Everyone in the cast and half the crew is being ravaged by some flu-like ailment, which means it's an episode full of actors taking B-12 shots in the ass. Of course, you can't take a B-12 shot if you're pregnant, but what are the chances that will become important later? In an encouraging pair of signs that the show is beginning to embrace its reputation as the story of a comedy show made by people who aren't funny, Matt hires a sad-sack writer, played by Mark McKinney, to help mentor Lucy and Darius; and comedy genius Harriet spends the entire episode not being able to tell so much as a knock-knock joke. Martha O'Dell is back on set, fresh off a column in which she calls Tom's latest movie effort a box-office failure. Danny, who thinks no one should care about money ever, spends the episode being pissed at her, particularly for her audacity in recognizing that the internet exists. Danny also promotes Suzanne the P.A. to the position of Matt's assistant. Speaking of whom, Matt spends the hour with his eyes glued to the TV and a hostage crisis in Grosse Pointe. When that ends badly, Lucy and Darius's sketch -- about a incompetent bank robber -- will need to be cut for sensitivity. But because they put so much effort into making that sketch work, Matt finally deigns to collaborate with his writers and sits down to write a last-minute fill-in with his young staff. Jordan is finally strong-armed into giving an interview about her troubles in the press, at which point she tells her interviewer that he's a gossipy jackass with the professional integrity of a hairdresser. Which should fix things nicely. Jack is ultimately able to get through to her that she's chucking her career out the window, at least enough that she starts crying in Danny's office as she watches the show. And then when Danny tries to comfort her, she faints! Because she's sick! But she can't take the B-12 shot! Because she's pregnant! I KNOW!
Previously: Ricky and Ron left and took the whole hacky writing staff with them, save for Lucy and Darius who -- coincidently enough -- were the only two writers we'd gotten to know anyway. Matt was totally fine with it, of course, because it's easier to blow off two writers than a whole slovenly roomful. Danny got worried about Jordan's job security and urged her to manage her own press. Like, you know, everyone else in the entertainment industry has to do in order to get by. Also, Miss Alli stopped by and tore Matt a new cornchute or three, and we're all very grateful that she did.
The episode title this week is "B-12," and you'll all be forgiven if you envisioned an hour's worth of Matt Albie pontificating on the military-industrial complex and how his show is the last vanguard for truth in the media. No, it's actually going to refer to the vitamin, which is a far more hilarious subject. Speaking of using "hilarious" in an utterly disingenuous manner, we see this week's host on Studio 60 is none other than Howie Mandel, synergistic star of NBC's big hit Deal Or No Deal. And the joy I get out of Aaron Sorkin's having to piggyback onto Deal Or No Deal to get more of NBC's viewers to stick around for his show is perverse indeed. Howie starts the usual plug-heavy monologue that SNL has made famous, and then Danny joins him onstage. For a second, I anticipate that Danny is going to go through a parody of Wes Mendel's meltdown from the Pilot, revealing just how quickly the television serpent begins to eat its own tail, but alas, it's merely a Deal Or No Deal parody. Here's a detail I never thought I'd need to note: while Danny's fakely on the fake phone talking to the fake "banker" guy, he raises his eyebrows, and his glasses fall comically from up on his (giant, ever-expanding) forehead down to the bridge of his nose, where they should be. While we cut around to see none other than Martha "Breasts Of Distraction" O'Dell sitting at a monitor next to the stage, we see Danny lift the glasses back to their perch on his massive cranium. Shockingly enough, this will become important later. Well, not important to the show so much as important to a nitpicker like me. Anyway, meet me back in ten pages or so and we'll discuss it further. MOVING ON...
In the control room, Matt stares at the bank of TVs, and all the ones we see are tuned in to the show that's currently taping live, as we might expect they would. But Matt looks like he sees something portentous. What that is, we'll find out later.