’30 Rock’ – ‘The Return of Avery Jessup’: Back to normalcy

A quick review of last night’s “30 Rock” coming up just a soon as Siri brings Jessica Tandy back to life…

Yesterday afternoon, NBC renewed “30 Rock” for a seventh and final season, so we don’t have to worry about saying goodbye to the show next week. And that’s welcome not only because the show is having one of its best overall seasons and seems to absolutely have at least 13 more episodes in it, but because we’re setting up various stories that I’d like to see play out in one final season.

“The Return of Avery Jessup” was another very funny episode, but one where the Liz plot felt very much unfinished. Criss still isn’t happy that Liz gets to wear the pants(*), Liz is still freaking out about bringing a “plant” into their lives – even if it has to be “an older plant with some behavioral issues” – and it’s just way too much to resolve in next week’s finale. This is something the show can have a lot of fun with in a victory lap season, without having to devote too many episodes (or any, really) to Liz and Criss actually taking care of their plant.

(*) And, in one of two “Game of Thrones”-related text jokes of the night for NBC (“Parks and Recreation” had the other), that he has to call her Khaleesi to get Crisspoints.

Meanwhile, Avery’s titular return was everything we could have hoped for after the show had to work around Elizabeth Banks’ schedule all season. Jack and Avery are a classic example of how marrying off two characters doesn’t have to take the comic spark out of the relationship. The two of them will always be too combative, too determined to gain the upper hand – and too turned on when the other one gets it – for things to get dull during her infrequent appearances.

And the Jenna story was another good one for her in a season that, on the whole, has been kind of excellent for a character I haven’t always loved in previous years. We know that Jenna comes from trashy roots, and it was amusing to see her struggle to reconcile them with the pretentious, diction-obsessed person she’s become.

Throw in the usual assortment of outstanding throwaway gags and one-liners – zombie Jessica Tandy, the Mitt Romney 4 (“He’s not killing hobos at night anymore”), “Sex, money, power, fire, choking, being dragged behind a speedboat – it’s all the same thing!” – and you have a show that should absolutely not be saying goodbye next week, and thankfully won’t be.

What did everybody else think?