30 Rock: Season 5, Episode 14
It's Never Too Late For Now
This week, 30 Rock decided it was a drawing room mystery for most of its A-plot. I decided I liked that fact. And so while the B and C plots were kind of duds, I had myself a grand old time anyway. On this show, which almost always has three plotlines an episode and often has at least one dud, its less the strength of the weakest plot that matters and more the amount of times I laughed. And several times throughout this episode, I laughed myself silly.

The A-plot really just flat out worked. Liz, spurned by her break up with Carol, is going in for the spinster life, buying a cat and using a chip clip as a hair piece. Her friends and co-workers care so much about her and hope so strongly for her happiness that they engage in an elaborate conspiracy to restore her faith in romance. This is all well and good, as plots go, but having Liz reading (well, ok, half watching the movie version of) Murder on the Orient Express and then pulling her very own Poirot on the rest of the cast was a sheer blast to watch. Everyone seemed to be having a good time, and I was too. This isn't a show that needs to remind us each week that the characters care about each other; its too busy making us laugh for that. But they do care, and reminding us of that every once in a while is nice. I don't watch 30 Rock for the emotional investment (hell, I only really care about Jack and Liz, and even then its not all that much), so I don't ever pine for it to happen, but when it is handled as well as this, its nice just the same.

The B and C plots were much farther from excellence, though. We've seen Jack worry about negotiations before, and his interactions with his Trinidadian nanny didn't do a whole lot for me (though Baldwin did mine eating that orange for every laugh it was worth). This is a pretty standard Jack story but it lacked his inherent flare for absurdity. I prefer Jack making lightning fast references to masked orgies in castles or benders with Condoleeza Rice and Hosni Mubarak (or something like that) to Jack worrying about his daughter, the ridiculously named Liddy. I also don't find the name funny enough that I won't just be annoyed by it from now on.

Frank and Pete's starting a band off of a silly little song they write had great potential, as did the revelation that Pete used to sing in Loverboy. But this was the classic 30 Rock plot that was funny in concept but just wasn't given enough screen time to work in its execution. If this had been the A-plot of an episode, I can imagine Frank and Pete living out a rise and fall parody that would be endlessly hysterical, but as it was, there was a one off Yoko joke that felt done and not a whole lot else there.

Yet it didn't really matter. When the A-plot is solid and the jokes are funny, its a good episode of 30 Rock, and enough pieces were in place tonight to make it that. It had its flaws, sure, but I laughed a lot, and that's what I'm looking for from this show. If it can throw in a little heart every once in a while, well hey, that's just gravy.

Grade: B+


-"I didn't give up hen Eric Roberts abandoned me in the desert, and I'm not giving up now! Oh, no judgment Liz. Mr. Roberts thought I was dead."

-"Yes, if you don't like it, you can leave. This isn't Eric Roberts' teepee."

-"My heart's pounding like I'm watching Oprah's farewell season!"

-"I see someone got to first base...which is what I consider sex with a stranger."

-"I once saw an internet video of a mouse and a bird...that are friends."

-"I got hit by a bird on a rollercoaster..."

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Tags: 30 Rock
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