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Archive for Thursday, January 26, 2012

Damage control runs amok on ‘30 Rock’

January 26, 2012

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It’s probably never a good idea to call your audience a bunch of idiots. That’s the problem facing Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) on “30 Rock” (7 p.m., NBC), continuing a theme from last week.

Faced with a boycott of her show and its network by gay people insulted by Tracy Jordan’s (Tracy Morgan) thoughtless taunts, Liz issues a nonapology apology. She blames the problem not on mean-spirited bias, but on Tracy’s idiocy. Not one to take this lying down, Tracy organizes a boycott of the network by viewers and ordinary citizens who consider themselves idiots, most notably actress Denise Richards (as herself), who has made a career of not seeming all that bright.

This two-part episode makes sly references to actor Tracy Morgan’s real life anti-gay rant that made minor headlines last summer. It’s also an oblique way for the show’s writers to mock a TV audience that’s not exactly turning out in significant numbers to watch their show.

Perhaps they’re making a sly putdown of the folks who prefer “American Idol” and more formulaic CBS comedies to the Emmy-winning “30 Rock.” Last week, “The Big Bang Theory” had nearly four times as many total viewers as Fey’s show.

Cable money expert Suze Orman guest-stars on another episode of “30 Rock” (8 p.m.).

• Speaking of “American Idol” (7 p.m., Fox,), the series just isn’t the ratings steamroller it was last season. Its premiere audience was down 25 percent from 2011. Last Thursday, “The Big Bang Theory” had a slightly larger 18-49 year-old audience than the first half hour of “Idol.”

• JB Smoove hosts “Russell Simmons Presents The Ruckus” (9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., Comedy Central,), a six-part standup showcase featuring a short introduction followed by four brief routines from comics both emerging and established.

• A more analytical approach to joke telling follows on “Inside Comedy” (10 p.m., Showtime). Veteran comic David Steinberg will host 10 half-hour interviews with some of the world’s most acclaimed comics, including Chris Rock, Ellen DeGeneres and Jerry Seinfeld, as well as veteran funnymen Mel Brooks, Don Rickles and Jonathan Winters.

• Airing not long after Paula Deen announced her diabetes, “Fat Chef” (9 p.m., Food) discusses the battles with obesity faced by kitchen professionals and offers advice from diet and fitness experts.

Tonight’s Other Highlights

• Four men contend with superpowers in the 2006 fantasy “The Covenant” (7 p.m., CW).

• A rocket scientist needs to relocate a mystery woman on “The Finder” (8 p.m., Fox).

• A gambler becomes a murder defendant on “The Firm” (9 p.m., NBC).

• The guys suddenly discover their relative poverty on “Unsupervised” (9:30 p.m., FX).

Cult Choice

When folks recall John Goodman’s remarkable career, they’ll probably overlook his starring role in the 1994 cartoon adaptation of “The Flintstones” (6 p.m., ABC Family). Elizabeth Taylor also stars.

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