30 Rock season 5 episode 19 review: I Heart Connecticut

Review Louisa Mellor 20 Apr 2011 - 05:06

A terrific episode of 30 Rock, and one that happily takes the attention to what's happening behind the scenes...

5.19 I Heart Connecticut

Real life has not been kind to season 5 of 30 Rock. First, Tracy Morgan's kidney transplant threw a diabetes-related spanner in the works. Next, Jane Krakowski reached the trimester of a concealed TV pregnancy, hereafter to be known as the Daphne (so named for an excruciating season of Frasier in which she of the strange vowels was forced to carry a voluminous handbag to obscure her bump in every scene).

Now, not only is Alec Baldwin flip-flopping to anyone with a Dictaphone and a gossip website about the show's imminent demise, no, longevity, no, demise, but our lady of Lemon is also up the duff. At least Tina Fey had the decency to get knocked up at the end of the season's run, though if she hadn't, it would be easy enough to explain away Lemon's pregnancy weight with a cheesy blaster-related plot.

Luckily, the real-life brouhaha hasn't affected the laughs this season, and I Heart Connecticut was full of them.

With TGS still on hiatus and Jenna's original plan B having fallen apart (her line of collectable Jenna Babies turning out to be a front for a Mexican coke smuggling ring, giving us a great cutscene of seven-year-old girls off their nut screaming "We own this town!"), Jenna booked a movie.

Filming in Connecticut for tax breaks, Jenna was off to play the sought-after role of "any blonde actress" in torture porn flick, Take My Hand, by the producers who rented and watched Saw. When it turned out NBC owns the production, which happens to be leaking money faster than Tracy's cobra dealership, Jack steps in to make it profitable.

Jack's attempts to make Jenna's movie a money-spinner were part of the network's new strategy of only making shows that work. Despairing at the millions wasted on pilots like Dad 2.0 ("Your father may be gone, but before he died, he programmed me to take his place"), and Who Nose, featuring an investigative reporter without a sense of smell, Jack needed a win for NBC. And a win he gets, by making the very worst movie in existence (which is really saying something, because I've seen The Room).

Jack takes every tax break, investment, and lucrative vanity casting slot available, getting Take My Hand to turn a profit as a family-friendly, Christmas-themed, torture porn promotional tourism movie starring Elmo and a rapping cop with a ‘text and vote' facility. On second thought, I take it back. It actually sounds quite a lot better than The Room.

With Tracy still hiding out somewhere in the city, Liz and Kenneth sleuthed around to bring him back. Aided in their search by the most helpful pizza guy in NYC, the duo track their errant star to a recently vacated warehouse, where the trail runs cold. Even spending an afternoon thinking and acting like Tracy (eating swordfish at strip clubs, stealing guns from cops and shooting blimps) was to no avail, and the pair return to the studio sans Tracy.

It's not long, however, before Liz tracks him down a little closer to home and provides him with the solution to his freak-out. If Tracy can't cope with the pressure of having people's respect, all he has to do is lose it, and fast. Shirt off and belly out, Tracy the toddler is back. Pumped and primed to do whatever he can to get back his bad reputation. He's off to attack the Lincoln Memorial with a  hammer and wear penis hats to royal funerals. Hurrah.

Bringing in the C plot this week was Pete, whose fantasy of finally getting the upper hand at work was a diverting jaunt into the world of the emasculated TGS producer. Called a bald bitch by slab of beef crew member, Reggie (Saturday Night Live alumnus Rob Riggle), Pete discovered a hidden talent for arm wrestling which promised to even the score. A bit of an after school special moral was learnt about what really makes you strong, before it was unnecessarily revealed that Pete's victory was all a dream. Shame about that, but no biggie. Where 30 Rock's concerned, the plot's really not the thing.

With only four episodes left of this run, you'd have to be a complete fool not to enjoy 30 Rock while you can. Whatever goes on in the main story, every week guarantees you a fat chunk of weird one-liners and skewed satire. This week's line about the tattoo of a leprechaun throwing up on a book was worth the production costs alone.

Next week, we're getting an hour-long episode to celebrate 30 Rock's 100th show, which can only mean one thing. Slankets at the ready, people. It's double Lemon time.

Read our review of episode 18, Plan B, here.

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