30 Rock: Season 4, Episodes 17 and 18
Lee Marvin vs. Derek Jeter / Khonani
There was a lot about tonight's 3o Rock duo that has prominently appeared in the past as things I really hate about this season. It prominently featured two of Jack's least interesting love interests of all time (including Elizabeth Banks, who might just be awful incarnate), it focused heavily on the idea of Liz as unattractive, and it gave the writers a stupid, overly wacky plotline with the writers. Yet, to varying degrees, these two episodes largely worked due to a high volume of absurd one liners that distracted from the stuff that wasn't as good.

"Lee Marvin vs. Derek Jeter" had Jack thrown into a Three's Company style love triangle as Nancy (Julianne Moore) returned announcing her divorce, and Avery (Elizabeth Banks, who manages to make some great writing worse by her terrible timing...not that I'm at all biased) continued her courtship of Jack. Meanwhile, Liz is increasingly desperate for companionship and so is attending tons of singles events in the hopes of finding that special someone (spoiler alert: she doesn't). Finally, Toofer quits when he discovers he was hired due to affirmative action, which leads to a lovely, and pretty clever lesson at the end, when Pete points out that, "This is America. None of us are supposed to be here."

In "Khonani," the show finally responded to the whole Conan/Leno thing in a heavy handed subplot in which Jack is distracted from his love triangle by a janitorial emergency that doesn't really parody the situation so much as lay out the exact problem and solve it in the same way NBC did...poorly. Also, the show came off as a lot more Pro-Leno than I think it intended to, which was very disappointing. In the other plotlines, Liz tried to throw a party, and Tracy tried to be a good husband. This episode didn't work as well as the former, but it gave Tracy a chance to say some crazy things which is always nice.

Overall, these two episodes showed some of 30 Rock's remaining strength, but also showcased the weaknesses the show has had over the past season with creating stories that are actually funny rather than weak plotting filled with random jokes. At the show's best, the plots were so funny that the randomness felt like icing on the cake. However, tonight's episodes were a lot funnier than the show has been recently, and that's saying something.

Grade: B


-"Mrs. DOubtfire shimself couldn't do it!"

-"It wouldn't look right...like Santa Claus taking a shower."

-"This has nothing to do with our slight difference in gender."

-"Are these the cufflinks Reagan was buried in?" "Don't ask me how I got them, but I do know the access code to his pyramid..."

-"What, do you just want to sit around and be wrong?"

-Nice Will Ferrell cameo. Bitch Hunters: "Happy birthday, bitches!"

-"At the risk of editorializing, I am personally outraged."

-"Threefer, cause you're also gay!"

-Liz miming sharing a drink with Jack was hilarious.

-Ceri's fiance was kidnapped by pirates, but saved by the A-Team.

-"Because this is NBC: The Biggest Loser network."

-"The secret service never gave me back my tshirt cannon."

-"I am innoventing, a word I just innovented."
Tags: 30 Rock
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