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It's always Mother's and Father's Day on TV: Top 10 parent guest spots

October 18, 2010 |  2:42 pm

As the saying goes, we can't choose our parents. But judging from Don Johnson's appearance on HBO's "Eastbound and Down" as the father of Kenny Powers (Danny McBride), producers can get creative — and a little perverse — when it comes to casting of parents for the main characters of dramas and comedies.

The "Eastbound and Down" installment  sparked fond memories of some of our favorite mother-and-child and father-and-child teams.

1. Sally Field and Maura Tierney on "ER.": Fields moves from multiple personalities in "Sybil" to the unpredictable off-her-meds mother of Dr. Abilgail Lockhart (Tierney). Do we detect a pattern here?

2. Elaine Strich and Alec Baldwin on "30 Rock": Watching Broadway veteran Strich manipulate Jack Donaghy (Baldwin) made us understand Baldwin's insensitive but lovable executive even more.


3. Fred Willard and Ty Burrell on "Modern Family": Having "Waiting For Guffman" and "Best in Show" star Willard show up as Phil's dad was pure mockumentary heaven.


4. Elliott Gould, David Schwimmer and Courtney Cox on "Friends": The movie "MASH" star staged a welcome comeback as Jack Geller, the father of Monica and Ross Geller.

5. Robert Wagner and Michael Weatherly on "NCIS": "The 'It Takes A Thief' and 'Hart to Hart' star showed off his always debonair cool as the father of special agent Tony DiNozzo (Weatherly).

6. Debbie Reynolds and Debra Messing on "Will & Grace": Reynolds, who rocked audiences as "The Unsinkable Molly Brown," was just as unsinkable as the entertainer mother of Grace Adler (Messing). Debbie

7. Marion Ross and Drew Carey on "The Drew Carey Show": "Mrs. C" of "Happy Days" jumps to being "Mrs. C" (Belulah Carey) on the wacky sitcom.


8. Jerry Stiller and Jason Alexander in "Seinfeld": Stiller's turn as the short-tempered father of George Costanza put other sharp-tongued TV fathers such as William Shatner ("$#*! My Dad Says") to shame.

 9. Brian Dennehy and David Spade in "Just Shoot Me": Dennehy's fun-loving portrayal as the father of wisecracker Dennis Finch proved that the apple didn't fall far from the tree. Dennehy

And here's one we can't wait for.

10. Carol Burnett and Jane Lynch in "Glee": Burnett will guest as the Nazi-hunting mother of Sue Sylvester. The mind reels.


What great parental guest stars did we miss?

— Greg Braxton

 Photos: Top: Debra Messing, Debbie Reynolds and Eric McCormack in a 1999 episode of "Will and Grace." Credit: Chris Haston / NBC. Middle: Brian Dennehy in 2000. Credit: Kirk McCoy / Los Angeles Times. Bottom: Carol Burnett in 2007. Credit: Los Angeles Times.


'Eastbound and Down': Don Johnson is yo' Daddy