30 Rock Episodes

2006, TV Show

30 Rock Episode: "Cutbacks"

Season 3, Episode 17
Episode Synopsis: Joy about the 50th "TGS" episode turns to worry when word spreads about imminent budget cuts at 30 Rock. Before long, Jack must distribute pink slips, Kenneth takes on new responsibilities, and Liz wheels and deals to spare her staffers from layoffs. Meanwhile, Jenna and Tracy suspect that Kenneth is masking a deep dark secret.
Original Air Date: Apr 9, 2009

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Season 3, Episode 17
Free | NBC

Aired: 4/9/2009
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30 Rock Episode Recap: "Cutbacks" Season 3, Episode 17

Hey folks, Mickey O'Connor here, filling in for my brother-from-another-mother Matt Mitovich, who is enjoying a few days of well-deserved vacation. (Put.The.Blackberry.Down.Man.) I usually recap Lost and Desperate Housewives around these parts, so forgive me if this recap devolves into catty comments and conspiracy theories — it's what I know.

On Thursday's 30 Rock, it's the 50th episode of TGS with Tracy Jordan — hooray! — and to celebrate, parent company Sheinhardt Wigs announces its first quarterly loss since the Civil War, so it's time for cutbacks — the opposite of hooray! "The days of wild Coke parties are over," Jack tells Liz, and yes, he does mean the soda. Jack even had to fire his devoted assistant Jonathan (the very funny Maulik Pancholy), who greets the news by crooning Jack a few farewell verses of "Without You." (warning: disturbing YouTube link). Hilariously, Kenneth is reassigned to replace him. "I feel like I'm in The Pelican Brief," he enthuses (which becomes the night's recurring arbitrary film reference since it's on everyone's mind because Showtime is running it a lot lately).

A consultant named Brad Hollister (guest star Roger Bart) tells Liz that she has to cut 25 percent from the budget by the end of the day. Liz goes to Jack's office for advice, where she meets an executive named Cheryl, who suggests they team up and put the moves on Jack to save their jobs. "We could lez out, give him a show," she suggests. Jack admits that "sexual bartering sometimes pays off: Salome, Mata Hari, Deborah Norville..."

Since Liz will do anything for her show — the No. 1 late-night show among men 9-13 and the morbidly obese — she gets wardrobe to triple-Spanx her and the sluttier makeup girl to work her magic. "They may take our dignity, but they will never take our straws!" a skankified Lemon cries on her way out the door to meet Hollister for ethically questionable drinks, to the cheers and golf claps of her motley crew.

Her post-date, job-saving seduction goes as follows. Liz cuts to the chase, offering Brad:
1) 20 minutes, open mouth, I will work your ears
2) 30 minutes, I'll make some sounds and you can say one weird thing to me
3) 30 minutes, sounds, top front of my body is now in play

But! It seems not to have worked! The next day, the food is gone, the announcer is fired and the writers' room is now the studio for Telemundo's World Cup coverage, despite Liz's boast to Jack that she gave him "a little taste of the Lemon, and it was not sour, my friend." What went wrong? Jack reports that Liz's "top front" is her worst quadrant.

Liz confronts Hollister about their little "arrangement." "I gave you quid; now where's my quo?" she asks. But he wasn't aware that their date was a financial transaction; he just thought he was spending a date "with the first woman since his wife died." I was sure that Liz's under-her-breath reply would be "Nerds!" or "Blerg!", but she zagged when I expected a zig: "Oh, snap!"

Hollister reports Liz for bartering sex for professional consideration. "In the human-resource world, we refer to that as 'being a filthy prostitute,'" says the same guy who memorably mediated one of Tracy and Jenna's squabbles. Her punishment: a two-week unpaid suspension and Jack will oversee Liz's budget cuts, which is in fact a gift. Sexual harassment does work! Everybody wins!

In the B story, Kenneth is very busy with his double duty as NBC page and Jack's assistant, so he needs someone to go to his apartment to feed his pet bird Sonny Crockett, who he's had for 60 years, so naturally, he asks his most responsible colleague: Tracy! "Birds are like little dinosaurs," Tracy reports. Kenneth has one rule: Don't go in his bedroom. Tracy goes to his apartment and is spooked by noises behind a closed door and Sonny Crockett's squawking. Logically, his next step is to conclude that Kenneth is a serial killer with dead nurses in his closet.

He recruits Jenna in his fact-finding mission, a job for which she is well qualified since she studied serial killers to prepare for her role as criminal profiler Jill St. Ferrari in the Lifetime original miniseries Hushed Rapings. Serial killers have three defining characteristics, she says: cruelty to animals, bed-wetting, and an inability to read human facial cues. They return to Kenneth's apartment to investigate, where they find a bug bomb in his bedroom. This spooks them, so they flee the premises, leaving the bedroom door open, which kills the bird. R.I.P., Sonny Crockett.

The bumbling duo come clean with Kenneth about their avicide (look it up), who is obviously not happy. "Not to name names," Jenna says, "but it's so sad that a certain black individual found it necessary to trick someone so pretty into thinking that you were a murderer." To make it up to Kenneth, they fill his apartment with birds — which is my own personal nightmare, thanks to Alfred Hitchcock — the Central Park pigeons and one weird childhood neighbor.|

What did you think of "Cutbacks"? Did Tina Fey make the economic crisis funny? Too soon? What was your favorite line?

Watch full episodes of 30 Rock in our Online Video Guide.

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On Thursday's 30 Rock, it's the 50th episode of TGS with Tracy Jordan — hooray! — and to celebrate, parent company Sheinhardt Wigs announces its first quarterly loss since the Civil War, so it's time for cutbacks — the opposite of hooray! "The days of wild Coke parties are over," Jack tells Liz, and yes, he does mean the soda. Jack even had to fire his devoted assistant Jonathan (the very funny Maulik Pancholy), who greets the news by crooning Jack a few farewell verses of "Without You." (warning: disturbing YouTube link). Hilariously, Kenneth is reassigned to replace him. "I feel like I'm in The Pelican Brief," he enthuses (which becomes the night's recurring arbitrary film reference since it's on everyone's mind because Showtime is running it a lot lately). read more

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Premiered: October 11, 2006, on NBC
Rating: TV-14
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Premise: A female TV writer tries to control the behind-the-scenes antics of a live, prime-time variety show and deals with interference from a network bigwig.

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