The beautiful Elizabeth Banks is back this week, and even if her role is minimal, there were plenty of reasons to watch last night’s episode of “30 Rock.” This has always been a  show that relies just as much on its good writing as it does its stars – both of which did a phenomenal job this week at bringing the two together and keeping the laughs coming.  Check out the review to find out more…

The Players:

Episode Title: “Gentleman’s Intermission”

When her dad shows up in town to take a break from married life, Liz takes it upon herself to convince him that this is an immature idea. Unfortunately, she can’t get the usual help from Jack when Avery misunderstands the nature of their relationship. Jack is forced to seek out a new mentee while Tracy hopes to improve his reputation after watching his pre-produced NBC obituary. Jenna, on the other hand, just wants to earn enough prestige to have an NBC obituary.

The Good:

  • The Writing: “30 Rock” is at its best when the script is loaded with as many little jokes as possible. Is Jack’s comment about Tracy owning the world’s only all-giraffe basketball team (“The New York Necks”) roll-on-the-floor hilarious? Nah, not really. But it’s clever, and the strongest episodes of this show have embraced every opportunity for humor, be it the big gags or the leftover lines.
  • Tracy’s Obituary: We’re all familiar with those career retrospectives that seem to be magically available to the major networks the moment a prominent celebrity passes, and the brief glimpse we get of Tracy’s is as recognizable as it is is surreal. He is remembered for his recurring role in the “Fat Bitch” movies (a lampoon of Tyler Perry’s Madea films) and shown in an interview delivering the following quotation with a degree of sincerity only Tom Cruise should be capable of: “Thank God I didn’t f**k anybody, and thank God I didn’t f**k myself.”
  • Hero Cat: Good comedy is often ridiculous, but great comedy just points out how ridiculous the world can be. The writers of “30 Rock” have always been pretty good at that second one. Example: Tracy wants to gain the public’s admiration by becoming a hero. He sees his opportunity when he decides to save the famous guest of a news show from a staged murder (for which he enlists the help of Kenneth). The noteworthy guest? A cat that dialed 911 when it’s owner had a heart attack. Who couldn’t imagine that story showing up on Oprah?
  • Jack and Liz: Jack genuinely misses Liz’s presence in his life as he searches for a replacement. They’ve got a nice partnership, and it’s fun to see him acknowledge as much from time to time.

The So-So:

  • Liz’s Dad: We get some humor out of this situation, but it’s a little too similar to the overuse of Betty White that is plaguing pop culture. Yes, the elderly often misunderstand modern technology and culture. No, this observation is no longer hilarious.
  • Jonathan: He’s a fun character, probably deserves more screen time, but his enthusiasm in this episode is a little grating. Offering to sever a finger as a sacrifice probably sounded good on paper. It doesn’t work as well when it’s performed.

The Bad:

  • Elizabeth Banks: No, we’re not upset that she’s back, we’re upset that she has little to do. This woman can do comedy but aside from a line about her closet being so organized that it won the acclaim of a major publication, nothing she does gets much of a laugh this episode. That’s not her fault. Easy jokes about a woman acting crazy during pregnancy usually fail to be funny in general.

Overall:

While it’s not the best that “30 Rock” has to offer, last night’s episode was consistently entertaining and often laugh-out-loud funny. Tracy steals the show as usual, but the writing is impossible to overlook. Not too shabby.

Rating: 7.5/10

“30 Rock” airs every Thursday night on NBC!

Photo Gallery:

What did you think of last night’s episode? Tell us in the comments!