Salmahayek_uglybetty_s1_240 It’s getting to a point on 30 Rock where I wonder if they should just stop it with the stunt casting. While there were moments in Thursday’s episode that were brilliant, as a whole the effort felt like it was trying to shove too much into a half hour.

These spoilers are also concerned about the rise of the Sith.

"Senor Macho Solo" had a lot of odd little bits — Tracy and his gold shoes, Kenneth rapping to warm up the TGS crowd, Jack ordering dinner for his date — and they were funny on their own. But they also contributed to the disjointed feeling of the episode. Which is a shame, because I thought the storyline with Liz and her new United Nations beau, Stuart, was great. I would have liked to see it have a little more room to breathe.

The baby-obsessed Liz meets Stuart (played by the awesome Peter Dinklage) in a way that only Liz could — by mistaking him for a kid and tousling his hair. Fortunately, Stuart — U.N. High Commission for Water Temperature and Food Taint — likes "aggressive women with a nerdy vibe," and they hit it off.

Liz being Liz, though, her premonition that she’ll screw things up by letting slip with the real reason she approached Stuart comes to pass when she tries to pick him up so he won’t touch the fire from a street vendor’s cart. "I knew I should’ve listened to my friends," Stuart laments. "Kofi said you were too good to be true."

After explaining her baby obsession ("Socially inept and baby crazy — I feel like I’m in a beer commercial"), Liz somehow gets Stuart to agree to meet her on the Brooklyn Bridge, a la Miranda and Steve in the Sex and the City movie. She’s there, he’s there, we’re headed to a happy ending — until she approaches a 10-year-old instead. Sigh. Oh, Liz.

Alecbaldwin2_30rock_s2_240 Jack, meanwhile, makes a love connection of his own with his mother’s new nurse (played by Salma Hayek). Jack doesn’t appear to see much in her at first — until he discovers a lump on his, uh, manparts and she examines him. (Seeing her in full va-va-voom mode at her relative’s quinceanera probably didn’t hurt either.) And suddenly, the man who didn’t care who was by his side at his death as long as he had a McFlurry machine and a tape of risque commercials wants to spend the rest of his life with her.

Hayek will be appearing in several episodes, so there will be more time for that relationship to run its course, but I kind of feel like we’re seeing a repeat of the Edie Falco arc from last season. Hayek is a good comic actress — and I’d never sneeze at the chance to look at her for a few weeks — but there just doesn’t feel like much is new there. Although it is good to know that if I want a McRib in Puerto Rico, I can walk into McDonald’s and ask for a Senor Macho Solo.

More bits from Thursday’s episode:

  • The gold shoes bit was great, but I wasn’t too engaged by Jack’s efforts to arrange a post-nup for free-spending Tracy and his wife ("I’m afraid she’ll divorce me if I ever have enough money where she can live off half"). I know it served as setup for Jack’s post-medical scare revelation, but it seemed like a pretty long way to go to get there. That said, if anyone knows where I can get a hat made of money, do tell.
  • The running bit with Jenna wanting the Janis Joplin movie, however, worked from start to finish — particularly when Jenna as "Janet Jopler" sang the Jack-penned "Chunk of My Love" at the end of the episode. This was maybe the biggest showcase Jane Krakowski has had so far this season, and she ran with it. Also, Jack’s line about Jenna starring the Sheinhardt Universal production being great corporate synergy about knocked me off my chair: "It’s like how we include a Heroes DVD with every missile guidance system we sell."
  • Jenna: "Look at you and me and our biological clocks. You’re baby crazy, and I’m turned on by car accidents."
  • Liz, worrying about how she’ll blow her relationship with Stuart: "What if I say something stupid, like ‘Order a tall coffee,’ or talk about my Nintendo Wii?"

Your thoughts on this week’s 30 Rock? Did it seem a little overstuffed to you, or were you OK with all the oddness?

Posted by:Rick Porter