30 Rock: Season 6
DVD | Box Set
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Primetime Emmy, SAG, Peabody and Golden Globe Award-winning comedy 30 Rock returns for more Korean dictators, mantra stealing, erotic normaling and plant children in its outrageous sixth season. Primetime Emmy Award winner Tina Fey is back as Liz Lemon, the struggling TGS writer who seems to have found a new groove along with M&M pancake-filled domestic bliss. But with GE executive Jack Donaghy (Primetime Emmy Award, Golden Globe, and SAG Award winner Alec Baldwin) scheming his way through KableTown, Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) finding his voice as an idiot, Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski) taking her love life to new levels of extreme and NBC Page Kenneth Parcell (Jack McBrayer) being, well, Kenneth, will the chaos be too much for this new and improved Liz to handle? The hilarity continues with loads of exclusive bonus content in addition to 22 episodes of the critically acclaimed series from executive producer Lorne Michaels (Saturday Night Live).
The sixth season of sitcom 30 Rock dives into a kind of pop surrealism beyond any other show on television. Consider the episode "Leap Day": Liz Lemon (Tina Fey), the head writer of a Saturday Night Live-esque sketch comedy show, discovers that there's a holiday tradition she's never heard of in which Leap Day William, a blue-suited and white-mustachioed bald man, rises from the depths of the Marianas Trench to trade children's tears for candy. Through this episode, Liz and narcissistic Jenna (Jane Krakowski) compete to sleep with a billionaire, high-powered executive Jack (Alec Baldwin) has a rhubarb-induced hallucination that mimics A Christmas Carol, and the ever-erratic Tracy (Tracy Morgan) tries to use up a $50,000 restaurant gift card before it expires, but it's the increasingly unnerving figure of Leap Day William--who goes from preposterous to downright frightening--who will haunt you for weeks after watching the show.
The rest of the season is peppered with masterful bits of lunacy. An Australian children's musical group has undercurrents of white supremacism; Jack manufactures couches that are so uncomfortable they function as torture devices; Jenna tries to record a song that's impossible to parody, only to have "Weird Al" Yankovic create the song that Jenna's song would have been a parody of; after being mugged, Jack transforms himself into a superhero called The Tuxedo; Jenna and her lover Paul turn normal couple behavior into a fetish of its own. Meanwhile, some plots run through the entire season: Liz learns to be comfortable with her new boyfriend Criss (James Marsden); Jack struggles to rescue his wife from North Korea while feeling attracted to his mother-in-law; and the eternally naive Kenneth (Jack McBrayer) rises to the heights of the Standards & Practices department, then tumbles to become a janitor. It's a jam-packed season, consistently funny and bursting with invention. This kind of vitality from a six-year-old sitcom is rare and to be cherished. --Bret Fetzer
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- Audiocomentary on "Dance Like Nobody's Watching" by writer Tracey Wigfield and writer/producer Tom Ceraulo
- Audiocomentary on "Alexis Goodlooking and the case of the Missing Whisky" by Judah Friedlander
- Audiocomentary on "Standards and Practices" by Jack McBrayer
- Audiocomentary on "Live from Studio 6H" by Jane Krakowski and composer/producer Jeff Richmond
- West Coast Version of the Live Show (23:23 min)
- Behind the Scenes of "Live from Studio 6H" (7:24 min)
- Warm up Featurette before the Live Show (8:42 min)
- Deleted Scenes
As you can see they have cut down the number of Audiocomentaries immensely, as there used to be up to 10 per Season Set. And again there is no gag reel, which is something I would so love to see from a show like this. Also, I wished there were more interviews with cast and crew.
Overall this was a great season. It amazes me how this show manages to stay fresh after 6 years. Nothing feels worn out, actually to the contrary they manage to bring in new elements and going back to some of the core storylines of the show. I loved the addition of James Marsden as Liz's new boyfriend Criss. The writers managed to create a loveable character and actually used him in a good way throughout the Season, giving Liz and Criss a possible happy ending for the upcoming final and seventh season. I also loved this years Live Episode and Queen of Jordan Episode. I also need to mention Jenna, for whom the writers really stepped up their, already high, game. Her remarks and storylines were really a highlight of the Season for me, especially in the beginning.
All in all I highly recommend the sixth season of 30 Rock, although I wished they put more effort into the DVD Extras.
Season 6 doesn't disappoint! Plus, another live episode and more Queen of Jordan are such a treat.
Now, the bad. I've seen every episode of every season and like most up until season 6. There are big changes that have changed the character and quality of the show.
First, there are too many jokes. I know that sounds counter to the goal of a comedy show but we're getting quantity over quality. Good jokes aren't given time to breathe and comedic timing has been off with many of the actors stepping over one another's lines. It's as though the actors are more concerned with plowing through a string of jokes than reacting to jokes and allowing the lines to be heard and sink in.
Second, there is too much focus on trivial characters. I like Lutz as a punching bag but a whole episode dedicated to making him feel like part of a group?
Third, too much catharsis. It seems this season saw a lot of stories trying to wrap up by the end of the episode with some big character change that was completely unnecessary. It felt forced.
Four, too much suspension of disbelief. The writers have fallen back on stereotypes rather than good story lines about flawed but real humans. Several absurd things happen and rather than react in disbelief the characters become a part of it to the point of not being human. Every character is guilty of that this season but the biggest offenders are Tracy and Jenna. Even a fool has some level of sensibility. When the writers sacrifice or not consider that for the sake of scripted jokes then the character's contribution fails because we don't expect anything normal to balance the abnormal with. What would be so funny about Tracy Jordan walking around with a fish in his ear? Nothing because we expect him to do it.
It seems as if all thought process that would make a character believable has been completely thrown out to focus on the stereotype instead. For example, we all know Kenneth is a 'dumb hick', but his biggest moments in the past were where in spite of this he seemed to gain the upper hand. Here the joke 'Kenneth is a dumb hick' is the only punchline and it is made repeatedly. I liken this to the last season of Seinfeld where absurdism reigned over reality (i.e. would Kramer REALLY have had a TV show set in his living room and would his friends REALLY just go along with it?).
Five, too much political agenda. I felt like I could hear special interest groups saying, 'don't forget to include a nice little positive thing about us... for laughs.' Stories seemed to suffer for something entirely unnecessary to the comedy.
I am a fan of the show. As I said, I've seen every episode and love the show up until this season. I know this cast is capable of very funny work but bad writing isn't going to get them anywhere. The writers need to step back, put these characters back on Earth, stop worrying about fan expectations (i.e. 'get Jack and Liz together', 'Be nice to Lutz', 'Say something funny about our special group') and stop relying on character stereotypes as the sole source of humor. If you can't do that then perhaps it is time to pull the plug.