30 Rock: A perfectly ‘whelming’ episode

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April 13, 2009

12:20 AM

This Thursday’s “30 Rock” was a good, solid episode — it had some great parts, but it wasn’t one of _the_ best “30 Rock” episodes, like last week’s episode or the episode where Tracy goes on Conan O’Brian’s show. It was the kind of episode I would love watching with already-avid “30 Rock” fans like myself, but not an episode that I would invite newcomers to watch as their first taste of the show. Anyhoo, onto specifics.

I loved Tracy’s run-in Kenneth’s bird (Bird: Don’t go in the bedroom!/ Tracy: [frantically running away] I wasn’t! I wasn’t!), and his and Jenna’s brilliant deduction that Kenneth was a serial killer. This is definitely not the first time that a comedy has had stupid characters assume one of their friends is a killer, but “30 Rock” pulled it off as well as “30 Rock” _always_ pulls off comedic cliches — amusing, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, with that Fey-an spark that “30 Rock” thrives on.

The ongoing joke about “The Pelican Brief” was funny — I just wish I had known what they were talking about. It’s my own fault, but I haven’t seen the movie before, and hearing all these jokes about it that were supposed to be funny (as I’m sure they were) just made me feel left out.

I liked the iPresentation Liz gave to the consultant at first, but it got old really quickly. It was an instance where the idea itself is funny and the delivery was there, but it didn’t turn out to be as funny as Tina Fey had wanted it to be (I feel like this is ‘SNL’’s chronic problem, but that’s a different blog post altogether). I think it would have been _perfect_ as a cut-to scene that they often do, where you only see a situation for five seconds and they snap back to the current time.

Finally, I wish they had better utilized the consultant, play by Broadway star Roger Bart. He was in the movie version of “The Producers,” and he was hilarious (he’s currently Victor Frankenstein in Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein” — another classic comedic role). He was given a dud of a role, and that his character could have been so much more over-the-top and funny than he turned out to be. For such a big name in the acting business, he should have been given a bigger and better part. His was great when he broke down and started talking to his dead wife, but that was less than five minutes from the end of the show. What happened to the other 15 minutes?

I definitely liked the episode. It had some great moments, with some not-so-great moments sprinkled into the mix. Some of the jokes were old, or not as funny as they should be, and the guest actor was totally underutilized, but “30 Rock”’s amazing knack for surprising you with hilarious one-liners and two-second visuals made it all worthwhile. I wasn’t overwhelmed by this episode, but I definitely wasn’t underwhelmed either. I guess you could say I was just “whelmed.”

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