Last week, I wrote that some of "Tracy Jordan"'s best lines may have just been random things Tracy Morgan said and they added to the script. Then, last night, Morgan went and said this on TNT before the Heat-Knicks game, yet somehow the scripted episode of "30 Rock" that aired a few hours later was even more random.
In fact, "Operation Righteous Cowboy Lightning" (and the title probably should have been an indication that we were in for randomness) might have been "30 Rock" at its most scattershot best -- which is why I picked the most random screenshot possible (sorry, Tina Fey!).
Tracy was at the center of the episode, with Liz trying to get him to take his job on "TGS" more seriously. Normally Tracy would have just blown her off, but he's been nominated for an Oscar AND Angie's reality show cameras were following him around, so he couldn't screw up, and Liz saw this as the perfect time to take advantage of him. That led Tracy to get creative in his ways to tell Liz off, including one spectacular scene in which Tracy sang his answers to the tune of "Uptown Girl".
Meanwhile, Jack was working on his first big project post-Kabletown merger, pre-taping natural disaster benefit telethons, which is where the episode draws its title from. The scene with Robert De Niro taping possible disasters (complete with the worst British accent ever) and the final scene with the disaster unfolding -- in more ways than one -- were just inspired.
And then, somehow, Lutz got a storyline... and somehow, it worked. You see, in the end, the whole episode was really about the stupidity of reality TV, and that was framed around the Lutz story, in which he pretended to have a car and was forced to choose which three co-workers he'd save in the event of a disaster, as if he was voting people off on a reality show.
Obviously, Tina Fey has an ulterior motive in denigrating reality TV (and there was a line in the show that might have been delivered by her and not her character), but the episode was way too funny to be heavy-handed in its theme. Besides, if you spent all your time looking for a theme, you totally missed the insane randomness, and that would truly be a shame.
OK, top 10 lines time. And... go!
Liz: It doesn't matter how long you've lived in New York. It's still fun to look up and pretend all the buildings are giant severed robot penises.
[This was the first line of the episode, and really set the tone for things]
Tracy: Every crazy A-lister owns an island: Nicolas Cage, Celine Dion, Charles Widmore.
["Lost" reference FTW!]
Jack: [naming reality shows to Liz] The Real Transvestite Hoarders of Orange County Penitentiary.
Liz: Ugh, that show is upsetting. Why does the warden let Lady Extravaganza have so many spoons?
Kenneth: What happens when the second flood comes and you aren't allowed on Reverend Gary's ark? Especially since Reverend Gary made it clear the ark is just for teenage boys.
Tracy: [after Liz forced him to agree to do a bunch of stuff he didn't want to do] I'm as happy as a clam that wants to kill some woman.
Robert De Niro: Two days ago when people thought of a mudslide, they just thought of getting drunk in an Applebee's. But now we know it as the thing that destroyed Denver.
[My favorite of the random disasters]
Jenna: Someone get a PA to feed me baby food or I will drop a D in the Green Room. Yeah, last week you thought I was cryin' wolf, didn't ya?
Tracy: [wearing New York Rangers helmet] I'm not rehearsing. I'm going to shoot garden gnomes with a handgun at 2Pac's house. Yeah, 2Pac is alive. I bet you'd like to have that on your show!
Reality Show Director: I'm sorry Tra, but now I just need a heart-felt resolution. So we're going to use a little reality TV magic. We call it "staging it" or... "lying".
Liz: I have absolutely no reason to apologize to HIM.
Tracy: And I have no reason to hug her other than my love of having boobs pressed against me.
[Now I wonder if Tracy Morgan thinks Tina Fey is good masturbation material too...]
Also, I'm not going to quote either of them here, but Tracy's "I hate Liz" song (sung to "Uptown Girl") and Jenna's tribute song for the disaster show were both amazing. You really need to see them. Please go to Hulu right now and watch.
For more coverage of the 2010-11 television season, visit the AdamReisinger.com TV Reviews home page.