30 Rock S05E12: "Operation Righteous Cowboy Lightning"


NBC passes from GE to Kabletown. Jack tries to pre-script a natural disaster benefit. Angie’s reality TV show disrupts Tracy and Liz’s relationship.

Episode Details

S05E012 (512)
First aired
View full dialogue
Robert Carlock
Beth McCarthy-Miller
Frank's Hat
Cheese Gravy, 1 Card Monte, Man Scent
It doesn’t matter how long you’ve lived in New York, it’s still fun to look up and pretend all the building are giant severed robot penises.
Be quiet, Lemon. It’s happening. [GE neon sign goes out, replaced by Kabletown sign] [Jack hangs head]

The Kabletown-NBC plot arc has been going on for quite awhile and is a stand-in for real-life Comcast whose purchase of NBC Universal was finalized on January 28, 2011, after 13 months of deal-making and regulatory governmental involvement.

Wow. Out with GE, in with Kabletown. Seems like one of us should sing The Circle Game right now.

The Circle Game is a song about the passage of time. Aw. So touching. Liz is probably talking about the 1968 Joni Mitchell version [youtube].

Thirty years at GE. Now it’s on to phase two. I’m like Keats’ Stout Cortez, staring at the Pacific with a wild surmise and daring to imagine what new planets might swim into my my ken.

Wow, how literary. Jack is referring to the sonnet “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer” by John Keats. It goes a little something like this (with Jack’s bits highlighted):

Much have I travell’d in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star’d at the Pacific — and all his men
Look’d at each other with a wild surmise —

Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

FYI, Tracy’s phoning it in today.
What else is new?
No mother, literally.
Are you also staying at this hotel?
[from the phone Dotcom’s holding] Line!

“Phoning it in” usually means doing the bare minimum amount of work. I think Tracy’s the new sole owner of this phrase.

Did Pete refer to Liz as “mother”?? Creepy cool. One of my friend’s boyfriends used to refer to her that way. I don’t think he got a lot of sex. It was funny but certainly libido-withering;)

Tracy, we’ve been playing this game for five years now. When is it even going to stop?
I don’t know. After I won a bunch of awards for my movie, it’s not going to get any better.
I don’t see how it could get any worse.
Good question, Liz Lemon. When you win an Oscar it opens up an elite level of actor craziness. Throwing telephones at hotel employees, speaking to the UN about some messed up crap in Africa, and I’m definitely getting a private island.

Throwing telephones at hotel employees: Thank you, Russell Crowe. That man has a temper! In 2005 he threw a telephone at an employee of the Mercer Hotel.

Actors seem to love getting involved in Africa. Some of them:

Every crazy A-lister owns an island. Nicolas Cage, Celine Dion, Charles Wimore. This is a whole new world in front of me L.L.! I’m like Stout Cortez! He’s my gardener. He’s easily amazed.

  • Bahamas in the Exuma archipelago, some 85 miles (137 km) southeast of Nassau.
  • Celine Dion: Owns ÃŽle Gagnon in Quebec, Canada.
  • Charles Widmore: Ha! Not an actor. Widmore was on the TV show Lost, and at one point owned the island. Widmore’s played by Alan Dale, who also doesn’t own an island.

There’s lots more. What a cool site! Private Islands Magazine has a map of all of the celebrity islands. It’s like voyeurism and hunting for buried treasure combined!

What are you wearing?
My NBC page dress blues. I want to look good in case I get on camera.

“Dress blues” is the name for the U.S. Marines’ dress uniform.

On what camera?
Well Mrs. Jordan’s reality show is going to be following Mr. Jordan around while he’s at work.

This was from last episode, S05E11 “Mrs. Donaghy,” where Jack gave Tracy’s wife Angie her own reality TV series, “Queen of Jordan.”

I know! Isn’t it exciting? I’ve never been on TV before. I hope I photograph okay, because when I look into a mirror there’s just a white haze.

Okay I have no idea what Kenneth’s on about. The best I could think up is from vampire lore where a vampire can’t see his own reflection. But it’s not a white haze. This may just be The Purcell Crazy.

Wait! Got it! Clever clever reader John Colman points out there is this bizarre thread running subtly through 30 Rock hinting that Kenneth is much older than he appears. Perhaps immortal. Check out all the various references on the Kenneth’s Wikipedia page.

Who told Tracy he could bring camera here?
Well Mr. Donaghy. I couldn’t put the memo in your mailbox cuz it’s full of unread adoption material.

First mentioned at beginning of this season where Liz confesses to her boyfriend Carol that she’s on a waiting list to adopt a kid.

Do you know what pays for your show, Lemon?
Our product placement deal with Sullivan Psychiatric Clinic. [in Bronx accent] “Sullivan’s Psychiatric; you’ll drool over our crazy prices!”
Reality TV. A woman with hundruplets, a live execution, the Real Transvestite Hoarders of Orange County Penitentiary.
Och, that show is upsetting. Why does the warden let Lady Extravaganza have so many spoons?

Hundruplets. Not a word, but if it were it would mean having one hundred babies at once. Like snakes.

I haven’t found any reality show that’s featured a live execution, but I’m sure they’re negotiating rights with some next-of-kin right now.

And the “Real Transvestite Hoarders of Orange County Penitentiary” sounds like some unholy hybrid of one of the many transvestite reality shows, the A&E “Hoarders” show, and “Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County” (or maybe “Newport Harbor: The Real Orange County,” “Meet The Real Housewives of Orange County,” or “American Chopper,” centered around Orange County Choppers).

Side note on transvestite reality shows. Check out “There’s Something About Miriam,” where six men try to date a woman who is eventually revealed to be a pre-op transvestite.

“Lady Extravaganza” is probably a takeoff on Lady Gaga.

Programs like that are the life blood of this industry. They’re cheap, promotable, and even if they’re terrible, you get a rating and move on to the next idea. Everybody wins.
Well I happen to think we’re in a new golden age of scripted television.
Shh. Shh, Lemon, it’s okay. As I begin phase two of my Jack Attack on Kabletown, I’ve been doing some research. Do you know what the most successful reality events of the past five years are? Celebrity benefits for natural disasters. The viewership is HUGE.

A good example is the Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief charity telethon held on January 22, 2010. It included over 100 celebrities, gained 83 million viewers in the US alone, and raised over $58 million in 3 days. Those are big numbers.

That is bad karma, Jack. I mean, this morning I stole a cab from a pregnant lady on crutches and I am just waiting to- [a piece of the ceiling falls on Liz’s head] [gasps]

I just want to point out this is a super weak joke. A bit of plaster falling on Liz’s head? That’s the best you could come up with? I mean why didn’t you go with… something… else… that would annoy Liz. Okay I can’t think up anything but I’m not a TV writer;)

All right, listen up everybody. I need ideas from you people for potential natural disasters. Anything that might require a televised celebrity benefit. I need something new and I need it by the end of the day, so… [looks at Lutz wearing eyeliner] Let’s get to work.
Well, I just finished a screenplay where a tidal wave destroys Washington.
Someone write down “tidal wave.” Shut him up.

Cool, there’s a Wikipedia article listing disaster films. I love Wikipedia. Yeah, this site would probably be a lot more valuable if I had to do a massive amount of primary research to dig up trivia for you, my loyal readers, instead of sitting in my chair, googling stuff to save you six seconds, but hey, you take what you can get.

For your skimming pleasure, here’s the list of all disaster films I could find with tidal waves:

  • Deluge (1933): tidal waves devastating various California coastal cities and New York City.
  • Hurricane (1937): monstrous, South Pacific tropical storm, massive tidal waves and battering gale-force winds.
  • Typhoon (1940): set on an island near Dutch Guinea, and featured a climactic typhoon and tidal wave in its final minutes.
  • The Poseidon Adventure (1972): a giant tidal wave capsizes an ocean liner.
  • When Time Ran Out (1980):  features a volcanic explosion, rumblings, giant fireballs, a tidal wave, and a precarious crossing of a bridge above hot lava.
  • The Abyss (1989):  a famous tidal-wave finale in the restored Director’s Cut of the film. (I don’t think I’ve ever seen this version!)
  • Deep Impact (1998): a comet splinter hits Earth causing a massive, four hundred foot tidal wave that devastates New York City.
  • The Day After Tomorrow (2004): catastrophic climactic after-effects of global warming cause hurricanes, killer tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, tidal waves, and an impending Ice Age.
  • 2012 (2009): the heating up of the Earth’s core messes up the earth something fierce, including the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy was swept up by a gigantic tidal wave and crashed upside down onto the White House, Rio de Janiero’s Christ the Redeemer statue fell, a giant tsunami struck India, the Eiffel Tower was leveled, while a tidal wave inundated the Himalayas, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel crumbled (with Michelangelo’s Adam and God painting splitting apart), and an entire cruise ship liner was overturned by a giant wave and sank to the bottom of the ocean. This one has it all, folks!

What happens when the second flood comes and you’re not allowed on Reverend Gary’s ark? Especially since Reverend Gary made it clear the ark is just for teen aged boys.

Ahhhh the ol’ priest-molesting-little-boys joke. Combined with redneckery! Oh Kenneth, will your country bumpkining never grow old?

[Update:] Keen-eyed reader Blake points out Reverend Gary appeared once before in S02E09 “Ludachristmas” where he and Kenneth try to teach the others the meaning of Christmas. He first appeared in S01E17 “The Fighting Irish”.

You know, with Global Weirding and everything, stuff like that could totally happen here.

Coined by Thomas Friedman of The New York Times, Global Weirding describes the climactic havoc wrought by Global Warming. Mostly to shut up naysayers so say nay to Global Warming and that if it’s Warming then why are we getting particularly bad winters? Because Global Warming messes up the environment differently everywhere, and yes, sometimes that means colder temperatures.

There was a cyclone in Brooklyn last year. It destroyed two vintage t-shirt stores and a banjo.

Ahhh more very New York-specific humour. I’m going to take a stab at this one and say Brooklyn is being stereotyped as a hipster colony filled with ironic vintage t-shirts, strange musaches, banjoes, and all manner of forced weirdness.

Also, the Brooklyn Cyclones are their minor league baseball team.

If something does happen, it’ll probably be while we’re at work. I mean this is where we spend all of our time. We should have a plan in place.
If we don’t, I will freak out and start karate kicking people.

This has got to refer to Judah Friedlander’s book How to Beat Up Anybody: An Instructional and Inspirational Karate Book by the World Champion. I get the impression Judah’s a weird dude.

Everyone needs an emergency plan. For instance, right before the ark leaves I’m supposed to castrate Reverend Gary.

So he can’t impregnate the teen aged boys.

So here’s the plan. If anything happens we meet outside under the Atlas statue, walk to the 59th Street bridge, and try to get to my mom’s house in Queens.

There’s a giant statue of the Ancient Greek Titan Atlas holding the heavens (a giant globe) in front of Rockefeller Center. It was installed in 1937.

Robert De Niro
Well I dunno, Jack, this just doesn’t feel right.
Bob, it’s for charity. And if you don’t do it I’ll have MSNBC tell the world you grew up in England.
Robert De Niro
[English accent] But I’m so identified with New York you bloody tosser!

Lies! De Niro was raised by his mother in the Little Italy neighborhood of Manhattan, and in Greenwich Village.

Stage Hand
Disaster options, take 1.
Robert De Niro
We’ll always remember where we were when we heard that tornado had hit a handgun factory. Two days ago when people thought of a mudslide they just thought of getting drunk in an Applebee’s, but now we know it as the thing that destroyed Denver. When the birds first started attacking us we all thought it was pretty funny and made Hitchcock jokes, but we’re laughing now because our laughter excites the birds sexually. This devastating wildfire… This horrible flood… This wonderful flood that put out that devastating wildfire… These superintelligent sharks…

Ultimate Mudslide Recipe

30 ml vodka
30 ml Kahlua coffee liqueur
30 ml Bailey’s Irish cream
60 ml cream
60 ml milk
1 banana
3 ice cubes
grated chocolate

Place all ingredients, except grated chocolate, in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into glass and sprinkle with grated chocolate.

Superintelligent sharks were prominently featured in Deep Blue Sea. One of my favourite movies scenes of all time is halfway through Samuel L. Jackson’s speech😉

Tracy. I just thought of a few more things I need from you.
[to the tune of Billy Joel’s Uptown Girl] Shut your mouth! I am finished taking orders from you, and I think that you’re a four-eyed douche-
Tracy, I don’t want to interrupt this moment, this is great stuff, but that’s Billy Joel’s. Anything that you sing to that tune, uh, I can’t use on the show.
[still to the tune of Billy Joel’s Uptown Girl] That’s too bad, but if I sing you cannot do anything to make me look bad on your TV show and also let me stay that Liz is a ho. A dirty ho.
[to the tune of Billy Joel’s Uptown Girl] You are a child and your losing your mi- i- ind. I want to kick you, I’m not good at making up songs.
[still to the tune of Billy Joel’s Uptown Girl] Unlike me who is good, as you can tell from this rhyme.
[still to the tune of Billy Joel’s Uptown Girl] Whoa oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh.
[together with Liz] Whoa oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh.

I had to put this whole thing in because it was hilarious. Go. Go listen to Billy Joel’s song Uptown Girl.

Someone get a PA to feed me baby food or I will drop a “D” in the Green Room. Yeah. Last week you thought I was crying wolf, didn’t ya?

PA = personal assistant.

D = deuce = dump = Jenna’s going to poop in the Green Room.

[to himself in a mirror] I don’t really have a car!

This looks exactly like half of the reality shows out there where there’s some sort of “confession room” where the actors (participants?) can go and unburden their souls. Usually about being so douchey.

Tracy. Your little singing game is over. I got Auto-Tune for my computer and if you try to sing I’ll just take out the melody, and no one has to pay for that! [sings into Auto-Tune] Liz Lemon one, do do do do. That was me singing the Beetles’ “Here Comes The Sun” for free.

Auto-Tune is a computer program by created by Antares Audio Technologies that’s used to shift/correct vocal pitch. It can be used to help singers sound better or just as a vocal effect. First made famous in Cher’s song “Believe,” it was popular in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but really became famous by T-Pain who used it in a lot of his songs.

There’s even an iPhone app so you can sing like T-Pain. You know you wanna.

Listen to the actual Here Comes the Sun by the Beatles.

L.L. please, I’m way ahead of you. [puts on New York Rangers’ goalie mask] But I’m not rehearsing. I’m going to shoot garden gnomes with a handgun at Tupac’s house. [to BRIT] Yeah, Tupoc’s alive. I bet you’d like to have that on your show.
Yes, Tracy, obviously, but again I can’t use any of it when you’re wearing that mask. The Rangers logo is trademarked.

Tupac Shakur a rapper who was shot to death in 1996. So he would obviously be a fantastic reality TV show guest.

[in Liz’s imagination] This honky grandma be trippin’… Over SurfMaster’s mid-range jet skis.

“This honky grandma be trippin’” is a line from Tracy’s movie Honky Grandma be Trippin’, first seen in S01E01 “Pilot”.

[in Tracy’s imagination] Now, Jerry, in rehearsal, it’s okay to play with yourself, but when we do the show-
[in Tracy’s imagination] Hey dummy, you gotta drive me to paintball, and no complaining. The only reason why I got that DUI is cuz it was your birthday. [to old man] What’s up, Jerry. [laughs] That’s awesome!

Ahhh Dennis! Man I love Dennis. He needs to come back.

Jerry = Gerry = Geriatric = old person. PRETTY CLEVER, DENNIS.

Also, a sharp-eyed reader pointed out that Liz is wearing an iO Improv t-shirt, which has locations in LA and Chicago. They even posted something about her wearing it! She’s one of their alumni.

Jonathan, come in here. Fantastic news. There’s been a natural disaster.
Was it in Indian Kashmir? May Durga’s trident pierce them from the skies!

Durga is a goddess embodying feminine force in Hinduism, and yes, she carries a trident. And rides a tiger.

Lutzy. Guess what? A friend of mine works for Marvel and he got me four tickets to a test screening of Captain America tonight!
Nice! [high fives Frank] Chris Evans’ body looks amazing in the trailer. When’s his Men’s Health cover.

Captain America is a movie based on the comic book, due to be released on July 22, 2011. And yeah, Chris Evans is pretty ripped in the movie.

Men’s Health is a men’s fitness magazine, invariably featuring a shirtless Chris Evans-looking guy on the cover.

Dude, make up your mind. We have to be in Harrison by six.
Wait, it’s in New Jersey? How are we getting to New Jersey?
You’re going to drive us obviously.
[crying in mirror] What am I gonna to do?

Harrison is a New Jersey town and a suburb of New York City. From what I can tell there aren’t actually any theatres in Harrison. All around Harrison, but none in Harrison.

Where have you been, sir? Have you seen the news?
I don’t have to, Jonathan. I know what’s on it. The poor people of Mago island and their brave shorts-wearing police force.

Mago island’s a real place! It’s part of Fiji. And it IS actually owned by Mel Gibson who purchased it for $15 million in 2005. Take a look at Mago Island on Google Maps.

Lester Holt
[on TV] If you’re just joining us this is NBC’s continuing coverage of the devastation in Mago, the Fijian island owned by controversial actor Mel Gibson. We are receiving reports of extensive damage to the main house as well as the house for Gibson’s cars. No word yet on the fate of Gibson’s collection of anti-semitic and misogynistic literature.
Nooo! [runs from room]

The newscaster on is Lester Holt, the weekend anchor of NBC’sToday and Nightly News.

Gibson’s got himself in shit for all sorts of things including homophobia, sexism, domestic violence, racism, anti-semitism (a couple times), and alcoholism.

Lester Holt
[on TV] We are joined now by a relative of the island’s owner, Oscar Gibson.
Oscar Gibson
G’day. First off the Holocaust never happened.

Gibson is one of eleven children, so sure, one of them may be called Oscar. All I can find is info on his one brother Donal who’s also an actor.

But apparently Gibson’s brother Oscar is a Holocaust denier, making him, yes, an anti-semite.

Lester Holt
[on TV] We go now to NBC’s exclusive prime-time benefit for the victims of the devastation in Mago, specifically Mel Gibson and his house guest Jon Gosselin.

Jon Gosselin is famous for being married to Kate Gosselin and having sextuplets and twins, and therefore starring in their own reality TV series Jon & Kate Plus 8. I also hear he’s also a supreme asshole and cheated on his wife. So yeah, nice work on the Benefit for Assholes, Jack;)

[watches her and Tracy on TV] What the hell?
[on TV] Tracy. I need you.
[on TV] Of course, friend.
[on TV] So we’re good?
[on TV] Never better!
[on TV] You’re the best. Love you!
[on TV] Love you more!
Fake Tracy
[on TV] [hugs fake Liz] Let’s never fight again.
Fake Liz
[on TV] No, never, Tracy.
I know it’s fake, but… dammit, I miss him!
[crying in his dressing room while watching same thing] I knew I’d get that boob squish

The “Fake Liz” is played by Tracey Wigfield. Took me forever to figure this out because she’s just listed in the credits as “herself.” Tracey Wigfield, aside from being pretty cute, is also a writer for 30 Rock and the Story Editor on this episode! So that’s fun.

Hey. Are you okay? [sees piles of gifts] Och, you’re kidding. Your dumb stunt worked?
It was our highest rating since that episode of SVU where the detectives watched American Idol.
It was a train wreck!
It was reality TV. It can be good, it can be terrible, it just can’t be anything in between.

SVU refers to the NBC TV series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

You know, some people actually craft stories, and when the story doesn’t have an ending you don’t just create one out of thin air by playing music or having people give each other meaningful looks. [music swells] Sure, that might manipulate an audience into THINKING they’re feeling something, but it sucks.
[gives Lemon meaningful stare, their eyes lock]
[spins and locks eyes with Jack]
[pumps fist in the air on her way out of Jack’s office]

The music playing in the background is ”Secrets” by One Republic. Catchy!

And I’m pretty sure Liz’s fist pump in the air is a reference to the final scene of the 1985 movie The Breakfast Club [youtube]. Which is awesome.

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