88. "Greenzo," 30 Rock (2007)
Welcome to the “100 Best Sitcom Episodes of All Time,” a countdown for winter 2012. Each episode will get a separate blog post, counting backward toward No. 1. A list of the programs revealed so far is here and an introduction to the project is here.
Looking at this episode nearly five years after it first aired, I'm struck by how funny Kenneth is when he's genuinely angry, as opposed to grinning like an idiot even when he tells his friends that the world is ending and they're all going to hell. I don't know why the 30 Rock writers seem so reluctant to bring back Pissed Off Kenneth when he was in one of the show's best episodes.
"Greenzo" has a lot of stuff that I normally don't care for in sitcoms. It's got three unconnected storylines (which all happen to be good), stunt casting (all clever, including David Schwimmer basically telling Today Show host Meredith Viera to shut up), and a bunch of gratuituous cutaway gags (but who can resist a campaign ad warning of Hillary Clinton's plan for an "all-homosexual" army?). Even the jazzy incidental music, so often a stand-in for a laugh track on single-camera sitcoms, actually works to build comic momentum in "Greenzo," especially in the run-up to Kenneth's disastrous party.
Liz Lemon: People are going to show up expecting all these great things, and they'll be really disappointed and angry.
Tracy Jordan: (given pause) Just like Colonial Williamsburg.
We see the party only via in brief glimpses of destruction and debauchery that take full advantage of the tightly edited, multicamera format. These come during an hilarious morning-after scene, complete with Jack sporting "entrance after danger" hair. (Geoffrey Mark Fidelman coined the phrase in The Lucy Book to describe scenes in which we'd see Ms. Ball would appear disheveled after some off-screen calamity.)
Again, I love that Kenneth is bullshit about the whole affair, rather than having loosened up and gotten into the spirit of things, Ron Swanson-style.
Kenneth: You all should be ashamed of yourselves. Mr. Lutz, you ate all of my parakeet's medication and, thanks to you, Sonny Crockett has been having seizures all morning.
The "A" plot of "Greenzo" features Schwimmer as one of Jack's ill-thought-out creations, a environmental mascot who shills for General Electric products before getting carried away with delusions of grandeur.
Jack: Look how Greenzo’s testing! They love him in every demographic: colored people, broads, fairies, commies. Gosh, we’d better update these forms.
From Alan Sepinwall's morning-after review of "Greenzo":
David Schwimmer, meanwhile, makes a magnificent d-bag. He was great as the hated Capt. Sobel in "Band of Brothers," and most of the Ross moments I remember from "Friends" aren't him being schmoopie with Rachel, but him behaving like a jackass. (Him boasting about his mastery of karate, for instance.) Greenzo -- throwing around the word "gig" a thousand times, calling Meredith Viera "Merry" (and asking Jack if he "hit that"), insulting Cerie (leading to her hilarious "Did he just talk to me like I'm ugly?"), wishing his mom were alive ("so I could rub it in her fat face!") -- fit him like an oversized cartoon-ish glove. There's no room for him on "30 Rock" every week, but my buddy Fienberg wants to propose a sitcom [...] that's just 30 minutes of Schwimmer and James Van Der Beek being tools. Tell me you wouldn't want to watch it.
30 Rock episodes are on Netflix and in syndication. Party clips are more elusive, but there are a few Schwimmer-centered "Greenzo" clips on YouTube: