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'30 Rock': Back in the groove

April 18, 2008 |  7:56 am

30rock Now that's more like it.

Last week's "30 Rock" felt like an anomaly from other episodes: the story, jokes, tone, even the look of the show felt somehow out of step with the other installments of the series that its fans have come to love and quote.

Last night, however, felt more like a typical episode with multiple light story lines, sharp politically incorrect humor and plenty of memorable lines.  Liz Lemon's (Tina Fey's) ex-boyfriend Dennis the Beeper King (Dean Winters) came into the spotlight after saving someone from a subway accident, garnering offers of fame from "news and dancing shows" and even getting a favor from a stripper: "a white stripper." Dennis tried to get Liz back into his life, which elicited a hilarious-in-its-truth monologue from Jenna (Jane Krakowski) on what love is: wearing makeup to bed and going down to the Burger King to poop. 

In the meantime, Jack (Alec Baldwin) enlisted the help of former actor Bucky Bright (Tim Conway) as a spokesman for the Republican Party, but finding him too old, unloaded Bright upon Kenneth (Jack McBrayer), who regaled the intern with tales of old television (i.e. the writers' room used to be called "the Jew room.") After attempting to get Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) to speak up for the Republicans, he and Jack came to a compromise that was hilarious in its truth and absurdity: that black Americans would never vote Republican, so it would be better for the GOP to persuade them to simply not vote at all. 

In some ways the episode almost felt too comfortable, with the familiar story lines and even the obligatory fantasy featuring Baldwin as a former president. The show, thus far post-strike, hasn't seemed like it has distinguished itself too much from Season 1.  But is that really so bad when we get to hear lines like "Save it for your iVillage blog," "Who is Conan O'Brien, and why is she so sad?" and "I'm Tracy Jordan, and I improved this message"?

--Claire Zulkey

(Photo courtesy NBC Universal)