Except Seinfeld, which aired at 9 o’clock, refused to take part. So the lights miraculously came back on for a half-hour, then went out again at 9:30.
I was thinking of that a little as I watched Thursday’s 30 Rock, which for my money was the best episode of the season. The show doesn’t have enough clout to go the Seinfeld route, so it played along with NBC’s "Green Week" theme — but only in the snarkiest, tongue-sticking-outest way it could. God love Tina Fey and Co.
(Is that a whale in trouble I hear? Nope, it’s just the spoilers.)
Let’s take a look at all the stuff 30 Rock poked fun at this week: corporate lip service to environmentalism; the sanctimony of the true believer; pompous actors; Al Gore (with help from the man himself); the network; product placement; itself. Pretty good stuff, and that was just the A-story, which featured David Schwimmer playing the increasingly full-of-himself Greenzo, the first "non-judgmental, business-friendly environmental advocate."
Schwimmer plays an out-of-work actor (his last job was in a Rick Lazio ad) who’s psyched to get a gig ("You’re saying ‘gig’ a lot," Liz notes) as the corporate spokesstooge, Jack’s entry in a GE-wide contest to see "who can make the most money off this environmental trend." So Greenzo goes on Today, where he explains to good sport Meredith Vieira that the planet can be made safer with the purchase of a GE front-loading washer.
Greenzo starts to take his planet-mending mission to heart, though, scolding Cerie for leaving the refrigerator door open ("Did he just talk to me like I’m ugly") and wanting to give notes on the material Liz writes for him (to "make sure it has that Greenzo voice — wry and wise, but also very sexual").
I was never much of a Ross fan, but I have to hand it to Schwimmer: He sold out for this part and was completely unafraid to look like a tool (which is probably a must when you’re wearing a dorky superhero costume for the whole episode). Ditto Al Gore, who’s probably the first Nobel Peace Prize laureate to appear on a sitcom within a month of winning the award. Loved Liz’s star-struck reaction to him — "Hi, I’m Lemon" — and his spilling of information that the staunch conservative, money-loving Jack used to work for Ted Kennedy.
Other "Greenzo" goodness:
- Jenna: "The only reason men start taking care of themselves is if they’re getting someone to have sex with them. Otherwise they just sit at home in their own filth." Cue Frank, in a dirty wifebeater, leaving the office because they’re out of string cheese.
- A collection of Greenzo lines: "Do you even bother to compost your own feces?" To Jack: "Merry [Vieira] was totally into me. Have you hit that?" And, "When I die, they’ll want to put my face on money. If there is money, and not just hugs."
- Liz on the out-of-control rumors about the party: "People are going to show up expecting all these great things, and they’ll be really disappointed and angry." Tracy: "Just like Colonial Williamsburg."
- Liz’s reaction to catching Pete and his wife, particularly when she saw her sweater was attached to Pete’s wrist. The Pete stuff was all pretty good, actually; Scott Adsit is a little underrated, and it’s good to see him more a part of the show.
- Jack, after Greenzo goes off the reservation: "I knew we should’ve gotten Angie Harmon."
Greenzo out: How’d you like this week’s eco-wacky 30 Rock?