A few weeks ago on the old blog, I said that I was going to take some time off from writing about “30 Rock” in the hopes that I might enjoy the show more if it felt less like a chore. I didn’t particularly love last night’s Mother’s Day episode, but I do have a few things I want to say about it, so spoilers coming up just as soon as I wake up with a revolver in my jean shorts…
“The Moms” wasn’t a very funny episode of the show – as always, I think Tina Fey and company find Elaine Stritch so inherently funny that Colleen episodes always feel underwritten in the joke department – yet it did some nice things in trying to pull Liz and some of the other characters back into reality.
One of the many problems this season is that Liz has become too pathetic and ridiculous, with the number of jokes at her expense undercutting not only the character but the show around her. Liz of the early seasons was able to walk that knife edge of both straight woman and funny character, and as she’s become more crazed, the show has suffered for not having her there to help anchor some of the stuff with Jenna, Tracy and Kenneth.
But the Liz of this episode was a recognizable human being again, with the Buzz Aldrin scene managing to be both sincere and silly. And I’d like to think that Liz saying goodbye to the Astronaut Mike Dexter fantasy is also the show saying goodbye to the lunatic version of Liz who kept mentioning him.
Similarly, Tracy and Jenna’s stories with their moms (one fake, one real but with a half-fake bosom) were also nice grounded moments for the show’s two broadest main characters, and the sort of thing “30 Rock” needs to do with them a few times a season.
So not great, but tonally corrective. Plus, the return of Will Ferrell as “Bitch Hunter” – this week co-written by Matthew Weiner! (And that was followed by the joke about Mrs. Lemon having been a secretary at Sterling Cooper.)
What did everybody else think?