This still is from the 100 episode party, not from the episode itself. The party looked much more exciting.
Well, that was certainly depressing. I could go on for hours about how much I miss the heydays of Season 2 30 Rock. What’s done is done. Today’s episode was mediocre at best, with few laughs, odd pacing, and, at the end of a day, not too much plot.
If I had to choose one overarching theme for this episode, it would be Alec Baldwin leaving. His character, Jack faces an existential crisis brought on by gas-leak hallucinations. Jack was supposed to use a short stint at NBC to power his climb to a position at the head of GE. But here he is, 5 years later, still at NBC, with little to show for it but a mentee who still can’t keep her life straight. Of course, this little vignette has direct parallels with Alec Baldwin’s career and his plans to leave the show for higher goals.
As a side note, I don’t know how much longer 30 Rock can go on without Baldwin. The show has been lagging for a while, and the departure of a main character might just be the show’s death knell.
But on to this week’s episode/s.
Much of this episode is spent making fun of the low quality of TGS, the fictional show within a show at 30 Rock. At some point, Liz vows that TGS’s 100 episode will, for the first time, not be the worst thing on television that night. My immediate thought was that this was only happening because this episode of 30 Rock was also on on that night. At some point the tongue-in-cheek metacommentary gets a little too close to reality.
Tracy wants to be back on TGS, but feels too much responsibility as a now-respected actor. He goes out of his way to do anything to make himself less loved in the eyes of the public. In the most direct reference to Baldwin’s future departure, Jack tells Tracy that moving from film to TV is a death sentence for one’s reputation and career. No matter how great your film career is (and here Jack lists examples that all reflect Baldwin’s career), people lose all respect for you once you go on to TV.
Other plots for this ep include Liz almost going back to Dennis yet again, and Jack trying to deal with his past self, future self, and “sideways self.” These segments provided the only really great pieces of humor in the entire episode, which makes me worry even more about the impact Baldwin’s leaving will have on the show.
Overall, the episode was muddled, with a mostly pointless framing device surrounding a gas leak and an entirely pointless subplot regarding Jenna and a hysterical pregnancy. (We did get another scene with Will Forte as Jenna’s drag queen lover though, and that is always appreciated.)
Conclusion: Still watchable, but only just.