“30 Rock“ is at its best when it is less focused on Liz or Jack’s relationship struggles and more focused on making audiences laugh. Last night was a great example of this, with funny guest stars and a consistently clever script.
Read the review and find out why the show needs to keep heading in this direction…
- Writer: Jack Burditt
- Director: John Riggi
- Cast: Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan, Alec Baldwin, Jane Krakowski, Jack McBrayer, Keith Powell, Scott Adsit, Queen Latifah, Rob Reiner
Episode Title: “Let’s Stay Together”
Diversity, or the apparent lack thereof, is the issue central to last night’s episode of “30 Rock.” Jack is called to address Congress on the future of NBC, but Congresswoman Regina Bookman (Queen Latifah) is preoccupied with the absence of diversity in NBC’s programming. In response to these concerns, Toofer is promoted to co-head writer of TGS, and Tracy is enlisted to create a new program based around the African-American experience. In the meantime, Jenna channels her own mother when she tries to help Kenneth get re-hired as a page.
- Guest Stars: “30 Rock” always manages to score appearances by noteworthy guest stars, and this episode was no exception. Rob Reiner plays himself, albeit an alternate universe version of himself in which he became a Congressman (moments earlier in the episode, Jack remarked that most people who get elected to Congress these days are former celebrities). Queen Latifah earns some genuine laughs as a politician given to breaking off into rambling, passionate speeches about such quintessential American values as “troops” and “pizza.”
- Diversity Jokes: A lot of random elements converge at the end of this episode when Congresswoman Bookman is invited to the studio to get a glimpse of NBC’s “racial sensitivity.” Signs indicating that one recycling bin is for “colored” paper while another is for “white” paper lead to a severe misunderstanding when they are placed too close to the restrooms, for example. It’s an easy joke, sure, but it’s still very funny.
- Toofer: Usually a secondary character with a couple of lines per episode, Toofer’s role is expanded here. When he is awarded the position of co-head writer, it goes to Toofer’s head, much to the dismay of Liz. It’s just further proof that this show employs many skilled actors, even the ones who don’t get a lot of screen-time.
- Let’s Stay Together: Dotcom’s intelligence is once again wasted on Tracy. He pitches a new show for NBC about a struggling African-American family living in Detroit during the 1970s. Named after the Al Green song “Let’s Stay Together,” it serves as a metaphor for the unrest in American society at the time. Tracy’s notes on the idea: “Add a talking dog.”
- Jenna and Kenneth: A subplot involving Jenna’s attempts to get Kenneth back into the page program doesn’t amount to much in the way of comedy. Seeing Jack McBrayer perform a bizarrely choreographed dance number is amusing enough, but the process of getting their is fairly boring.
A very funny episode that mixes strong writing, solid performances from the entire cast, and some very entertaining guest stars. It’s not an instant classic, but’s probably the most successful of the new season.
“30 Rock” airs on NBC every Thursday night!
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