Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 16, 2014)
All good things come to an end, as we find with Season Seven of 30 Rock. This becomes the series’ finale, unfortunately. I’ll look at all 13 episodes in broadcast order, which is how the shows appear here. The plot synopses come straight from TV.com – thanks to them.
The Beginning of the End: “Liz discovers that Jack is intentionally trying to ruin NBC in hopes that Kabletown will sell it. Meanwhile, Tracy tries to help Kenneth with his relationship problems with Hazel.”
In the past, season opening episodes could seem to try too hard, and that became a particular danger here given the fact that everyone involved knew Season Seven would be 30 Rock’s last. Despite all those pressures and expectations, “End” launches S7 on a terrific note. It sets up a variety of plot lines in a concise manner while it also doles out plenty of laughs. I hope this becomes a harbinger for a high-quality season to come.
Governor Dunston: “After vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan drops out of the race, Liz and Jack agree to keep politics off TGS. When a new politician shows up on the scene, however, Liz struggles to keep her word. Meanwhile, Kenneth has a visit from his mother and her naïve friend.”
The hits keep on coming with a fine second episode. I like Liz’s solution to her intimacy problems, and the thread with Romney’s new VP choice offers easy laughs, but they’re big laughs nonetheless. Two episodes in and I’m happy with S7.
Stride of Pride: “Jack develops a new relationship strategy based on the principles of the movie The Great Escape, Liz tries to prove that women are funny, and a tabloid reveals that Jenna is 56 years old.”
The hit parade keeps coming with “Pride”. I like the age-related revelations shared by Jack and Jenna, and Liz’s continued sexual evolution delivers good moments. Maybe S7 will sag eventually, but so far it’s top-notch.
Unwindulax: “Jenna is confronted by fans from Florida, known for their motto ‘Unwindulax’. Jack tries to influence the upcoming election, swaying the vote towards candidate Romney using money.”
S7 leads up toward the 2012 election in a clever way. It manages to mock liberals, conservatives and Parrotheads alike via a wild, fast-paced show. It even finishes with a cliffhanger that adds to the mirth.
There’s No “I” In America: “After realizing the only statistically undecided voters are those northern Floridians, Liz and Jack both try to get Jenna to sway the entire election vote in the opposite directions with her unpredictable ‘Unwindulax’ fans.”
I’ve always viewed Pete as the series’ weakest link, so an episode with as moderate Pete-focus inevitably hits some snags. Happily, those remain minor, and the rest of the election-based events offer good comedy. Pete’s scenes might impact the overall shows in a negative way, but it remains positive most of the time.
Aunt Phatso Vs. Jack Donaghy: “Jack plans to sue Tracy after his name is used in several of Tracy's movies depicting him as a villain. Liz wants to get surgery for her feet but doesn't think the show can survive without her at the helm.”
While not quite as strong as prior shows, “Phatso” still continues the trend of positive programs. Hazel gets a lot of good moments, and the spoof of Tyler Perry might be easy but it’s entertaining. This ends up as another good episode.
Mazel Tov, Dummies!: “Liz tries to get Criss to want a family once she runs into Dennis.”
With a major Liz life event on display, “Dummies” could’ve turned sappy, but 30 Rock doesn’t really do sentiment, so that doesn’t become a concern here. It handles the subject well and may be a little weaker than usual in terms of laughs but it still carries the story arc nicely.
My Whole Life Is Thunder: “Jack tries to avoid his mother. Meanwhile, Jenna starts to envy Liz and her married life.”
Guest stars rule the day in this excellent episode. It’s always a delight to see Elaine Stritch as Jack’s mother, and we also find the great Andrea Martin. “Thunder” avoids cheap emotion while it wraps up some story points in a satisfying manner.
Game Over: “Liz is still trying to conceive a baby naturally, but has not ruled out adoption. Jack joins forces with Devon Banks in a plot against Kaylie Hooper in order to become CEO of Kabletown. The second feature by Tracy's production company is about Harriet Tubman, but his star, Octavia Spencer, is more like Tracy than Tracy.”
That last element particularly delights, as it’s a blast to watch Tracy confronted with an actor just as irresponsible as himself. Jack’s side also amuses and gives us a lot of twists and turns. Liz’s narrative is less fun, but hey, someone has to carry the story.
Florida: “Liz decides to be spontaneous and goes with Jack to Florida so that he can deal with his late mother's estate. Once there, they find out that Jack's mother may have been in a relationship with someone. Back at the studio, with no other staff members around, Tracy and Jenna are in charge and tackle a lawsuit.”
S7 stumbles a little with “Florida”, as it comes across as somewhat forced. With so few episodes left, the series needs to wrap up characters and plot lines, which this one does so in a clumsy way. It still comes with laughs, but it’s a lackluster program.
A Goon’s Deed In a Weary World: “Jack sets up a meeting so that Liz can try and save TGS but the entire crew appears to work against her wishes. The adoption agency tells Liz that her adopted children are arriving in a week and Criss offers to prepare the house. Kenneth tours candidates at NBC for Jack's replacement for president.”
While “World” also comes laden with potentially draggy plot points, it manages more laughs than “Florida”. Some of the story areas do sag, but at least the episode generates a fair amount of comedy, even if it does veer toward sappiness at times.
Hogcock!/Last Lunch: “Liz and Jack try to settle into their new lives without TGS. Jack decides to focus on attaining happiness. Liz tries to adjust to her stay-at-home lifestyle while Criss works. Jenna attempts a career as a dramatic actress. Tracy struggles without the aide of Kenneth's advice. After 149 episodes, Kenneth finds a clause that requires Liz to complete one more episode to fulfill her contract obligations. Tracy tries to sabotage the taping. Jack struggles to find a meaning in his life after quitting his job.”
The series’ final episode mixes wackiness with sentiment. I guess the latter’s inevitable, but I wish the show had tried harder to avoid schmaltz. Still, it remains edgy enough to amuse and gives us a fun finale.