Review: ’30 Rock’ – ‘Florida’

A review of last night’s “30 Rock” coming up just as soon as I shake a jar of coins while praising Jimmy Carter…   

“Florida” wasn’t necessarily one of the strongest episodes of this victory lap season of “30 Rock,” in that I think there was probably an entire episode’s worth of material in both stories, and having to split time made both feel only partially baked. Tracy and Jenna running the show is too fruitful to be largely relegated to a montage, and the payoff to Liz’s desire to be impulsive felt rushed.

Yet despite that, the episode was packed with so many great throwaway jokes that I could just spend this review listing them all. (Just a few favorites: the Florida 911 voicemail tree, Jack acknowledging that he slept with Jenna a lot in season 3(*), and Bev explaining that her mother died in the middle of naming her.) And I also appreciate how, bit by bit, Tina Fey and company are using this season not only to go out on a funny note, but to resolve various character issues that have percolated throughout the series.

(*) At first, I thought season 3 was the one where Jenna put on all the weight from starring in “Mystic Pizza” on Broadway, but it turned out that it was season 2. Season 3 was, in fact, a very Jack-and-Jenna heavy season, as they were working together to make “Jackie Jormp-Jomp,” though Jack was also busy dating Salma Hayek. (Also, the show has by and large treated the age of “TGS” and “30 Rock” as the same – Tracy was added to the cast very early in the run of “The Girlie Show” – so you can view that as a meta line or not, if you so choose.)

So we finally got an episode that came right out and addressed why Jack and Liz never hooked up, with Jack standing in for the “30 Rock” writers by explaining that their friendship was “more interesting than some dating scenario… To ruin what we have with some tawdry yet expert sexual encounter would have been a mistake.” It’s something that’s been so clear that it didn’t necessarily have to be underlined, but it worked because the sequence of them sharing a bed wasn’t about whether they would finally have sex, but about Jack being in denial about his mother’s relationship with Martha. (Alec Baldwin’s delivery of “And I know those pots aren’t flowers; they’re my mother’s vagina!” was sublime.)

Similarly, we know that Kenneth has always been the victim of everyone else on “TGS” (when you’re taking abuse from Lutz, there is no further to fall), but it was good to see him finally stand up for himself – and for that act, of course, to lead to the end of “TGS.” The show-within-the-show has survived almost entirely on Kenneth’s eager willingness to humiliate himself for the sake of his TV friends, so the moment he places himself above others, the show’s doomed.

Now that we’re into January and there are only two weeks of the show left (a regular episode next week, and an hour-long finale on the 31st), it’s finally sinking in how close we are to this being over – and how unhappy I’m going to be when “30 Rock” is out of my life.

What did everybody else think?