30 Rock is my favorite Thursday night show. And here I am, having to recap possibly the worst episode of the season. The whole thing was a half-assed attempt that made Parks and Recreation almost a level above poop sludge. Still guest star Elaine Stritch once again delivered a killer comedic performance opposite Alec Baldwin, so there was that to make fans happy.

“It’s like orange-flavored egg in my mouth!”

The Liz vs Tracy story is really just disappointing. Even so it is punctuated with great moments, and that intelligent style of comedic writing where 30 Rock makes fun of a cliché (this time TV twists) while utilizing them at the same moment. Liz is upset that Tracy won’t act professional and calls him out on it. Tracy is hurt that everyone treats him like a child and readjusts his clocks to try and trick him into showing up for work.

The next day Tracy shows up in full on Cosby sweater garb, glasses, and a professional demeanor. He knows all of his lines, is on time, and works perfectly for the day. Of course he has other ideas as he professes that everyone should be treated equally…no matter what. Yeah, let’s get to the picking on Liz thing despite it making no sense. It all starts with Lemon having to change a water bottle, which has nothing to do with equality. If you’re equal with everyone you can still offer to help someone out. But that’s OK because it provides the best bit of this story line with a surprisingly fantastic physical bit by Tina Fey.

Liz and Tracy continue their battle for a few more days: Liz enjoying the sweet aroma of unbridled man farts, and Tracy forced to work late while Liz and the boys go to a strip club. The two decide they can’t handle the changes and want to go back to the old ways. It was disappointing that 30 Rock had such a tired sitcom plot without more than a second or two of its usual comedic wit.

“You’re just a big bully, like Simon Cowell. Yeah, that’s right, I called you a Communist.”

Now to the good stuff. Colleen Donaghy, Jack’s mom, is in town. Despite how difficult she is Jack is being nicer than usual because it’s the 35th anniversary of when his father walked out on the family. When Jack goes to his mother’s hotel to pick her up for dinner he discovers Paul, a Floridian who can drive at night and makes his own soda. Jack is convinced the guy is a scam artist and employs his private eye (Steve Buscemi in one of the briefest hilarious cameos on television) to find out what’s up. Of course the guy is a scam artist: “Have you ever been to Florida?” Jack asks Liz. “It’s a criminal population. It’s America’s Australia.”

Buscemi comes back to report Paul is a boy scout, and that he’s been married for 35 years. Ah ha! Jack goes to confront Paul about his indiscretions by using a slightly modified version of the speech he wished he had given his father long ago. This results in further confirmation of Baldwin deserving to win Emmy’s hand over fist for his role as Jack Donaghy. As soon as he says to Paul, “That’s right, I called you a Communist” Baldwin gives a half-second look that says: “um, did I really just say that? It makes no sense at all. Oh well, it’s been said and we shall move on now.” It was brilliant.

Colleen knew of Paul’s marriage and shrugs it off. She then realizes that Jack is upset about the abrupt departure of Jimmy Donaghy 35 years ago. She’d forgotten about it and told Jack he should too. Telling her son that he’s nothing like that man, “There’s no way you ever could be.” Hmmm.

“TWIST!”

Later Jack is watching Some Like It Hot, which he explains to Liz is a movie his father took his mother to see. Liz makes a comment about wanting to be a writer when the movie came out in 1959 because audiences would have been so gullible. Colleen’s previous comment becomes clear: If Jimmy Donaghy was gone from 1957 until 1959, and Jack was conceived in 1958 then Jimmy Donaghy is not Jack’s father. Bum bum BUMMMMMM!

Jenna was in this episode. It involved a gibbon that humped her face, and once again confirmed that I just don’t care about this character. Tracy is all the crazy star shenanigans 30 Rock needs.

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