Absence only makes the heart grow fonder, but even if 30 Rock hadn't gone dark last week, last night's episode was one of the best of season 2. Greenzo. Al Gore. More Werewolf Bar Mitzvah. And Kenneth Parcell's ill-fated last party. All backed up by the symphony of snappy witticisms and trademark inside jokes that make this show a repeat DVR must. The Writers Guild, which went on strike Nov. 5 — did you catch Tina Fey on the picket line? — couldn't ask for a better negotiating tool.
If you hadn't noticed, NBC has ''gone green'' this week, with many of its most popular shows implementing environmentally friendly plot lines.30 Rock sacrificed subtlety for Greenzo, a ''nonjudgmental, business-friendly'' caped mascot designed by Jack to maximize GE's profit from the environmentalism ''trend.'' David Schwimmer's cameo as the psychotic out-of-work actor who began to take his job of saving the world a little too seriously had me in stitches. (I love that his name was Jared. Subway sandwich anyone?) Schwimmer's performance reminded me of his most bizarre episodes as Friends' Ross Geller, like ''The One With Ross's Sandwich'', where he goes all ''Mental Geller'' after a coworker eats his lunch.
To me, Schwimmer never really got his due for deft work on Friends — he was always better when the whole Ross-Rachel thing was on the back burner — and watching him shine here reminded me how much I've missed him on network television. Although I think his phone will be ringing through 2008 after his spoof here of a Republican political commercial: ''Hillary Clinton wants an all-homosexual army. How will that affect my family?''
Inevitably, Greenzo, who viewed himself as ''wry and wise but also very sexual,'' went off the reservation, turning on his corporate handlers and chastising Meredith Vieira. Although Jack's boss Don Geiss adored Greenzo (note his perfunctory congratulatory letter: ''Jack — Greenzo. Great work.''), Jack tried to replace him with an old friend: Al Gore. Gore's practically an SNL regular at this point, but his best line of the night was simply revealing that Jack had been an intern for liberal Massachusetts senator Ted Kennedy. I assume this was before Jack pummeled hippies at the 1976 Democratic Convention.
NEXT: Another use for Pop-Tarts