’30 Rock’ – ‘Let’s Stay Together’: Segregation of powers

Senior Television Writer
10.08.10 25 Comments


A quick review of last night’s “30 Rock” coming up just as soon as I figure out how a post-apocalyptic society would use me…

After last week’s episode gave us a “30 Rock” in peak form, the show was back to more uneven, but still funny, territory with “Let’s Stay Together.”

“30 Rock” is so loaded with jokes and asides and unexpected connections and random weirdness that it must be incredibly laborious to piece each episode together. The great episodes of the show, though, don’t seem labored. “Let’s Stay Together,” on the other hand, was an outing where I could see the show sweating throughout, but particularly during Queen Latifah’s disastrous visit to the “TGS” studios and all the racist pointers contained therein. And when you can feel the effort that was put in to set up, say, the colored/whites recycling gag, the joke just isn’t as amusing.

That said, parts of the episode worked just fine, like Jack’s  appearance before the Congressional Subcommittee for Baseball, Quiz Shows, Terrorism and Media, which included the first (and funnier) joke about “Law & Order” being canceled and Rob Reiner saying “rhubarb, rhubarb, peas and carrots.” (It’s an old Hollywood trick that extras are supposed to say in scenes where a crowd is in an uproar; another version is “Watermelon, canteloupe.”) I enjoyed Liz’s disastrous appearance on “Right On” (and not just for the guest appearance by “Wire” alum Reg E. Cathey as the host), and the ongoing creative compromises to Dotcom’s sitcom idea. (And the John Amos cameo in the tag evoked both “Good Times” and the famous Jack/Tracy therapy session from season two.) And of course I laughed at the shoutout to “Community” star and former “30 Rock” writer Donald Glover, here with Liz pronouncing his name like Donal Logue’s.

On the other hand, the Jenna/Kenneth story was almost as weak as the Tracy/Kenneth one from a couple of weeks ago. We saw in the premiere, and in her brief scenes last week, that Jenna still has her uses on the show, but I’m struggling to think of the last Kenneth storyline I genuinely enjoyed. I’m open to suggestions, though, because I want to remember when I still viewed Kenneth as an entertaining surprise and not an overplayed drag.

What did everybody else think?

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