Vulture

Skip to content, or skip to search.

30 Rock: Sex, Lies, and Videotape

The episode’s title, “When It Rains, It Pours,” refers to the fact that Liz Lemon’s relative happiness in her relationship with pilot Carol, which she realizes sounds really fake, is making her more attractive to construction workers, panhandlers, and ponytailed Civil War reenacting editors. But it could also refer to the episode’s absolute monsoon of jokes, which pushed the show’s usual staggeringly high ratio of non-sequitirs and QPM (quips per minute, copyright pending) into the red. If the season premiere was about catching up with the show’s dual romantic subplots, this was the sound of a roomful of writers just plain unloading after a long hiatus.

Javery (time-saver!) are having a baby boy, and while 50 may be the new 40 for men, it still renders Jack an “old dad.” Fearing that he’ll be dead or senile before his son’s first subpoena, he videotapes himself laying out the Donaghy family history (they were whiskey testers and goblins back in County Steve), rattling off rapid-fire nuggets of Donaghy folk wisdom, (“The secret to a healthy head of hair is Dove … blood”), and using Lutz to show how to both deliver a punch and make love to a woman.

Meanwhile, with Angie about to go into labor, Tracy doesn’t want to miss the birth as he did with his sons (alibis, respectively: making French-bread pizza, forgot), so he goes into werewolf mode with Grizz and Dot-Com guarding his dressing room so he can’t wander off. A fire drill scuttles that plan, and Tracy is left without his wallet or his guardians, but thankfully, Ben Bailey of Discovery Channel’s Cash Cab is there to bring him to Mount Cyanide hospital where a furious Angie is waiting. Explain the rules! Okay: If Tracy answers trivia questions correctly, he gets a free ride; if he answers incorrectly, he’s tossed out of the taxi and misses the birth of his daughter. Having gone to middle school in an Exxon station, Tracy figures he’s up for the game. And he is, answering every question right in wildly discursive fashion. Tracy Jordan: hero, husband, diabetic/alcoholic. Fortunately, Angie is so doped up that Kenneth wearing a cardboard Tracy mask has managed to hold things down in the interim.

And because you can’t guest-star on 30 Rock without an Oscar nomination, Paul Giamatti is Richie, the NBC editor that Pete is rightfully terrified of. Equally at home skating (forwards) at Islander fantasy camp as he is pretending to be shot by Union infantrymen, Richie softens at the sight of new, confident Liz and her KIIS-FM cowboy hat. Rumors of Richie and Liz sleeping together spread so quickly that Brian Williams and Andrea Mitchell weigh in. Turns out that oozing sexual confidence is a double-edged sword, like the kind Mickey Rourke tried to kill Jenna with. But Richie’s just trying to win the attention of his assistant editor, the Cathy Geiss–like unicorn aficionado Donna. Liz goes along with the ruse to protect TGS from the editing department’s not insubstantial wrath.

A few things:

Dr. Spaceman may just be a live-action, accent-free Dr. Nick, but Chris Parnell is nothing short of genius. Even though Spaceman usually specializes in putting babies into women, he delivers Tracy and Angie’s daughter just as Jack and Avery learn that some Russian skank read their ultrasound wrong and they’re having a girl as well. Jack needs to make a whole new set of tapes.

Two blink-and-you’ll-miss visual gags worth tipping a cap to: Grizz is reading Kevin Grisham’s Urban Fervor, presumed sequel to The Rural Juror, while Jack plays with the whiskey bottle full of Liz’s rock collection.

The outtakes reel for this episode is probably going to need its own DVD. Which you will buy, happily. I hate to say I told you so, so: Welcome to Miami.

Photo: Ali Goldstein/NBC