This year’s holiday episode of “30 Rock” may not pay much attention to, well, the holidays, but it does look like attention was paid to the script. Whereas this season has featured a few episodes with noticeable gaps in the comedy, this particular episode squeezes as many laughs as it can into a half an hour. That’s the kind of writing we’re used to and we were pleased to see it on full display this week.
Read the review to find out more of what we thought…
Episode Title: “Christmas Attack Zone”
Liz wants to avoid the typical Christmas Eve drama at her parents’ house, so she opts to spend it with Jack and Avery and head over to her own family’s celebration the next day. Her plans are thwarted when Colleen reacts with anger to the news of Avery’s pregnancy and Jack seeks revenge by secretly inviting his father (whose existence he is supposed to be unaware of) over. In the meantime, Tracy tries to suppress his natural comedic talents in an effort to win a Golden Globe award, and Jenna wants to reunite with Paul for a “New Queer’s Eve” costume party.
- Tracy trying to be serious: Tracy’s attempts to live the life of sensitive actor after appearing in the Precious-esque drama Hard to Watch are about as funny as his usual absurd behavior; in other words, they’re hysterical. He laments having to be interviewed by Charlie Rose and vows only to make films about “The Holocaust or Georgia O’Keefe, or both!” Also, for some inexplicable reason, it’s still amusing when we make fun of Eddie Murphy’s sad insistence to play characters in a fat suit, and Tracy’s movie The Chunks is so similar to The Nutty Professor we don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
- Alan Alda: Alda returns this week as Jack’s hippie father, Doctor Milton Greene. His liberal leanings are att odds with Jack’s conservative convictions and the writers milk the situation for all it’s worth. Best moment: when Milton displays his new book, “There’s No Right Way to Start a Family” with a cover featuring a female Muslim and a witch raising a disabled African-American child.
- M.C. Escher: Liz tries to sabotage Jack’s revenge scheme, but he gets her lost by directing her to the East Wing of his house which he says was designed by M.C. Escher. In the distance, we hear Liz say, “These stairs are weird.” It’s one of those moments that only work on a show like “30 Rock,” where the jokes can be unrealistic.
- Jenna and Paul: This relationship barely ended, and already it’s back on. Although the “two black swans” joke involving these two is clever, there’s not much to do with them. We get it, Jenna’s a narcissist and the two of them have bizarre sexual fetishes. There’s only so many laughs that be squeezed out of that premise.
- Elizabeth Banks: Elizabeth Banks is a fantastic actress who can handle comedy just as well as anyone else in the cast of “30 Rock.” She doesn’t make an appearance often and when she does it seems like the writers forget to throw anu funny lines her way. Sure, she elicits a chuckle or two, but her role isn’t too memorable. Give her something more to do!
Consistent laughs make this a good episode of “30 Rock” and a decent holiday episode. The spirit of the season isn’t exactly addressed, aside from an awkward montage towards the end, but we can overlook that when the writing is this sharp. Not a single scene feels wasted this week and hopefully we can look forward to more of that.
“30 Rock” airs every Thursday night on NBC!
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