There's something about "30 Rock" that makes them able to take a repeating joke right up to the edge of getting old, but never fall off that cliff. Last night was a perfect example, with congressional candidate Steve Austin (played by "Mad Men"'s John Slattery) and his general insanity. The joke was fairly one-note, and got VERY close to getting old, but just when you thought they'd push it too far, they changed course.
Slattery himself was pitch perfect, playing completely opposite what you'd expect from him. I've become so used to seeing him as Roger Sterling that it's hard to see him playing anything else. His other two most memorable roles for me -- in "Iron Man 2" and "Desperate Housewives" -- were so Sterling-like that they solidified that image. Steve Austin, the independent congressional candidate from Rhode Island, was nothing like Roger Sterling. Even at his drunkest, Roger would never be as insane as Steve, and that in itself was funny.
There were two other stories in this episode. One featured Liz and her new "hot" jeans and dealing with the fact that if she wants to keep them, she'd be supporting Halliburton. There was a great visual gag with "Hot Liz" in the jeans always shown from behind (and I kind of want to know who the body double was, since not only did she look thinner than Tina Fey, she also looked taller). The other had Jenna trying to sabotage Tracy's chances at a Golden Globe, only to change her mind after seeing Tracy's new movie "Hard To Watch: Based off the book "Stone Cold Bummer" by Manipulate" (and the clips for the movie were intentionally unintentionally hilarious). The Liz story was definitely the better of the two, but both stories and the main Jack/Steve story all tied in together thematically. Sure, it seemed a little forced at the end, but it worked.
OK, enough analysis. It's top lines time. And here... we... go!
Regina Bookman (on-screen quote): "The merger of NBC and Kabletown is bad for teh consumer, I don't trust their executive leadership and Kabletown still has an auxiliary button on their remote. What is that for? It just makes the screen go blue."
Jonathan: "It's not your fault nobody watched 'America's Next Top Black Guy'."
Liz: "These jeans totally make up for all the times I took a long, hot shower because I was bored."
Steve Austin: "If we have to have government, make it as small as possible. Dwarves. Tiny buildings. Pizza bagels for lunch."
Jenna: "I should get a chafing dish and fill it with my underwear in case some Saudi guys show up."
(I had to include that because as insane as it appears out of context, it's somehow more insane in the context of the show)
Jack: "Good God! Lemon, those jeans make you look like a Mexican sports reporter."
Jenna: "What films inspire you?"
Tracy: "Well, definitely the foreign films. Like the political ones where you think there'll be no boobies, then, BAM! Boobies."
Jack: "She's courting the youth vote. That means she's desperate!"
Jonathan: "My generation never votes. It interferes with talking about ourselves all the time."
Jack: "Your magic jeans are from BWL? Oh, Lemon. It's not 'hand-made in U.S.A.', it's pronounced 'Hond' made in 'Usa'. The Hand people are a Vietnamese slave tribe and Usa is their island prison. THEY made your jeans. You know how they get the stitching so small? Orphans."
Liz: "Well, you were right about Brooklyn Without Limits. Crunchy on the outside. Right-wing nut-job on the inside."
Jack: "Like Ann Coulter's underwear."
Tracy: "Wait, great like good, or grate like the thing I dropped my ashtma inhaler down yesterday?"
Tracy: "Compromises are for lesser souls. Die werewolf zombie!"
Jack [upon seeing Liz back in her horrible clothes]: "Lesbian Mario Brothers!"
For more coverage of the 2010-11 television season, visit the AdamReisinger.com TV Reviews home page.