17 March 2010

The Long Halloween: St Patty's Day

Here we are again with the latest installment of our year-long coverage of the greatest Holiday Television Specials any human being in the Universe has ever had the privilege to lay their eyes on. Now, St. Patty's was sort of difficult for two main reasons: 1) There aren't that many shows that explicitly have St. Patty's Day Specials (apparently showcasing characters getting drunk and partying at 10 am isn't that friendly for network TV) and 2) The shows with clearly good specials (involving the 10 am drinking mentioned in Point 1) I have already used for Halloween and New Year's respectively.

But let's talk about The Simpsons for a second. They clearly do have the greatest St. Patty's episode ("Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment" [S8;E18]), as well as one of the best Valentine's Day specials ("I Love Lisa" [S4;E15], even their April Fools Day Clip Show episode ranks as one of the best for the holiday. The Simpsons has simply been around too long and done just about every holiday out there that I could have highlighted their episodes for the entire year.

Instead, I bring you the next best thing, from 30 Rock, "The Funcooker" (S3;E14). Yay and watch below:

Now, I am a fan of 30 Rock, but in no way do I come close to the belief that this show deserves its three Emmy wins for Best Comedy. It's a good show but really not that good. The writing and grammar is sharp sure, but the narrative is far from innovative, or even interesting at times (debate below whether or not this matters), and its characters, especially after four seasons, have started to devolve into jokes instead of reality (see also: Family Guy. Also discuss below whether or not this is a real problem). This article neatly sums up its supposed decline. Go read it and come back depressed.

Back? Ok good. That said, I don't normally have this much criticism with my favourite holiday special, but fuck, this is my third choice here (dems the rules and I follows dems). Anyway, it starts off with a pretty good take on St. Patty's, featuring a stereotypical Irishman (the only stereotype allowed on TV anymore for some reason) as well as every necessary facet of the holiday summed up neatly by Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin):
"Passing out and cursing on St. Patrick's Day. Is nothing sacred anymore?"
Yeah that's about right. No explicit drinking featured but what can you do. 30 Rock is really only notable for loading one-liners with a ton of meaning and inference, there's a lot of competing levels of sincerity vs. sarcasm going on here, simultaneously tongue-and-cheek and genuine both out of Donaghy's character situation as well as aiding 30 Rock's continuous winking metanarrative. The show's other high point is its ability to get about one enormous laugh per episode, partly which is founded by garnering many small laughs, wry smilies or bomb-non sequiturs for the first twenty minutes of the program. "The Funcooker" features an eponymous laugh from the ass of Tracy Jordan (Morgan), which provides a counterbalance to the so-so humour of the rest of the episode. This formula is apparent in many other episodes, leading to some of the biggest laughs of the year (see also, "Apollo, Apollo" [S3;E16] and "Klaus and Greta" [S4;E9]). I still can't get over that ending James Franco scene actually. Actually, that scene alone redeems most of 30 Rock for its humour. Haha.

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