"30 Rock" this week gets off to an alarming start – in an episode centered on separating characters from some of their chief reward systems (if only temporarily), Liz tries her hand at life without Jenna's soul-sucking selfishness as a friend, Tracey is forced to go without presents on his birthday and Kenneth is being forced to consider life without his page job, now that Jack's replacing the page program with a computer voiced by Rachel Dratch. The horror!
Yes, Jack is eliminating the page program, gutting Kenneth of course – but Jack soon comes to realize that the machine is prone to malfunction and not that great at covering up human error (particularly in cases where he is the human committing the error).
Liz and Jenna realize that a friendship with themselves would never work, after Liz befriends a woman at the Barnes & Noble bathroom who may as well be her long lost twin. The double negative is a drag for the pessimistic Liz, realizing that she needs a less neurotic personality to counter her own – even if that less neurotic person is a woman who would have you wear her fur coat outside so you're drenched in red paint instead of her. Jenna, on her own, realizes that she needs someone less self absorbed in her company. Jenna’s replacement friends were a sorry looking crew made up of Knob Kardashian, Mankind and the “Charlie bit my finger” boy – and the annoyance had skyrocketed by the thirty-second mark of their arrival.
Tracey feels left out because he didn't get presents for his birthday… and we're quickly facing the reality that his presence on the show is entirely useless. He's rarely central to the plot or pivotal in purpose, and whenever there's a storyline involving him, it's presented as if Tracey is a mental infant who thinks only of himself. The gimmick got old a few seasons ago, but Tracy Morgan's extremely limited performance capacity seems to demand that his character stays as one-dimensionally frivolous as we've seen.
The funniest moment of this episode were the promos for Jenna’s new (fake) movie at the very onset, with the film "Martin Luther King Day" featuring Andrew Samberg, Emma Stone, Nick Cannon, Plinko from The Price is Right and literally dozens of Hollywood's leading men and women.
CraveOnline Rating: 7 out of 10