By Todd Atwood
I watched this week’s episode of 30 Rock, immediately followed by Community and Modern Family. To begin with, I wasn’t at all impressed by ‘College’, and then the other two shows completely blew it out of the water. For the first time I was completely jealous of the other reviewers; you let me down, 30 Rock.
This week has Liz winning a game amongst the crew, which inflates her popularity, but she has to go to greater and greater lengths to keep it that way. Jack struggles with the fact that the Microwave division has improved since he’s no longer had a direct involvement with it, so he sets out to find a flaw in their new product. The writing room, meanwhile, discovers and online dictionary that pronounces words using Jack’s voice.
The biggest problem with this episode was Liz’s storyline. How many episodes do we really need to see that are dedicated to Liz struggling to be ‘cool’, then failing miserably and realizing she’s fine with who she is? I think by season 5 this character trait is pretty well hammered home and we can move on to something new. Daniel Sunjata (who always seems to play the hot, nice, but ultimately unlucky guy in romantic comedies) guest stars in a completely throw-away role as one of the teamsters in the crew that keeps putting increasingly ridiculous stipulations on Liz’s popularity. While there was nothing really bad in Liz’s story, it just seemed like an episode we’ve seen too many times before. 30 Rock has long held the title as the best ‘zany’ American comedy show, but it’s got a lot of competition these days from Community, Parks and Recreation etc., so it cant really afford to have these dud episodes if it wants to stay on the air for much longer.
That being said, ‘College’ is slightly redeemed by the other two stories. Jack’s bickering with the three Indian (inadvertently racist) microwave developers is pretty great. I love to see when the writing room get a bit of extra screen time, and they definitely shine this week when they get together to play pranks using a digital version of Jack’s voice. At the end of the day, 30 Rock is fantastic when they’re using fresh jokes, but rehashing old material gets old really fast.
Next Episode: Chain Reaction of Mental Anguish