TITLE: 30 ROCK - SEASON 5
Release Date: November 29, 2011 (Universal Studios Home Entertainment)
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 22
Running Time: 489 minutes
Running Time of Features: approx. 85 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Subtitles and Captioning: English and Spanish Subtitles
Special Features: Commentaries; Deleted Scenes; Behind-the-Scenes of the "Live Show"; West Coast Version of the "Live Show"; Jack Donaghy, Executive Superhero Animated Shorts; Jenna's Obituary Song
TGS is back, and, well, so is 30 Rock with the debut of 30 Rock - Season 5 on DVD! The fifth season of the series that has become a staple of the NBC Thursday night lineup returns to DVD with a three disc set containing all 22 episodes from the 2010-2011 season. The series stars Tina Fay and Alec Baldwin as TV writer Liz Lemon and NBC executive Jack Donaghy as they oversee the production of a sketch comedy series that often turns out to have much more insanity and chaos off screen than it does on screen. Rounding out the cast are the stars of TGS, Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) and Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski), and the obnoxious (yet well-meaning) NBC page, Kenneth Parcell (Jack McBrayer). In the fifth season, we see Jack deal with changes as NBC's ownership is shifted from GE to KableTown and the rest of the characters deal with their own problems from fake pregnancies to reality show tirades.
The fifth season kicks off with "The Fabian Strategy," where Liz's relationship with Carol (played by Matt Damon, in a recurring role) is being interfered in by Jack. In "When It Rains, It Pours," Liz attempts to gain favor with an ornery editor. Queen Latifah guest stars in "Let's Stay Together," where she plays a Congresswoman demanding more diversity in the NBC lineup. Tracy decides to purposely laugh and break character during a live show (against Liz's request) in "Live Show." Jack attempts to help Liz (again) in her relationship with Carol, and Jenna includes Kenneth in a scam in "Reaganing." Liz tries to deal with her father's attempt to recapture his youth in "Gentleman's Intermission." Buck Henry guest stars as Liz's father. Jack backs a fringe candidate in an election to help move the NBC/KableTown deal in "Brooklyn Without Limits." In "College," Jack becomes concerned when he finds that the microwave division has found success without his guidance.
Jack recommends that Liz see a therapist in "Chain Reaction of Mental Anguish." In "Christmas Attack Zone," Liz has to convince Jack to come clean about secrets he has been hiding from his mother (played by Elaine Stritch). Alan Alda also guest stars. Tracy's latest news has his wife (played by Sherri Shepherd) considering a career of her own in "Mrs. Donaghy." Jack gets the intelligent idea to pre-record a disaster telethon in "Operation Righteous Cowboy Lightning." Jack steals a business idea from Kenneth in "¡Qué Sorpresa!" In ""Double-Edged Sword," Jack's wife Avery begins to go in labor during a trip to Canada, leading Jack to worry that his child will be (GASP!) Canadian-born. Jenna takes Liz out to help her with her post-breakup blues in "It's Never Too Late For Now." In "TGS Hates Women," Liz goes out of her way to prove that TGS is not a misogynistic show.
The reality show cameras cause more embarrassment for Jack in "Queen of Jordan." In "Plan B," everybody is worried that the TGS temporary hiatus is more than temporary, but Liz is trying to convince everybody otherwise. Everybody is on the hunt for Tracy when he is missing in "I Heart Connecticut." In the two-part episode "100," TGS is about to be canceled, unless of course Jack can convince Hank Hooper (Ken Howard) to let them have the opportunity to do their 100th episode. Liz has a miserable time with finishing her dream apartment, all over a plastic bag, in "Everything Sunny All the Time." The season ends with "Respawn," where Liz's relaxing vacation is ruined when Tracy decides to move in next door.
The episodes appear to be unedited. It is important to note that the version of the episode "Live Show" seen on Disc 1 is the east-coast version of the episode, while the west-coast version can be seen on Disc 3 (see more in the Special Features section). Runtimes are as follows:
1. "The Fabian Strategy" (21:11)
2. "When It Rains, It Pours" (21:09)
3. "Let's Stay Together" (21:12)
4. "Live Show" (21:10)
5. "Reaganing" (21:10)
6. "Gentleman's Intermission" (21:11)
7. "Brooklyn Without Limits" (20:55)
8. "College" (21:11)
9. "Chain Reaction of Mental Anguish" (21:11)
10. "Christmas Attack Zone" (21:12)
11. "Mrs. Donaghy" (21:23)
12. "Operation Righteous Cowboy Lightning" (21:24)
13. "¡Qué Sorpresa!" (21:23)
14. "Double-Edged Sword" (21:23)
15. "It's Never Too Late for Now" (21:23)
16. "TGS Hates Women" (21:23)
17. "Queen of Jordan" (21:23)
18. "Plan B" (21:23)
19. "I Heart Connecticut" (21:22)
20. "100 (Part 1 and Part 2)" (42:10)
21. "Everything Sunny All the Time Always" (21:22)
22. "Respawn" (21:21)
Once again, the set uses the same style of packaging as all of the previous seasons--a standard digipak in a cardboard sleeve. The cover art, once again, features a cast photo, with the New York City skyline in the background in a purple outline. On the back, we see several episode snapshots, and a brief description of the season and a listing of special features. Inside, the three panel digipak contains all of the discs on one side, and a listing (along with descriptions) on the other side. All three discs have standard artwork, with the series logo and a purple silhouette of Rockefeller Center. Disc 1 contains episodes 1-8, Disc 2 contains episodes 9-16, and Disc 3 contains episodes 17-22, as well as the special features.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The menus are very much in line with the previous seasons on this set. On the main menu, you'll find the same cast snapshot as seen on the cover art, along with options of Episode Index, Audio Commentary (replaced with Bonus Features on Disc 3), Languages, and Play All. The theme song loops continuously in the background. Anytime that you select an option on the main menu you'll get a video transition to the next menu. On the Episode Index menu, you get all of the episodes on that disc listed on one screen, with a snapshot from each episode. There are chapters within each episode. Oddly enough, unlike most other Universal DVD sets, there is not a menu option to turn on subtitles, but they are there if you use the Subtitle button on your DVD remote, in both English and Spanish.
Video and Audio Quality:
30 Rock, like every other NBC Thursday night sitcom, has always been essentially perfect on DVD. The video is presented in the original aspect ratio (1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen) with no detectable flaws to be seen. The audio is presented in an excellent quality Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound, but you can also choose the Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack by using the audio button on your remote. If you require subtitles, they are available in both English and Spanish, but as previously mentioned, there is NO menu option to turn these on. Luckily, most (if not all) DVD player remotes have a button to turn on subtitles.
Like the previous 30 Rock sets, there are plenty of commentaries on the set. They are always interesting to listen to, and bring in a wide variety of commentators. In fact, the "diversity" on the commentaries means that most of the commentators (with the exception of Tina Fey and Jack McBrayer) only appear on one commentary. Episodes and commentators are as follows:
"Brooklyn Without Limits" - Tracy Morgan and Jerry Kupfer
"Chain Reaction of Mental Anguish" - Jack McBrayer and his parents
"Christmas Attack Zone" - Will Forte and Val Kilmer
"Operation Righteous Cowboy Lightning" - Judah Friedlander
"Queen of Jordan" - Tracey Wigfield and Tom Ceraulo
"Plan B" - Tina Fey and Jeff Richmond
"100" - "Don Scardino and Aaron Sorkin"
"Respawn" - Jack McBrayer and John Hamm
"Live Show (West Coast Version)" - Tina Fey and Beth McCarthy-Miller
Next, the set has deleted scenes. There are a ton of these (over 20), so we won't list them all, but they are all roughly around 30 seconds to one minute. They can all be found on Disc 3, although it would have been nicer if they would have been on a menu with the episode that contains them. It isn't a huge deal though.
"Behind-the-Scenes of the Live Show" (12:38) takes us through the entire production process of the episode "Live Show," which as the name suggests, was filmed live (and also in front of a studio audience), which is a major departure from the typical style of 30 Rock. We have interviews with the cast here, but a lot more of the interviews come from the production crew as they adapt to this slightly different format.
"West Coast Version of the Live Show" (22:53) is found on Disc 3, and is exactly what it sounds like--the west-coast version of the episode in question. It is good that they included this, but what could have been even nicer would have been to include it on Disc 1 with the option of playing both episodes side-by-side so that viewers could compare the differences. This is possible with even the most basic DVD players, so I'm not sure why they didn't try doing this.
"Jack Donaghy, Executive Superhero" (5:53) is a series of three animated shorts featuring Jack Donaghy as a superhero. I'm not sure what the purpose is of these or why they were produced (most likely as an NBC online feature), but they are somewhat entertaining to watch, as we get to see Jack Donaghy in a superhero alter-ego. In one of these, "Rokered," we get to see an animated appearance by none other than Al Roker.
Finally, we have "Jenna's Obituary Song" (1:06), which gives Jenna singing a song to prepare for her own obituary, just in case, you know.
We have yet another solid set for this great series. So far, Universal has yet to disappoint us on any of these 30 Rock DVD sets, and they haven't this time either. It would always be nice to see more special features (particularly bloopers, this series seems like it should be full of them!), but it isn't a major deal. Of course, the series is currently on hiatus on the NBC lineup due to Tina Fey's pregnancy, but it'll be back in full force this January, and I can't wait to see what they have in store next for the series, and what sort of antics the characters (particularly Tracy and Jack) get into next season. Hopefully, though, we'll see a Blu-ray release when that season is released!
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 5/5
Special Features: 3/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
-- Reviewed by skees53 on 11/25/11
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