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30 Rock Recap: I Walked on Your Face

Mother’s Day made for a lightning-paced, frequently hilarious, and, yes, even heartwarming episode this week — a non-corny tribute to the idea that it takes all kinds (to make babies). Liz asking for Jack’s “Lucretia Mott” on a document — Mott was a nineteenth-century abolitionist, proto-feminist, and mother of six — set the stage for a parade of wonderful non-stunt actresses playing deranged moms. Briefly, we saw Frank’s (played by Patti Lupone; she showed a photo of him in the bath — before his senior prom!) and Lutz’s (played by whoever plays Lutz, which was confounding but funny, and, we suppose, a nice tip of the hat to Will Forte). Jack’s matriarch, Colleen (the impeccable Elaine Stritch) delivered the excellent, if dutiful, “Feminism makes smart girls with good birthing shapes believe in fairy tales,” then did herself one better facing down the also impeccable Elizabeth Banks’s Avery Jessup. And terrific Jan Hooks returned as Jenna’s treacherous mama, Verna, presenting a single unaugmented breast like a Ziplock bag of mushroom soup and a bedazzled jumper that we found positively smashing once Jenna agreed to wear it.

With an embarrassment of mothers quick with lines like, “Two women? What are you, Italian?” we can’t really complain about Margaret, Liz’s perfectly realistic — and loving, and boring — Sterling Cooper alum mom. Especially since the role clearly couldn’t be allowed to overshadow that of Buzz Aldrin, a stunt-casting choice with a major payoff in the form of his angry ranting at the daytime moon: “Return to the night — you have no business here!” Still, it was all about the women, and the best chemistry had to be between Tracy and Novella Nelson, the actress hired against his wishes to play his mother (since he last saw his real one in 1984, wearing a red shirt). Novella played a black judge nine times, but at least she didn’t star in an anti-condom PSA! In the end, Tracy knew he was ready for the sex talk.

Photo: Ali Goldstein/NBC