30 Rock, “Goodbye My Friend”

Like last week, I appreciated what this episode was doing even though the jokes were more hit-or-miss than a lot of other weeks this season.  The Jack/Frank plotline was by far the strongest of the night; Liz and the pregnant teenager is a great premise but I thought they could’ve done more with it; luckily it had a number of good moments and dovetailed nicely with Jack’s story at the end.  And the Lithgow cameo was a nice touch, especially the second one. Jenna’s story was the weakest of the night, a one-note riff on that character’s oldest joke.

But I loved that the show opened as a TGS episode wrapped, that Liz was hanging out with Pete, and that we got beats with Cerie and the writers (we even saw Josh; I’m pretty sure I’ve passed him on the street in New York more recently than I’ve seen his character on the show, and I live in California).  The show is fleshing out its universe again after indulging heavily in the awesomeness of the top-tier characters for most of this season.

Last week I sort of rambled on about how  30 Rock has the comedy genes of both The Simpsons and Arrested Development. I could also point out the show’s initial Mary Tyler Moore-ness, which was more prominent in Seasons 1 and Season 2, but that’s a different subject for a different day. Point is, when the whole cast gets engaged in intersecting plotlines, I feel the Arrested side of the gene pool is noticeable.  I don’t think the Jenna/Tracy birthday storyline really played into it, but you could definitely see the Arrested spirit in Liz’s scheming (whenever Liz gets crazy eyes it’s a lot like whenever Michael Bluth decides to deceive someone) and in the “multiple plotlines merge to re-enact a running gag/episode motif” Harry & the Hendersons climax. Overall I thought this episode lacked the frenetic pace of last week’s, which was another point of similarity with AD, and the writers didn’t fill the breathing room with as many solid laugh lines as we’ve grown accustomed.  But please keep in mind that these comparisons to other TV comedy classics are meant in a complimentary way, not to suggest that 30 Rock is in any way derivative, which it definitely is not.

Final note: I didn’t realize that February sweeps was delayed until March this year because of the digital TV transition that didn’t end up happening.  Curious to see what that portends for upcoming episodes. Seems like Jon Hamm and Salma Hayek are both back for at least one more show. And last week Jack’s subordinates said that Don Geiss went MIA… I hope this means more corporate humor and specifically more Rip Torn and (I can only hope) Will Arnett. Now go! GO!

…Goodbye, my friends.

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