30 Rock is back, and all is right with the world. (Well, not exactly. When Community comes back, all will truly be right with the world.) Last night’s Season 6 premiere, “Dance Like Nobody’s Watching,” instantly dropped us into familiar territory, with a reality TV send-up called America’s Kidz Got Singing. Everyone’s favorite spotlight-ho Jenna has finally found a project that suits her particular talents: being the cruelest member of America’s Kidz Got Singing’s judging panel, where John McEnroe is considered “the nice one.”
But not everyone returned a darker shade of their former selves: Liz was weirding everyone out because she seemed so well-adjusted and, well, happy! And Kenneth, sweet Kenneth, had swallowed a Harold Camping-style prediction of Rapture set to arrive the very next day, leading the blissed-out bumpkin on a quest to accomplish all the frivolous and wonderful things he wanted to do before dying—i.e. “dream chores” like peeling a Dole sticker off the ceiling.
Jack, meanwhile, seemed to have developed a strange, possibly malignant outgrowth to his personality: compassion. Blame it on single-parenthood, but when a Kidz contestant named Liddy, just like his daughter, ended up on the receiving end of Jenna’s awesome insults (seriously, the writers outdid themselves), Jack found himself suddenly getting protective. He tried to convince Jenna to maybe go the “nice” route, offering, “We could make even more money by pretending to be nice. Look at Betty White.” (No one is safe from 30 Rock. And that’s how I like it.) Jack eventually saw the light, however, in a hilarious scene with his daughter. Just as he convinced himself he had a moral obligation to cancel Kidz, he interpreted Liddy’s placing of her tiny hand over his as he reached for the telephone, and utterance of the words, “I want mommy” (which he hears as “money”), as a sign that his daughter had given the show her infant blessing. There’s a wrongness there you have to admire.
But Liz stayed happy to the bitter end. The big reveal was that she'd joined an “everyday people” dance troupe that performs at WNBA games, offering an outlet that makes her unashamedly, unabashedly happy. But there was yet another reveal after that: In a montage set to a little girl’s rendition of “Camp Town Races” (all of the Kidz songs were public domain ditties, which was a pretty funny running gag), Liz met a paramour at the movies whose face we never made out. Might she have finally met her fictional dream man, her "Astronaut Mike Dexter”? There’s something about that ankle-twisting spring in her step that suggests she really has. We should all be so happy.
Liz: “It was my year! What, lupus just lets you cut the line?”
Liz: “Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching. Enjoy these Satchel Paige brand tampons.”
Jenna: “Amazing news, Liz! I made the People magazine crossword. One word, five across, Jenna Maroney’s first name.”
Kenneth: “Rev. Gary says supergay horses are one of the signs of the apocalypse!”
Kenneth: “Time to die!”
Jack: “Variety called it ‘boffo’ and they don’t throw that word around lightly.”
Liz (on Lea Michele): “You know me, I love when the swarthy girl gets the guy.”