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UNIVERSAL

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Various
Cast:
Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski, Jack McBrayer, Scott Adsit, Judah Friedlander
Writing Credits:
Various

Synopsis:
Relive the second season of the Primetime Emmy® Award-winning comedy 30 Rock, the show that the guy who writes stuff on DVD boxes calls “my current assignment” and that Gillian Flynn of Entertainment Weekly has named “simply the best TV.” Created by Golden Globe® and SAG Award winner Tina Fey, 30 Rock features Fey (as TV writer Liz Lemon), Golden Globe® and SAG Award winner Alec Baldwin (as corporate executive Jack Donaghy), Tracy Morgan and Jane Krakowski (as Lemon’s unpredictable stars, Tracy Jordan and Jenna Maroney) and Jack McBrayer (as the naive NBC page Kenneth Parcell). Co-workers and friends, they are all trying to balance work and life, with the inevitable result of failed relationships, disastrous parties, at-work drunkenness, hard-core coffee addiction, world-class sandwich eating and occasional attempts to chop down Christmas trees. Join in the behind-the-scenes fun with lots of exclusive content and all fifteen episodes of the acclaimed second season of 30 Rock from executive producer Lorne Michaels.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.78:1/16X9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Surround 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 320 min.
Price: $39.98
Release Date: 10/7/2008

Bonus:
• Audio Commentaries for 10 Episodes
• Deleted Scenes
• “Cooter” Table Read
• “30 Rock Live at the UCB Theater” Featurette
• “Tina Hosts SNL” Featurette
• “The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Presents: An Evening with 30 Rock” Featurette
• Previews


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RELATED REVIEWS


30 Rock: Season 2 (2007)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 26, 2008)

After a promising and successful first season, 30 Rock returned for its strike-shortened second year. I’ll look at all 15 episodes in broadcast order, which is how the shows appear here. The plot synopses come straight from the DVD’s packaging.

DVD ONE:

SeinfeldVision: “Liz’s (Tina Fey) excitement to be back from summer hiatus is quickly squashed when Jack (Alec Baldwin) tells her that despite what she thinks, she is not over Floyd (Jason Sudeikis). Jack unveils his plan to boost ratings, which entails digitally inserting Jerry Seinfeld into NBC’s current shows. Seinfeld shows up at Jack’s office, less than pleased about the plan.”

Season Two launches with a bang via this solid episode. Does Seinfeld appear here for any reason other than to promote the then-upcoming Bee Movie? No, but his presence adds zing to the show. In addition to the “SeinfeldVision” plot, the other threads satisfy and make this a very good start to the season.

Jack Gets In the Game: “Realizing that GE head Don Geiss (Rip Torn) may be retiring, Jack’s nemesis Devin (Will Arnett) returns engaged to Don’s daughter (Marceline Hugot). Jenna (Jane Krakowski) starts to enjoy the fame her fat is bringing her, and Kenneth (Jack McBrayer) plots to get Tracy (Tracy Morgan) and his wife Angie (Sherri Shepherd) back together.”

While not quite as impressive as the season debut, “Game” moves things along well. Kenneth gets some of the episode’s best moments, as he plays a key part in both the Devin and Tracy segments. It’s also amusing to see Jenna cope with her new body image. Though this doesn’t become a great program, it’s a very good one.

The Collection: “Jack hires his own private investigator (Steve Buscemi) to cut off any chance of GE digging up dirt against him. Tracy’s wife Angie announces that she is going to be with him at all times to make sure he behaves. Liz supports the idea until Tracy forces her to cover for him.”

“Collection” provides a competent episode but not an especially strong one. Jack’s cookie jar collection seems just a little too self-consciously silly, and the other story lines don’t really take off. The program still generates its fair share of laughs, but it doesn’t excel.

Rosemary’s Baby: “Liz meets her idol Rosemary Howard (Carrie Fisher) and invites her to be a guest writer on the show, but Rosemary’s radical ideas are too controversial for TGS. Jack brings Tracy to a therapist to figure out why Tracy is compelled to do the opposite of what he is told.”

Poor Carrie Fisher gets forced to play a character older than herself – and the show mocks her age relentlessly. Well, that mean-spirited tone aside, “Baby” works pretty well. I love Tracy’s inability to avoid his own worst impulses, and Fisher’s funny as the writer still stuck in the counter-culture part of the Seventies. Baldwin’s role-playing as all of Tracy’s family acts as a real highlight in this strong episode.

Greenzo: “As part of a GE-wide initiative, Jack comes up with a green mascot for NBC: Greenzo (David Schwimmer). When the ridiculous character’s eco-friendly preachiness gets obnoxiously out of hand, it’s Liz who gets fed up. Tracy wants Kenneth’s annual party to be a success, so he spreads a few rumors to get the event hopping.”

Of the three stories thrown out here, only the one about Pete’s “affair” flops. Happily, it fills an insubstantial portion of the show, so the other two plots get plenty of time to shine. Schwimmer’s Greenzo is hilariously smug, and the insanity that surrounds Kenneth’s party creates plenty of laughs as well. This becomes another solid program.

Somebody to Love: “Jack attends a cocktail party honoring Colin Powell, and there he falls for CC (Edie Falco), a Democratic congresswoman from Vermont. Liz thinks her Middle Eastern neighbor (Fred Armisen) might be a terrorist and tips off Homeland Security.”

S2 takes a dip with the relentlessly mediocre “Love”. Kenneth’s desperate attempts to raise money provoke a few chuckles, but otherwise, the episode falls flat. It follows some predictable trends and lacks much inspiration.

Cougars: “As part of his community service, Tracy coaches an inner city Little League team from Knuckle Beach, the worst neighborhood in New York. Jack has a special interest in the team and wants to turn these underprivileged kids into winners. Back in the writers’ room, the new young, hot coffee boy (Val Emmich) asks Liz – who he thinks is only 29 – out on a date.”

Possibly the episode’s best thread doesn’t get much attention: Frank’s potential homosexuality. That’s the funniest part of the show, but the episode doesn’t devote much attention to it. The baseball parts have their moments but don’t live up to potential, and Liz’s romance is moderately entertaining at best, though it does come with a nice kicker. “Cougars” does better than “Love”, but it’s not a great show.

Secrets and Lies: “CC wants to go public with her relationship with Jack, but he is still very reluctant. Meanwhile, Liz fakes a satellite transmission for Tracy to accept an award from the Pacific Rim Emmys, and it infuriates Jenna, who goes ‘diva’ on everyone.”

I’m starting to think CC is a show killer. “Somebody to Love” was my least favorite episode of the season so far, and “Lies” doesn’t live up to the series’ usual standards either. The Frank/Toofer rivalry doesn’t rock like it should, and Jenna’s diva behavior only scores a few laughs. I like James Carville’s cameo, but the majority of the episode doesn’t really zing.

Ludachristmas: “The staff of TGS is having their annual holiday ‘Ludachristmas’ party, but Tracy can’t participate due to his new alcohol-monitoring bracelet. Jack and Liz’s families go to dinner together, where Jack’s mom (Elaine Stritch) tries to break the eternal optimism of the Lemons (Andy Richter, Buck Henry and Anita Gillette).”

Season Two rebounds with this very good episode. In particular, the sparks between Jack’s mom and the Lemons adds a lot of hilarity here. Add to that some fun from the party and this turns into a solid show.

Episode 210: “Jack meets with German TV executives to close a deal on the purchase of the largest cable network in North America. Motivated by Jack’s financial advice, Liz decides to invest in real estate, but she must appear before a co-op board to lobby for the apartment she loves.”

CC the show-killer returns, and “210” suffers the consequences. There’s just something inherently unfunny about Jack in love. Liz’s drunken rampage against the co-op board amuses, but not much else here stands out as memorable.

DVD TWO:

MILF Island: “The TGS staff has been obsessing all season over the new reality hit MILF Island. While watching the finale, Jack is blindsided by a New York Post item that reveals a staffer referring to him as a ‘Class A moron’”.

The episode’s structure makes it unusual, as it creates a facsimile of a reality show to add to its drama. That’s a clever twist and one that makes things more amusing. It’s a more focused program than usual, since the series usually goes for multiple plots, and the extra concentration allows it to prosper.

Subway Hero: “Liz is forced to book New York’s newest celebrity, who jumped in front of a train to save a total stranger. It turns out the ‘Subway Hero’ us Liz’s ex-boyfriend Dennis (Dean Winters). Jack wants to find a young and hip Republican celebrity for the weekend’s John McCain fundraiser, but the only talent he can secure is ‘40s and ‘50s TV star Bucky Bright (Tim Conway).”

Dennis is a character who works best in small doses, but he’s effective in hit and run appearances like this. He’s hilariously atrocious, so it’s fun to see him again – for the short term, at least. Conway’s guest turn as Bright follows some predictable paths, but he adds quirky charm to this good episode.

Succession: “Don Geiss decides to name Jack his successor as the chairman of GE, over Jack’s rival, and Geiss’ future son-in-law Devin Banks. Jack, in turn, chooses Liz as his successor because she ‘always has his back’ and he can trust her.”

It’s not every day you find an Amadeus spoof in the middle of a sitcom, and “Succession” pulls it off with aplomb. Liz’s attempts to be a businesswoman are hilarious, as are Tracy’s efforts to create a porn videogame. (Sadly, we don’t hear about the results; hopefully it’ll come back in a later episode.) Add to that Dr. Spacemen at his most clueless and we get a terrific program.

Sandwich Day: “Liz gets a phone call from her ex-boyfriend Floyd, who needs a place to stay overnight after his flight is cancelled. Meanwhile, it’s Annual Sandwich Day at TGS, and Jack is demoted to the 12th floor, causing him to question his future with the company.”

Floyd’s a boring character, but at least his return gives the show an excuse to doll up Liz big-time, and a sexy Liz is A-OK with me! Jack’s thread has some funny bits – especially when he ends up in the misery that is the 12th floor – and Sandwich Day entertains as well. All of this leads into the season finale well.

Cooter: “Liz adjusts to life without Jack when she assumes a new political role in Washington, DC. When the job is not what she expected, Jack partners with another government employee (Matthew Broderick) in a sceme to get fired.”

It’s easy to poke fun at Washington, but it’s tough to pull off with actual creativity. “Cooter” does that well, and it throws out plenty of other amusing moments. Liz’s life becomes complicated, and Kenneth’s attempts to get to Beijing are entertaining. Throw in the return of Tracy’s porn videogame and Season Two finishes on a high note.


The DVD Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B/ Bonus B

30 Rock appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on these single-sided, double-layered DVDs; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The series packed a lot into two discs, and the compression created issues.

Sharpness could be a little iffy. Some shots demonstrated mild softness, though not with great frequency. For the most part, the shows looked accurate and well-defined. Only a few examples of jagged edges and shimmering popped up, and I noticed very little edge enhancement. No concerns with source flaws occurred; I saw minor graininess and that was about it.

Unfortunately, the compression made the shows awfully noisy much of the time. Those artifacts added some blockiness as well. These effects weren’t heavy, but they seemed more prominent than I’d expect from a recent release. Note that they appeared to be a little heavier on DVD One, probably because it featured twice as many episodes.

Colors seemed positive. The shows usually featured natural hues that came across in a dynamic, rich manner. Blacks were dark and full, and shadows looked fine. A couple of shots were a little dense, but those examples weren’t a significant issue. The shows didn’t look bad, but the noise and artifacts dragged them down to a “C+”.

In addition, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of 30 Rock was fine. The soundfield stayed pretty limited like I’d expect from a comedy. Most of the audio came from the front channels and emphasized general atmosphere and music. The score and songs presented strong stereo imaging, and various effects seemed well-placed. They blended nicely and used the surrounds for reinforcement of those elements. Actually, I thought the back speakers could be too active at times, as they occasionally threw out some distracting information. Nonetheless, they worked fine most of the time.

No issues with sound quality emerged. Dialogue sounded clean and concise, with no edginess or other issues. Music was lively and full. Some variations occurred due to the various song sources, but I thought the music was consistently solid. Effects also appeared clean and offered decent dynamics. No one will mistake the audio as demo quality, but the material was fine for this series.

With that we head to the set’s extras. Ten audio commentaries span both discs. Here’s the breakdown:

“Jack Gets In the Game”: actor Will Arnett. I thought the commentaries for Season One almost uniformly stunk, and Arnett’s chat doesn’t give me much optimism for Season Two’s tracks. Arnett has little to say. He makes some jokes, laughs at the episode, and sits silent much of the time. The commentary starts things on a sour note.

“The Collection”: actors Jane Krakowski and Jack McBrayer. The performers tell us a little about sets, characters and performances, and a few behind the scenes observations. Though a considerable improvement over Arnett’s chat, this one never becomes better than average. Too much of the track simply praises the show, so we don’t learn a ton. Still, it’s acceptable and moderately enjoyable.

“Somebody to Love”: actor Fred Armisen. The guest star purports to provide dirt about the way the show works, which inevitably means lots and lots of false information. This kind of joke commentary can be somewhat amusing, and Armisen’s take on the genre is fine. Nonetheless, I’d prefer a track that provides real details, not made-up ones.

“Cougars”: actor Judah Friedlander. I figured Friedlander would follow his fellow actors and make with the yuks, but to my pleasant surprise, he throws out a lot of good info here. Sure, he makes a few jokes, but he mostly looks at his character, aspects of the episode, thoughts about cast and crew, and trivia about his hats. This becomes a good little track that’s probably S2’s best.

“Episode 210”: creator/actor/executive producer Tina Fey and composer/producer Jeff Richmond. The married team discuss the impact of the writer’s strike on the episode, music and script topics, sets and locations, the director and his work, cast and performances, and other production subjects. They provide a reasonable amount of information along with some jokes. It’s not a great track and not as good as Friedlander’s, but it has enough good moments to make it worthwhile.

“MILF Island”: actor Scott Adsit. We hear about the cast, sets, and some shot specifics. On occasion, Adsit provides useful info. There’s too much dead air, though, and not enough content to make this a compelling piece.

“Subway Hero”: McBrayer and actor Tim Conway. We get a few facts about the episode, but most of the time Conway makes jokes and McBrayer laughs. It’s cool to hear from Conway, but it’s not a particularly involving chat.

“Succession”: executive producers Robert Carlock and John Riggi. Here we find a mix of general production facts along with some wisecracks. Like many of its predecessors, this commentary offers a smattering of informative bits, but it’s pretty average overall.

“Sandwich Day”: Fey. Without her husband, Fey lacks as much to say. She talks about the script and gets into other episode specifics. It’s another decent but unspectacular chat.

“Cooter”: Krakowski and McBrayer. This one starts out weird, as Krakowski decides to sing the commentary. She gives up before long, though, and the track then turns into a clone of the Krakowsi/McBrayer chat for “The Collection”. This isn’t a bad piece, but it doesn’t end the season on a particularly good note.

All the remaining extras pop up on DVD Two. Deleted Scenes come for five episodes and run a total of four minutes, two seconds. They accompany “SeinfeldVision” (two scenes, 0:37 total), “Rosemary’s Baby” (0:53), “Cougars” (0:36), “MILF Island” (0:41) and “Sandwich Day” (1:15)”. Most are inconsequential but still funny. “Jack’s Job Interview” for “Sandwich Day” is the most substantial, as it shows Jack’s desperate search for a new job. “Kenneth’s Burned Jacket” adds a little exposition about the world of the pages. All are fun to see.

For a look behind the scenes at the series, we go to the Table Read for the “Cooter” episode. It runs 31 minutes, 28 seconds as it shows the actors’ initial run-through of the script. This is cool to see for a variety of reasons, the main one stemming from the differences between the original text and the broadcast episode. We also hear other do the lines for some of the guest actors and find out Helen Mirren was originally intended as a cameo. It’s a cool addition to the set.

Shot while the series was on strike-related hiatus, 30 Rock Live at the UCB Theater goes for 46 minutes, 45 seconds. The cast does a stage performance of “Secrets and Lies” – well, parts of the cast, at least, as some substitutions occur. The stars all appear, though. To a certain degree, this is similar to the table read since the actors all rely on the scripts, but they act out things more in this setting. It’s not a stellar production and it was undoubtedly more fun to see in person, but it’s still a nice archival feature

Our lead returns to her roots in Tina Hosts SNL. This eight-minute and five-second featurette shows the action behind the scenes as Fey comes back to host the program that made her famous. We follow Fey through the week as events lead toward her hosting gig. We get some good glimpses of the processes behind the creation of an SNL episode.

Finally, The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Presents: An Evening with 30 Rock goes for 23 minutes, nine seconds. It features a panel of folks from the series as they do a Q&A about it. Hosted by Brian Williams, we hear from Fey, Carlock, Krakowski, McBrayer, Adsit, producer Lorne Michaels and actors Lonny Ross and Alec Baldwin. (Note that thought Adsit and Ross sit on the panel, they say nothing here.) The program includes a mix of notes about the series and those behind it. Fey dominates, though Baldwin, Carlock and Michaels throw in a fair amount as well. The questions tend to be all over the place, but the show provides some interesting thoughts about the series.

A few ads open DVD One. We get clips for 30 Rock, Baby Mama, The Office Season 4 and Saturday Night Live Season 3.

Semi-hidden extra feature: if you let the menu on DVD Two’s “Bonus Features” menu run, you’ll hear “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah” in its entirety.

I really enjoyed the debut season of 30 Rock, and Season Two continues to series’ strong run of good episodes. The occasional minor dud emerges, but most of the year’s programs prove to be amusing and enjoyable. Some compression artifacts make the visuals mediocre, but audio seems fine, and the disc provides a good set of supplements. Overall, this is a perfectly acceptable release for a bright and entertaining series.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.75 Stars Number of Votes: 4
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main