30 Rock season 5 episode 18 review: Plan B

Review Louisa Mellor 29 Mar 2011 - 05:24

It's safer ground and surer footing for this week's 30 Rock. With bonus Aaron Sorkin, too...

5.18 Plan B

After last week's foray into the vapid world of rich girl reality telly, Plan B took 30 Rock back to what it's really best at, smart one liners, stupid plots and satire that actually says something.

The target in its sights this week was the plight of screenwriters. Edged out of the TV ecosystem by the invading populations of talent and reality shows, writers everywhere seem to be fast heading onto the endangered species list.

Take the case of one Elizabeth Lemon. A plucky Theatre Tech graduate with a strong line in fart jokes, Lemon is cast adrift when her show is put on forced hiatus due to the continued absence of its star. The only one of her crew without a plan B, Liz seeks out another writing gig, only to discover that in this day and age, writers are an irrelevance at best.

She enters a world where Oscar-winning screenwriters like Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, The West Wing) are forced to suck up to TV talent show presenters to get a job. A world where the writing credits for big dumb mega million dollar movies are left blank, and where children point to newspaper stands and ask "Mummy, what's that?"

Liz's journey into insignificance culminates with an invitation to join a motley crew of ‘people whose jobs aren't things any more'. Faced with the prospect of living under a bridge alongside American auto workers, travel agents, guys who play dynamite sax solos in rock and roll songs and the CEO of Friendster, Liz gives up all hope. That is, until some pizza-based sleuthing points to the location of TGS' errant star and might just save the day.

The rest of the episode belonged to Jack and the return, at his behest, of nemesis Devon Banks. Since season one, Jack and Devon have been NBC's Holmes and Moriarty, locking executive horns in a tussle for power and one-upmanship. Last time we saw gay shark Devon (Will Arnett), he was ensconced in Obama's inner circle, but had since turned his back on business to marry a shiny black dancer and  bring up triplets in Brooklyn.

Jack was pursuing the lucrative Dorothy dollar and so required Banks' particular brand of corporate evil to tap into the gay TV market. Cue a lot of gravely-voiced confrontation and bickering between the two alphas, until Banks stepped down, realising that his family was more important to him than climbing business' greasy pole. It was a message that finally got through to Jack, who headed home at the end of the episode, presumably to see if he could get his infant daughter to call him by anything other than Trinidadian for 'stranger'.

Notable mentions this week go to a sparingly used Kenneth (the best kind), who spent all morning marrying and divorcing envelopes to try and save TGS, a fun spin on The Mentalist from girl writer Sue and a West Wing homage walk and talk with screenwriting god, Aaron Sorkin.

Plan B taught me some gay slang, offered up an enjoyable rant about the decline of the creative industries and made me spit out my cup of tea laughing at a joke about LinkedIn. In 22 minutes of sitcom, what more could anyone want?

Read our review of episode 17, Queen Of Jordan, here.

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