30 Rock – Alexis Goodlooking and the Case of the Missing Whiskey
Much like 2009, 2010, and 2011 we should just forget that 'Leap Day' exists and pretend that 30 Rock is on a pretty solid comedy streak. This week's outing was funny, poignant, and had A+ story lines that easily could have filled an entire episode by themselves. The most impressive one of them all was also the least funniest. Once in a while comedies stray from their paths and give characters some depth and diversity. For Jack Donaughy this was that week. I'm not sure if it's the idea that we're just pretending Avery is not somewhere in Korea fighting off crying Asians or the fact that we ignore that Jack is a terrible absentee father, but for all intents and purposes, Jack hasn't had much stuff to deal with. Which is why I was all too surprised to find that he had more character development in one scene than most of the characters on a Chuck Lorre show have in a year.
In an honest and rather heartfelt story, Jack trained Kenneth for the competitive business world. Kenneth soon befriended a colleague who was after his position, which made Jack remember the first rival he had. Besides Alec Baldwin's wig it was quite awesome to see Stanley Tucci in a very toned down role. His character, named Henry Warren, didn't make much of an impression, but he did make Jack realize that the business part of him isn't all that great. It's not like Jack realizing this will change anything for good or that it will even be remembered next week, but after all these years of living the way Don Geiss had, Jack learns it might not be worth it. I didn't expect the writers to go there, but the scene in which he acknowledges that it might be too late for Kenneth won the night on all emotional fronts.
As for comedy, there was a lot to go around. Jenna reliving her detective days was straight up gold. She teamed up with Tracy to find out who drank Pete's birthday Scotch. And with incredible wit, ridiculous analyzations that make up all the dialogue in any CSI and hilarious overstated, forced, character history, Jenna made fun of every procedural cop show all at once. She went through the building to find clues and collected the writing staff to accuse them as if it was Law & Order. I wouldn't mind that character returning for more crime parodies. Same goes for Tracy who shortly reflected on his - wise black guy who gave advise to white people - days. With modern television walking around on eggshells when it comes to racism this was extremely refreshing and funny.
To prove that every character was on fire last night, Frank had his own storyline. Susan Sarandon returned as Lynn Onkman, Frank's teacher who seduced him. Sarandon effortlessly brought up Lynn's prison past, which delivered a lot of awkward jokes. Frank, who I never really saw the use of, was even funny when he blatantly admitted to wanting to date his mother. That was about as painful to watch as Pete playing on his guitar tuning "The Piano Man" and singing about how he met Phil Donahue.
This episode was not about Liz and that's seemingly the way this show works best. Sidekicks are always funnier and on a show filled with them you might as well let them do their puns and have Liz comment on them. It leaves room for a lot more jokes, random story lines, and ultimately, it doesn't overuse the protagonist. No, 30 Rock was great once more.