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’30 Rock’ Review: “Grandmentor”

'30 Rock'
NBC

Part of a double whammy back to back airing, this ‘30 Rock‘ episode is less about madcap plot scrambling, and more: ”Hey, remember that Jack’s wife got kidnapped?” Along with a generous topping of super-crazy Hazel the page.  But did it work?

CNN is making Jack’s campaign to bring his wife Avery home from North Korean captivity difficult, as they run a story on puppies lowered with supplies to a group of trapped miners. In order to bring Avery’s plight back to the spotlight, Jenna pitches a made for TV movie (on the Oxygen Network)

Meanwhile, after a slew of 80′s references, Hazel has asked Liz to mentor her. The cornerstone of Liz’s mentoring philosophy is ‘Karate Kid 4′. (This should be interesting…) Her bizarre take on feminism leads Hazel to stand up to Kenneth, but mostly just in defense of the terrible things she’s allowing Tracy to do. The off hand gag in which Tracy goes off medication and freaks out about being in a show within a show, and that his name is Tracy Morgan was a nice touch.

Jenna locks horns with Jack over the casting of Avery in the movie, Jack doesn’t think Jenna has Avery’s essence. In response, Jenna tries to trick him into thinking Avery has been rescued and that Jenna is her. For an instant, I almost thought Jack was legitimately upset, but I was able to breath normally again when he made it clear that Jenna’s ruthless, enterprising tactic had proven that she could fill the role.

Hazel’s handling of Tracy’s day to day activities has gone over the deep end, and Kenneth is powerless in the face of Hazel’s insane interpretation of Liz’s feminism.

Liz comes to Jack for mentoring on her mentoring when her advice goes unheeded by Hazel. He advises her to do what he does, and let her ‘mentee’ fail and see the error of her ways. Liz finally takes this advice and encourages Hazel to go to Vegas with her equally crazy boyfriend.

A quick aside on Hazel: Holy Crap. This character has gotten progressively crazier since her first appearance. She really carries the bulk of the comedy  this episode while the rest of the cast works on character development.

In order to save the day, and Tracy himself, Kenneth quits his Standards and Practices job in order to win the walk-on extra contest so that he can talk to Tracy without Hazel around.

When Hazel finally returned from her trip, she thanked Liz for her advice, proving Jack right and closing the episode out with a triple level mentor/mentee hug.

The slower pacing of this episode allowed for a much better connection to the characters. It’s not always the right feel for this show, but after a few weeks of breakneck subplot switches, I was pleased to be able to pay attention to the episode as a whole.

A final note: this week’s last scene, after the credits? It totally wins Most Embarrassed For Liz Lemon Award.

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