The recently missing in action ”TGS” writing staff is back this week on “30 Rock,” and they provide the laughs you’ve come to expect. A little role reversal occurs as well when Liz feels accepted for once and Jack finally questions his importance at GE. Also, the episode ends with Pete wearing a Mexican poncho and playing Jethro Tull’s Aqualung on acoustic guitar. The episode may have been worth it just for that. See our review to find out what we thought of the rest of it…

The Players:

Episode Title: “College”

When Liz wins a thousand dollars via a “TGS” cast and crew lottery she opens up a bar tab for her coworkers and for once becomes popular around the studio, reminding her of the two weeks in college when her over-sized dorm room was a major party spot. However, Tracy and Jenna insist that this change in fortune is only temporary. In the meantime Jack tries to prove that he is still a worthy businessman by finding a design flaw in the new product created without his supervision by GE’s microwave division.

The Good:

  • The writers are back! The writing staff of “TGS” has been underused for most of this season, but they’re back in action this week, pranking Pete with a simple phone call and an online dictionary featuring Jack’s computerized voice. We love these guys because they let us pretend that this is how all sketch comedy writing staffs behave.
  • Geek time: Careful viewers might catch an obscure Star Wars reference in an exchange between Jack and the inventors of GE’s latest microwave. It’s a nice little in-joke for those of us who got it.
  • Kenneth dies: Although, not permanently. A minor flaw in “30 Rock” is the fact that certain characters have fallen into predictable routines and it’s tough for the writers to come up with new twists on an old joke. Such is the case with Kenneth, whose folksy manners and unending loyalty to his superiors are hilarious half the time and routine the other half. Luckily, this episode was the kind where he was hilarious, going to such lengths to help Jack that he’s brought to the brink of death.

The So-So:

  • Tracy and Jenna: Neither Tracy nor Jenna have much to do this episode. The joke about Tracy’s college movie character equivalent being the nerdy kid who everyone realizes is actually handsome when he removes his glasses is kind of funny, but for the most part, he’s left in the background this week. Seeing as he’s the the most entertaining character on the show, that’s a shame.
  • Trying too hard: If there is one major problem that the writers of “30 Rock” need to address, it’s the fact that they often try too hard to get a laugh, even if that means forcing an awkward joke into the dialogue that doesn’t totally fit. Case in point: Jenna mentions that she attended an “Academy of Acting Tricks” and then says, “When we graduated a week later,” etc. Yeah, we’re supposed to laugh because the school she attended was a cheap performance arts university that only lasted a week. Honestly, it’s not that clever to begin with, and it doesn’t fit very well into the dialogue. That kind of writing needs to stop.

Overall:

A solid episode of “30 Rock” that brought back a nice gang of characters and definitely served up enough comedy for our Thursday night. Could have used more Tracy, but he doesn’t need to have a major presence in every episode.

Rating: 7.5/10

“30 Rock” airs every Thursday night on NBC!

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How did you feel about last night’s episode? Tell us in the comments!