Brief spoilers for "30 Rock" coming up just as soon as I enjoy some homemade country gum...
One of the best first season episodes of this show was the one where Liz met Floyd's girlfriend Liz Lemler and went into a complete Dubya-style meltdown, even barking out "I'm the decider!" whenever someone questioned the wisdom of her latest escalation. It was a hilarious episode from start to finish (it was also the one with Jack's family, each with their own pronunciation of "Donaghy"), and so I guess I can't blame them from going to the Iraq war parody well again. But I felt like the baseball plot of "Cougars" kept beating me over the head with all the obvious parallels. With Baldwin, Morgan, McBrayer and this writing team in place, there were definitely going to be some funny moments ("One word: surge!" "That's two words!"), but almost all of them were throwaway gags like the title of Tracy's tell-all book or Jack's charity that gives tuxedos to homeless people. Maybe if Jack hadn't announced his intentions to follow in Bush's footsteps, it might have all worked better, but the writers' need to spell it out in advance lest we not get it was distracting. (Also, the Liz version of this story worked in part because Liz is a liberal; seeing a devout Republican like Jack playing out failed Republican policy isn't as funny, even on a silly canvas like a Little League team.)
Liz's May-December cougar plot, meanwhile, has been done in various forms on lots of other shows (there was one sitcom in particular that did the gag where both halves of the couple lied about their age and didn't realize how far apart they were, and it's driving me nuts that I can't remember), and yet Tina Fey almost made it seem fresh with her usual willingness to appear completely pathetic. ("Oh... when will death come?") Frank's sexual confusion didn't quite work for me, but at least it led to one of the better Anne Heche-bashing lines I've heard in a while ("You can't be gay for one person -- unless you're a woman, and you meet Ellen.")
Ah, well. Win some, lose some. At least we have three more of these, while "The Office" is done for the duration.
What did everybody else think?