30 Rock, Season 7, Episodes 12 & 13: “Hogcock!” & “Last Lunch”
“Hogcock!” Written by Jack Burditt & Robert Carlock
“Last Lunch” Written by Tina Fey & Tracy Wigfield
Directed by Beth McCarthy-Miller
Airs Thursdays at 8pm ET on NBC
Tina Fey just stuck the landing on an intensely satisfying final season, something very few sitcoms can lay claim to. If the best seasons of 30 Rock have been its first and last, this finale plays as a transition from one to the other. It begins as a rapid-fire barrage of well-constructed jokes, from Liz’s repartee on the Gotham Moms message boards to Jack’s Six Sigma montage with Jenna’s turn on Law & Order and arrival in LA falling somewhere in between. Around the halfway point of the episode, as TGS is given one last episode, this starts to give way to the character-based sentimentality and attempts at finding closure that have granted the final season with a renewed depth.
Let’s look at the final scene 30 Rock leaves us with. It functions as a St. Elsewhere parody, a meta-fictive reference to the show we just watched, and a gag about Kenneth’s agelessness while maintaining an underlying sweetness that makes it a perfect encapsulation of the seven seasons that preceded it. Or let us take a step back to the pre-tag ending: Jenna’s wistful rendition of The Rural Juror’s theme song intercut with Jack’s clear dishwasher epiphany—in a scene that features the wonderful line “But you have so much to live for! Don’t you want to see how Mad Men ends?”— achieves true pathos in the most absurd way possible. Or Lutz’ surprise emergence as the finale’s MVP in the show’s most cuttingly hilarious use of product placement.
Simply put, this is a show going out at the top. There were times when it lost its way, when it looked like the days of good episodes of 30 Rock were behind us, but the way in which things came together in this final season makes this a tearful goodbye. This isn’t something to regret. Indeed, tearful departures are the ones we remember most fondly. Better to inspire a sense of loss than nothing at all or, even worse, a feeling of relief.
Archer, Season 4, Episode 3: “Legs”
Written by Adam Reed
Airs Thursdays at 10pm ET on FX
Archer bounces back tonight with the best episode of its still young fourth season. Playing Kreiger’s desire to provide Gillette with bionic legs against Archer’s innate fear of all things robotic and creating one of the show’s funniest episodes to date. It relies heavily on the two things that have set Archer apart among the gag-a-minute comedies, character and timing.
Four seasons in, the ease with which Adam Reed is able to pile joke on top of joke still manages to create a sense of awe. He creates the sense that he is assembling a house of cards, each joke building upon two or three previous jokes and reaching a new apex until the whole thing inevitably comes crashing down (or usually blows up). It’s exhilarating to watch.
It’s telling that jokes as funny as the one concerning Archer’s magic bullet are just tossed aside, considered mere side notes. It’s a bit early to tell where things are going with Archer’s fourth season. Something seems to be developing with Ron Cadillac, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Gillette’s bionic nature comes into play when Barry inevitably returns. That said, let’s hope “Legs” is more indicative of the season to come than “The Wind Cries Mary.”