"Tracy Jordan, saying three serious things and then a joke!" -Larry KingBetter. Much, much better. Maybe the first episode of 2009 I enjoyed unreservedly.
Other than Jenna, they used the entire cast (even Pete, who's been MIA for weeks and weeks) and used them well, gave us a Jack story that balanced comedy with some genuine emotion, got some good mileage out of a rare Liz/Kenneth story (Kenneth usually rolls with Tracy or Jack), and employed the guest stars as well as they have all season. They cracked the code on Salma Hayek a few episodes back (enough that I'll be disappointed if this was her swan song), and Larry King was a delight being his usual oblivious self as a foil to Tracy's increasingly tenuous connection to reality.
I'm coming to this one relatively late in the day because of my movie-going adventures last night, so let's do some bullet points and open it up to you:
• My friend Mike swung by this morning to watch the episode with me (and so I could introduce him to this NSFW Flight of the Conchords video about a dance floor containing too many of something), and he made a good point about Jack and Elisa's post-coital scene: total missed opportunity to give us a glimpse of the legendary Alec Baldwin chest hair (which Matt Seitz likes to compare to a catcher's protective gear).
• Baldwin's Elisa impression was funny, but also very reminiscent of his work as Mrs. Rodriguez in the classic Tracy/Jack therapy scene. Perhaps Jack is, like Baldwin's "SNL" character The Mimic, very limited in the number of voices he can do.
• The cabbie was played by Ajay Naidu, best known as Samir Nagheenanajar from "Office Space."
• By now, you probably don't need me to point out the incredible resemblance between the Republican response by Lousiana Governor Bobby Jindal earlier this week and Jack McBrayer as Kenneth, or even to point you to McBrayer responding to all the comparisons in one of Jimmy Fallon's test shows. But if you somehow missed all that earlier in the week, enjoy. It's amazing.
• Love that Kenneth believes "99 Luftballoons" was "Nina's famous anti-balloon protest song."
• Did you catch that the Zorgonia Ave. station had a billboard for the Janice Jimplin biopic? So Jenna did sort of appear this week.
• Not only did the episode bring back Pete, but we got our first concentrated dose of Jonathan since early in the season, complete with shirtless flute-playing video.
• Liz's celebratory moments are funny in this one because they're so lame: she's had sex two more times this year than Jack (which means things with Drew are going okay), and she took the naked photo because it was a rare moment when her boobs were pointing in the same direction. (Also loved Kenneth's interpretation of "adult photo" to mean a shot of Liz driving a car or wearing a suit.)
• Tracy summarizing the plot of "Teen Wolf" was just the writers' blatant attempt to get Bill Simmons to write about "30 Rock," right?
What did everybody else think?