Last night’s back to back episodes were tightly packed plot movers – Liz (Tina Fey) played both mentor to Hazel (Kristen Schaal) in “Grandmentor” and abstinence superhero The Blocker in “Kidnapped by Danger.” Jack (Alec Baldwin) pushed for more publicity for Avery (Elizabeth Banks) and then failed at writing (but succeeded in producing) her made-for-TV movie. Jenna (Jane Krakowski) inspired that same film and then demanded to star in it. Kenneth (Jack McBriar) quit his job as an S&P executive for the sake of his friendship with Tracy (Tracy Morgan) and then spent the second episode beginning his climb back up the NBC ladder – starting in the maintenance department. Hazel tried her best to take control and then disappeared for half hour number two, and everyone else pretty much stayed in the background, other than Frank (Judah Friedlander) who keeps pitching sketches for TGS revolving around a not-so-obscure-to-this-blogger character from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles named Krang. Their places were filled by a bevy of guest appearances including Matt Lauer (Jack attends a show of his band, Rhythm and News, in order to get Avery more Today Show airtime), Cynthia Nixon (playing the part of the actress playing the part usually played by Julianne Moore), William “don’t call me Billy” Baldwin (playing Jack Donaghy in “Kidnapped by Danger: The Avery Jessup Story”), and Mary Steenbergen (playing Avery’s mother Diana).

The first episode focused on Hazel’s plight as the new page, trying to make her own way amidst Kenneth’s constant presence. Even though he’s just trying to help (because he can’t help things like the fact that his parents are “technically brothers) and offer her advice on his close friend Tracy, Hazel is that special blend of crazy, annoying, and paranoid, so she enlists Liz’s help with a speech on women’s lib and Liz’s awesomeness. Quickly Liz agrees to be her mentor, even though she recently took a quiz to find out which Gossip Girl she was – only her answers cast her as “the dad’s guitar.” Liz tells Hazel she’s got to be like the Karate Kid – Hilary Swank.

Jack’s search for Avery is deteriorating too – all roads have led nowhere, including a call to Amnesty International, a group Jack reveals “just makes candles.” He gets airtime from Lauer and the Today Show, but is preempted when “real news” happens: a mine collapsed, trapping infant minors who are eventually rescued by puppies. Obviously NBC can’t interrupt their coverage just because Jack’s wife was abducted by a military dictator.

Jenna comes into Jack’s office for a favor (“hire a giant to make me look more dainty – like Lamar Odom did with that Kardashian girl!”) but realizes that Jack’s situation is much more serious. She pitches the idea for a television movie about Avery’s plight, because every kidnapped victim Jenna has ever played has been released in real life after the fictitious movie comes out. They’ll have to act fast though, the Oxygen Channel already has a baby-puppy-miner movie in the works. Jack has his secretary send some pies over to slow them down.

That evening before the TGS taping, Kenneth sees that Hazel has let Tracy deteriorate for the sake of her own control. He attempts to see Tracy but Hazel lets him know she’s tough: “I’ve been in tons of car wrecks.” Kenneth goes to Liz for help but he’s barking up the wrong tree; she’s already in Hazel’s back pocket and tells Kenneth, in her best Mr. Miagi, “leave girl alone, or you deal with me surf shop owner!”

Leaving Hazel in charge leads to zero parenting for Tracy, and as a result he gets a piñata, crossbow, motorcycle (with matching ramp), trip to Vegas (despite his gambling addiction and fear of magic), and tumble off the wagon (don’t worry though, Hazel took him off his medication so he’d be safe to drink). Kenneth finally goes to Jenna for advice who actually quotes Shakespeare to tell him that all the world’s a stage and you just have to play the part. Kenneth finally realizes what he must do.

Jenna also makes a bold gesture – she has someone call Jack and tell him his wife is on her way up, in hopes that he’ll mistake her (Jenna) for his wife (Avery) and admit she has what it takes to play the part. He recognizes her immediately, calls her a monster and turns her down again – he says she has “practical intelligence” and “emotional intelligence” but no “actual intelligence.” She just can’t handle Avery’s essence. Jenna continues to protest – after all she posed bottomless for Essence. Jack finally admits Jenna has a similar blackness to her heart that reminds him of his wife and acquiesces: the part is hers.

Kenneth finds his part as well: all episode Liz has been dreading picking a contest winner for a TGS walk-on roll (the reasoning for the contest, according to Jack: polls show that “if someone is actually on NBC they’re 4% more likely to watch.”). As an NBC employee Kenneth is ineligible, so he quits his job just to have a chance to be with Tracy and save him from Hazel’s reckless neglect. Liz gives him the roll and Kenneth shines. Tracy takes his medicine and lives. Liz takes Jack’s advice as grandmentor and lets Hazel fail. Hazel fails and learns a lesson. Jenna thinks outside the box and is rewarded. Roberto Rico GIS’s “TMNT Krang” and smiles.

In “Kidnapped by Danger” things get serious: the movie is now in full-steam production with Liz as screenwriter and Jenna method acting star (even though Stanislavski apparently developed the method at age 4 only because “he wanted to be a pirate”). After 22 minutes of hiccups the production wraps and airs two days later. During those 22 minutes:

-Liz’s costume idea for Halloween 2012 (Mitt Rom-mummy) is bested by Jack’s idea (Mitt Zombie).
-An “Ides of March” movie poster is spoofed, except with Kim Jong as Clooney and Avery as Gosling).
-Jenna does the worst Elizabeth Banks impression I’ve ever heard, and is outdone by Cynthia Nixon’s awful Boston accent.
-Jenna writes a song for the film called “Kidnapped” only to be spoofed by Weird Al Yankovic in his song, “Knapsack.”
-Liz tries unsuccessfully to convince Jenna it’s a “huge honor to be parodied by Weird Al, like people wanting to see your boobs at Mardi Gras.”
-Jenna tries to sue Weird Al, and when unsuccessful enlists Tracy to help her write a supposedly un-spoofable song about Pizza with the chorus “farts so loud.”
-Weird Al reverse-parodies Jenna’s Pizza song with a shameless (and therefore hugely popular) American anthem “heart so proud.”
-Liz reveals her screenwriting name as Liz “Diablo” Lemon.
-Kenneth struggles as a janitor and admits to Jack he lies to himself every day in order to keep going.
-Kenneth possibly becomes possessed by a demon.
-Liz uses her skills as “The Blocker” to separate lonely-for-Avery Jack from lonely-for-Avery-and-still-hot Mary Steenbergen.
-William Baldwin plays Lance Drake Mandrell and beds Avery’s mom on the strength of his conservative banter (“Prius is the Latin word for impotence” ) and uncanny resemblance to the man she wants but can’t have, her daughter’s husband.
Both episodes were solid. The jokes were better in “The Grandmentor” but the writing was better in “Kidnapped by Danger,” as the name of the episode was a microcosm of the name of the movie in that Inception-type of story-within-the-story-is-the-parallel-of-the-story-itself thing that 30 Rock does so well these days. Another new episode next week, and news of another live episode in April this week. Things are strong as ever at 30 Rock.