Friday, November 13, 2009

30 Rock review: Problem Solvers

30 Rock: The Problem Solvers C+

I would call this the weakest episode of the season on the basis that two of the subplots didn’t work and the main plot was devoid of funniness. I’ve written on a few occasions that the show’s writers posses godlike levels of talent in terms of dialogue and carefully constructed jokes but when the jokes fall a little short, we’re reminded that the show uses the same five or six plots over again:
1. Kenneth being naïve
2. Jenna and Tracy either turning the world upside down with their selfishness
3. The inverse of #2: Jenna and Tracy trying to compensate for being selfish by being selfless and still managing to make cause an equal amount of disaster than if they’d just been selfish to begin with
4. Either Liz or Jack finding love but realizing it can’t mix with their professional lives
5. Liz, the most grounded character on the show, feeling power-hungry
6. The inverse of #5: Jack, the most aloof character on the show through his inseperable wealth, feeling like one of the little people and being humbled

I previously liked Stone Mountain so much because it mixed up plots 5 and 6 so much and brought Jack from feeling grounded to a state of condescending aloofness (which was really his natural state) and did the reverse to Liz so that they both cathartically shared the same worldview at episode’s end.

This episode just had a complete recycling of plot points in the A-plot. Liz feels she’s too god for Jack and takes bad advice from Tracy and Jenna. Not one change from the Rosemary’s Baby episode or anything along those lines. What was worse was that it wasn’t funny. The two guest stars who played rival agents weren’t memorable and when few jokes are falling you’re reminded of unoriginality. The romantic ending cliché also didn’t work that well in my opinion.

The B-plot was even more painfully unoriginal. I won’t even spell it out for you because it was pretty much plot three and its only gag was that Jenna and Tracy got so enthusiastic about what they were doing that they created t-shirts.

The best plot was the C-plot which introduced a new cast member and played off Kenneth’s naivette. This was Kenneth at his best. They took his naïve helpfulness and turned it upside down. The new cast member was very eager to please and was Kenneth-like in nature in that sense. The twist was that Kenneth viewed the new cast member’s willingness to do things for himself rather than asking an assistant to do it for him, as stepping on his territory. The hilarious result: Things get ugly with Kenneth and the new cast member who are the two most likeable guys on the show. It is a blessing that we now have a new cast member who can potentially solve things.

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