A quick review of last night's "30 Rock" coming up just as soon as MC Escher designs the east wing of my home...

I'm in a pretty clear minority (among TV critics, if not regular fans of the show) in not usually enjoying Elaine Stritch's appearances as Colleen. But knowing that Stritch would be joined here not only by Elizabeth Banks but by the return of Alan Alda as Jack's liberal dad Milton, I decided to hope their presence would counteract my feelings about hers - which is pretty much what happened.

I'm surprised it took the show a season and a half to bring Alda back, because the dynamic between Milton and Jack - who wants to love his father even as he hates everything the guy stands for(*) - is just priceless, and I enjoyed seeing the different ways that Milton and Avery got offended by Colleen's behavior. And then just as it seemed like we were heading towards another stifling narrative of Colleen triumphant, Alec Baldwin brought some wonderful "holiday" warmth as Jack smiled at the sight of both of his parents yelling at him simultaneously for the first time in his life.

(*) I particularly enjoyed the cutaway to the cover of Milton's parenting book, which showed a woman in a witch costume, a woman in a man's suit, a girl in a burqa and an African-American boy in a wheelchair. Well-played, creators of Garkle.

Tracy's subplot played well off of the ongoing story about his attempt to be taken seriously as an actor, but also off of the belief that the release of "Norbit" cost Eddie Murphy an Oscar for "Dreamgirls." And the Jenna/Paul subplot was both sweet and ridiculous, and I like that in the double Black Swan joke, of course Jenna was Lynn Swann. (Someone on the show had clearly been itching to put Jenna back into blackface male drag after the Oprah episode a few years back.)

And even if nothing else had been funny (which a good chunk of the episode was), it would have been worth it for Liz breathlessly spitting out her contrived, erroenous explanation (TV stuck on CBS, no remote) for why she watches "The Mentalist" - which, coincidentally, was the exact same reason I watched 20 minutes of a "TJ Hooker" rerun on Universal HD the other night.

What did everybody else think?

Get Instant Alerts - Latest Posts from What's Alan Watching
By subscribing to this e-alert, you agree to HitFix Terms of Service, Privacy Policy and to occasionally receive promotional emails from HitFix.

Follow Alan Sepinwall and Whats Alan Watching on

RSS Facebook Twitter