30 Rock season 3 episode 3 review

Designer hats, ex-Friends, a Night Court reunion and gun theft on the latest episode of 30 Rock.

3: The One with the Cast of ‘Night Court’

With the clue in the episode title, you might already have guessed that Jennifer Aniston guest stars in this episode with a wannabe Sex In The City scenario. Luckily for 30 Rock fans, that’s not going to be possible because, as we’ve seen before, Liz and clubbing nightlife are like milk and orange juice. They just don’t mix and bad things happen when they’re combined.

Jenna and Liz’s former roomate, Claire, whirls into New York with girl power plans to sweep her ex BFFs (Best Friends Forever) onto the big city streets for lots of carousing like the good ol’ nights. But, Jenna and Liz agree that Claire is more exhausting than amusing and are dreading every minute of the visit.

Liz would prefer on-the-town torture to what does happen, though, as Claire takes a liking to Jack and turns all her manic attentions in his direction. And there’s a Jack attraction right back at her.

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Jack ignores Liz’s warning not to sleep with Claire: “She’s not fun. She’s crazy. Like ‘grab a cop’s gun’ crazy.” The deed and damage already done by a heedless Jack, Claire crashes a black tie fundraiser he’s attending and performs a Monroe-esque birthday song and writhe, threatening suicide – loudly – when Jack tries to make her leave.

Fully clued up now, Jack begs Liz for help before any rabbits get roasted. But as soon as he’s in the same room as Claire, all control and common sense leaves him.

Claire ups the stalking stakes even higher, leading to eventual arrest for Jack, and a rescue from Liz, whose Owe-Me-One card is filling up quickly.

Elsewhere in Studio 6H, an unhinging Kenneth is distraught over a change to the page uniform. Tracy shows concern and, to make Kenneth happy, brings back the Night Court cast of Harry Anderson, Markie Post and Charles Robinson (who played Harry, Christine and Mac), to complete their story and give Kenneth the sitcom closure he was denied when the late 80s-early 90s show was cancelled before its tenth season and a satisfactory conclusion. Kenneth (who can squeeze out a girly squeal like no other man) directs the partial cast reunion to the matrimonial finale he’s always wanted.

Similarly to 30 Rock‘s second season episode, Greenzo, which guest-starred David Schwimmer, it seems Friends alumni get much more ink on scripts than other guests. That holds true for Jennifer Aniston, even with the additional guests from Night Court in attendance. I’m not a huge fan of J A, but I was glad she didn’t play the ditsy good girl role she’s been so rooted to, and has a more prickly persona here.

Contrarily, though, even with the storyline of Claire’s claws in Jack’s back, Mr Donaghy enjoyed less face time in this episode, and I always think the more Jack, the better. (I laughed hardest when Jack hadn’t uttered a word, but appeared suddenly in one of Claire’s designer hat creations. Hysterical!)

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What minutes lacked Jack were made up for with some very funny lines from Tracy: “What’s wrong, Ken? You’ve got wife eyes.” “I hate to see you like this Ken doll. It’s like a owl without a graduation cap – Heart-breaking.”

This outing won’t make it into my top ten list. The joke rate and tempo was much less frenetic than I’ve become accustomed to. And more Friends-etic than I like. It was as though the cast needed a good long nap before they came back to the set refreshed. Everything had a slightly sleepy feel compared to the hyper pace of past shows. But even a less successful episode of 30 Rock is higher karatage than any other purely comedic show.

Next week’s wish list: more regular cast member appearances, please. And all the Jack they can pack into the time slot.

Check out our review of episode 2 here.