Judge Daryl Loomis eats dumpster steaks all the time. What's the big deal?
Our reviews of 30 Rock: Season One (published September 4th, 2007), 30 Rock: Season Two (published October 8th, 2008), 30 Rock: Season Three (published September 22nd, 2009), 30 Rock: Season Four (published September 21st, 2010), and 30 Rock: Season Five (published November 29th, 2011) are also available.
Sit down or get out of the way!
I'm a terrible television viewer. There are six or seven shows on TV right now that I really enjoy, but other than Community and Parks and Recreation, which I kept up with fairly well, I saw maybe two episodes of any of the others. In the case of 30 Rock, I didn't see a single Season Six episode, so I'm really glad to be able to review it, if only to watch it the way I truly enjoy television comedy: marathon-style.
Facts of the Case
It's been a big offseason for the cast and crew of TGS with Tracy Jordan. Liz Lemon (Tina Fey, Mean Girls) has ditched her old boyfriend and may have a secret new one; Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin, Beetlejuice) is still dealing with the fact that his wife, Avery Jessup (Elizabeth Banks, The Hunger Games), has been kidnapped by the North Koreans; Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski, Ally McBeal) has a new gig on America's Kidz Got Singing; and Kenneth Parcell (Jack McBrayer, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) is making final preparations for the coming rapture. What's in store for the gang this year? We'll find out over the subsequent 21 episodes.
By the sixth season, almost any show will have jumped the shark; 30 Rock seems to have done so in its third or fourth. Strangely, though, as the show has gotten wilder and more absurd, I have enjoyed it more than ever. While the characters and performances have remained stationary, the storylines have gone completely off the rails.
Whether it's the Avery Jessup plot and their absurd depiction of a still living Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un (both portrayed, oddly, by Margaret Cho, The Thin Pink Line) or the ongoing, Fatal Attraction-style feud between Jenna and new page Hazel (Kristen Schaal, Toy Story 3), the writers have a great handle on how to make things utterly ridiculous.
The whole season is strong, but two episodes really stand out. First is "Murphy Brown Lied To Us," about dealing with the thought of babies and American-made couches. With Jenna's breakdown to get her boyfriend (Will Forte, MacGruber) back, Jack's scheme to sell his terrible couches to the government as torture devices, and the absolutely brilliant Kouchtown promos by Stacy Keach (Escape from L.A.), the episode is best twenty minutes of television 30 Rock has ever produced. The second is "Live from Studio 6H," their second attempt at a live episode, which is far stronger than the first and is very funny. The difference is that, last year, they tried to make a regular episode of 30 Rock, but in front of a studio audience and, while it was an admirable attempt, it didn't work very well. This time, they've basically made a series of sketches, obviously the kind of thing Fey knows how to do, and it comes off as a really fantastic 22-minute episode of Saturday Night Live. With all the SNL alums already on the show and the addition of many more, it's a reminder of how good sketch comedy can be. All the additional guests, including Jon Hamm (Mad Men), Paul McCartney, and Donald Glover (Community), who I didn't realize was an original 30 Rock writer, it's an impressive bit of television toward the end of a great season of the show.
30 Rock: Season Six arrives on DVD in a good set with some image problems. Presented in standard definition 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, the colors and flesh tones look really good, black levels are deep, and whites are bright. The problem comes in the transfer, which has subtle digital artifacts all over. It's especially apparent in the live episode, but it exists to some degree in every episode, like they just forgot about the SD release in lieu of the Blu-ray, which seems to be happening more often now than when the format was new. The Dolby 5.1 Surround mix is much better, though, a strong representation of how it fares in the broadcast.
For extras, we get audio commentaries on four episodes, with producers and writers from the crew, one with Judah Friedlander (The Wrestler), and a strange one with Jack McBrayer and his young nephew, conducted over Skype, that is cute, but really doesn't work. Next, nearly twenty deleted and extended scenes show a few of the cuts that were made, some for time and some for flow. Finally, three short featurettes give behind the scenes information on the live episode, including the pre-show warm up featuring Krakowski and essentially non-cast member Cheyenne Jackson (United 93) singing a couple of songs, once again proving that both actors can truly belt it out.
Alas, all good things must come to an end, as 30 Rock will finish itself out with a shortened seventh season. How will they wrap up their all the great times they've had on the show? We'll find out in a few weeks and, if Season Six is any measure, I can't wait.
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