Let's talk about this episode of 30 Rock and also how much it rocked. For the last week or so I've found myself thinking "You know what this season's 30 Rock could really use? More appearances by Dr. Spaceman. That character rocked." He's giving Dr. Nick "Hi, Everybody" Riviera a run for his money as the all-time greatest quack doctor. Low and behold, Dr. Spaceman made a spectacular return to 30 Rock this episode, rushing into service to try to save Rip Torn's corporate King Lear, a makeshift cape waving behind him. He looked like a cross between Superman, Count Dracula and a role-playing nerd at a comic book convention. It was, to use a high-falutin' critical term, awesome.
I've always had a soft spot for movies and television shows about business. That's one of the reasons I love Mad Men and Profit so I was geeked that yesterday's episode was all about corporate maneuvering and office politrix. In this 30 Rock, all the groundwork the show has been laying in terms of setting up Jack Donaghy and Will Arnett's Devon Banks rivalry and Donaghy's father-son/mentor/protege relationship with Rip Torn's epic Don Geiss paid rich dividends in a show that was like a rollicking comic opera, or at least a turbo-charged comic corporate melodrama.
Things at NBC heated up as Geiss prepared to pick his successor and Banks jockeyed for position by marrying Geiss' um, very special daughter as a way of boosting his chances. Meanwhile, Donaghy groomed Liz Lemon for a shot at the corporate high-life and she took to it like a Junior Vice President to three-martini expense account lunches. I know Lemon is ostensibly supposed to be little Miss Quirky McSaddo but I found her embrace of power-suit ruthlessness surprisingly convincing. Lemon's formidable mean streak make her a natural for the Darwinian world of board-room combat.
In a spectacularly silly B-plot Tracy Jordan experienced a profound existential crisis after learning that his son is embarrassed by him by achieving his newfound life's goal of creating the world's first pornographic video game. I don't want to burst anyone's bubble but pornographic video games have a long and sordid history. This episode of 30 Rock attained a sort of pleasing comic velocity en route to an extraordinarily satisfying episode-closing capper. It was an extraordinarily well-written, well-acted and clever piece of television comedy that was gloriously cinematic in ambition, look and speed. I was also psyched by the re-appearance of Arnett, Chris Parnell's Dr. Spaceman and brilliant Conan O'Brien supporting player Brian Stack in a minor role.