30 Rock season 5 episode 22 review: Everything Sunny All the Time Always

Review Louisa Mellor 3 May 2011 - 06:29

The penultimate episode of 30 Rock season 5, and it's still generating sizeable levels of fun. Here's what Louisa thought of it...

5.22 Everything Sunny All the Time Always

In Tina Fey's memoir, Bossypants  (good read, that), she revealed that 30 Rock's creators didn't set out to make a critical darling for a niche audience. Rather, they were after mainstream success. I'm guessing, however, from the outright weirdness of this week's episode, that those dreams have now well and truly fallen by the wayside. Everything Sunny All the Time Always was unashamedly odd, and all the better for it.

A joint writing effort by Kay Cannon and Matt Hubbard, individually responsible for two of this season's best episodes, Reaganing and Chain Reaction Of Mental Anguish, this one always promised to be fun.

And fun it was. More of a live-action episode of South Park than anything else, we were served up a platter of satirical strangeness, culminating in the most audacious solution for writing out a character since Den off EastEnders was gunned down by a bunch of daffodils.

As part of CNNBC's hot blondes in weird places initiative, Avery became detained in North Korea by Kim Jong Il (guest appearance from Margaret Cho). By the end of the episode, she'd been married off to one of the crackpot despot's sons and was unlikely to ever be seen again. Well, if you're going to be written out of a series, you may as well go with style.

There were also good moments before all the North Korean hilarity began. Avery screaming "Imprint!" at her baby during a Skype call, then donning a Reagan mask and négligée to indulge in some jellybean-related webcam sex with hubby Jack was a high point, as were the tantalising references to Dot Com's DVD reviews and Grizz's political cartoons (tie-in book, please, NBC).

Even more proof that the show's writers have made their peace with 30 Rock's awards to ratings ratio,was this week's talking carrier bag. Yes, you read that right. Liz conversed with a plastic bag stuck in a tree outside her apartment. Well, less a plastic bag and more of a memento mori, reminding Liz of her complete lack of control over mortality. Last week's gas leak hallucinations must have been a warm-up for such a flight of fancy. I liked the bag. If only the same one had been cast in American Beauty we'd all have been saved a lot of tedium.

The bag in a tree story stemmed from Liz's umpteenth resolution to put her life in order. Determined to apply the same brand of no-nonsense problem solving to her personal life as she does at work, she embarked on a montage of spring cleaning, decorating and eating uplighter bugs. It wasn't long however, before her determination was snagged on a trivial sticking point. As they say, the best laid plans of mice and men (and Liz) gang aft agley.

In other news, Tracy was back to his usual tantrums, throwing his toys out of the pram after being left out of an in-joke created during his absence. To resolve matters, he conducted a fairly tedious step-by-step joke origin recreation before learning how indispensable he was to his entourage. Welcome back, Tray.

Another guest appearance that came out of left field, or in this case, probably more to the right, was that of Dr Condoleezza Rice. Jack petitioned the ex-Secretary of State for help with the Avery situation, knowing that his wife wouldn't accept help from President Inter-Bush (that's Clinton, to you and me). The really quite long piano/flute-off between Dr Rice and Jack was another odd moment in the episode, but you can't help but admire the gall of stunts like it.

The real joy this week, though, was Cho as Kim Jong Il in an appearance which blew a good few fuses of the "Is this-  Am I watching-  Does that mean I'm a-  Is she being racist?" on web forums. It's admittedly hard to top Team America's portrait of Kim ‘Wronely' Jong Il, but Cho's fake media propaganda machine comes as a close second. The Glengarry Glen Ross spoof was also a sumptuous reward for anyone who bothered to stick around for the credits.

Next week comes the season finale, after which point we'll have to bid adieu to the good people of 30 Rock, and I may actually be able to get back to writing sentences that make sense. Bye for now.

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