Friday, February 5, 2010

Jordan's Review: 30 Rock, Season 4, Episode 12: Verna

I've fought admitting the decline of 30 Rock for a long time now, and I still haven't lost hope that this show remains the best comedy on television. But tonight, in a disturbing pattern that is happening with increasing frequency, 30 Rock was the weak link in NBC's Thursday night block. The show used to be easily the funniest thing not just on Thursday, and not just on NBC, but on television everywhere and really set the standard for sitcoms in a post-Arrested Development world. This season, as of yet, does not really live up to the show's former glory. That isn't to say that "Verna" isn't a solid, often funny piece of television, but it is certainly not the 30 Rock I know and love.

Jenna's leech of a mother is in town tonight, seemingly to make up to her daughter for years of emotional abuse and petty theft, but in actuality to pitch a mother daughter reality show with "topless arguments" and "infections caused by jacuzzi water." Jack, with years of family skirmishes under his belt, knows better than to trust Jenna's mom, and teaches her his patented "say no, talk low, let her go" approach to parental interactions, but Jenna is taken in by her mother yet again. In a pretty sweet moment, Jack pays Jenna's mother to be nice for her, then pretends to be the fool to allow Jenna to believe she is getting some approval.

The B-plot focused on Liz and Frank moving in together to fight their vices: smoking and junk food. After a hilarious dream that she is married to Jack and giving birth to Meat Cat, a cartoon mascot for her favorite junk food, while Tracy serves as doctor and Kenneth attends in drag, Liz decides to kick her horrible dietary habits and try to lead a healthy life. The highlight of this plotline was Pete, whose growing desperation and near insanity this season have provided a highlight, especially when compared to everyone else's mediocrity. In a season where Pete is the only character to get funnier, the show clearly has some issues.

Yet whether the show is in decline or not, its still a very fun and funny way to spend a half an hour on a Thursday. The mighty may have fallen, but (to mix metaphors as only I can) the fat lady has yet to sing. Here's hoping 30 Rock is back on top again before long.

Grade: B

Notes:

-"That fire in your apartment was no accident!" "I know! I just wanted to be in control!"

-"Manufactured in a facility that also processes food. This is what Meat Cat spoke of."

-"Could a bad mother have raised a daughter that was engaged to a Congressman at 16?"

-Jenna keeps a microphone in her purse.

-"How are you not moved by this?" "Because I'm listening to the words."

-"You didn't believe in me, but I believed in myself. Just like the end of every movie."

-"Some of the people on Match Game are drunk--with power!"

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