Episode 5 - Reaganing
22 February 2011
Synopsis: Liz wants to break up with Carol because they are having sex problems. But Jack is determined to help her because he is "Reaganing", a perfect game period of problem solving. Tracy is asked to help film a commercial for the Boy and Girls Club of America and is less than professional about it. Meanwhile Jenna entices Kenneth to help her rip off a bakery so that he can send the money home.
The Good: There was a fun pace to this episode. By having Liz and Jack on a journey which was interrupted by Tracy the plot felt like it was always moving forward and building toward something. Though I don't think it really did.
Liz' attitude to sex was pretty clear, even without the handy montages to remind us, so her problems were perfectly plausible. Matching her with Jack determined to solve problems was a fun idea and I enjoyed his impression of Ronald Regan and some of his other silly peppy ideas.
I also enjoyed Tracy's retort to the commercial director who had been forced to move home thanks to Tracy ruining Garfield 3: "I envy you; I don't really know my parents."
The Bad: Otherwise Tracy's plot was entirely forgettable. When the writing provides no believable excuse for his unprofessionalism the jokes just seem so childish and mindless.
Speaking of which Kenneth and Jenna did not work well together here. The idea of Jenna running cons with her mum when she was a kid makes sense given what we know of Verna. I also thought if the writing had played on the sheer pettiness of Jenna and Kelsey Grammar scamming a few measly hundred dollars out of people the plot could really have been fun. Instead that was ignored in favour of showing us the details of their scams and that too ignored any sympathy for Kenneth to whom either of them could have kindly donated a few dollars to help his family. Jokes about Kenneth's family being backward are almost always flops because they play on such an exaggerated stereotype and because we can't see them so the joke feels that little bit more manufactured. What a waste of Kelsey Grammar too, surely he could have had a longer cameo?
Comic Highlight: Jack pushes Liz to share her sex life with him so that he can help. They are sitting in the back of his limousine and she confesses that she has been shutting down, sexually, to Carol. The driver suddenly says "I'm going to raise the barrier if that's okeydokey with everyone?"
The Bottom Line: I liked the structure of the episode but once more 30 Rock's smaller characters are given nothing intelligent to do.
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