30 Rock” may not be as consistently entertaining as “Arrested Development” was, but it fills the gap that show left by providing viewers with a source of strong comedic writing. While this season has been somewhat uneven, last night’s episode was a well-rounded example of high-quality humor that did what it is meant to do: keep us interested for half an hour.

Read our review to get our full thoughts…

The Players:

Episode Title: “Double-Edged Sword”

Liz’s doomed relationship (aren’t they all?) with Carol comes to a head this week when she challenges his authority as a pilot. Jack and Avery go to Canada together to attend the G8 conference, but they try desperately to make it back to the United States when Avery begins to go into early labor. In the meantime, Tracy learns that winning an EGOT isn’t easy.

The Good:

  • Matt Damon: Gotta hand it to him; the man can do comedy fantastically, and whenever he’s on this show, he is a genuine scene-stealer. Sadly, with this episode ending as it did, we’ve probably seen the last of him.
  • Conservative Couple: Jack and Avery’s conservative politics could have become an old joke long ago, but the writers are clever enough to continue finding humor in this topic. Their reaction to learning that Americans aren’t making their own meth anymore: “What is happening to American manufacturing?” Their response to realizing that if their daughter is born in Canada, she won’t be able to be President: “Well, if we were in Kenya we’d be ok.”
  • In-flight movie: Sometimes the smallest jokes are the funniest. For example, when Liz and her fellow passengers are stuck on a plane, the situation only gets worse when they learn that their in-flight movie is Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’hoole. The writers could not have picked a better bad movie.
  • Potato chips: While we’re on the topic of minor but effective jokes, when Liz confronts Carol and asks why the passengers can’t at least be treated to some potato chips while they wait for the plane to take off, he responds by telling her, “Those bags are designed to be opened while in the air. If I open them here someone could die!”

The So-So:

  • Elizabeth Banks: It is great that the writers are finally giving her some comedy, but they don’t give her quite enough. As usual, she does a great job with what she has to work with, but even the best actor can’t rewrite the script.
  • John Cho: You don’t throw Harold into an episode if you’re only going to give him one funny line. You don’t.

The Bad:

  • Tracy: He’s usually the best part of any “30 Rock” episode, but this time around he just doesn’t have enough to do. Hopefully he’ll take center stage again. His character seems to work best when he’s the focus of an episode.

Overall:

A very effective episode that gets the laughs and does a decent job of balancing the various plotlines it handles. We turn to “30 Rock” for witty comedy writing, and this week delivered.

Rating: 8/10

“30 Rock” airs every Thursday night on NBC!

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