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’30 Rock’ Review: “Governor Dunston”

30 Rock Season 7 Bryan Cranston Governor Dunston
NBC

30 Rock‘ gets political this week with “Governor Dunston,” in which the episode’s title refers to Mitt Romney’s new running mate who looks just like Tracy, which means Jack can’t tank the network just yet.

It turns out Paul Ryan was born in Kenya, so Mitt Romney has to adopt a new presidential running mate and he chooses Governor Dunston, a guy who looks — and kind of acts — just like Tracy, making him perfect fodder for TGS. Unfortunately, Jack is still trying to tank the network and Liz can’t resist lampooning the governor, which winds up going over so well with Hank that he requests TGS air new episodes five nights a week.

This becomes problematic not just for Jack, but Liz as well, who is trying to find time to have sex with Criss so they can have a baby. ’30 Rock’ takes the tired stereotype of a woman being less interested in sex and revives it (as it’s done many times before) by having Liz annoyed with the idea of having sex, especially the idea of Criss trying to make it fun. Luckily, she discovers that organizing her schedule for the show and her personal life is a major turn-on, and her and Criss go so far as to hilariously sex it up in a Staples — using White Out the way some people might use whipped cream. Side note: where the hell did Criss’ hair go?! It will be missed, but James Marsden actually rocks the shaved look pretty well, and it only took about five minutes for me to get used to this new look.

Tracy Morgan gets some great lines this week that might be unfortunately overshadowed by his Governor Dunston stuff –namely the bit involving Black Hitler’s restaurant reservation and when Tracy refers to the internet as “Al Gore’s internet.” He does fine work as Dunston, but it’s really just more of the same old Tracy stuff with a country accent, bodily function humor, and a bad wig.

Jenna struggles this week with the concept of the music industry when her royalty check for the hit song “Balls” (yes, really) is a mere $90. She doesn’t get much of  a plot this week, and is instead shoe-horned into one with Kenneth, whose mom and her “friend Ron” have come to visit. Kenneth’s mom and her long-fabled friend Ron (the incredible Catherine O’Hara and Bryan Cranston) are big fans of Jenna’s, so they relish in getting to spend lunch talking to her while she eats baby food with chopsticks, but it’s not all about Jenna this week because Ron lets it accidentally slip that he married Kenneth’s mom in secret, allowing for Kenneth to realize that maybe he actually does consider Ron family.

Typically, anything that involves an extended Kenneth plot can go into overkill territory, but this week gave us O’Hara and Cranston and it felt like there just couldn’t be enough Kenneth as long as we could keep enjoying the performances of those two.

We also get a fun surprise return from Cooter Burger (Matthew Broderick), Jack’s old colleague from his brief stint in D.C. Turns out that Cooter has spent some time as a lobbyist (literally just hanging out in lobbies) but now he’s in charge of media relations for the Romney/Dunston campaign, and he thinks TGS should keep making fun of Dunston because it’s making him more likable to voters. This again presents a conflict of interest for Jack, who wants nothing more than for NBC to fail so Hank will have to sell and Jack can claim his rightful throne atop the network. Broderick sneaks up on us this week, and his lines are fantastic, particularly his explanation of an “Old Spanish,” a made-up drink involving red wine, tonic, and olives. What’s so great about Cooter is this sort of cheerful loneliness that allows him to nonchalantly tell Jack that he wants to be the kind of friends that take road trips together, and Alec Baldwin plays off of the character so well with these awesome facial responses. Here’s hoping we haven’t seen the last of Cooter this season.

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