30 Rock Recap: “St. Patrick’s Day”

Jesse’s at SXSW this week, and rather than do his Infographic Recap through homeless Wi-Fi, he asked me to take over for him. Thankfully, his absence came during another solid episode of a solid season of 30 Rock. It may not have been as good as the show’s last holiday-themed episode, the brilliant “Leap Day” (seriously, this show loves its holidays – fingers crossed for National Goof-off Day next Thursday!), but “St. Patrick’s Day” did have Dennis Duffy, which is always a good thing. Plus, Siri killed Jenna Elfman. Where’s Greg now, Dharma?

One of the best plot developments this season has been the relationship between Liz and her boyfriend, Criss. Most of her former lovers had obvious defects – Dr. Drew Baird was an idiot, Steven Black thought everyone was racist, Wesley Snipes was British, Floyd DeBarber lived in Cleveland – but Criss is just a nice guy with an unfortunate name, which is something Liz could really use in her life, even if she has trouble expressing her feelings. (“I love you.” “I just ordered Thai food.”) What she doesn’t need is a visit from Dennis, who unexpectedly drops by her apartment on St. Patrick’s Day, seemingly using his head injury as an excuse to get back together with Dummy. She’s understandably upset and doesn’t want Dennis’s toxicity (and harebrained money-making schemes, like burning old DVDs onto laser-discs) to damage her relationship with Criss. For once, though, there’s more than meets the eye with the former Beeper King: he’s actually in a happy relationship with a, um, proper lady, and really did just need a place to relax after his injury (and to watch that “lez movie,” The Kids Are All Right). His appearance allowed Liz to realize that she, too, should grow up and finally say “I love you” to Criss, who perfectly responds, “I know.” He Solo’d her.

The B- and C- plots weren’t nearly as interesting. Jack, once again feeling a little lost in the Kabletown shuffle, plays a role-playing board game with the writers. It was more of plot device to get Jack to the realization about what he must do to be king again than anything else, and like the Game of Thrones opening titles parody, there wasn’t a strong enough pay-off. Ditto Jenna and Tracy competing to be Host #1 of the St. Patrick Day’s parade, until they…OK, truth be told: I really don’t like Jenna vs. Tracy stories. When they’re working together, that’s great; I love super-sized narcissism. But even though 30 Rock added a wrinkle this season by making Jenna more famous than her TGS co-star, a wise move, having their egos clash leads to diminishing returns every time the show goes down that route.

But though I may not have liked what was happening in the office, what was happening on Riverside Drive more than made up for it. To quote Tracy, “It sure is rewarding when a character you’re invested in shows growth.” I’ll drink an overpriced green beer to that.

Josh Kurp chuckled when Ira Glass got beat up

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