30 Rock, “Don Geiss, America and Hope”: This is for you, Dan Goose.

“Don Geiss, America and Hope” can really be considered the second half of an hour-long episode that began with last week’s “Future Husband.” This week, Liz and “future husband” Wesley Snipes (played to much greater effect this time around by Michael Sheen) continue their relationship even though it’s become glaringly obvious that they don’t like each other. Like Liz says at one point, “I want to smash your face!”

Last night’s episode wasn’t the best 30 Rock has ever done, and the show is still suffering from the problems I’ve listed out before. But having said that I think it was still a pretty solid and I found myself laughing a lot more than I had these past few weeks. I think what I liked most about it was that it let the characters’ quirks come across without trying to hit you over the head with them. Sure, we got Tracy’s line explaining that he suffers from Attention Deficit– Hey, Jack, your shoes are shiny. But there were some other things that stood out quite nicely. Jenna pushing the other crew member away when they both walked up to the microphone. Jack turning off the television when the Kabletown execs went off about how great L.A. is. And Liz rolling her eyes when Wesley says that if there is a God, she wants the two of them to end up together.

I think 30 Rock works best when it makes these jokes and doesn’t really pay attention to the fact that it’s making them because this is just the way the characters are. This is why Tracy’s joke about being addicted to prescription glasses worked so much better than the one about having ADD. The show doesn’t need to elbow you in the side and wink every time it says or does something clever.

I was glad to see Michael Sheen do something besides his Rowan Atkinson impression. He’s a great actor and it would had been a shame if the show had wasted him. One of his funniest beats came at the end when he told Liz that he’d see her again in May for Sweeps, because that’s what English people call Spring Cleaning. This called attention to the fact that Wesley (Snipes, which is almost as good a name as Cooter Burger) is awkwardly British and that there’s a good chance that we’ll be seeing his character again, given the show’s track record of bringing back Liz’s old flames (next week’s episode is called “Floyd”).

The episode’s other two storylines were a mixed bag. Both of them seemed like they were ripped right out of the newspapers. Tracy stood in for Tiger Woods with his not-sexual scandal and Jack dealt with the fallout from Kabletown’s purchase of NBC. That story felt like it hit its beats better than Tracy’s. Jack’s business savvy is what makes him who he is and I like watching him operate onscreen. You can make the case that Tracy’s craziness is what makes him who he is, but at this point in the series it’s beginning to feel a little stale.

Overall, a solid episode that made me feel like the show had gotten back a little bit of the fire we’ve seen in previous seasons.

Stuff I liked:

  • I like the fact that the show is constantly poking NBC in the eye. “This is an exciting time for NBC. Not ‘Friends,’ ‘Seinfeld,’ ‘ER’ exciting, more like 3-D episodes of ‘Merlin’ exciting.”
  • Jenna’s not allowed to sleep with back guys because it violates her contract with NASCAR.
  • Tracy’s Ben & Jerry’s flavor is “Adulteraisin.”

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