30 Rock season 5 episode 12 review: Operation Righteous Cowboy Lightning

We're back in the land of reality shows in the latest episode of 30 Rock. And Louisa reckons the show is on tip-top form...

5.12 Operation Righteous Cowboy Lightning

There’s something a bit unfair about the writers of 30 Rock taking a swipe at reality TV. Like dumb fish bobbing around the proverbial barrel, reality TV shows are such easy prey for anyone with a well-aimed satirical streak, you could almost feel sorry for them. Almost. In truth, this week’s glorious double barrelled attack on the genre was even funnier than watching the entire cast of Jersey Shore actually being shot in a barrel.

30 Rock has done a good trade infictional reality shows since MILF Islandfirst made its appearance in season two, but this week it outdid itself. Now in production, Angie’s sassy diva vehicle, Queen Of Jordan, was following Tracy around, hoping to capture a bit of his own special brand of crazy, while he did his best not to give them anything that could hurt his chances of an Oscar win.

Spying an opportunity to finally make Tracy behave like a professional, Lemon soon became embroiled in yet another battle of the wills with her star, who was proving ingenious in his attempts to stay on the cutting room floor.

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Next up came Jack’s brilliantly cynical idea to pre-record a one size fits all disaster benefit so NBC could beat the other networks to pity ratings. With the help of a generic benefit song from Jenna and some heartfelt words from Bobby De Niro about the tragedy of super intelligent shark attacks, NBC was primed and ready for a disaster, any disaster. And it didn’t have to wait long for one to arrive. I won’t ruin the punchline, but it was a riot.

The third ‘reality’ format to be paid homage to was ABC’s The Bachelor, in a story where Lutz’s favour was being courted by the rest of the TGS writers. Surfing a temporary wave of popularity, Lutz revelled in foot rubs and boob flashings galore until, like an evicted Big Brother contestant, normal business resumed and he was back at the bottom of the pile.

Hands down, though, the best gags this week went to Tracy. He may or may not win his Oscar, but he does get to take home the award for most inspired use of a Billy Joel song in a sitcom, as well as special mention for commitment to having boobs pressed against him. He will get there. The man will get there.

Operation Righteous Cowboy Lightning gave us an embarrassment of reality-based riches (to be honest, they had me at Real Life Transvestite Hoarders of Orange County Penitentiary…). This was the show firing on all cylinders, one that provided nods for the nod-spotters (scheduling change! Lost! Liz’s waning interest in adoption!), coined ‘the snart’, Liz’s new gross bodily function, and included more meta-references than you could shake a postmodern stick at. In short, a real corker.

Read our review of episode 11, Mrs Donaghy, here.

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