’30 Rock’ – ‘Murphy Brown Lied to Us’: KouchTown breakdown

A review of last night’s “30 Rock” coming up just as soon as I make out with Paz de la Huerta at a children’s museum…

Even by the standards of this terrific late-career renaissance “30 Rock” is having in its sixth season, “Murphy Brown Lied To Us” felt special. Not only is it the most I’ve laughed at an episode in a long time, it featured a fantastic Jack/Liz moment in the climax. Once upon a time, Jack looking to the children of Liz Lemon as the saviors of America would have been a joke, but here it’s completely sincere. Compared to the yokels Jack has to deal with at his new couch business, Liz Jr. and Criss Jr. would combine to produce super-geniuses. (It’s the plot of “Idiocracy” come to life!)

But even before that super sweet moment at the KouchTown factory, “Murphy Brown Lied To Us” just kept throwing joke after brilliant joke at us, particularly anything to do with the couches themselves: Stacy Keach in a series of parodies of the Clint Eastwood car commercial from the Super Bowl (which later combined with the great, if out-of-left-field, running gag about the horribleness of Bazooka gum), the couch forcing Jack and then Liz into a stress position, the very literally-named and weird masters of the furniture distribution industry (Ethan Allen was my favorite), etc. I’ve had to take a few pauses from writing this paragraph because I started laughing all over again at the thought of Keach spitting at the camera lens or Liz wailing, “I can see pain!!!!”

Liz’s story brought back a plot that Tina Fey and company abandoned years ago, but one that they may be in a better position to pull off now. Not only is it relatively late in the run – leaving out whatever Alec Baldwin’s latest proclamation is, it’s easy to imagine NBC ordering a seventh season with the understanding that it’ll be the last – but Liz has a stable love interest who’s stuck around for quite a while, and who presumably would be able to keep appearing as needed. (James Marsden’s busy, but not as busy as Matt Damon.) There’s the cliche about babies ruining sitcoms, but we’ve already seen through Jack’s relationship with Liddy that “30 Rock” knows exactly how much time it can or can’t get away with devoting to little kids, and how to make those scenes funny when they happen.

Even the requisite Tracy/Jenna subplot (usually the iffiest part of any “30 Rock” episode) worked, as Jenna’s breakdown got more and more ridiculous, continued the ongoing joke about Mickey Rourke’s attempts to kill her(*), and had a simultaneously heartwarming and gross reunion with Paul, which Tracy (who has, as far as he knows, never made a mistake) will have to witness because of the handcuffs.

(*) At a certain point before the season’s out, I half-expect the Rourke and Bazooka Joe gags to combine.

Such a good episode. Such a good season.

What did everybody else think?