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'30 Rock': Jenna had a party and everybody came. For Tracy.

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30rock_jenna_tracyAlternate post title: “O Jon Hamm, Where Art Thou?”

Happy birthday and merry unbirthday to Jenna and Tracy! Jenna’s groping for attention at any cost in last night’s 30 Rock seemed to mirror fans’ frustration that hey, we rarely see the non-Liz/Jack characters anymore! Their joint b-day bash and Frank’s transformation into a shorter version of Penn Jillette were like a dozen assorted doughnuts for our sitting-and-staying pleasure. Pass the skim milk.

Despite her very convincing full-body cringe/spasm session in protest to sharing her party, Jenna reluctantly agreed to celebrate the ambiguous birth of Tracy Jordan. (Don’t get Jenna wrong — her heart goes out to all those inner city kids, especially those too fat to dance their way out.) At first Tracy wasn’t into the whole birthday thing, because he buys himself all the presents he needs…and because of his drinking, they’re often a big surprise! But come on, he still deserves a birthday party. Even prisoners have them. Kenneth saw one once on Oz! “It was…interesting.” Of course, right before her big “Jennatime” entrance, the attention-monger was thwarted by corporate-garbed Frank’s announcement that he’d be returning to Columbia Law School to pursue his lifelong dream. Not even the body brace Jenna happened to have lying around could tear anyone’s eyes away from the startling, wondrous sight of Frank without a trucker cap.

Frank and Jack’s Harry and the Hendersons-inspired story line (“that film has manylayers”) was the strongest of the night, I thought. The two have morein common than we thought: They both suffer (though I think it’s morelike enjoy) nightmares of being overpowered by female bodybuilders, andtheir surnames both have beautiful roots: Rositano means “wellpoisoner” in Italian, while Donaghy is obviously Gaelic for “dungbasket.” Loved Patti LuPone as Frank’s mother, who slapped Jack forintervening in her son’s life. He might have been meant to become alawyer, but it’d have to be for the mob instead of for theEnglish-as-a-second-language subway-riding masses. (Ha!) You want herto paint a picture? ‘Cause she DID.

With the George Henderson tie-in, John Lithgow’s cameo — one ofthose “I happen to just be in the building…as myself” ones, likeConan O’Brien’s — might have been the most awesome 30 Rock cameo EVER!His aimless wandering near the elevator offered a perfect way to weavethe Hendersons element into Liz’s baby mama struggles. “Fine, Lithgow,I’ll do the right thing,” she finally gave in before throwing thatgoonie-faced Tim against the wall. (Since EW’s office is right above theRockefeller Center concourse, Lithgow’s final cry for help — “I keepwalking past the same Sbarros!'” — rang especially true. We understand.It’s like a maze!)

Liz’s attempt to woo Becca, the new youth consultant (“It’s a thing.The CW has them”) into letting her adopt her baby was a little bit BabyMama, a little bit Juno — Becca even referenced the latter with herverbal threat to online pregnancy forum regular “Juno32.” This hasnothing to do with the plot, but my favorite line of the night had tobe Pete’s ribbing of Liz: “Doughnuts and then bed? What are youdepressed about or celebrating?” Ha! And then he had to specifythat his dozen assorted treats were to take home to his family. Doublenords! I loved how tenacious Lemon was throughout the episode, fromrefusing to leave Becca alone in the store, to researching the term”washed” via Online Slang Dictionary, to finally letting Becca’sboyfriend Tim — whose MyFace status still says “Horny” and who doesn’teven have the decency to Skype Becca to her face — really have it:”Ohhhhh, now’s not a good time, I wanna go to Burning Man…Come on,kid, nut up!” I recall fondly Lemon’s last use of “Nut up,” when shetried to talk stage-frighty Jack down from the ledge at 3:30 a.m. inthe studio. It’s a good vibe for her, and thankfully Lemon’s violenttone of voice carried over into her further request for Tim: “Getmarried and have disposable cameras at the wedding, because it’s fun and people like it.” It’s true. Those things can make some weddings barely tolerable!

Lemon’s impression of Ne-Yo (or was it Chris Brown? “Who Ne-Yo is” was clearly dubbed over…) must be viewed in video:

Since you’ve readthis far, we’re now officially joined in a cobweb of rainbows. What’dyou think of “Goodbye, My Friend”? Sing it.