The Ballad of Kenneth Parcell
|"The Ballad of Kenneth Parcell"|
|30 Rock episode|
|Episode no.||Season 6
|Directed by||Jeff Richmond|
|Written by||Matt Hubbard|
|Featured music||Jeff Richmond|
|Original air date||January 26, 2012|
"The Ballad of Kenneth Parcell" is the fourth episode of the sixth season of the American television comedy series 30 Rock, and the 107th overall episode of the series. It was directed by Jeff Richmond, and written by co-executive producer Matt Hubbard. The episode originally aired on the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) network in the United States on January 26, 2012. Guest stars in this episode include Emma Stone, Ken Howard, Mick Foley, Andy Samberg, and the Philadelphia Phillies mascot the Phillie Phanatic. Steve Earle sings a ballad about Kenneth Parcell in the closing credits.
In the episode, Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) and Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski) fall out as a result of Jenna's selfish behavior since her role on America's Kidz Got Singing, Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) eliminates the page program to impress Hank Hooper (Ken Howard) but comes to suffer the consequences, whilst Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) contemplates his own mortality after a misunderstanding results in him receiving no birthday presents.
As a result of her role on America's Kidz Got Singing, Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski) has become a more widely known celebrity and is starring in the new holiday movie Martin Luther King Day. Soon, she begins to let the fame go to her head and uses her best friend Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) as a decoy when leaving a restaurant, tricking her into having paint thrown over her by PETA protestors on her behalf. This leads the pair to fall out and go in search of new best friends, with Jenna hanging out with D-list celebrities, such as Charlie from Charlie Bit My Finger and Liz stumbling across her doppelgänger in a Barnes & Noble bathroom.
Meanwhile, Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) eliminates the page program to impress Hank Hooper (Ken Howard), since all the jobs that the pages do can be done electronically to save money. However, Jack's plan backfires when a one-year "businessversery" present to Hank is sent to TGS by accident, due to him having accidentally instructed the computer to deliver to the "6th floor" instead of the "60th floor". Finally, Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) discovers that he won't be receiving any birthday presents due to a misunderstanding, but when Grizz (Grizz Chapman) and Dot Com (Kevin Brown) inform him that he already has most things anyway, he starts to contemplate his own mortality.
Ultimately, Liz comes to realise that she needs Jenna because she is too self-absorbed to complain when she talks about her problems, whilst Jenna realises that all of her D-list friends are themselves too self-absorbed to pay her any attention. Jack acknowledges then he needs Kenneth Parcell (Jack McBrayer) and the other pages because he is able to blame all of his mistakes on them, while Tracy realises that he was simply annoyed with Grizz and Dot Com for not buying him any presents. During the closing credits, folk singer Steve Earle sings a ballad about the rise of Kenneth Parcell from farm boy to page.
According to the Nielsen Media Research, this episode of 30 Rock was watched by 3.98 million households in its original American broadcast. It earned a 1.9 rating/5 share in the 18–49 demographic. This means that it was seen by 1.9 percent of all 18- to 49-year-olds, and 5 percent of all 18- to 49-year-olds watching television at the time of the broadcast.
The episode received positive reviews from critics. Emily Cheever of Ology praised the episode as a big improvement over the previous celebrity-filled, "gimmicky" episodes of the series, opining that the show was best when it was utilizing its main cast. She gave the episode an 8 out of 10. Alan Sepinwall, writing for HitFix, praised this and previous episode "Idiots Are People Three!", calling them both "terrific episodes where the jokes not only kept coming, but kept hitting, almost every time".
The 4 ladies that Liz seeks advice from in the bar about finding a friend resemble the 4 main characters from Sex and the City. When Jack talks about Jenna's increasing celebrity status, he compares her to Maulik Pancholy in Whitney. Maulik Pancholy portrayed Jack's needy assistant, Jonathan, in the first five seasons of 30 Rock. When Jack realises NBC needs its page program, he tells Kenneth 'I was wrong; I do need you.' Kenneth replies 'You had me at "I was wrong; I do need,"' referring to Renée Zellweger's famous line, 'You had me at hello,' in Jerry Maguire.
- "Steve Earle 'The Ballad of Kenneth Parcell'". Rolling Stone. January 27, 2012. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
- "Thursday Final Ratings: 'The Big Bang Theory' Adjusted Up to Thursday High; 'American Idol' Up; 'The Finder' Adjusted Down".
- Cheever, Emily (January 27, 2012). "'30 Rock' Recap: "The Ballad Of Kenneth Parcell"". Ology. Retrieved January 29, 2012.