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"The Problem Solvers" is the fifth episode of the fourth season of Americanmarker television comedy series 30 Rock, and the sixty-third episode of the series overall. It was written by executive producer Ron Weiner and directed by John Riggi. The episode first aired on November 12, 2009 on the NBC network in the United States.

In this episode the new cast member for the sketch comedy show TGS with Tracy Jordan (TGS), Jack "Danny" Baker (Cheyenne Jackson) arrives on set and learns the intricacies of the show. Meanwhile Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) offers Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) a chance to create a television pilot based on her "Dealbreakers" sketch but Liz decides to search for other offers. In addition, after offering some advice Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) and Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski) decide to solve other problems of the cast and crew. Finally, Kenneth Parcell (Jack McBrayer) grows annoyed as the cast members begin to ask less of him.

Plot

As the episode opens Liz, Jack, and the rest of the TGS cast and crew welcome Jack Baker, the new cast member, to the show. However after realizing Baker has the same first name, Jack Donaghy quickly decides to rename him Danny and the name sticks. Danny was hired by Jack in the previous episode from his work as a street performer who dressed up like a robot and had very limited recent experience with "real acting". As a result Danny asks for advice from various TGS staff members on what he should do on the show. Danny also reveals that he is Canadianmarker and repeatedly tries to pronounce the word "about" without an accent.

Meanwhile Jack offers Liz the chance to star in a new television pilot based on her "Dealbreakers" sketch. She is initially excited, but Tracy and Jenna convince her to test the market and search for other offers before agreeing to work with Jack. Liz signs with a talent agent (Josh Fadem) to explore other options, but he is a low-level agent who had previously only represented dogs. Jack announces via the media that NBC is moving forward with the pilot's production and calls in Padma Lakshmi as a potential new host in place of Liz. Liz threatens to sue Jack and NBC for the rights to "Dealbreakers", takes a meeting with the producer of the successful show Sports Shouting, and Jack meets with Padma. During their respective meetings, however, the two realize that they should work with one another. They shake hands at the end of the episode, agreeing to create the pilot together.

After giving advice to Liz, Tracy and Jenna spend the episode calling themselves "The Problem Solvers" giving the TGS staff advice on their lives. From the moment he arrives Danny treats Kenneth politely and does not ask him to run any errands for him, a break from how Tracy and Jenna treat him. Danny explains to the two that lower-level people such as NBC pages often rise up to positions where they would be the boss of actors such as themselves, and as a result he is polite to avoid building bad relationships with potential future bosses. Tracy and Jenna are convinced and also stop asking Kenneth for things, such as help brushing Tracy's teeth. Kenneth becomes upset that he is losing his responsibilities and confronts Danny, driving him to yell at Kenneth and saying "about" without an accent. Danny thanks Kenneth for helping him.

Cultural references

Padma Lakshmi, host of Top Chef, made a guest appearance as a potential replacement for Liz Lemon on a "Dealbreakers" pilot.
During Danny's rallying speech in the football movie flashback, he makes several references to Canadian culture such as the different rules used between Canadian and American football (e.g. 3 downs instead of 4, 12 men per side instead of 11, yards, however, are used in Canadian football instead of meters). The episode twice refers to a fictional show Sports Shouting which features four panelists yelling at each other about sports. Some reviewers noted the similarity to the real show Around the Horn, a show which also features four panelists discussing sports in a competitive setting. J. A. Adande, a frequent panelist on Around the Horn, said via his Twitter page "'Sports Shouting' now tops 'Werewolf Bar Mitzvah' as my favorite 30 Rock gag." When Jack tells Liz that Padma Lakshmi is coming in for the pilot she says "Then who's going to host Top Chef? You're ruining my life!" referring to a cooking reality television show Lakshmi hosts which Liz had previously shown a taste for in the episode "Cougars." Tracy reveals that early in his career he signed a very badly structured contract which requires he publicize "Wade Boggs Carpet World" five times whenever he appears on camera, a reference to the baseball player Wade Boggs. As Danny grew angry he described Kenneth as having a "weird Don Knotts face" and a "Hitler Youth haircut."

Reception

"The Problem Solvers" had 5.8 million total viewers with a 2.9 rating and 7 share among 18-49 year old viewers. Robert Canning of IGN reviewed the episode, giving it a 7.4/10 score and saying that "usually our living room is filled with guffaws Thursdays at 9:30" but "this week, there were a few audible chuckles and several silent smiles." Alan Sepinwall of the The Star-Ledger said "the Tracy/Jenna team often seems too far out of the realm of reality... to enjoy them." Sean Gandert of Paste magazine called the episode the "best so far in the season" but said that he was "disappointed in it, though, but it’s just because the show was so close to greatness and we all know it’s done it before and can do it again."

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