I thoroughly enjoyed the first season of “30 Rock” when I reviewed it last year. I already knew Tina Fey would be good, but I was surprised at how funny Tracy Morgan was considering he had always annoyed me on “Saturday Night Live” and it was nice to see Alec Baldwin in a role that really fits him and his deadpan delivery of some fantastic lines. The second season of “30 Rock” doesn’t really “up the funny” from the first season, but it is consistent and remains a sitcom I would gladly continue to buy season after season.
The major difference between the first and second seasons is a mild shift of attention as Alec Baldwin’s character, Jack Donaghy, becomes the primary center of attention as do his conservative politics. Jack’s relationship with a Democratic Congresswoman played by Edie Falco plays a large part in the season especially considering he is angling to take over operations at GE from current CEO Don Geiss (Rip Torn). Tina Fey’s role on the show remained constant and Tracy Morgan’s was cut back slightly, probably in large part due to the first season being centered on the disruption he brought upon his arrival whereas with the second season that was already well established.
Highlights of the season involve David Schwimmer as an excitable environment guru called Greenzo, Carrie Fisher as an old school 1960s television writer, the Ludachristmas episode and the mock reality show “MILF Island” was classic. Of course, Tracy Jordan’s passion to create the world’s first pornographic videogame is a highlight that will hopefully play itself out completely in the third season. Classic plot threads aside, the other charm of “30 Rock” are simply in some of the lines such as, “I’m going to have my eyeballs whitened,” or when Liz and her lawyer ex-boyfriend, Floyd (Jason Sudeikis), are arguing and Floyd says, “I’m the Michael Clayton of Cleveland!” To which she responds, “Well I hope your car blows up!” Maybe you have to have seen and loved Michael Clayton as much as I did to appreciate that, but it floored me.
The season also brings several great special features including several audio commentaries, unfortunately only two of them have Fey and none of them have Morgan. Fey’s commentary with her drunken husband (seriously, on margarita mix) and show producer/composer Jeff Richmond on “Episode 210” is definitely a highlight. We learn the episode is called “Episode 210” because it was written before the writers’ strike and filmed before and during the strike and no one was able to write the title of the episode. Fey also points out a moment in the show where her character doesn’t speak only because she couldn’t write anything for the moment. Fey also reveals in a commentary on “Sandwich Day” that she would rather see your genitals than your feet. Which is always good to know.
There are some deleted scenes, a look-in at the table read for the season finale, a behind-the-scenes look at Fey’s appearance on SNL and an evening at The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences with the “30 Rock” folk. To be honest all of that is pretty boring outside of the table read, which isn’t that great either. However, there is one feature that is spectacular and must be watched. The entire cast (Edie Falco and James Carville excluded) get together at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York and perform the episode live for an audience with improvised commercial breaks. It is a lot of fun to watch even if it was shot on home video cameras.
Overall, even though it is only 15 episodes, six shy of the first season’s 21, I still think this is well worth the buy. “30 Rock” is the one major network sitcom left to buy as “Scrubs” is aiming to say a fond farewell.
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