30 Rock continues to churn out shows this year, as the NBC comedy aired its 17th episode in just 13 weeks. This week’s episode went back to a few occasionally touched upon subplots. We get more insight into Jack’s prickly relationship with his mother, Tracy’s non-existent relationship with his son, and Jenna’s weird relationship with her boyfriend Paul. How did this episode measure up?

The Players:

Episode Title:  “Meet the Woggles!”

Last night’s 30 Rock wished you appreciated things more. Jack didn’t appreciate his mother enough (at least according to Liz), Tracy didn’t appreciate his son enough to raise him as a “true Jordan” (and as a result the kid is a Stanford-bound nerd), and Jenna didn’t appreciate just how much Paul meant to her until she realized how lonely it is at the top of the world of toddler entertainment.  This week’s episode also featured an inordinate amount of grown-ups in costumes: Couchie the couch mascot, Mr. Met, and Will Arnett.  And finally, updating last week’s bit-players rundown, Grizz and Dotcom are back in, Hazel and Pete are out.

The Good:

  • The dead-on Wiggles rip-off: The Woggles, a band Jenna intends on Yoko’ing as she checks off another box on her “sexual walkabout.”
  • No Hazel: The new annoying character they’ve “poochied” us into the last few weeks was thankfully absent in this episode.
  • Elaine Stritch: Alec Baldwin’s mother Colleen is every bit a legend as Betty White, minus the creepy octogenarian horniness.
  • Liz’s neediness taking the week off: Even fanboys like myself enjoy a break from neurosis from time to time.

The So-So:

  • No Frank, Lutz, Pete, or Toofer: They are usually good for a laugh a piece.
  • Still in North Korea?: No advancement in the Avery plot line (and therefore no closer to seeing the wonderful Elizabeth Banks reprising her role)
  • Jack’s mother’s elaborate plan:  She gets up to New York and just to give Jack a family heirloom for his daughter. Why not just send Baldwin down to Florida?)
  • A more-hastily-slapped-together-than-usual Tracy focus: His son, George Forman (this particular joke belongs in “the good” category”) hasn’t spent much time with his old man, and as a result he’s turned out to be a nerd who actually wants to go to Stanford.

The Bad:

  • Tracy’s increasingly irrelevant-more-than-irreverent plot line
  • The ratings: 30 Rock comes in at 150th in this week’s Neilson ratings – yeesh.
  • No NBC insults
  • The writers’ continued indecision over being neither episodic nor serial: Especially the Avery and Criss “plotlines” that barely merit the term.  Either kill these characters off the way you did Matt Damon and John Hamm or have them be more than someone who can show up on set one day a year for the seven scenes they’re in that’ll be spliced in over seven random episodes.

Memorable Jokes:

  • Jack has real problems, like “losing your giant scissors before a ribbon cutting.”
  • Jack saying the opening of a factory means three things: jobs, pride, and Springsteen song material
  • Jenna dating the guy from Blues Traveler who apparently kept his harmonica in “the entire time.”
  • Kenneth attesting to the Woggles’ popularity by relating the fact that his eight-year-old niece used their music for her wedding entry
  • Tracy declaring he will teach his son to be a true Jordan “and die trying.”
  • The hospital contacting Jack based on a list of disappointments his mother keeps in her shoe
  • Jack admonishing a man dressed up as a couch: “unlike you, Couchie, I have eyes, I can see it’s over.”
  • Jenna being told that nothing can tear the Woggles apart, “except the shark that tore apart the fifth woggle.”
  • Jack’s mother wondering why they didn’t name Liddy after her mother, whose given name at Ellis Island was “Unclaimed Irish Stowaway”
  • Tracy and his son playing video games with Mr. Met
  • Jack arguing that he’s not immune to “sobbing like Bill Belichick at an Adele concert.”
  • Liz texting Jack: 80>-< which she says is her with her hands in the air saying, “Talk to your mother!”…her glasses are the 8.
  • The Woggles playing at the “Gwammys,” i.e. the toddler Grammys.
  • A couple random insults of Dean Cain (I’m a fan of “kick ‘em when they’re down” comedy).
  • Colleen taking out the battery that charges her heart and throwing it across the room just so Liz has something to do instead of talk.
  • Jenna, realizing after a song called “Mommy Kangaroo” that included the lyric “separate the races,” that “that song – like everything – is about me!”

Overall:

Maybe I’m just waiting for the live show, but this one was kind of a snooze.  30 Rock works best for me when two things, quirkiness and insult added to injury, are at a balance.  This episode had a little too much sentiment – the same comedy virus currently ruining Modern Family. No one watches this show for the “aw shucks play the Full House resolution music” ending.  Please get back to Lutz being alone and Pete being pathetic.  Dear Liz’s neuroses: Please forgive me for not appreciating you (especially during an episode on appreciation) and suggesting we take a break.  Please come back next week and I’ll never question you again.

Rating: 5/10

 

Photos:

30 Rock airs on NBC at 8:30pm (ET/PT) on Thursday nights.

What did you think of last night’s episode?