’30 Rock’ Review: “The Shower Principle”
We join our intrepid heroine Liz Lemon on April 14th, as she gets called 'predictable' by her accountant, which might be the most depressing thing that can happen to a person. We're treated to flashbacks that highlight just how repetitive her life seems to be getting, before the theme song break transports us to Jack's office, where Liz begins to realize that more of the same seems to be happening.
Jack is trying to apply "The Shower Principle" to his current goal: Restoring Kabletown to the glory days of GE. His only obstacle? Hokey Kabletown CEO Hank Hooper (Ken Howard).
We learn that Jack must have his eureka moment to find a way to get Hank to use the company's profits to expand the business, and Liz's rut manifests itself in yet another pratfall exit from his office.
Everyone's day improves a little, because it's time for Cerie! It's the first warm day of the year and skimpy clothes are coming back and suddenly this episode has my full attention again. More Hazel shenanigans, as well, this time to the tune of bra flashing and modeling photos.
Liz discovers that her journal of past problems also holds the key to their solutions due to the repeating rut.
First hurdle to jump is the curtailing of Jenna's annual (Really? Just annual?) freak out, this time over the production of a 'Macbeth' sketch, which Liz handily solves by asking Cerie to take Jenna's part, which worked last year. Liz put Hazel on Jenna-detail to keep her out of trouble 'til she caves and goes back to do the sketch.
This sketch - which includes classic McDonald's characters like Mayor McCheese and the Hamburglar reenacting Shakespeare - is the best idea the show has had for a skit-gag, ever.
Liz is convinced that meditation will help her make sense of all the craziness in her life and help break the rut. Jack mocks her, but still hasn't found his own inspiration.
After Jenna gets jealousy-tripped back onto the stage, the famous Macbeth curse begins to haunt her, surprising absolutely no one. Hazel saves the day a couple times, in surprising displays of non-kookiness. Seriously, at this point in the show, it's as likely we'd see her drinking coffee from a monkey skull as anything else. She's nearly as bad as a Family Guy flashback reference.
Liz tries to meditate, to hilarious results, especially since Jack has insinuated his meditation mockery into her trance. He tells her that he's convinced that she is the distraction needed to provide his brain with the freedom to have the shower epiphany.
He finally admits that he needs to meditate ("Meditate perfectly!") and has the most high powered businessman meditation trance in history. Jack wins at meditating. Liz gets an honorable mention for weirdness.
In a surprise (??) revelation, Jenna discovers that Hazel has been behind the curse the whole time! Her cunning scheme was to scare Jenna away so that Hazel could be Liz's best friend.
Jack uses his epiphany to sell Hank on opening up a couch production line for Kabletown, one step closer to Jack's vision of GE's heyday. He calls Liz to the project site to celebrate, just as Liz is finally being crushed by all the rut-repeating.
Jack encourages Liz and finally admits that he needs her and all of her crazy nonsense, which, as her flashback mechanism demonstrates, has never ever happened before. This sweet moment of redemption is marred only by yet another pratfall for Liz.
One more note: I don't normally refer to the throwaway gags after the final commercial break, usually because the network guy who does the 'Hey, wait, there's more 30 Rock' voiceovers has just the worst writers in the world. Sorry, got sidetracked. The point was: This episode was worth remarking on, as Mayor McCheese totally crushed a monologue from 'Macbeth.' Which is not something you see every day.