TITLE: 30 ROCK - SEASON 4
DVD Release Date: September 21, 2010 (Universal Studios Home Entertainment)
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 22
Running Time: 491 minutes
Running Time of Special Features: 250 Minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
*Never-before-seen extended versions of “Secret Santa” and “I Do Do”
*Audio commentaries by cast and crew
*Behind the Scenes of “The Moms” and “I Do Do”
*Food Network’s Ace of Cakes: 30 Rock (and Roll)
*Full-length Tennis Night in America
Revisit the complete fourth season of the Emmy, Golden Globe, Peabody, and SAG Award-winning comedy 30 Rock – with all of the comedy and none of the commercials (product placement aside). The show features show creator Tina Fey as the head writer for an SNL-like TV show. She reports to *my* favorite character on the show, network executive Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin). The actions and interactions surrounding Baldwin’s character are honestly what drew me to the show, but I’ve since been won over by the hijinks of Fey and her fellow crazy and insane employees, from the hapless NBC page Kenneth (Jack McBrayer) to the stars of the show that 30 Rock is about -- Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) and Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski). I could go down the list naming off the entire on-air cast (there’s a full writing staff portrayed on-air and they’re all wonderful) but I’d be here until Labor Day 2013. This season’s hijinks are a full thesaurus and dictionary two-pack of madness: robot actors, mouthy janitors, puppet murderers, bedbugs, Japanese body pillow three-ways, monogamy scandals, sick peacocks, and yelling at the moon with Buzz Aldrin.
Welcome to 30 Rock.
Early on, as you can read in past reviews, I expressed a noted distaste for the show’s star Tina Fey. Over time though, I’ve really warmed to her on this show. The surrounding cast continues to deliver, too. With each passing season, I grow to more and more love this absolutely bonkers show.
The last time I did an Episodes section for 30 Rock, I essentially wound up recapping the entire season. In doing so, I managed to break the R key on my keyboard. In due deference to the well-being of my new computer’s keyboard, this time around I’m only going to focus on a couple of my absolute favorites from the season, in addition to recapping the usual guest stars and a rundown of episode order and runtimes.
The third episode of the season is titled “Stone Mountain.” The plot? Jack and Liz go on a search for new talent...in Kenneth’s Georgia home town. Remarkably simple plot, but the absolute absurdity this show brings to the table results in something I can only describe as one of the transcendent plots of the run for me. Being thrust into the environment that produced Kenneth creates quite the predicament for our woeful heroes indeed.
What better to cheer up a lonely person on Valentine’s Day than a root canal? That relatively commonplace cure for a case of the lonelies is where Liz finds herself in the season’s 13th episode Anna Howard Shaw Day. Meanwhile, Jenna faces disappointment when a perennial stalker finally moves on with his life. An absolutely great episode to be sure.
Because of the absolute glut of semi-recurring characters, I’m mostly going to focus on one-shot guest roles. And really, where else can one start but with Betty White, who appears in the show as herself in the aforementioned episode “Stone Mountain”, which also features Jimmy Fallon. The episode “Audition Day” features appearances by Martin Scorsese, Brian Williams, Christopher Walken, and Gilbert Gottfried. Al Gore appears in “Sun Tea,” while Whoopi Goldberg appears in “Dealbreakers Talk Show No. 0001.” Matt Lauer and James Franco appear in “Klaus and Greta”. Jon Bon Jovi appears in “Anna Howard Shaw Day” while Today Show cast members Meredith Vieira, Lester Holt, Hoda Kotb, and Kathie Lee Gifford appear in “Floyd.” Will Ferrell appears in “Lee Marvin vs. Derek Jeter.” Buzz Aldrin appears as himself in “The Moms,” while Matt Damon appears in the season finale “I Do Do.”
Season 4: 21:42
Into the Crevasse: 21:51
Stone Mountain: 21:42
Audition Day: 21:44
the Problem Solvers: 21:43
Sun Tea: 21:43
Dealbreakers Talk Show #0001: 21:41
Secret Santa: (Extended Episode): 23:56
Klaus and Greta: 21:40
Black Light Attack!: 21:43
Winter Madness: 21:40
Anna Howard Shaw Day: 21:45
Future Husband: 21:41
Don Geiss, America, and Hope: 22:05
Lee Marvin vs. Derek Jeter: 21:41
The Moms: 21:43
Emmanuelle Goes to Dinosaur Land: 21:44
I Do Do (Extended Episode): 26:04
Thanks to some sort of accountant at NBC Universal having not arrived at the same decision as other studios have, the packaging for this set is *still* your usual well-visualized digipak instead of the now-near-standardized boring and flimsy translucent plastic case. The various panels feature details on each episode, broken down by disc. The front cover of both the outer box and holding package itself are identical, and are featured at the top of this review. The rear cover of both feature various -- and differing -- photos from the season, with the package holding a few more photos than the outer shell. Inside the package is your typical promotional insert. Discs are solid orange except for the show logo, disc number, and picture of one cast member each (Fey, Baldwin, and Morgan), which feature the natural disc surface. First two discs house 8 episodes each, while the final six shows are on the final disc.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The main menu is once again subtly deceptive. The only animations you see on the main menu are the initial transition into the menu on disc load, and the logo jumping into a larger font and back whenever a certain horn blare plays in the loop of the main theme. Coordinating that animation to time precisely with the horn blares takes a bit of skill, so my sincere admiration to whoever arranged that little bit. Animations kick in with the selection of any option, with an exit animation, with a short clip from an episode playing as a transition in between, and with the intro animation for the new menu. As mentioned earlier you get a perpetual loop of the main theme. You can also find a play all function, for those so inclined towards a marathon.
Video and Audio Quality:
Modern shows are perfectly preserved (isn’t digital storage great?) and are able to be presented up to the limits of a particular medium. In this case, you get a slightly lower resolution than a native HD picture -- this isn’t Blu-ray -- but for a non-HD video the picture is spectacular. You of course see the video presented in anamorphic widescreen, so how the video is interpreted will depend on your player, television, and set preferences in both. Audio is a magnificent 5.1 track. Chapter stops may or may not be included, for the second year straight my player is glitching out. If you’re on old or unusual hardware, you may have trouble but normal setups shouldn’t pose problems. One fun bonus: like last season, though not advertised on the box there are Spanish subtitles in additions to the English SDH track.
For the sake of brevity, and so that I don’t give away any details about their comments, only the participants in commentary will be listed -- no details of the commentary track itself will be spoiled.
Stone Mountain: Donald Glover & Gillian Jacobs. 21:52
Audition Day: Lorne Michaels & Alec Baldwin. 21:43
The Problem Solvers: Jane Krakowski & Jack McBrayer. 21:44
Dealbreakers Talk Show #0001: Scott Adsit & Don Scardino. 21:42
Black Light Attack!: John Lutz & Sue Galloway. 21:43
Verna: Tina Fey. 21:43
Anna Howard Shaw Day: Jane Krakowski & Jack McBrayer. 21:45
Don Geiss, America, and Hope: Tracey Wigfield & Tom Ceraulo: 22:05
Emmanuelle Goes to Dinosaur Land: 21:44
Total running time of commentary: 208 minutes.
Deleted Scenes (5:58): There are 9 in total spread throughout the season.
Behind the Scenes of “The Moms” (7:03)
Behind the Scenes of “I Do Do” (5:22)
“Tennis Night in America” (1:00): Anyone who’s watched Sunday Night Football is familiar with Faith Hill’s opening credit escapades. This is a similar video, with a tennis theme, with Jenna.
“Food Network’s Ace of Cakes: 30 Rock (and Roll)” (20:30): This is a full episode of the Food Network series Ace of Cakes revolving around 30 Rock.
Photo Gallery: It’s a photo montage, runs 2 minutes.
Total Running Time of Special Features: 250 minutes.
I’ve been a fan of sitcoms for my entire life, and this is one of my favorite sitcoms still on the air today. It’s ridiculously funny, with amazingly compelling characters. The set is reasonably priced, includes a wonderful complement of special features, really, what more could you ask for in a TV DVD set? If they keep cranking out quality episodes and quality sets, the show’s still got quite a bit of life left in it both on the air and in stores, and here’s hoping that such a long run comes to fruition given the horrible network it’s currently on.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 5/5
Audio Quality: 5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 5/5
Special Features: 5/5
-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher on 10/21/10
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