30 Rock 3.12 “Larry King”

nup_133219_0037Talk about timing – the stock market continues it’s basement descent, and 30 Rock gives us an episode about financial panic. Perhaps the fact this one hit a little too close to reality and that’s why it didn’t rise to it’s usual level of excellence for me.

We open on Jack and Elisa waiting in line at a food cart. A guy in front of them juggles a baby and all that goes with them. Jack snorts that the guy “used to be a man,” but Elisa shoots him down and says, “What’s wrong with you? Don’t you want that – a wife, family?” Uh-oh, looks like they’re headed for “the talk.”

Liz’s office. Jack walks in, saying, “Lemon, you’re a woman. “Of course I am! That Dr. was a a quack. I don’t even know why my parents listened to him!” She must have been watching House recently. Turns out Jack just wants her advice as a woman. He and Elisa haven’t known each other in the Biblical sense, though they’ve done other things. Liz asks him to spare us the details (thanks, Liz!) and says that Jack shouldn’t sleep with Elisa unless he really loves her. And more importantly, she’s had sex two more times than Jack in 2009! Jack reluctantly high fives her. C’mon, Jack! It’s Jon Hamm! Show some enthusiasm.

The halls of TGS. Tracy runs into Pete and Liz and they discuss his upcoming appearance on Larry King Live. Tracy has been swearing for the past three hours to get it all out of his system – heh. Pete asks him to be sure to plug TGS, Fridays on NBC. Tracy repeats back something like NGT of Tuesday GCB, so who knows. Pete and Liz walk off, when Pete’s iPhone (hello, product placement!) rings and it’s Liz, who’s there with him. Oh wait, it’s the taxi driver she had this morning. She left her phone in his car. Aseef, played by Ajay Naidu (who I will always love from Office Space), wants $800 to give her her phone back, once he realizes she works with Tracy Jordan. Liz makes incredulous noises.

Jack’s office. Elisa stops by with a caricature of herself on a skateboard for Jack (huh?) to enjoy while she’s off to visit her family in Puerto Rico. She’s gone home for the winter every year for the past 15 years and this one will be no different – unless Jack knows a reason she should stay? Jack says, “Well played,” and says how great they are together. They’re Jack and Elisa – Jalisa! and holds up a t-shirt with a picture of the two of them in a heart with “JALISA” underneath. It’s kind of funny, but it’s a little too much appros pros of nothing in short order. Skateboarding? Funny t-shirts? Anyway, Jack goes on to say he loves her. Elisa loves him too, and says she will stay, but if she does, she’s doing it to spend time with Jack. Jack calls in Jonathan and tells him to clear his schedule, starting with tonight. Jonathan is sad and says, “But what about Jackonathan?” OK, that might have been a little funny. Elisa tells Jack she thinks tonight will be very special.

Tracy is on Larry King Live. Look, it’s Larry King! He might have been the funniest part of this episode. He looks very dapper in purple too. Anderson Cooper could take some notes on how to jazz up his wardrobe from Larry King. Tracy has just recounted the plot of Teen Wolf when breaking news hits – the Asian markets are in a free fall. Tracy hops right in with some financial analysis and says New York as we know it will no longer exist tomorrow. It will be the 70’s all over again – grafitti, mean people, and $3 movies.

Jack holds a huge bouquet of roses and gets into an elevator just as some dude in a suit with file folders freaks out about the Asian market. Jack blows him off and says he’s on vacation. Liz is also in the elevator, so of course, Jack’s iPhone rings and it’s Aseef, still holding Liz’s phone for ransom. The stakes are raised though – he’s found a naughty picture of her. Those two times with Drew must have been pretty special, Liz! Liz is horrified, Jack is delighted and wants to talk to Aseef. Aseef now wants $2000.

The writers are hanging out, watching Tracy on Larry King. Liz is getting ready to leave to pay the ransom for her phone and none of them will go with her. Kenneth says’s he’ll go, but when he learns it’s in Queens, he says he can’t go as an NBC page due to insurance liabilities. But he would go as her friend. He is her friend, right? Say it! “Fine, you’re my friend,” Liz says, and she and Kenneth set off.

Larry King. The Mumbai market is down. Tracy says everyone should take a deep breath, calm down, and start preparing their bodies for the Thunderdome – that’s the new law. People are standing around watching on TV at a coffee shop, then one of them steals the TV.

Liz and Kenneth have taken the subway as far as they can. They’re in a bad neighborhood – Kenneth gets tagged just standing next to Liz! Not the page jacket! Kenneth wonders why they’re risking life and limb for a stupid cell phone, so Liz concocts an elaborate lie about how her Nana was dying and she went to visit her so her Nana could record a German lullaby she used to sing to her on her phone, then Nana died on Liz’s birthday. Kenneth wonders what the song was and Liz starts singing, “99 Luftballoons.”

Jalisa snuggle in satin robes. Elisa compliments Jack on his performance, which Jack credits in part to the episode of American Masters he saw last night on Baryshnikov. The doorbell rings, and Elisa hops up to get it, expecting sushi. Instead, she gets the NBC guys in suits, panicking about the Asian market and their inability to find NBC President Don Geiss. Jack says no amount of money could tear him away from Elisa, then suit #1 shows him how much money on his phone and Jack says, “I’ll get dressed.”

Larry King. The writers are still watching. Undersecretary to the Treasury is blah, blah, blahing about how we should remain calm and leave our money in the banks. Tracy cuts him off and says people should freak out and hide their money. He’s done just that – he hides money everywhere, even at work. In fact, he’s hidden so much he wouldn’t even notice if some was gone. The writers scatter like cockroaches to start searching.

Liz and Kenneth on the streets of Queens. A gang of children attack and steal Liz’s wallet. Her photos fall out of her purse, and Kenneth spots one of her and Nana. But what’s this? Nana is wearing 2009 New Year’s glasses. Didn’t she die in November on Liz’s birthday? Liz tries to say that was the year Nana wanted to live until, but even Kenneth isn’t that dumb, and tells her to sing the lullaby again and recognizes it as “99 Red Balloons.” Liz says, “Fine, you want the truth?” “I can’t handle the truth!” Kenneth shrieks. Liz tells him there’s an adult picture of her on the phone. “What, do you mean like driving a car or wearing a suit?” No, Kenneth, with boobies! And they’re both pointing in the same direction, which is why she kept it. Liz thinks that if she had told him the truth, Kenneth wouldn’t have helped. Kenneth says you don’t lie to your friends, and Liz says well, maybe they’re not friends. “But you said-” “You made me!” is Liz’s angry reply. Kenneth, hurt, leaves. I don’t blame him.

Jack’s office. Everyone is in crisis mode because they can’t find Don Geiss. Jonathan verifies he’s checked both Geiss’ mistress and manstress. Jonathan says they should listen to Tracy Jordan and panic, at which point they cut to the TV and Tracy saying, “The Disneyfication of New York is over! At midnight, your Lexus is going to to turn into a high pile of rats fighting over a human finger.” Jack takes action and calls in to Larry King, saying if it was a real emergency he, VP of NBC, wouldn’t be home relaxing with his hot Latin girlfriend. Just as Larry asks for more info on the hot girlfriend, Tracy rejects Jack as an impostor and tells Larry to hang up. As Jack is cut off, Elisa walks into his office. She’s pissed. She asks what will happen if Jack leaves – will anyone die? I guess this is a rhetorical question because she answers no, they’ll all just get poor like the rest of us and have to eat cereal out of a box and spend time with their children. NBC suit #1 says, “Who is this woman and why isn’t someone shutting her up?” Sadly, Elisa doesn’t get to deck him. Jack dangles his keys out to her, saying, “Go back to my apartment and wait for me.” Elisa snatches the keys and throws them to the ground with a resounding, “No!” She turns to leave and Jack says, “Elisa, you don’t understand. What’s happening here is a once in a lifetime thing.” “So am I!” Elisa smartly retorts, turns on her heel and leaves, her glossy hair fanning out behind her.

The writers are looking for Tracy’s money, and have turned TGS upside down. Pete finally gets the great idea just to call Tracy and ask him where he hid it, so he does. Tracy thinks “Pete from Manhattan” is his good friend Peter Frampton. Again with the appros pros of nothing. Tracy gives a crazy riddle of an answer, saying he hid it in the “safest place in 30 Rock.”

Jack’s office. Jonathan scampers in with a VHS tape sent by Don Geiss, played so well by Rip Torn. Yes, Jack does have a VCR, so Jonathan can watch Jack’s old football tapes. But Jack doesn’t know why that camcorder is in the credenza. Jonathan plays dumb. The tape is entitled, “Play in the Event of an Economic Meltdown,” and was taped in 1987. After some more random pop culture references (seriously, The Noid? ), Don Geiss says it all comes down to love, love is all that matters. Jack almost looks teary.

Jack is about to dive into his waiting Town Car when he spots Elisa, sitting on her suitcase. Cab drivers want $500 to drive to JFK and the buses are worse. Everything has gone crazy. Jack tells her that he knows she wants commitment, not just words, and proposes to her. She says yes, and goes on to say she wants a ring so big it gives her back problems. They kiss.

Liz finds Aseef in the Queens parking garage with her missing iPhone. He asks for the money, which was stolen by the juvenile delinquents. Aseef mocks her for not having any friends to call, noting how all her numbers are work related, and says he’ll just watch TV until she comes up with the money. More Tracy on Larry King! Cut to the writers destroying more of TGS in their efforts to find the money. Cut to Queens – Kenneth has come to Liz’s rescue! Except he doesn’t have $2000. Cut to Pete calling Tracy again on Larry King. Tracy repeats his riddle about the money being hidden in the safest place in 30 Rock, at which point Kenneth realizes that he is the safest place in 30 Rock. I don’t know, Kenneth, you did manage to get yourself tagged. Anyway, he rips open his jacket lining to find it padded with cash. After handing a wad to Aseef, and telling him to kindly return the lady’s phone, Kenneth and Liz leave, friends once more. Kenneth even gets Liz to say she’ll come to his asbestos removal party on Sunday! I’ll bet it’s a masked ball. Geddit?

The next morning. Jonathan is straightening Jack’s office while the Today show is on in the background. The US markets have opened unaffected by the Asian economic crisis, and people are blaming the panic in New York on Tracy Jordan, who is joining Meredith Veira now. After asking him what he has to say for himself, Tracy replies, “Watch TGS on NBC on Friday’s at 10:30!” Not quite the plug they were looking for, Tracy. Jack shows up in his office, looking for Elisa. They’re supposed to have a couples spa day. Jonathan hands Jack a remote and says she said to push play. Elisa pops up on a video, saying that last night was crazy and she thinks that Jack just proposed out of panic. She’s going to Puerto Rico to think things over, and she’ll call him. “Adios, mi amor.” Aww, not for good! Come back, Salma Hayek! I love Jalisa! She futzes with turning off the camcorder so we can get a good shot of her cleavage, then the tape cuts to Jonathan, shirtless playing the flute in Jack’s office. “That’s personal!” Jonathan shrieks before snatching the tape out of the VCR and running from Jack’s office.

See you next week, folks!

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