by Samantha Rullo
After last week’s episode that brought plenty of laughs, but not much real development, “30 Rock” returned with significant advancements in the storylines of multiple characters, although Liz Lemon still wasn’t one of them. Though there were some discrepancies, “Meet the Woggels!” offered enough plot to satisfy viewers, and let the characters separate back into their usual friendships, with great results.
Surprisingly, the character who made the most progress was Jenna, when the break from her relationship with Paul (Will Forte) was finally addressed as she tried to fulfill her goal of “Yoko-ing” a band. The band itself made for some of the episode’s best moments, since Jenna’s “roc kstar boyfriend” was part of “The Woggels”–an obvious and hilarious parody of “The Wiggles.” Even though heartbreak seemed to put a real end to Jenna and Paul’s relationship, there is still much more potential for this storyline, which shows Jenna at her most likeable.
Another recurring theme was the hostile relationship between Jack and his mother, Colleen (Elaine Stritch), who appeared rambling off her signature politically incorrect views that are shocking even to Jack, who often delivers some of the show’s most brutally honest satire. While their constant fighting and complete rejection of any emotions are always fun to watch, Jack and his mother had a rare moment of affection that made for a nice step forward, and was kept believable when the moment was quickly ruined by Liz’s interference.
Liz herself did not have a specific storyline this week, and it seems that she hasn’t in a while. In most recent episodes, she has been trying to solve everyone else’s problems and not featured nearly as heavily as other characters, which is surprising since she often is the focus. This could be because recurring guest star James Marsden plays her current love interest, Criss, and not many episodes have been able to include him or their relationship. Still, there is plenty more that her character can do without him and she should become a much larger presence as the season finishes.
Despite all this progress, there were some problems with “30 Rock” this week. Like last week’s episode, Hazel was nowhere to be seen and without any sort of explanation. Her character is not at all needed in the show and often detracts from it, but her continued absence needs to be addressed in some way.
Then there was the problem of Tracy’s son, George Foreman. In the third season, he was shown to be young, maybe about 12 or 13 years old, and yet in this episode, Tracy dealt with him leaving for college. Though the story was one of the night’s funniest and gave a great look into Tracy’s ridiculous lifestyle, “30 Rock” really depended on the audience forgetting about his previous appearance to make it believable. The exact original age was never given, but the concept did seem forced.
This week, “30 Rock” delivered its much needed story developments in addition to clever references and topical jokes. With only a few episodes left, including another highly anticipated live episode, these simple storylines need to carry just enough momentum to bring the show to a satisfying conclusion.
Samantha Rullo is a staff writer. Email her at email@example.com.