There are inevitable pros and cons to airing a one-hour episode of a sitcom. Some stories that wouldn't have the chance to develop fully in 30 minutes get to do so with the extra time. Then again, there are others that either drag on or are unnecessarily added due to the doubling of episode length.
30 Rock's super-sized "Hey, Baby, What's Wrong" featured both of these pluses and minuses. Jenna and Pete dealing with the former's case of the yips, and Tracy and Frank helping Lutz be a dirt bag, were basically perfect examples of plots that would have been hurt by 21 minutes of run time.
With Jenna, we were able to diagnose the problem, watch her struggle through it and then fix it in a very well-paced funny story. The return of Dr. Spaceman, with his assumption that there is no field of medicine that deals with the brain, and finding out that Jenna has two more nemeses*, also added plenty of laughs.
*Count them now: Abigail Breslin (1), Flo at Progressive Insurance (2), and Gina Gershon (3) from "Today You Are A Man."
Without the added time for Tracy and the gang, we would have missed out on either him and Frank talking about the hilarious things they do to pick women; watching them try to get Lutz to do said atrocities; or Lutz hitting on Liz outside an Ikea and eating Swedish meatballs. Each of those layers of the story was funny.
The fantastic Mary Steenburgen, who has now stopped by three of my favorite comedies over the past calendar year (30 Rock, Bored to Death, Wilfred), played Avery's mom. Her quasi-sexual rendezvous with Jack, and Liz's romantic struggle with Criss, both suffered from a similar issue.
Jack and Mrs. Jessup's awkward sexual tension, and Liz and Criss fighting in Ikea, just dragged on for way too long with too few laughs. Sure, there were plenty of chuckles during those stories, but they came at other points, and if the episode were shortened, they could have removed the tiresome moments.
Some highlights from Jack's side were his accents to the U.N.; him agreeing with Mrs. Jessup that the Transylvanian guy WAS "a penis;" and how made said Transylvanian was about Bono saying he wasn't hungry before the U.N. bought pizza and then eating three pieces after they got it.
There were also some laughs from Liz's story, like Criss's weird, half-written Valentine's song, the flashback to Dennis taking Liz to the batting cage and Chili's for V-Day, and Liz referring to the "pants down, move around" as "mommy daddy sheet monster time."
While those two plots might have benefited from a shorter episode, the Kenneth/New Page stuff never should have hit the screen. I haven't given up on Ken as a character like some have, but pairing him with Kristen Schaal was not a good idea. They're just too much together. It's all weird, all the time, and I really wasn't enjoying it.
Issues with episode length aside, "Hey Baby, What's Wrong" was another good and funny episode of 30 Rock's sixth season. After checking out some of our favorite lines from the night below, head to our 30 Rock Quotes page for all the best one-liners. Then come back to sound off in the comments!
Criss: We'll play the soundtrack to Major League.
Liz: You're making fun of me, but that love song is awesome. | permalink
Frank: You're married. I actually have a girlfriend. All our dirt bag knowledge is gonna go to waste. | permalink
Tracy: Let's prepare for the adventure of a lifetime! And then after we watch Fievel Goes West, we're gonna get you some action. | permalink
Dr. Spaceman: It's funny. If those teeth were in your vagina, you'd be considered a monster. | permalink
Frank: Lutz just hit on Liz.
Tracy: Bout time. The last six years has been like watching Moonlighting. | permalink
Dan Forcella is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.