by Samantha Rullo
As “30 Rock” nears the end of its sixth season, it continues to assert itself as the most self-aware show on television. While it will usually include a few clever lines or meta-moments, the entire plot of this week’s episode focused on the elements that have been recycled a few times since the show started.
The show-within-a-show premise of “30 Rock” helped allow such an episode to take place, as Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) realized that all of her coworkers go through the same issues on April 14th every year. Though directly pointing out the plot points, character developments, and basic premises that the show has used many times was a risk, the perfect jokes to repeat as examples were chosen and made the episode endearing.
Like many others, this episode showcased Alec Baldwin’s comedic skills and how willing he is to do even the most ridiculous of things for laughs, as he appeared in the form of a monk-like figure in a meditation sequence. Baldwin effortlessly goes from serious executive to amused mentor to random figure and back, stealing each and every scene.
However, Kristen Schaal has not earned her place among such great company, and as her character, Hazel, develops, she just grows more and more unlikeable. At first, Hazel didn’t have a space within the show, but now she is featured too heavily. “30 Rock” already has enough crazy characters, but they are the much more entertaining and loveable kind of crazy–far better than Hazel’s strange and increasingly creepy behavior.
The time devoted to the already tired Hazel would be much better used to see more of guest stars with shorter stays and better storylines, or just more Tracy Morgan as Tracy Jordan. Though his jokes may be intermittent and often completely off-topic, he consistently delivers some of the show’s best and most memorable lines. While Hazel’s attempt at absurdity seems forced, Tracy, the actor and the character, is completely believable and his idiocy is essential to his character.
Schaal was truly the only low point in this hilariously honest episode, which managed to maintain the impossibly high level set by last week’s nearly perfect “30 Rock” double feature. But the rest of the season seems capable of continuing this success, as it has been announced that there will be another live episode and that Elizabeth Banks will be returning as the kidnapped Avery Jessup before the sixth season comes to a close. With the future of “30 Rock” still doubtful, hopefully such anticipated episodes will help bring in enough of an audience to convince NBC to let it continue as a great, (preferably Schaal-less) comedy.
Samantha Rullo is a staff writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.