Tag Archives: Al Gore

30 Rock – “Sun Tea”

“Sun Tea”

November 19th, 2009

This is “Green Week” on NBC, which means that every show has some sort of environmental sustainability storyline in it. And while the shows did similar episodes a few seasons ago (The Office did its “Survivorman” parody and 30 Rock did the great “Greenzo”), it’s a well that has quite a bit of content in it, depending on how the shows wants to go about it.

While The Office (which I won’t be reviewing tonight, although I’ll probably throw some thoughts onto the end of the page) simply used it as a theme for the cold open (as it did with Halloween), 30 Rock takes a more continuous and as a result scattered approach. Giving Kenneth the task of “greening” 30 Rock felt forced, and while the episode wanted to try to make it seem subversive and clever the show has done too many similar things before.

However, continuing last week’s improvement on the season as a whole, this week had a cohesive point of view if we ignore the environmental side of things, presenting two stories that allowed for both some brilliant absurdity and actions which are driven by character rather than plot. And, just when you think that the environmental story is entirely worthless, the show spins off a few random parts of other scenes into the storyline and helps bring everything full circle in a sequence that actually is as clever as it wants it to be.

Plus, Teddy Ruxpin was a frakkin’ lawyer.

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The 2008 Television Time Capsule: Recount (HBO)


Made for Television Movie

Airdate: May 25th, 2008

While many of the selections in the 2008 TV Time Capsule deserve Emmy attention in their future, this is one selection that has already made its way to Emmy glory. I watched Recount over the summer, and much like Generation Kill it follows a highly political event in America’s history, taking us behind the scenes of the 2000 Federal Recount which decided whether George Bush or Al Gore would become President of the United States.

As with Generation Kill, we know the ending already: this doesn’t, however, make the film any less powerful. With great turns from Kevin Spacey, Tom Wilkinson, Bob Balaban, Denis Leary, and especially Laura Dern as Catherine Harris, the film manages to elide the candidates themselves while maintaining all of the momentum of those final moments. By focusing on the minutia, the lawyers and the campaign staff and the people who handled the various recounts, the film revels in not the result of the film (the cancellation of the recount and the victory of George W. Bush) but how that result was felt by the people who fought on both sides.

The film shouldn’t have been the success it was: written by Danny Strong, best known for his stints on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Gilmore Girls as an actor and not a writer, and directed by Jay Roach, best known for his directorial work with Mike Myers, it didn’t feel like it had the kind of prestige you often see from these HBO “Special Events.” But its quality, and its eventual Emmy win, are a testament to the work of both men, rising to the challenge; you could tell this was an intensely personal project for all involved, a fact which took a potentially clich├ęd piece of political opportunism in the buildup to the ’08 election and turned it into a darn great television movie.

Like Generation Kill, the film poses questions about what might have been, but there is more distance here: yes, Bush’s presidency has played a largely detrimental role over these eight years, but as we head towards his final days as President there is an end in sight. The film never feels like propaganda, but Recount is nonetheless the kind of sort of statement that democracy needs: it presents people committed to the process in a way that nearly changed history, and if that inspired anyone to the polls in November then the film deserves its place in the Time Capsule that much more.

[For more details on the Cultural Learnings 2008 Television Time Capsule, click here!]


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30 Rock – “Greenzo” and The Office – “Survivor Man”

NBC’s Green Week has been largely unsuccessful at actually convincing me they care about the environment, but last night my two favourite NBC shows joined the fray. While neither were entirely overrun by their environmental theming, I would argue that one was largely more successful than the other.


November 8th, 2007

This episode of 30 Rock has officially proven that Tina Fey’s series is perhaps the most versatile on television at this moment. Between the character of Jack Donaghy, the television network construct and a smart use of self-referential humour, the show effortlessly takes a theme and turns it into a sharp and succinct episode of television.

What I love is that, despite being forced to commit to a weekly NBC theming, the episode actually had the largest contribution from the supporting cast thus far this season. Kenneth’s party was a great way for us to get to see that this is actually, you know, a cast and crew of a TV show; it’s surrealistic turn at the end of the episode was just the right conclusion, especially because of Jack’s awesome, awesome hair.

The environmental storyline hit the right spot – David Schwimmer was good as Greenzo, Al Gore’s cameo was well-handled, and the aggressive tone Greenzo took was just the kind of mean streak I like to see from the show sometimes. It felt like just another strong 30 Rock episode that just happened to tell us about the environment.

Favourite Lines

  • “It combines my two favourite things: Boxing and Referees!” – Tracy on Foxy Boxing
  • “What do you do with the pop tart?!” – Liz making me dislike Pop Tarts more
  • “I don’t understand what’s happening!” – Kenneth
  • “Shhh…a whale is in trouble!” – Al Gore selling the line like a champ
  • “This earth is ruined, we gotta get a new one” – Liz when the Earth is…set on fire.

“Survivor Man”

November 8th, 2007

I’ve been watching some Survivorman recently, the TV show where a crazy guy goes out into the Amazon or some other dangerous location with only a match, a few things he can MacGyver, and his own crazy self. But, I now imagine a world where said crazy man left behind a dysfunctional group of characters who just weren’t the same without him. Not only was Michael Scott’s foray into the woods largely not that funny (except for Dwight), but Jim’s time alone in the office just wasn’t as sharp as it could be.

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