Release Date: October 7, 2008
Season 2 of 30 Rock lasted only 15 episodes thanks to the Hollywood writers’ strike, but it expanded effectively on the mostly standalone stories of the first season. Network executive Jack Donaghy and TGS With Tracy Jordan producer Liz Lemon built up a stronger mentor/protégé relationship, and secondary characters like ditzy office assistant Cerie and slovenly writer Frank got moments to shine. Plus, TGS star Tracy Jordan said at least five brilliantly insane things per episode, and disturbingly naïve NBC page Kenneth was exposed to all sorts of depravity.
- Commentaries on select episodes
- Deleted scenes
- Table read for episode “Cooter”
- 30 Rock live performance at New York’s UCB Theatre during the writers’ strike
- Behind-the-scenes footage of Tina Fey hosting Saturday Night Live
- 30 Rock panel at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences
30 Rock definitely matured in its second season, as evidenced in the episodes in this two-disc set. What started out as a laugh-a-minute, often absurdist comedy developed into a more grounded story about real characters while still remaining consistently hilarious and off-kilter. Tina Fey’s performance as Liz Lemon really deepened during this season, exploring Liz’s pathological loneliness with plenty of literate, dark humor. Alec Baldwin managed a deft balance of humor and character development as well, revealing the cracks behind Jack Donaghy’s carefully managed façade of corporate indifference.
This was also a season of nonstop high-profile guest stars, some of whom (Jerry Seinfeld) were underwhelming, but most of whom brought something unique and worthwhile to the show. Recurring characters such as Jack’s rival Devon Banks (Will Arnett), Liz’s loser ex-boyfriend Dennis (Dean Winters) and medical crackpot Dr. Spaceman (Chris Parnell) all added wonderfully to the show’s burgeoning comedic universe. And whenever things dragged a little, Tracy Morgan could be counted on for another wonderful non sequitur.
The special features on this DVD set are a mixed bag; many of the commentaries are disappointingly dry, and the UCB performance and TV Academy panel are crudely shot and edited. But the “Cooter” table read is hilarious, and substantially different from the finished episode, and the deleted scenes prove that even what ends up on the cutting-room floor for this show is genius.
The Bottom Line
A great season of a great show, and not to be missed for any fans of smart, well-acted TV comedy.