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I Want More Grizz & Dot Com

November 6, 2009

Published by Ozarks Unbound

bethany_larsonBy Bethany Larson
Ozarks Unbound
NOVEMBER 6, 2009 AT 12:25 PM 
I could have told you the plot from this week’s “30 Rock” episode before watching it. Jack learns a lesson, Jenna and Tracy hatch a hare-brained idea, Kenneth uses his hillbilly logic to solve a problem or illuminate the moral of the story, and Liz feels sorry for someone and thus lets them walk all over her.
Oh, and there will be really obvious product placement as well as reminders about why it’s ridiculous that GE, an appliance company, is the parent of a television network.
Is it just me or is this show getting formulaic?
Apparently if you’ve won the Emmy for “Best Comedy Series” two years in a row you don’t have to be original, or even that funny anymore. Sure, Jack has some giggle inducing one-liners and the cameos (this week was Brian Wilson) are fun and sometimes really funny (i.e. Carrie Fisher and Steve Martin), but overall, this show’s funny-factor is floundering.
However, despite the use of formulas and the reliance on Alec Baldwin’s acting chops, there is a bright light within “30 Rock.”
Two bright lights actually– Grizz Griswold (Grizz Chapman) and Walter “Dot Com” Slattery (Kevin Brown), Tracy’s highly intelligent, surprisingly cultured, articulate entourage. Through  these characters, the “30 Rock” creative team brings an elite intelligence to the show that is otherwise absent, and uses them as foils to vapid characters like Cerie, Tracy, and Jenna.
Yes, Grizz and Dot Com are the characters that keep Tracy sheltered from reality and indulge his bizarre whims (like sitting on him when he is over stimulated), but if you were being paid by a superstar you’d probably do it too, so we won’t blame them for that.  Their real value on the show isn’t indulging Tracy’s ridiculousness — it’s bringing the rest of the cast back to reality.
Grizz tends to make Shakespeare-esque, outsider-looking-in type observations about the situations at hand, while Dot Com spouts highly intelligent, yet obtuse references that send you (or maybe just me) to Google.
Because Grizz and Dot Com aren’t predominantly featured characters (they’ve been in about 40 of the 64 episodes) and rarely have many lines, when they do speak, the content of their dialogue tends to take the audience by surprise. We forget that these two are as eloquent and thought-provoking as they are, therefore their lines tend to subvert the audience’s expectations — we think that the ridiculous, inane dialogue will continue or that either  Grizz or Dot Com will provide the punch line. Instead they diffuse the joke or take it to an unexpected place. Although the genius of their logic sometimes goes unnoticed by the other cast members, it is never lost on the pleasantly surprised audience.
Indeed it is in these two characters that the comedic brilliance of “30 Rock’s” writing shines. I just wish we saw more of them.
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