'30 Rock' meets the Hendersons

Tinafey_30rock_s3_240 Tonight's 30 Rock had its usual share of brilliantly funny moments, but I'm not sure whether I can fully get behind an episode that hangs an entire subplot on the subtleties of Harry and the Hendersons.

The spoilers didn't even notice my back brace.

The sudden return of Liz's baby fever, via a donut-store worker who's considering giving her baby up, felt like it came sort of out of nowhere after a run of episodes where Liz had hardly mentioned it. Pete (two episodes in a row! Woot!) foresees nothing but trouble and tries to warn Liz off, but she won't hear it. And I mean, she really won't hear it -- her exact words to Pete on the subject are "You shut up, mouth."

Donut girl Becca, see, has been having serious issues with her boyfriend, Tim -- dude hasn't even changed his Myspace status from "Still horny." Liz takes Becca under her wing and offers her some tips on prenatal nutrition (contrary to the teen-pregnancy message board, you don't have to eat only food the baby will like) and lends a generally supportive ear when Becca has to vent about Tim.

It would all be really sweet, if Liz had any other motive than getting Becca to let her adopt the baby. Hiring her as the TGS "youth consultant" ("It's a thing," Liz insists. "The CW has them") and encouraging Becca's very shaky singing career -- something about cobwebs of rainbows -- really isn't the nicest thing to do, in the end.

Fortunately for all concerned, Liz finally comes to her senses when Tim comes to 30 Rock looking for his girlfriend, and she tries to talk some sense into him: "Nut up right now, get a job and help raise that kid" (love the phrase "nut up," by the way). "Love it because it has your goony face, get married, and have disposable cameras at the wedding, because it's fun and people like it." Such a charmer, that Lemon.

Judahfriedlander2_30rock_s2_240 Jack, meanwhile, is trying to keep himself away from temptations while Elisa is gone and latches onto the TGS writers, figuring (correctly) that he won't have any problem with them. He and Frank bond over the fact that neither of their dads were around -- "He'd show up every now and then to impregnate my mother and punch out the umpires in Little League," Jack reminisces -- and Jack even hosts movie night, with Harry and the Hendersons as the main feature.

Their shared love of that movie, along with Shane and other films where the father figure "pushes away the child/legendary North American forest ape," brings the two men even closer together, so much so that Jack offers to fund the law-school education Frank gave up when his mom got sick.

Except: Mom (played by Patti Lupone) really, really doesn't want her son to be a lawyer, owing to the fact that Frank's dad and grandfather were both lawyers, along with the other Rossitano men, are lawyers for the mob, and they're all either dead or in witness protection.

That, naturally, leads to Jack and Frank playing out the climactic Harry and the Hendersons scene where George (John Lithgow) goes all tough love on Harry and tells him to get back into the forest where he belongs, the forest in this case being the writers room. It also provides a teaching moment for Liz, who turns to Tim and says, "Those two? They both grew up without fathers."

Tonight's third story, about Jenna faking injuries to get attention around her birthday, was mostly a throwaway, but it did bring my favorite line of the night. It comes from mad genius Tracy, who explains that he doesn't have a birth certificate and therefore has never celebrated his birthday.: "I don't need it. I buy myself all the presents I need. And because of my drinking, I'm often surprised."

Other good stuff from "Goodbye, My Friend":

  • Pete on Liz's post-show plans: "Donuts and bed? What are you depressed about, or celebrating?"
  • Frank and Jack share the meaning of their last names: "In Sicilian, [Rossitano] means 'well poisoner.'" "In Gaelic, Donaghy means 'dung basket.'"
  • Becca to Liz: "I can't believe you don't have kids -- you'd make such a great mom. You're smart, you're successful, you're grounded ..." Liz: "Aw, go on." "... You already dress like a mom." "Aand, stop."
  • Tracy's birthday wish: To have breakfast in bed with RoboCop while an elephant paints them. Yeah, sounds about right.
  • Had John Lithgow's cameo ended with "I guess someone's been watching The World According to Garp," it would have been perfect. The last bit with him trying to find his way out of the building was just unnecessary.
  • Jack looks back on the past couple of days with Liz: "I guess we both lost children today." Liz: "Yeah, but mine was real. Yours was ... Frank."
  • Cleaned-up Judah Friedlander was almost creepier-looking than disheveled Judah Friedlander, was he not?

Honestly -- Harry and the Hendersons? Aside from that, what did you think of this week's 30 Rock?