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It’s that time of year when every show runs their obligatory Christmas episode, and 30 Rock crammed plenty of holiday cheer up our stockings this week with Christmas Attack Zone. We got quite a few sight gags, an Alan Alda cameo, and a few smaller characters stopped by to further long-running subplots and character arcs.
The show starts with a parody of obligatory Christmas episodes on the whole, by having Tracy and Jenna shooting some “Happy Holidays from the gang at TGS” promos. However, we learn that Tracy is refusing to be funny until the Oscars, because he’s concerned that if he doesn’t behave like a serious actor, he won’t win such a serious award. He’s even gone so far as to refuse to release a lowbrow comedy film he shot (We the viewers get to see a couple of clips from the un-released film, a spoof of Eddie Murphy’s work in “The Klumps” and other Black-Guy-In-Drag-And-A-Fatsuit films). There are quite few jabs at Hollywood and the stunts that Very Serious Actors do to maintain their image.
Jenna is depressed because she broke up with her transvestite boyfriend, Paul (Remember him from last week, and a couple of seasons ago)? Without him, Jenna can’t do a “Couples Costume” for a big gay New Queers Eve party she wants to go to. Jenna maintains that all she cares about is dressing up for the party, but Liz guesses that she really misses Paul, and decides to butt in.
Jack accidentally reveals to his pregnant fiancé Avery (Elizabeth Banks) that he hasn’t told his mother that he’s about to become a father. When his stern, disapproving mom (Played spectacularly by Elaine Stritch) finds out that he “Knocked up a Protestant”, Jack decides to take her down a peg and creates a "Christmas Attack Zone". Remember a couple of seasons ago when Alan Alda did a guest spot as Jack’s long-long “Real father”? Well Alda is back giving another great portrayal of a stereotypical Liberal. Jack decides to invite him, along with Avery, over for dinner as part of the Christmas Attack Zone.
Liz comes too because… well, because Liz doesn’t have her own subplot this episode. We've been told that she's not leaving town until Christmas Day, to avoid her family's fighting, so she's around to participate in everyone else's storyline. But that’s okay, because Tracy, Jenna and Jack all have strong stories of their own, and Liz gets plenty to do just by meddling in the lives of her friends. Aside from dinner with Jack's family, she also heads to the drag bar where Jenna’s boyfriend works, which provides a quick sight gag of a Tina Fey female Impersonator. The writers always have plenty of fun playing up Jenna’s decadent sex life, and this week there’s a reference to an “Absinthe Enema”.
Tracy’s storyline remains separate from the rest of the hijynx, but in the end, Tracy, Kenneth and the entourage all learn the true meaning of Christmas in a scene which manages to be both funny, and surprisingly heartwarming at the same time. We also have a rather touching scene where Jack reveals the secret objective of his Christmas scheme.
To avoid being too sweet, the episode resolves Jenna’s storyline by reminding us that 30 Rock is set in a horrid world filled with weird people. The whole thing ends up with a parody of hokey Christmas montages; where Jenna and Paul sing a Christmas carol while engaging in a sight-gag which is worth seeing the episode on its own. I won’t spoil the gag, but I assure you that this is an episode worth Huluing if you missed it just for this bit alone.