Friday, December 12, 2008

Merry Almost Christmas!...

... is how Tina Fey's Liz Lemon starts this sixth episode of 30 Rock's third season, aptly titled: "Christmas Special." She strides into the writers' room with the announcement that they all "get to" participate in a charity program called "Letters to Santa." Collective booing ensues. Jenna is eager to help, but only because she's drunk on some cheap brandy she hopes is not simply seasonal, and Kenneth, of course, takes one, too, though even Toofer can't hold back his wondering of who could be more unfortunate than Kenneth? Jack, meanwhile, has slipped down to Florida to give his mother an "adequate," albeit early, Christmas so then he can steal away to Rio for a real Christmas and some "tanning in the nude." Naturally, happiness is not possible at a 30 Rock Christmas, though, so as he is on his way out, he ends up backing his car into his mother and is forced to spend the holiday helping her heal.

Elaine Stritch is back "here... in [Jack's] home" because some "quack doctor" recommended she be around family at this tumultuous time. She has a new, titanium hip, which is only going to make her stronger, and Jack is cowering in her newfound power as he leans over Liz' desk and reports to her on all that has gone wrong for him. Liz promises to come over and "entertain" his mother with a little something she calls "what if Saint Nick was Nic Cage?" Jack scurries out of the room, but personally, I'm intrigued. And I think SNL called dibs on the rights already.

Liz and Jenna are in what appears to be a K-Mart buying presents for the underprivileged, and Liz' cart is full of electronics, including a flat-screen HDTV. Please, Liz, adopt me this year! She wants to ensure the nine and five year olds whose names she drew have the best possible holiday because that is what should happen-- unlike some people, who get a call two days before the holiday from their mother who says "she's not up to hosting Christmas this year." Well, sure, after the Ludachristmas debacle where the whole Lemon family got into a shouting match at a four star restaurant, I'm not sure I'd be up for it either.

Mrs. Donaghy passive aggressively points out to Liz that she doesn't blame her son for running her over, but that the worst part of this whole thing is really that the Cartier watch he bought her broke in the accident. He points out it's not Cartier, and she pointedly tells him she knows that, and Cartier was what she wanted. Jack pulls Liz aside and confesses he can't do this-- spend the holidays, let alone time in general, with his mother-- and he waited eight minutes after hitting her to make sure she was okay. Of course Liz tries to make him feel better and says he was in shock, and it happens... but she begins to wonder if it was an accident at all.

Liz plans to deliver her toys personally, and when she reads the address aloud, Tracy objects wildly, saying that "in the spirit of Christmas," he can't let her go into such a neighborhood alone, but before they can run out, Jack runs in, saying they are going to put on a live Christmas Eve special this year, simply as a ploy to get away from his mother. Kenneth breaks down in tears-- and for once, not happy ones.

Liz drops off her presents with two thirty-something men who wheel the wagon into their barren apartment and slam the door in her face before she can get out even a full sentence of her speech. Tracy asks her what the past tense for "scam" is: "Is it scrumped?" Either way, she got had, and decides she wants to talk to whoever screens the letters, but the post office just points her toward a giant cardboard box where any joker can drop in a wishlist. Note to self for next year... Jenna takes to the last minute rehearsal, grateful to have yet another opportunity to sing on camera. Jack doesn't even care they're going into quadruple overtime; he is just happy he can give some kids what he thinks will be "the perfect Christmas" gift. Because he never had a good Christmas once his dad was gone; his mother would make him play the piano so she could sing for her gentleman caller...

Jack can't go back to his apartment, so he is still in the same suit from yesterday. If he goes back, he thinks he will unconsciously kill his mother, since he already broke her other hip by flinging her off the couch. Liz just wants to know if he knows the postmaster general, though, because now it has become her misguided mission to completely shut down the Letters to Santa program because she is so outraged by how she was taken for a fool. Cue impassioned speech about her being a "Scrooge" from Kenneth. After all, Christmas is a religious holiday, and religion never hurt anyone! Mrs. Donaghy has figured out Jack waited the eight minutes, though, and she's out for blood after comparing his cell phone bill, highlighting the 911 call to the time the rinky dink watch he gave her stopped working, to the tune of no match. “Numbers, unlike children, don’t lie.” He refuses to let her take down this Christmas, like so many others, though, and just storms off, asking for "more snow machines!"

Liz, Tracy, and now Kenneth, head back to the apartment so she can prove she was scammed, but this time two little boys do open the door and say there are presents under the tree. She bends down to be eyelevel with them and talks about how she did it all, and she's such a great person for it, and the older boy freaks out that she is saying there is no Santa Claus. The original guys come to the door and point out that the letter said "Dear Santa, not Dear Lonely White Lady," and once again, they slam the door on her while she is offering tickets to a "live Christmas special in the tradition of Andy Williams." After all the hype, I at least hope we get to see a little some of what Jack calls "will make It's A Wonderful Life look like Pulp Fiction!" Liz cut Mrs. Claus from the show, though, because she thought Jack was only kidding, and when he tells her of the wonderful Christmas tradition that is Mrs. Claus, she points out that it's "not a thing" and must have been something special only his mother did for him. Cue the chorus of "aww's." Even the usually sardonic 30 Rock’s icy heart warms a bit at Christmas time!

Best lines of the night:

Kenneth, on how he finds those less fortunate than him: "There are these Nigerians on the internet that help me."

Liz, scooping musical African American Santa dolls into her cart: "I kind of assumed they'd rap, which is racist on my part, but whatever: best Christmas ever; you're welcome!"

Jenna, trying to convince Jack his idea is not a good one: "Christmas is a sacred time for me and my surrogate family, so if you are willing to look four, twenty-four year old gay guys in the eyes and tell them that we are not going to see New Kids on the Block... be my guest."

No comments: