A review of last night’s “30 Rock” coming up just as soon as I go to a Penn and Teller show…
After last week’s live show (which some of you appreciated a lot more than I did), “30 Rock” went back to business as usual, which in this case meant a pre-recorded episode with some strong Jack/Liz interaction, a few explosive laughs and a Kenneth/Jenna subplot that mostly didn’t work.
Given Liz’s repeated complaints about sex, as shown by the various montages(*), sooner or later the show was going to dig deeper into her hang-ups(**), and having an uber-confident Jack attempt it in the midst of his perfect game was a smart, funny way into that territory. I like when Jack and/or Liz’s personal problems are taken even a tiny bit seriously, and it felt like “Reaganing” did that, even as it was telling jokes about Liz’s Grizzly Adams poster.
(*) Was the first montage of Liz over-sharing with Jack old footage? The other two montages were, but I don’t remember any of the scenes from the first one before.
(**) I watched this episode after spending most of the afternoon watching screeners of “In Treatment” season three, and though I doubt the “30 Rock” writers intended it this way, the limo scenes played very much like a parody of that show.
As I said a couple of weeks ago, Jenna and Kenneth aren’t one of my favorite combinations, since each character tends to bring out the other’s most ridiculous, least amusing traits. And most of the grifting subplot felt pretty limp, at least until Kelsey Grammer showed up(***) as their enthusiastic co-conspirator, which led to one of the few laughs I had in that story: the frustrated Carvel employee cursing the name of “Frajer” when she realized she got conned.
(***) Grammer’s arrival also coincided with the episode’s one brief appearance by Scott Adsit as Pete. Given that both “Community” and “30 Rock” featured Honda commercials that weirdly had Adsit and Paula Pell in “30 Rock” character, and then promised more of Pete on “30 Rock” itself, I was beginning to worry that they’d screwed up the synergy, and this would be a Hornberger-less episode.
But even though the Carvel story was mostly a miss, the episode would have been worth it just for the Tracy PSA subplot. On the one hand, it’s a really easy, obvious joke: everything depends on Tracy delivering his one incredibly simple line, and he keeps blowing it. On the other hand, the ways in which he kept blowing it were unexpected and hilarious. I can’t remember the last time I laughed as long or loud as I did at Tracy explaining why he got an erection. (Though that may also be because I’m really 12.)
Not a perfect episode, but a very good one in what’s so far (the live experiment excepted) been a very strong rebound season for “30 Rock.”
What did everybody else think?