Review: '30 Rock' - '!Que Sorpresa!': Standing in the white shadows of Kabletown
A quick review of last night's "30 Rock" coming up just as soon as we go to Branson to take in a Yakov Smirnoff show...
I talk sometimes in these reviews about how "30 Rock" (which for the most part doesn't ask you take its characters seriously and will sacrifice any piece of characterization for the sake of a joke) can at times be at a disadvantage to shows like "The Office" (which want you to care about these people at the same time that you're laughing). On the other hand, "30 Rock" has an advantage over those shows, as well: because it's so single-minded in its pursuit of gags, odds are that even a sub-part episode will included at least 2 or 3 big laughs, whereas an episode of "The Office" that isn't funny isn't funny all the way through, and then affection for the characters can only take you so far. (Case in point: last night's show.)
I didn't like a lot of "!Que Sorpresa!" It's been a long time since I've enjoyed anything Kenneth-related, so his prominence in the Jack story was a drag, even as I was amused by Ken "The White Shadow" Howard's performance as the folksy head of Kabletown. I thought the Liz/Avery/Vanessa Minillo story was underdeveloped and didn't have a good enough payoff (I'm still not clear on how the ethnically ambiguous Carmen Chao got stuck covering hurricanes), and the only good thing about the Tracy/Jenna subplot was how quickly it got back-burnered.
And yet... I had to go back and rewatch the hilarious "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" voice-activated remote joke three times before I could continue on, I loved Liz's explanation of why she couldn't be pregnant ("Because I have had my period for the last 61 days") as well as the name Rufus T. Barleysheath, and I did, again, quite enjoy Ken Howard. Hell, I even laughed at the discussion of Frank's "armpit thing" and "thigh thing."
Not a great episode by any means, but a reminder of the value of the jokes-jokes-jokes approach.
What did everybody else think?