personally, I don't see the problem: if they had a beer in each hand, they would be the epitome of that holiday. But the FCC isn't so racially insensitive, and they are fining Tracy personally. He decides to sell half his watch in order to pay that fine. Liz, on the other hand, has to find a way to scale back Jenna's involvement in TGS until she has finished her Janis Joplin "inspired by" film in the evenings because right now she is too tired to realize she is using a gluestick instead of chapstick, so she is no good to anyone. And though just last week, she was pulling all kinds of stunts to get more attention, she suddenly has no problems taking on a smaller role in the show of which she was once the star. That should tell you just how tired she is!
Jack practically begs Liz for a "quiet week" because on Friday the company is going to announce a very big project-- the pocket microwave, which even has a "ham button." Liz suddenly lights up: he used her idea! Sorry if the last part of this recap is a bit rushed, but I need to zip out the door and line-up for my own personal pocket microwave (with a handle)! I want to be first in line!!
While Jenna visits Dr.Spacemen (who might be making one of his last appearances now that Chris Parnell was signed onto his own show), Liz packs up her Princess Leia costume and some "Playgirls from the eighties" and heads out to the municipal courthouse. Since Pete is out of the office, she makes it a point that no one is in charge while she is gone; she doesn't want to come back to an even bigger mess. Just as she is about to get in the elevator, though, Jenna bounds off, explaining she is in a clinical trial for a military grade sleeping pill. Tracy is about to make his appearance on Martha Stewart Live "real raunchy" because he has learned that as long as he pays for it, he can say whatever he wants. These are not the lessons Liz was hoping they'd learn, but then again, how can she expect more, when she is the one setting the example of how to skirt responsibilities by vehemently trying to get out of jury duty? Uh oh...
Yup, Liz gets picked. Karmas a bitch, ain't it??
Jack uses the TGS writers to come up with a new name for his pocket microwave-- because the first one ("bitenuker") was apparently offensive to the French and the Dutch, though I'm surprised he really cares about them. Josh's only idea is to make tee shirts indicating they are all now part of the microwave division. Jack agrees but tells him that this isn't the same as TGS and shooting just for "the middle" won't fly here.
Kenneth calls Liz, scared and leaderless, but she has been put on an arson trial that could last a few weeks. She tells him she will come back as soon as she is dismissed for the day and that he has to "try not to let anything else bad happen." Naturally he takes this to mean he's in charge, which surprisingly doesn't scare him as much as we might think it would, and he promptly sets out to change all of the rules he doesn't like.
Jack tells Liz she is on her own to write the show this week unless she can come up with a "kickass" microwave name right now. I actually quite like her suggestions: "The Small Wonder" and the "Porta-Hottie," but needless to say, he is not amused. She should have no problem writing her usual sketches while in the jury box...except he also needs her to deal with Tracy because advertisers have already started pulling out of the show due to his antics. My question: why now and not the hundreds of other times before?? It can't possibly be Sweeps already!
Nancy O'Dell reads a pre-written apology from Tracy Jordan on air, and it seems like all should be smoothed over, but as soon as she says "We'll be right back," the network cuts to a PSA from Tracy himself, declaring he "did not even write that apology." How this nincompoop (that's right, I said it!) keeps one-upping Jack Donaghy, the VP of East Coast Television and Microwave Oven Programming, is only the stuff of Hollywood writing!
While listening to the "alleged arsonist," Liz begins to find herself relating. The woman talks about how her employees are incompetent, and she's always stressed, and she hates having to pretend to care about, let alone take care of, their problems. Ironically, their names happen to be Tracy and Jenna, too, so Liz' eyes light up...especially when she gets to the part about the "cleansing" fire and "rising like a Phoenix" from the ashes. And though Liz has to rush right off to work after the trial lets out, this woman "gets to" have a sandwich in her cell and has doors opened for her by the guards. She considers herself free-- especially freer than Liz, and you know what? She may just have a point. But if Liz thinks being chained to a television studio is rough, she should try being chained to a desk all day in a corporate office: now that is prison! Ah, the parallel lives we lead...
Liz arrives back at the studio to find nothing on fire and the show preparing for a seemingly normal sketch (well, for them) about a robot and bear talk show. Dr.Spacemen runs through, screaming that if Jenna doesn't fall asleep soon she will die (because his lab mouse keeled over earlier that day), and he bursts onto the stage and begins banging her head against the table. She is in a giant bear costume, and it would have been more symbolic if she had been in a giant mouse costume, but then Disney might have gotten all up in arms that NBC was trying to send them a message, and South Park already made sufficient fun of that mouse this week so...
Liz strikes a match in her office but thinks better of it and shakes it out before tossing it aside. But since this is 30 Rock, of course the match was still lit when she tosses it, and her back wall goes up in flames. Sufficiently afraid of her now, the entire staff attempts to curb their crazy behavior in their own way: Frank promises to show up on time and wearing pants on Monday, and Jenna suggests they go out and actually talk about Liz for once. All of that and Jack gives her a pocket microwave of her very own? Maybe it wasn't such a bad day after all!
Oh, and Kenneth comes up with a name Jack actually likes: "The Funcooker" (hence the title). Jack says he owes him one, and Kenneth wants that to be "one hug." Jack does not oblige. I hoped we would see this "one" come back to bite him in the @$$ sometime down the line, and I got my wish a lot sooner than expected, when Tracy pulls down his pants on the live TGS cameras and told the audience to "check out my funcooker!" Oh, that's where Kenneth heard that!
Best lines of the night:
Jack (discussing the years he spent developing the pocket microwave): "Most of that time has been spent trying to come up with a hip, edgy name that would appeal to the marketing holy trinity: college students, the morbidly obese, and homosexuals."
Dr.Spacemen (explaining why I don't trust doctors): "You know what I like to do for eight hours? The TV Guide crossword."
Jack (describing...my life!? WTF!?): "With no TGS I see you...self-publishing your novel and moving back in with your parents..."
30 Rock Cast: Tina Fey
, Alec Baldwin
, Tracy Morgan
, Jane Krakowski
, Scott Adsit
, Jack McBrayer
, Judah Friedlander
, Chris Parnell
, Maulik Pancholy
, Lonny Ross
, Keith Powell
, Katrina Bowden
Story by Danielle Turchiano
Starpulse contributing writer