’30 Rock’ – ‘Chain Reaction of Mental Anguish’: I am a protein

A quick review of tonight’s “30 Rock” coming up just as soon as I share a problem with the mute elevator operator at my men’s club…

“Chain Reaction of Mental Anguish” was an episode filled with things I don’t usually enjoy about “30 Rock” these days – Liz freaking out about a relationship for no particular reason, Kenneth stories from home (and a lot of Kenneth, period), Tracy’s ridiculous “son” Donald, etc. – and yet one where I kept laughing in spite of that.

Every time Donald was about to reveal his latest idiot business idea with a name stolen from a huge conglomerate, I prepared to groan, and every single time, I laughed. I laughed at Kenneth’s story about eating his daddy-pig. (Though much of that, even more than the Donald stuff, was funny because of Jack’s reaction; as with Donald Glover on “Community,” Alec Baldwin crying is never not funny.) Hell, I even laughed once or twice at the Jenna subplot (the homeless guy’s “Get a room!… Whatever that is!”), and I’ve generally found her relationship with Paul to be a weird, not very funny digression.

And yet the weird thing is that with both that story and particularly with Tracy/Donald/Jack, it felt like there was some real emotion in the closing scenes. Not real “Community” or “Parks and Rec” or “Office”-level emotion, because “30 Rock” operates on a different plane of reality from those shows (yes, even “Community”), but I did actually feel for Jack as he recited his “I am a protein” speech, and I did briefly feel sorry for Jenna that she wasn’t able to overcome her hang-ups and keep her perfect man in her life.

This wasn’t a great episode, by any means. The Liz part of it actually felt the most disposable, and was really only useful in setting stuff up for Jack, for instance. But overall, the episode made me laugh, repeatedly, and many weeks, that’s all I need to ask for from “30 Rock.”

And no, I did not enjoy this one simply because Liz made a reference to dating the main character from “Just One of the Guys.” But that certainly didn’t hurt.

What did everybody else think?

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