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Every Episode of ’30 Rock’ Ranked

Twelve years since it premiered, five years since it concluded: here’s the definitive ranking of every episode of ’30 Rock’
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By  · Published on October 10th, 2018

10. Hey, Baby, What’s Wrong (Season 6, Episode 6 and Episode 7)
Dir. Michael Engler
Writer: Kay Cannon


Are you in a relationship right now? Marriage? Casually seeing someone? Whatever your status is chances are you have been warned to not go to IKEA with that person. Why? Because of exactly what happens when Liz and Criss head to IKEA to get a new table so they can have a nice Valentine’s meal at home. Feelings are hurt while bickering, fighting, and insults are thrown around. Meanwhile Frank and Tracy decide to funnel all of their pent up horny energy into helping Lutz find a date for Valentine’s Day using their patented “Hey baby, what’s wrong?” technique that fails and fails again for perpetual dumpster baby Lutz, leading him to accidentally hit on “work-mom” Liz outside of Brooklyn’s IKEA. And if that wasn’t enough, we also have Pete and Jenna prepping for Jenna’s singing debut as a judge on America’s Kidz Got Singing. But after she get’s the yips, Pete has to figure out how to get her mind off of it. And he takes a piece of advice from Verna Maroney: pain is the greatest distraction!

9. Mamma Mia (Season 3, Episode 21)
Dir. Don Scardino
Writer: Ron Weiner


“It’s a Mamma Mia” Liz exclaims, the phrase sticking not only in our minds, but our hearts. Ya see, a “Mamma Mia” is when one person gets a group of strangers together, unbeknownst to them, so that said person can ascertain if one of the strangers is their parent. A Mamma Mia! And while there is no Cher or Andy Garcia in this episode, it is the introduction to Jacks biological father: MASH’s Resident Everyman Alan Alda.

8. The Problem Solvers (Season 4, Episode 5)
Dir. John Riggi
Writer: Ron Weiner


Alright, so there’s a few reasons that ‘The Problem Solvers’ breaks the top ten, and if it wasn’t already evident it’s the fact that this is the first episode featuring Cheyenne Jacksons “Danny” the Canuck robot street performer with the voice of an angel. Friction erupts between himself and Kenneth as he humbly wants to do things for himself, which doesn’t compute with Kenneth’s drive to help out everyone at TGS. Wanting to help both Danny and Kenneth, Tracy and Jenna decided to become “The Problem Solvers”, which results in one of the best visual gags of the series. Danny though could be the smartest person on the show though as he is the only character to faithfully foreshadow the future of the show. He was right, Kenneth would be running the network one day. We also get the beginning to Liz’s Dealbreakers TV show arc with Liz running a powerplay to get a better deal from Jack, resulting in her taking meetings with Scottie Shofar (Shawn Levy) known for his hit show “Sports Shouting”, a blend of Pardon the Interruption and Jim Cramer’s Mad Money. The adorable button on the episode: when Jack realizes mid-meeting with Padma Lakshmi that he doesn’t want to make her dreams come true, he wants to make Lemon’s dreams come true.

7. Chain Reaction of Mental Anguish (Season 5, Episode 9)
Dir. Ken Whittingham
Writer: Kay Cannon


Do I like this episode because Tracy’s illegitimate “son” (he is five years older than his “father”) wants to make a Kaiju themed restaurant in Times Square where knock off Godzillas and giant robots fight while you eat overpriced shrimp and french fries? Yes. But also Michael Benjamin Washington fully commits to the strange characterization of Donald, Tracys grifter “son”. Jack though decides to stop meddling in Tracy’s life as he is projecting his own misgivings for his own father not supporting his dreams, which is about as reflective as the show really gets. But Jack only gets to this decision after he plays therapist for Kenneth (who in turn was helping Liz) who reveals the tragic backstory of how he came to New York City that involved his “father-pig” and a “pig eating contest”. It’s hilariously absurd, slightly disturbing, and PEAK late season 30 Rock. How could Alec Baldwin want to leave after the Fifth Season with gold like this!?

6. Kidnapped by Danger (Season 6, Episode 14)
Dir. Claire Cowperthwaite
Writer: Tina Fey


“Knapsack! My zipper is broken on my, knapsack! And I’ve lost my bakugan. Trapper keeper…” so begins Weird Al Yankovics extended cameo on 30 Rock, doing what he does best to Jenna Maroneys theme song to the TV film “Kidnapped By Danger”. The film, Jack Donaghys brain child, is to raise awareness for his wife Avery’s capture by North Korea in an effort to bring her home. Tasking Liz with writing the story, he doesn’t expect Liz to write beat for beat what happened, which includes the messy ordeal with Nancy Donovan that Avery is unaware of. The genius here isn’t how ludicrous Jack eventually spins his own story, but who they cast in the film. And while Cynthia Nixon crushes it with her exaggerated Boston accent, it’s William Baldwin as Jack that takes meta humor, smashes it, and runs away before you realize just how clever it is. William is perfect, not only having the natural voice and look of the Baldwin’s, but being the perfect opposite of Jack in every way (including finding the iced tea in place of Jacks whiskey to be too strong). But if anything sticks in your memory in this episode it’s Weird Al who not only parodies Jenna’s song, but when she and Tracy try to make a song that is unparodyable (“i eat pizza! I eat cheese! I eat lots of broccoli! I eat ice cream way too fast, burritos always give me gas! Farts so loud, farts so loud! Yum yums make me fart so loud”) Weird Al “Reverse-Al’s” the song making it a serious patriotic song. Not to mention Weird Al performs the end credits song with added lyrics. When in doubt, add Weird Al. He can only make everything better.

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Jacob Trussell is a writer based in New York City. His editorial work has been featured on the BBC, NPR, Rue Morgue Magazine, Film School Rejects, and One Perfect Shot. He's also the author of 'The Binge Watcher's Guide to The Twilight Zone' (Riverdale Avenue Books). Available to host your next spooky public access show. Find him on Twitter here: @JE_TRUSSELL (He/Him)