30 Rock, NBC, Airs Thursdays at 9:30/8:30c
Episode: “Goodbye, My Friend” (Season 3, Episode 13)
Synopsis: When Liz meets a pregnant teenager who’s thinking about giving up the baby once it’s born, she befriends the girl in an attempt to be first in line for adoption consideration. Jack and Frank end up bonding when they discover they both grew up without father figures and to help Frank complete his unfinished goal of achieving something his father would be proud of, Jack ensures Frank’s re-enrollment in Columbia Law School. Discovering that Tracy doesn’t know his own birthday, Kenneth asks Jenna, much to her chagrin, if she would mind sharing her birthday party with Tracy.
Review: After last week’s lukewarm episode, I had no doubts that there was no way Fey and cast of 30 Rock could follow it up with another bad episode. Imagine my surprise when the credits rolled on “Goodbye, My Friend” and I realized that this week’s episode was not as bad as last week’s – it was worse. My question last week of “where is Jane Krakowski” was answered obnoxiously this week with a “right here, jackass” and an added slap in the face. Jenna adds an arrogant yet endearingly clueless comedy to the show, but this week she just comes across as straight up arrogant. The only time she toes the line of being funny is when she reveals her birthday wish to Kenneth and Tracy: “but who would I celebrate with if you guys were in car accidents?” Similarly, Tracy and Kenneth don’t add much of anything to the episode, with jokes from both of them falling flat (Tracy doesn’t know his birthday because he was born in Yankee Stadium? What’s funny about that?)
The show has established in the past that Liz is getting up there in years so there’s really no need to beat us over the head with it. Well, that’s exactly what this episode does as Liz struggles to connect with a pregnant teenage girl. Poor Liz has to put up with youth slang (“asswipe”) and awful pseudo-intellectual acoustic music (a song about cobwebs of rainbows and rainbows of cobwebs) in this Juno-esque subplot just for the chance of adopting a baby. The journey isn’t very pleasant for anyone involved though as the girl faces a lot of drama with her baby daddy, Liz ultimately makes the sacrifice of motherhood to reunite the two, and we don’t laugh very much in the process. I wish I could reference an exchange or a one-liner that’s worth remembering, but all that stands out in my mind are stale jokes about Liz eating a dozen donuts by herself. Sigh.
What saves the episode from being a complete failure is, as always, the fantastic work of Alec Baldwin. He’s not given much to work with in “Goodbye, My Friend,” but he is able to bring some redemption to a relatively weak script, especially during the resolution of his relationship with Frank, an homage to Harry and the Hendersons (an obscure reference that gave me the one hearty chuckle of the episode) from which the episode gets its name. There’s something really funny about seeing Jack Donaghy with tears in his eyes after he mimics George Henderson in shooing Frank back “where you came from.” There is not, however, something funny about John Lithgow’s cameo, which lasts all of 6 seconds, nor about Patti Lupone’s, which lasts all of 7 seconds.
Favorite Quote: I really can’t remember one that gave me a chuckle.
Grade: D. If not for Baldwin’s channeling of George Henderson, I’d say the episode would’ve been completely bland.
Read More: 30 Rock Recaps
Did anyone else think this week’s episode was as bad as I did?