30 Rock: Season 5, Episode 9
Christmas Attack Zone
As much as Community this week was about how the holidays can be a lonely time,"Christmas Attack Zone" is about the other end of the spectrum, and how miserable Christmas with your family can be, but how its a time for family anyway. Liz tries her best to stay away from hers to avoid drama, but drama comes to Liz Lemon like a fat suit to Tracy Jordan, and so she becomes embroiled in the Donaghy family drama surrounding the revelation of Avery's pregnancy and Jack's knowledge of Milton to Colleen.

For a show that really tries its best to eschew any real character development or arc, we certainly know a lot about Jack Donaghy and the family problems that have made him the man he is today. For a recurring guest star, Elaine Stritch has really made a lot of Colleen Donaghy, a very well realized maternal monster and master manipulator who falls into her son's Christmas Attack Zone, but has her own prepared to draw him in just a short while later. The interplay between the whole Donaghy clan is excellent (even that heinous beast who calls itself Elizabeth Banks does a nice job with her character, though again, Avery Jessup is so shockingly well written that not even Banks can really screw her up), and Liz aquits herself well among the madness.

Meanwhile, Tracy is trying to be taken seriously by dropping his comedic persona, and wearing the black beret and "Poverty" necklace he wore to the screening of his Oscar Contender of a movie, and doing charity on Christmas Eve by showing his movie about abuse at a battered women's shelter. I love the "Tracy wants an Oscar" plotline, and this was an excellent entry in it. As always, Kenneth is Tracy's moral compass and guides him back toward his lunacy and a screening of Chunks 2: A Chunky Christmas that will bring joy to those who need it most.

Finally, Jenna and her man are reunited over their mutual desire to go to Tom Ford and Elton John's New Year's Eve Party dressed as two black swans. Basically, there was a sweeter core to this week's 30 Rock than usual, and it all boiled down to Liz's conclusion at the episode's end, "You know what I learned tonight? As hard as you try, no one can escape the horror of Christmas, so you may as well be with your own family." This was not the best Christmas episode the show has ever done, but it was a good one that earned all of its sentimentality and had a refreshing honesty about how hard the holidays can be, but how wonderful they are nevertheless.

Grade: B+


-"And her ex-husband will also be there with his date, alcoholism."

-"Happy Holidays is what terrorists say. Merry Christmas from Avery and Jack."

-"Obesity is killing the African American community...with laughter." This show has always used comedic pauses well, but it seems on a roll this year with just killer pause lines. Another excellent one tonight, "Most people thought I was a hero...for killing Lydia's parrot."

-"She needs to read my new book, There's No Wrong Way To Make A Family."

-"By the way, we have a tradition in my family where we let the child name himself."

-"In the Darfur region, the dead may be the lucky ones. Next slide." Nice Ludachristmas callback!

-"I want to eat shrimp off an old gay dressed as Baby New Year."

-"Ladies of the battered women's shelter, please be quiet. A man is talking."

-"Can I get you a cup of coffee or an absynth enema?"
Tags: 30 Rock
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