30 Rock” gives us our first new episode of 2011, and while it isn’t exactly anything  special, there’s not too much to complain about, either. Two very important characters get thrown into a very awkward situation, and Tracy’s wife Angie make an always welcome appearance. Check out our review to see how we felt…

The Players:

Episode Title: “Mrs. Donaghy”

Jack returns from his wedding only to discover that a misunderstanding during the proceedings resulted in his accidentally getting married to Liz instead of Avery. The two agree to sign a divorce paper as soon as possible, but when Liz learns that Jack is severely cutting costs at “TGS,” she uses her position as leverage. Danny and Jenna fight, causing Kenneth to try to help them reconcile. Tracy gets a physical from Dr. Spaceman and receives news that should be alarming: he could die soon. (Don’t worry, he probably won’t.)

The Good:

  • Liz gets the spotlight: We’re so used to seeing Tina Fey play Liz Lemon that we begin to forget that she’s acting. As a result, we tend to also forget that acting is something she’s pretty good at. By making her Jack’s wife, she gets the opportunity to imitate a wealthy aristocratic woman, and does so impressively. It’s one thing to play a character. It’s another thing to play a character doing an impersonation. It’s, well, something else to play a character doing a bad impersonation. Fey pulls it off like it’s nothing.
  • Art school: Speaking of Tina Fey, when she’s in “wealthy wife” mode, she gets revenge on Jack for his treatment of the “TGS” staff by delivering a press conference, as his wife, declaring that she and her husband intend to donate millions of dollars to establish a school thatteaches its students to ask, “What is art?” Jack’s response: “We know what art is! Paintings of horses!”
  • Angie: Angie’s a funny character who doesn’t get enough screentime, and in a maneuver to get Liz to sign the divorce papers, Jack considers bumping “TGS” from the NBC lineup and replacing it with a reality show about Angie and her eccentric friends. Liz’s response is the same as ours: she just wants to watch that show.

The So-So:

  • Tracy’s big news: The news that Tracy is in terrible shape and could die at any moment is pretty funny simply because we know that it’s not something we actually have to worry about. But Tracy doesn’t worry about it enough, really, and it would have been funnier if there was a subplot dealing with the legitimate emotional burden of learning that you could pass on soon. We’re thinking that Tracy would have dealt with that in a fun way.

The Bad:

  • Kenneth, Danny and Jenna: This whole subplot falls flat because it’s entirely predictable. The relationship between these characters is modeled after that of a family in turmoil, with Danny and Jennas as the fighting parents and Kenneth as their child. We know all the beats already, we know it will end in a “divorce,” so it’s hard to laugh at jokes you saw coming.

Overall:

The premise of this episode was very clever and for the most part, everyone pulls it off and milks it for all that it is worth. It was great to see Tina Fey showing off her skills, the jokes worked, and while the subplots weren’t the most interesting ones we’ve ever had, it could have been worse.

Rating: 7.5/10

“30 Rock” airs every Thursday night on NBC!

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