30 ROCK Review – “Episode 209” (Season 2 Episode 9)

30 ROCK - Alec Baldwin as Jack in “Episode 209″ on NBC

It’s Christmas and Liz’s Lemons are in town.

Liz is like “yay” and Jack is like “boo.”

It’s bad enough that Jack the Grinch is an unsentimental 30 ROCK corporate bloodsucker, but Liz’s giddy folks are pushing him to the limits of his decency, such as it is.

When the Lemons seize every opportunity to praise Liz, no matter how prosaic her accomplishments, it drives Jack batty:

“My God,” says Jack in wonderment, “I‘ve never seen such relentless blind encouragement – no wonder you’re a sexually deprived frightened know-it-all.”

Bam! Oh, in your face Liz Lemon. It’s the kick to the gut that Jack delivers each week, and as usual he’s on the money. The Lemons are straight up weird yo.

For instance, Liz’s kid brother, Mitch, suffered a skiing accident that has him stuck in 1985 and I suppose that makes him like that girl at the gym with the headband and leg warmers.

And her mom and dad, they’re the kind of cargo-shorts-with-socks-and-sandals tourists that think seeing Times Square is the equivalent of visiting the Pyramids.

Jack hates their guts but he hates his mother’s guts more; with good reason, too. She’s everything the Lemons are not. She’s manipulative and evil, the kind of woman who spawns money-grubbing CEOs and foments discord wherever she goes – sort of like Satan does, but a little worse, because at least Satan used to be an angel, but Jack’s mother has always been bad.

Anyway, Jack’s mom is in town too, which means that a hurricane (Which hurricane? Watch the show, can’t stop to explain now) drove old lady Donaghy to do what Christmas could not, that is force her to go visit her only son.

So to avoid the woman who pushed him through her birth canal (and to advance the storyline), poor Jack is forced to hang out with the Lemons. They go ice-skating and what not, and before you know it old lady Donaghy catches up with them, just in time to see her boy warming up to the Ned Flanders-ish vibe coming from the Lemons. And she’s exasperated because she raised Jackie Boy better than to have his head up his ass. So she bitch slaps him with some good old-fashioned reality. “These people are not as they appear,” she says (I make up dialogue all the time). But her point is that every family is f___ed and she goes on to prove to Jack that the Lemons are just as dysfunctional, if not worse than the Donaghy’s (as if that wasn’t apparent).

Anyway, old lady Donaghy squeezes Liz’s Lemons by planting a few seeds of discontent at the dinner table, and she’s happy because the result is bitter lemonade (Yes, I am working the whole lemons thing).

“See Jack, everybody’s family is as miserable as our own,” she says in my made up dialogue, “doesn’t that warm the cockles of your heart?”

It’s a timeless Christmas message and Jack becomes Jack again.

Meanwhile back at the office, another storyline is taking place. Basically Ken is trying to rescue the real spirit of Christmas, which is totally boring.

Everybody thinks Ken is a douche because he wants to worship the day Jesus was born, and what they really want to do is get drunk and have crazy sex on the copying machines.

Naturally Tracy, who is on probation for a DUI, wants dibs on the sexy time. But he’s not supposed to touch alcohol or else the Lo Jack on his ankle (a la Lindsay Lohan or is it Paris?) will send a signal to his probation officer that he’s actually having fun, which is not allowed (Yes, art imitates life here as Tracy Morgan has been arrested for DUI and has worn a Lo Jack).

Anywhoo, Tracy sneaks in some alcohol anyway and bedlam ensues. One of the show’s best moments is when he drinks from his blinged out TJ neck piece (which doubles as an alcohol flask), after leading a Ken-inspired mob on a mission to cut down the 30 Rock Christmas tree.

“You people shouldn’t be listening to me,” he says (or something to that effect) after admitting to being liquored up and seeing his ankle go off like the bat signal.

And at that point I could only think if Tracy is the voice of reason, then I’ve just witnessed a Christmas miracle.