’30 Rock’ – ‘Operation Righteous Cowboy Lightning’: Uptown girl vs. backstreet guy

Senior Television Writer
01.28.11 59 Comments


A quick review of last night’s “30 Rock” coming up just as soon as I buy two blimps to crash them into each other…

The writers’ room subplot was a total miss, but otherwise “Operation Righteous Cowboy Lightning” was a damn funny, satisfying episode of “30 Rock.”

Two obvious scenes stand out. The first is Tracy finding a loophole in the reality show camera problem by singing his complaints to Liz to the tune of “Uptown Girl.” Inspired, random, funny and then cool as Liz and Tracy started harmonizing as she backed angrily out of his dressing room. Definitely feels like the kind of moment I can turn to on the Interwebs when I’m in need of an instant smile.

The second was the payoff to the telethon subplot. While I liked Jack’s diabolical idea, I actually found a lot of the set-up scenes a bit uneven, other than Robert DeNiro being secretly English. But the reveal of what the disaster was – not just Mel Gibson’s private island (a callback to the earlier joke about how all crazy celebrities buy their own islands), but that he had Jon Gosselin as his houseguest – had me in hysterics. I didn’t think anything on last night’s NBC comedies could make me laugh as hard as the Rob Lowe bathroom scene from “Parks and Recreation,” but that came awfully close, and Jack’s panic was splendidly-played by Alec Baldwin.

And getting back to the Liz/Tracy story for a moment, I liked how it dealt with their long history, and with the place in their careers both were at back in the pilot episode. In last week’s review, I talked about how the Liz/Jack relationship is the only one the show ever asks us to take seriously. I think Liz/Tracy has the capability to be like that at times, but the show rarely tries to go there because it’s so easy to just let Tracy Morgan act crazy.(*) Here though, there were some honest character moments in admidst the wackiness and feuding, and it made me appreciate that story just as much as the Billy Joel’ing.

(*) He doesn’t always need to be told to act crazy, as those of you who saw him on TNT’s NBA pregame show last night can attest (clip NSFW).  

Plus, a Dennis cameo! It’s been far too long, and I hope next time he can be around a bit longer.

What did everybody else think?

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