Monday, March 28, 2011

What I’m Watching: 30 Rock

30 Rock: Season 5, Episode 18 “Plan B” (B+)

For a show that sometimes abuses or underuses its frequent celebrity guest stars, there are some actors it knows how to incorporate brilliantly. Ken Howard, for instance, is a blast as Hank, and his buoyant delivery of “I hope my tone is conveying how mad I am” was terrific. I also liked how he described his frustration with having bought a ticket for “Black Swan” by harking back to “when a movie was just a guy with a hat being chased by a guy with no hair.” The brief return of Devon Banks was also just the right amount of that character, as he quickly talked himself out of it before Jack revealed that he had set a whole plan in motion to make his life miserable. All of the Plan Bs were entertaining to a degree, some, like the “Mentalist” parody, slightly better than others. This is just the show for Aaron Sorkin to make fun of himself on, and I liked his sharp “Shut up!” to Liz after she pointed out his work on “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” which premiered on NBC at the same time “30 Rock” did. Having them walk around in a circle and Sorkin fire off a few of his best skills was great, and I’m impressed with his willingness to play along. Liz’s proclamation of “we can’t give up on the written word!” and her suggestion to keep TGS as a magazine were darkly funny. Kenneth sending sugar cubes that are now white powder to Hank is only the latest in a series of incomprehensible acts on his part, but his unknowing revelation that Tracy isn’t actually in Africa provides just the kick in the pants that TGS desperately needs. Tracy citing “Invictus” as one of his new friends and Kenneth admitting that he probably should have realized that he was in New York sooner was a very fitting way to close out this above par episode.

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