Quick spoilers for last night's "30 Rock" coming up just as soon as I identify my best quadrant...
Two weeks ago, we got an episode that represented how brilliant "30 Rock" can be at its best. "Cutbacks" unfortunately, was an example of a different type of "30 Rock" -- and one we've been getting all too often this season -- where there are a number of funny individual moments and quotable lines, but it never adds up to much of anything. There's enough solid comedy to make me glad I watched, but I tend to come out of these episodes feeling very unsatisfied.
I thought there was potential in Liz trying to save her co-workers from budget cutbacks (some of essential people and things, some of complete indulgences). But after her opening presentation to the Roger Bart character -- which may have been funnier to me than to you, since it was a dead-on recreation of dozens of similar "NBC is more powerful than you could possibly imagine" speeches I've heard from Jeff Zucker and/or Ben Silverman -- it ran out of steam. Liz literally whoring herself out to save the staff's straws (and Don Pardo's job) seemed like too thin a joke to hang a whole episode on.
That was much better, though, than the Tracy/Kenneth/Jenna storyline, which is exactly the kind of dumb sitcom plot that "30 Rock" usually either makes fun of or does such a warped version of that the material doesn't feel lame anymore. This was just lame.
Again, there were enough good jokes peppered in that I'm not completely disappointed, including:
• Jack getting impatient through Jonathan's farewell serenade;
• Jack cutting the head of the boom box division;
• Pete: "I can't go back to teaching high school math! Those girls pretend they're not women yet, but they are!"
• "Top front? Good lord, Lemon, that's your worst quadrant!"
• Roger Bart weeping as he asks his assistant to add a therapy appointment to his "skedj."
What did everybody else think?