30 Rock, “Verna”: Say no. Talk low. Let her go.

Verna may be the funniest episode of 30 Rock in a season that’s still been funny but just a little disappointing… or maybe a lot disappointing. But that’s only because it’s 30 Rock, and we expect great things from it. Anyway, the best episode in a mediocre season might not be saying much, but I really thought it held its own among the best the series has offered so far.

Unlike Alan Sepinwall, I thought that, even though Jack’s issues with his mom have played a central role in several episodes, tonight’s was able to bring it back in a fresh way, which never overpowered Jenna’s issues with her own mother (played by SNL alum Jan Hooks, who’s aged terribly). Overall, I considered it a win for the show, especially in light of the fact that it was able to balance that perfectly with its other storylines: Frank crashing at Liz’s apartment, and Kenneth ruining Pete’s alone time every morning.

One part of Sepinwall’s review I do agree with had to do with Liz and Frank. Members of the cast and crew crashing with Liz is something we’ve seen before. And while those episodes were funny, I thought the scenes of Liz and Frank at home were considerably less funny. Still, the fallout we saw at the end was pretty good. While Liz sleepwalking, sleep-ordering-a-pizza and sleep-eating-cigarettes was only beating the look-how-disgusting-Liz-is stereotype into the ground, watching Frank rub up against that mailroom chick on Liz’s couch made for some funny television.

One last thought: I thought the runner with Pete and Kenneth was hilarious throughout. Scott Adsit, who plays Pete, is probably one of the show’s best kept secrets and I wish they’d find ways to use him more than they do.

Stuff I liked:

  • Did anyone notice that in Liz’s dream, both she and Jack were wearing wedding rings?
  • “His name is Mr. Wiggles, and his cat’s name is Benson.”
  • Pete sticking a thumbtack in his neck.

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