A very quick review of last night's "30 Rock" coming up just as soon as I get an extra gender-neutralizing hood...
Like "The Office," "30 Rock" has not been having a great season (though, as with "The Office," there have been some occasional highlight episodes, like Liz doing the "Dealbreakers" pilot and the appearance by Dave Franco's Brother James Franco), and "Anna Howard Shaw" was another pretty lifeless outing. There were the usual laughs in the margins - Jack mouthing "Lifetime original movie" as Liz said the words, our glimpse of the fast-paced but pointless CNBC show, Jack and Avery bonding over the terrible things they've done to gorillas, and doped-up Liz constantly mistaking plants for Jon Bon Jovi(*) - but there were a lot of long, flat, deadly stretches, and entire subplots like Jenna with her stalker that just lay there.
(*) So if you're a Monmouth University student, how you feeling about the JBJ "I have an honorary degree" joke? Happy that you got namechecked, or irked that it was in a mocking way? It reminded me of a time I saw Springsteen in concert play a song called "Freehold," which was a blistering assault on the town he grew up in and how the townspeople treated his dad. Yet because the song's lyrics constantly mentioned the name of a town in New Jersey, half the Meadowlands crowd cheered loudly every time it came up.
Tina Fey and company made the decision a while back to embrace the lunatic side of their show, and that's fine when the jokes are as perfectly executed as they used to be on a more regular basis. But when you're just a joke machine and the jokes aren't landing (as they haven't for a lot of this season), it can be really rough to sit through. Especially when NBC's scheduling shenanigans meant that the final scene - with Jon Hamm, Dean Winters and Jason Sudeikis playing Drew, Dennis and Floyd as immigrant dental hygenists - wasn't recorded. (I had to wait till the episode was posted this morning on Hulu to see it.)
What did everybody else think?