30 ROCK 6.02 ‘Idiots Are People, Two!’

Liz can't keep Jack out of her head, and the show handles Tracy Morgan's outburst from last year with admirable wit & tact.

Johnny Firecloudby Johnny Firecloud

Just as we'd all pretty much forgotten about Tracy Morgan's maniacally homophobic comments in an ill-considered stand-up routine last year, "30 Rock" only waited two episodes to tackle the chaotic debacle head-on.

A fully energized "Idiots Are People, Two!" went full-on meta and mirrored reality in that Tracy Jordan said some insensitive things about the gay community, which Liz attempts to quell by insisting that the man is simply too low on brain cells to grasp what he was saying. As for how the show is specifically handling the real-life homophobia incident, look no further than our lead Lemon's first comments about it on the show: "Look, you're a public figure, and believe it or not, the dumb things you say may influence or hurt people. You need to apologize."

At first, Tracy is incredulous, doubling down by calling the wrong Glad (the trash bag company) and even holding an energized counterprotest of NBC for Liz's discriminating against the “so-called idiot community” – which includes investment bankers, anti-vaccine crusaders, frat guy DJs, people who won’t shut up about scuba diving… and Denise Richards, whose dead-eyed Hollywood sheen was the perfect touch. It was like poetry.

Meanwhile, Liz is having a hard time keeping Jack's paternal critiques of her relationship with her new boyfriend Criss (played by James Marsden) out of her head. When he finally confronts her about the previous week's movie-date peeping, Jack finds virtually everything wrong with the unemployed man who goes pantless all day and is apparently mooching off of Liz. This inevitably begins a war of criticism resistance in Liz's head, as she's determined to keep his meddling influence out of her life (even though she knows he's right).

There's also the curious matter of Kenneth and Jenna, who get entangled in a rather useless story involving putting new lightbulbs in Jenna's dressing room. What's important is that they call Kelsey Grammer to help, which results in an odd mix of James Bond and The Most Interesting Man guy from the Dos Equis commercials. Honestly, it made no sense and was bewilderingly creepy… or creepily bewildering? Both apply.

We realize a little too late that all of this is part of a two-episode arc, and we'll get the rest of the puzzle pieces next week – including, we hope, the reason why Mr. Grammer was karate-chopping a bear. Until then, color us fascinated – and while it would be nice to see Liz conquer her inner Jack voice and enjoy her relationship with Criss, we mostly know better. Finally, a strong kudos to "30 Rock" for addressing Tracy Morgan's outburst in one of the classiest ways imaginable.

CraveOnline Rating: 9 out of 10