"30 Rock" Christmas Special (TV Episode 2008) - Plot Summary Poster

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  • Liz has to spend Christmas without her family for the first time in her life. As compensation she participates in a 'Letters to Santa' charity program and buys presents for poor children. Jack accidentally hits his mother with his car just before leaving to Rio. Now stuck with her in New York, he decides to force the cast of TGS into putting on a live Christmas Eve special so at least he won't have to go home.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • "30 Rock" - "Christmas Special" - Dec. 11, 2008

    Liz enters the writer's room with a box wishing them a "merry almost Christmas." She tells them that they'll be participating in a charity program called "Letters to Santa," where they buy kids stuff from their wish lists. They all grumble except a drunk Jenna and the always kind Kenneth. Liz reads a sad one about a shoeless child and, shamed, they all join in.

    Jack calls Liz from Florida. He's happy because he did Christmas early with his battle axe mom and is off to Rio to tan in the nude. Until he backs into his mother with his car.

    Jack enters Liz's office and tells her that he hit his mom. She's fine, she's getting a titanium hip, like the Terminator. He thinks it will only make her more powerful. Now she's in New York torturing Jack. She calls while he's in Liz's office. He had to cancel his trip and he's all alone with his mother. He's unhappy. Liz offers to come by later and entertain Colleen.

    Later, shopping with Jenna, who hopes to be recognized, Liz is buying extravagantly for her wish list kids and complaining that her mother called to say she wasn't up for hosting Christmas this year and thought that Liz, at 38, would have "her own family by now." Jenna offers sympathy knowing that Liz always spends Christmas with her family. Liz says she has a new family and loads up on rapping Santas.

    At Jack's Colleen is ringing a bell for Jack. Liz enters to wish Colleen a Merry Christmas. Colleen wants Liz to know that what happened was an accident. Jack says no one's saying it isn't. Colleen complains the accident did, however, break her Cartier watch. Jack says it's Chopard. Colleen says yes, not the Cartier she wanted. Jack pulls Liz aside and says he can't do it. She says she knows holidays are stressful but that he loves his mother. He wonders if he does since he sat in his car for 8 minutes before calling 911. Liz says he was in shock. Colleen rings her bell.

    Kenneth is impressed with Liz's generosity to the wish list kids and says he hasn't seen such kindness to poor kids since he and his brother went to Neverland Ranch. Jenna says Liz went overboard since her family is blowing her off. Liz is taking the gifts personally to the kids, on 245th street. Tracy and Dotcom say "no, no,no" and that they will escort her uptown. The gang is counting down the moments until they get to leave for Christmas vacation when Jack runs in to inform them they'll be doing a live Christmas Eve show. Which is the next day. It's a way to get away from his mom. All the writers sit and sulk. Jenna tries to put her foot down. Jack says no, saying they're contractually obligated, and leaves. Liz runs after him saying it's not fair to take his mommy issues out on everyone. He says after Christmas he'll be dumping Colleen in a nursing home in Maine run by the same people who coordinated Napoleon's exile.

    Up at 245th St. Grizz, Dotcom, Tracy, and Liz arrive at her wish-kid list's family. The kids are grown men who grab the gifts. Tracy calls it a scam, the past tense of which is "scrumped."

    At the set Jenna is practicing her musical number while everyone else puts the set together. Pete tells Jack they're going into quadruple overtime. Jack doesn't care, he says he just wants to give kids watching the Christmas he never had. His dad was long gone and every year Colleen would bring over her friend Mr. Schwartz and make Jack entertain him by playing the piano. Pete tries to interject with his own tale of woe but Jack steamrolls on. Every year he would catch Schwartz caressing his mother's thigh. Every time he hears "White Christmas" he gets aroused. He wonders what's wrong with him. Pete extricates himself.

    Liz is at the Post Office trying to complain about the "scam" she was the victim of. The woman will not help her. She asks Tracy for help. He complains "oh we're both black so we must know each other." He knows her.

    Later Liz approaches Jack asking if he knows the Postmaster General. He says he did but they had a falling out over the Jerry Garcia postage stamp. He said if he wanted to lick a hippie he'd just return Joan Baez's phone calls. Liz wonders if he's wearing the same clothes from the day before. He says he can't go home. He said there was an incident last night. Cut to last night: Colleen asked for help to get a blanket off of her and Jack snatched it so hard she fell and broke her other hip. Cut back to the present and Jack saying he thinks he's subconsciously trying to hurt her for all the years of criticism and ruined Christmases.

    Kenneth asks Liz how it went uptown. She says it was a scam and she won't rest until the Letters to Santa program is shut down. Kenneth wonders why she's being such a Scrooge. She says it was just two dudes who are now selling that stuff on eBay. Kenneth doesn't believe it, since it's a religious holiday and he wonders when religion has ever caused any trouble. She calls him naive. He says she's acting like a c-word, that's right a "cranky sue." He says he knows in his heart that children got those presents. She says she'll prove it and that she and Tracy are taking Kenneth back uptown. Tracy calls Grizz and Dotcom, sure they're not doing anything. Cut to the pair lacing up skates to go skating at Rockefeller Center. They ignore Tracy's call citing their therapist's directive about boundaries.

    Jack encounters his mother in the hallway and apologizes that work has kept him from spending time with her. She wonders how much time, say 8 minutes? She can't believe it took him 8 minutes to call 911. He claims he doesn't know what she's talking about. She offers Exhibit A, his cell phone bill which shows a call at 8:16. Exhibit B? Her stopped watch which reads 8:08. (He had just set it for her). She wonders what kind of son does that. He counters what kind of mother tells her son that John Kennedy died because he talked in church or that when her son became the captain of the diving team says "what a great way to meet guys" or invites strange men over on Christmas Eve? She says not to turn this around. He says he's 50 years old and that she's ruined every Christmas he's ever had and she's not taking this one. He runs onto the set screaming "more snow machines!"

    Back uptown Kenneth is rooting for Christmas. Little kids answer the door and Liz is excited and tells them that she's the one that made Christmas happen, thereby exposing that there is no Santa. The men return mad saying the letters were addressed to Santa not "lonely white lady." She tries to offer them tickets to the Christmas special and they shut the door in her face. She concedes Kenneth's point.

    Back at the show Liz informs Jack that his mother is in the audience. He says he doesn't care he's trying to produce a special that makes "It's a Wonderful Life" look like "Pulp Fiction." He runs around yelling at people, wondering where Mrs. Claus is. Liz says she thought he was kidding and cut it. He says everyone knows that on Christmas Eve Mrs. Claus hangs the stockings and puts out food for Santa. Liz says that's not a thing and it must have been something Colleen did since she felt bad that Jack's dad was gone. Jack wonders if he hasn't made it clear to Liz that his Christmases were miserable and her annual boyfriend Frederick August Otto Schwartz. FAO Schwartz like the toy store, she asks? Yes, he owned some toy stores Jack says. Liz realizes that Colleen put out every year to get presents for the kids. Jack counters she never did anything for the kids. Liz asks even though they were poor did he get a lot of gifts? He says you couldn't even see the tree, realizing it shocked.

    Jenna descends some stairs singing "The Christmas Song." Kenneth lines up Colleen at the front of the stage.

    Tracy comes over to Liz at the monitors saying he knows she'll be all alone on Christmas and invites her to spend it with the Jordans. She says she'd love to. He says "good, we'll be over at 2." His kids have a peanut allergy but his dogs only eat steak.

    Jack approaches his mother and tells her he loves her and that he doesn't want her to die. She says she's never going to.

    Jack watches Jenna sing. The scene morphs to Jack and his mom playing and finishing the song at the piano.

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