30 Rock Watch: Season 6, Episode 15 - The Shower Principle

If self-reflexive comedy were a food, 30 Rock would be of the Epic Mealtime variety; a big unorganized, but technically sound, heaping of arguably unnecessary comedy calories. It’s strange how this entire sixth season would work better as a first season for some other wit-com with characters we haven’t seen reach pinnacles of illogical redundancy. It goes completely against my enjoyment for a show like Castle, whose predictable mold of twisty mysteries I’m wholly comfortable with. Because it never asked me to accept it as anything but a twisty mystery. But you, 30 Rock, you promised me the world! And you gave me Pluto, and then took it away.

Liz’s day is a near-replica of the same day last year, starting with a visit to her accountant where we see her yearly evolution from buying a restaurant-grade onion ringer to actually eating the onion inside to eating the piece of lettuce beneath the onion ring. (If she’s doing this at home, why is she even using lettuce?) Her journal becomes her guide, as it depicts not only the similar instances of Tracy bugging out of the show, Jenna’s ego going unchecked, and Cerie underdressing due to the newly warm weather, but it also contains possible solutions to these problems. The gawking writers aren’t pleased with one of these solutions. (This year is aided by Hazel and her shirtless, open blazer look, saying “Take a picture, it’ll last longer,” as she hands out a picture of herself in the same bra.) To combat the relentless sense of “Groundhog Year,” she buys herself a meditation stool, forms a mantra, and insists on meditating as a way of figuring out how to disrupt the continuity. She even bought a meditation candle, Summer Horse Grave. It was worth every second it took to come up with this scent.

Jack could use some meditating of his own, as he’s trying everything to promote the Shower Principle, where moments of inspiration occur when the brain is distracted from the problem at hand. (Jack initially thinks meditation is a waste of time, like learning French or kissing after sex.) His problem is with risk-weary Hank Hoover, always with these Hoovers, for wanting to put Kabletown’s yearly profits into the hands of shareholders, instead of back into the company in some creative manner. After all, Corka Coola brand Diet Banana Lime causes tongue “nmmbnss.”

Jack is convinced Kabletown needs to return to G.E.’s days of talking loudly over heavy machinery, and pointing at things. He usurps Liz’s meditation dream (“You now have inner peace, where all pants have built-in underwear.”) and comes to a fleeting realization that Liz is the perfect distraction for him, though it doesn’t pan out for him. So he finally relents, telling himself to “meditate perfectly,” and he falls into the same white limbo Liz was in, only to have a wizened Jack telling him to look behind him, and then commenting on how good he is at meditating. Jack takes “behind you” as a sign the couch he was laying on is the way to go with Kabletown, as couches are the only part of the entertainment complex that Kabletown has not exploited. Slowly, Hank agrees, saying that he is a lot like couches, in that someone tried to buy him once. Not as stupid a conclusion as one might have thought, and it was indeed inspiring to see Jack proudly standing atop the rat-secured level of the warehouse that will soon house couch manufacturing.

And since one plotline sort of made sense, we must follow with two that up the retard ante. TGS is putting on a Macbeth sketch, as performed by McDonalds characters, the McCheeses and the like. Jenna believes her role to be in jeopardy due to the Macbeth curse, which is haunting her by way of falling light fixtures, broken heels, and mousetraps in fridges. She is temporarily replaced by Cerie, whose “Out, out damn spot of mustard,” kills.

Liz tasks Hazel with keeping Jenna in check, but it’s actually Hazel who is the source of the curse all along. She wants to be Liz’s best friend, sharing vintage Jordache jeans with her. She’ll stop the harassment if Jenna never speaks to Liz again. This storyline doesn’t even end, really, as Liz just rants about how Hazel is the same crazy page that Kenneth was, and how everyone involved is the cause for her stagnant monotonous hell. A line like, “Someone won the crotch jackpot,” would be funny on another show, but Hazel telling it to Jenna is just creepy and avoidable. The only part of this story I enjoyed was Jenna’s immediate interruption of Hazel attempting to sing “Amazing Grace” onstage.

Equally useless is Tracy’s story, involving him doing his taxes and realizing that he has to go to Alaska to make 5nowdog5, which he just calls “five now dog five.” The “joke” here is just a list of things that he did during the year that made him a ton of money, such as designing Kate Middleton’s wedding dress. To solve his tax problems, he says he isn’t paying them, and things got heated, so he said he had a bomb. It’s another plot that ends in Liz’s frustrated eruption. Oh and Tracy can’t watch the news without pretending it’s a video game. Hilarious.

The show ends with Jack thanking Liz for being his inspiration, which hasn’t happened on the show before, so they say. It was a nice moment undercut with Liz dumpster diving for her meditation stool and getting pulled in by rats. Even the credits tag, where Mayor McCheese gives the “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” soliloquy that ends in “Would you like to try our Apple Dippers?” was just obvious and unfunny. Maybe it had something to do with waking up to watch the show having a sleeping pill and wine hangover (I work nights, so don’t judge me), but I thought this show to be significantly non-essential. I’m sick of 30 Rock being so 30 Rock in its jokes about 30 Rock. Evolution shouldn’t just occur in Liz’s onion ring habits.

Love for Pete Hornberger, and Other Things

Favorite moment in the show: When we get to see Cerie’s band play on Letterman. It’s just her brushing her hair next to a laptop playing dance beats. (Not even going to try and guess the genre here.) It was, as far as I’m concerned, a perfect character moment.

My least favorite joke of the night: While in the shower, Liz had her moment where she realized what the name of the movie Face/Off meant. So she’s a fucking moron now?

Pete is very displeased that Liz wants Cerie covered up, due to Paula’s cancellation of his subscription to Shape Magazine. As much as I gripe about the repetitive patterns this show drags through the mud, I would read serialized novels about the tribulations of Pete’s sordid depressing life. It has nothing to do with comparable or contrasting elements in my own life, married or otherwise. I just love how the undying optimism smeared across Adsit’s face in every scene. To me, Pete Hornberger is playing Scott Adsit in everyday life outside of the show, the guy who really did buy a letterman jacked with “The German” embroidered on it.

Jack’s proof that he doesn’t believe in meditation is, “I once pantsed Deepak Chopra while Craig T. Nelson taped it.” This should be on a shirt.

I had so many problems writing “mediTation” instead of “mediDation” when writing this. Maybe because it was such a D episode, or that my middle finger felt it needed to be busier.

The running gag about “K” sounds being funny got old as soon as it started.

“Is your mantra, Time to make doughnuts?”

Jack’s example of Liz’s distraction inspiration involved his advice for her to get multiple DVRs bringing him to the decision that all of the unsold dishwashers should be dumped in the ocean. Not even a particularly inspired thought.

This Week In Frank’s Hat: Emoticon Iliterate.(sp)

Hank isn’t fancy enough for bottled water. If he’s thirsty, he’ll just drink the water from lunch that he has stored in his cheek. If I’d have had water in my cheek just then, I would have had a tiny spit take.

I hope I never make the same mistake that Mickey Rourke made on that catamaran in not killing Jenna when he had the chance. I would want Hazel and Tracy to be on it as well. And that Tracy would indeed have the bomb he was talking about.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.