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30 Rock: "Cougars"

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Oh, but it fills me with profound despair to think that 30 Rock will lapse into reruns in just two short weeks. Because tonight's episode, "Cougars," was eight different shades of awesome. Thankfully an episode called "Ludichristmas" still lies in our collective future. Ah, Ludichristmas, that most glorious of holidays.

I've set the bar really high for this show of shows yet it still manages to surprise me. An elaborate Iraq War allegory housed in a plot involving Jack Donaghy hijacking Tracy Morgan's inner city baseball team and transforming it into a disastrous quagmire through leadership that aspires to be Churchillian yet dead ends at Bushian (that would be Jr. not his looking-better-by-the-day dad)? Good old Liz Lemon and Frank competing for the same 20-year-old dreamboat? Creepy, unexpected homoeroticism? Animal strip clubs? Quotable line after quotable line after quotable line? 30 Rock has gotten into a borderline transcendent groove this season where brilliance is commonplace and barely a minute goes by without a big-ass laugh.

In yet another casually satirical winner, Tracy Jordan is forced to coach a baseball team as part of his community service (where, pray tell, do you think they came up with the idea of Jordan's character being in trouble with the law? What imagination those writers possess!), only to have his vanilla-face boss turn the team into the baseball equivalent of Baghdad on a bad day. Meanwhile, Liz Lemon somehow finds herself competing with baseball-hat-enthusiast Frank for the affections of a 20-year-old coffee delivery boy with some serious mother issues.

Cultural confusion was the name of the game tonight as Jack found himself trying to win the hearts and minds of people he knows nothing about so he can turn them into good little neo-cons while Liz tries to delude herself into thinking she's a fun young person instead of a cantankerous old coot whose primary preoccupations are finding chairs with adequate back support, getting enough roughage in her diet, and getting a solid nine hours of sleep a night (or maybe I'm just projecting my own issues onto her).


Lemon has definitely been looking and dressing alot sexier this season. She is our culture's reigning sexy librarian (who even compares?), so it was strangely refreshing to see her once again suffer romantic humiliation in stride. At least she fared better than Jenna, who tried to get a Demi/Ashton thing going with a bratty college freshman yet behaved more like a hectoring, disapproving aunt. Television simply doesn't get much better than this.

Grade:A Stray Observations (Special super-lazy all quotes edition) -"Especially when I say "don't hit me with my own shoes." -"Is it like when they found my grandfather at the bus station?" -"I'm gonna be a talkative doorman with a drinking problem." -"Someday I'll have an office like this. To Clean." -"Hey you guys, it's that king we met!" -"At the first practice they asked me what the sun was." -"It makes me so sad that more people don't know about Cougars." -"Which biography of Winston Churchill will improve Rashid's bunting?" -"There was nothing Churchillian in their play!" -"Oh, when will death come?" -"They just changed bartenders. I wonder if he will serve me." -"Boy, the art here is really level."


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