’30 Rock’ – ‘Double-Edged Sword’: Blame Canada

Senior Television Writer
02.11.11 66 Comments


A quick review of last night’s “30 Rock” coming up just as soon as my milk comes in bags…

On one level, “Double-Edged Sword” was a momentous episode of “30 Rock.” Liz breaks up with Carol, Jack and Avery’s daughter is born and Tracy wins his Oscar, completes his EGOT dream(*), then runs away from the burden of having his career taken to the next level.

(*) Question: had they previously established that he had the Emmy, Grammy and Tony already? I can’t remember anymore.

On another, though, it was a fairly simple episode. The three stories were almost entirely separate from each other (apart from Liz and Jack both struggling with the double-edged sword of dating their exact copy), the Liz/Carol story taking place in a single setting, etc.

However you look at it, though, it was a very funny episode, and a fitting send-off to Matt Damon as Carol. As I’ve said before, I thought this was kind of the ideal relationship to give Liz: someone funny for Tina Fey to play off of, someone who made her happy enough that we didn’t have to deal with more Sad-Sack Liz, but also someone who logically (from both a character and actor standpoint) wouldn’t be around that much and take screen time away from the real most important relationship of Liz’s life as Jack’s work spouse. So I’m disappointed that this is apparently it, but I can also understand that Damon’s schedule might have started getting too full, or that Fey and company felt a half season was all they could legitimately keep this going for.

And Liz’s escalating airplane nightmare was just filled with funny running gags: all the “Legends of the Guardians” jokes (I especially liked Carol silently reciting all the dialogue), the way the plane began to resemble a refugee center, “Gals on the Town” (a failed NBC show starring, as it might, Aisha Tyler, Teri Polo and Lindsay Price), the bitchy gay flight attendant (“Everyone — including any lipless middle-aged women in lesbian clown shirts — should take their seats at this time”) and then Liz comparing herself to Stephen Slater (“I’ll be a folk hero just like that guy everybody hates now!”). Just a marvelous comic set piece all around.

Similarly, Jack and Avery’s desperate attempt to escape Canada had one fun Canada joke after another, up to and including John Cho’s mobile meth cooker having the very Canadian name of Lorne. (Also, of course, the name of one of the show’s producers.) Canada seems to be the only country sitcoms are allowed to make fun of anymore, but the jokes (whether on this show, “How I Met Your Mother” or last nights “Parks and Recreation”) tend to be so silly and affectionate that it almost always works, and that pop culture image of Canada as a touchy-feelie socialist experiment plays as well off a character like Jack Donaghy as it did earlier in the evening with Ron Effing Swanson.

Tracy’s story was a bit of a weak link – virtually any story these days with that much Kenneth is, unfortunately – and seemed mainly an excuse for the show to explain Tracy Morgan’s medical absence. (This way, Tracy could even appear briefly in the next few episodes via video chat, in segments that could have been filmed after he returned to work.) But there were still some good throwaway jokes, like Tracy not having memorized his torah portion yet or not wanting to see Chuck Schumer eat.

With Tracy temporarily out of the picture, I’ll be curious to see what the balance of the show is for the next few episodes. More Jenna? More writers room? Or might we get some more streamlined episodes for a bit in which the focus is even more on Liz and Jack?

As for “Double-Edged Sword,” what did everybody else think?

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