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Sunday, December 12, 2010

30 Rock - "Christmas Attack Zone"

    Five years in, the characters on NBC's 30 Rock really know who they are, and the writers have perfected the situations that are most enjoyable.  Outlandish, sure, but also consistently charming and hilarious.  This past week's Christmas episode, entitled "Christmas Attack Zone", was no different.  It was not only a good holiday themed special, but it was a nice, solid example of what makes 30 Rock so great.

     The best part was Jack's (Alec Baldwin) Christmas Eve dinner.  He invited Liz (Tina Fey), who was desperate to escape the drama of her family, to dine with himself and his mother, Colleen (Elaine Stritch).  Once Colleen found out about Jack's impending baby, though, which was done at the urging of Liz, by the way, she went on the attack.  To defend himself, Jack invited his pregnant girlfriend Avery (Elizabeth Banks), who was angry that Colleen wouldn't accept her, as well as his biological father Milton Greene (Alan Alda), whom Colleen didn't even know Jack knew about.  The result of putting five actors of such comedic calibur in one room can not be oversold.  Hilarity ensued, fights erupted, and Colleen faked a heart attack, earning Avery and Milton's sympathy, and turning them against Jack.  Jack, however, ended up with the perfect Christmas as both of his parents yelled at him, something he'd never had.

     That's what 30 Rock does.  Sure, it seems easy for the show to land huge guests, and what's more, keep them coming back. While Alda was only appearing for the third time, his liberal clashing with conservative son Jack is already an invaluable continuing plot.  Stritch has been in seven episodes, and is always welcome.  She has gotten to do comedy and some drama, but this time was pretty much a comedy-only visit.  But while both have very successful careers, and they still work, 30 Rock doesn't have to fight fully packed schedules to get them.  At least not compared to Banks, who has no fewer than four movies currently coming down the pipeline and has still squeezed in a whopping ten episodes in less than a year.  Considering her and Jack's impending nuptials and offspring, it looks likely that while she may not maintain that hectic number, her run has no end in sight.

     And those are just the guest stars!  30 Rock has a full cast, with many supporting characters surrounding the principals, who are mainly Liz, Jack, Kenneth (Jack McBrayer), Tracy (Tracy Morgan), and Jenna (Jane Krakowski).  The latter two, while mostly there for comic relief, as if such was needed on a show teeming with the funny, have actually had some deeper pathos lately.  Jenna recently went through a breakup with boyfriend Paul (Will Forte).  While only having appeared in a handful of episodes, Paul has become one of my favorite characters.  He is perfect for Jenna, worshipping the ground she walks upon, and even dressing as her in public.  It's a bizarre twist, but the show finally answered the (not really) nagging question, "What type of guy would Jenna actually go for?"  Thank goodness they had a bit of a resolution this week, because Forte is no longer on Saturday Night Live, and hopefully the show will retain his services.

     Tracy is up for a serious acting award, and this week tried to keep up that solemn image, resisting his new comedy movie's release.  That is, until Kenneth pointed out that the world needs laughter, too.  We certainly do, Kenneth.  We certainly, do.  And thank you 30 Rock for providing it.

     30 Rock is on winter hiatus, but will return Thursday nights on NBC early in the new year.

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