30 Rock” is so attractive to fans of comedy because the writing is extremely sharp, reminding viewers that what goes on behind the camera is just as important as what goes on in front of it. Luckily, this week, both elements were pretty strong, and while there were a few missteps along the way, it generally made for a good half hour of entertainment.

The Players:

Episode Title: “I Heart Connecticut”

Upon realizing that Tracy is not in Africa but is indeed in NYC, Liz enlists the aid of Kenneth to seek out the “TGS” star and save the show. In the meantime, Jenna spends her free time playing a victim in a torture-porn movie, but the project is low on funding. Back at the “TGS” office, Pete discovers an ability he never knew he had. Or, at least, so he thinks.

The Good:

  • Rob Riggle: Rob Riggle may never be the leading man, but he always makes anything he is involved in slightly funnier. He never plays clever characters, but he is good at portraying the loud, obnoxious and antagonistic types. His constant jokes about Pete’s wife aren’t funny in spite of their immature nature; rather, they make us laugh precisely because Riggle is so good at playing immature characters.
  • Torture Porn: The Saw ripoff which Jenna appears in feels eerily like the real thing. In an alternate universe, we could see ourselves heading to the theatre to check this one out. (Ok, no we couldn’t, but that’s only because these movies suck. If we liked them, we’d like this, though.)
  • Clever Writing: “30 Rock” always sports some commendable comedy writing, but tonight’s episode stood out in particular, with line’s referring to the “Bastille” of Bastille Day as a stripper and Jack commenting on the fact that “NBC has produced more failed pilots than the French Air Force.” Clever stuff.

The So-So:

  • Searching for Tracy: The quest to find Tracy brings a few laughs this episode, but overall, it doesn’t quite work. The scene at the pizzeria should have been a moment of midly absurd comedy, but instead it felt awkward and forced. The final confrontation between “Clemon” and Tracy is reasonably entertaining, but there aren’t any moments that had us really laughing out loud.
  • Corporate Interests: When Jenna’s torture porn movie fails to acquire sufficient funding, it seeks it out in unconventional places, and while this leads to a slightly clever commentary on the nature of corporate interference in Hollywood, it comes on a little too obvious. The jokes forecast themselves so that we know what’s coming. Good comedy involves being surprised, and this gag wasn’t all that surprising.

The Bad:

  • Pete’s fantasy: The show plays a major fake-out on us when we learn that an entire subplot occurred strictly within the imagination of Pete. This is definitely an example in which the writer was trying to gain some comedy out of the element of surprise, but sadly, this is a surprise which did not work at all, leaving us more baffled than amused.

Overall:

A very clever episode with a few weak spots, but certainly nothing noticeable enough to qualify it as a disappointment. The parts that worked did so very strongly, and those that didn’t work were still more or less admirable in theory. And of course, we’re just happy that Tracy is coming back.

Rating: 7/10

“30 Rock” airs every thursday night on NBC!

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