30 ROCK S04E04: ACTOR EMERGENCY

30 Rock

all images © NBC

[Ed. Note–Due to some unforeseen scheduling conflicts, Elizabeth will no longer be doing recaps for us. Lisa will take over our 30 Rock recaps in a few weeks. Until then, you’re stuck with me. This is a recap of last Thursday’s 30 Rock. Season 4, Episode 4: “Audition Day”. SPOILER ALERT, duh.]


Wow, 30 Rock is a difficult show to recap! It reaches Arrested Development levels of callbacks and references. And so many great laffs, how to choose which to recount for you! Classic Sophie’s Choice, right here. Yet we must keep f***ing that chicken, so here I go:

It’s audition day on TGS, and Liz and Pete want their pick, Jayden Michael Tyler, to be the next cast member. But it’s Jack’s decision, so they have to rig the audition in Jayden’s favor with “The Hornberger System.”

"The first guy Jack’s settling in, the second he hates, the third is Jayden, the fourth proves how good Jayden is!"

"I’m already not liking some of these people, it reminds me of being on the bus."

But Liz compromises the system when she caves in to her humanity and lets Dotcom audition, too. This opens the floodgates and soon, everyone wants in. Including this respected nightly news anchor in my favorite little bit of the episode:

Hey everyone, let’s be friends with Brian Williams, k?

"I’m not saying I want to audition, but Nicki Mattorulo from Scotch Plains, New Jersey might be interested, ey fuggedaboudit."

Meanwhile, Jack is having problems of his own. He’s got bedbugs, Chew Daddies, Ozark’s Kisses, The Woodsman’s Companion, Blue Ridge Quill Ticklers, Mugabe’s Concubine. And it might as well be leprosy in the Middle Ages, considering how his fellow executives treat him once they find out.

On this show, even the product placement is hilarious

Cisco: the Human Network

They won’t even let him use his company car! He has to take the subway to the dermatologist. There are a bunch of funny things going on in this scene, but my favorite was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Easter egg for the superfans, the brief reappearance of Moonvest!

President of CBS

When even this guy doesn’t want to be near you, you know you’ve got problems.

Remember him?

Jack is having trouble dealing with his new pariah status. Even Kenneth won’t touch him.

"Make me feel human again."

"Embrace me, Kenneth."

"I've got, a, uh…thing…"

"Et tu, Kenneth?"

Jack discovers a newfound sense of empathy and gives everyone who wants to audition a chance to try out, further messing with the Hornberger system. To perfect the equation, Pete has to run outside and bring in a random street performer:

System Error

"You wanna be on a TV show?"

Once the auditions are through, it seems the Hornberger system has prevailed. However, it turns out that Jayden is totally crazy, and Jenna was right all along! (Long story we don’t have space to get into.) The best part about this is that we get to hear Liz Lemon’s Chistopher Walken impression.

"Give…it up…I figured auht… your game!"

"Would a crazy person laugh like this?"

Yet despite the Hornberger system, Jack fortunately hired the Robot instead. Apparently the Robot was the only person in New York willing to shake his bedbug-ridden hand, and Jack found that profoundly touching (sorry).

Jack probably doesn’t even realize the reference he’s making with that hand gesture.

"The Code of the Robot: Care, Love, Live."

Well, that’s my recap! Sadly, there was a ton of stuff I didn’t get to. Just the cost of doing recaps, though, I guess. Compression troubles. There’s really no substitute for the real thing. But don’t fret, folks: you can always watch it online.

A few last things. There was a great subplot involving Dotcom’s actorly aspirations, and Kenneth got the best line of the night:

“Back in Stone Mountain, even the mayor had bedbugs. And she was a horse.”

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