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Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski, Jack McBrayer, Scott Adsit, Judah Friedlander
Writing Credits:

Revisit all the hilarity of the complete fourth season of the Primetime Emmy Award, Golden Globe, Peabody, and SAG Award-winning 30 Rock. Show creator Tina Fey and fellow Primetime Emmy Award, Golden Globe, and SAG Award winner Alec Baldwin star as TV writer Liz Lemon and conservative GE executive Jack Donaghy, who together preside over the everyday mayhem at a late-night variety show. Pretending to help them are mercurial stars Tracy Jordan and Jenna Maroney (Tracy Morgan and Jane Krakowski) as well as wide-eyed NBC page Kenneth Parcell (Jack McBrayer).

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1/16X9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Surround 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 491 min.
Price: $49.98
Release Date: 9/21/2010

• Audio Commentaries for 8 Episodes
• Deleted Scenes
• “Behind the Scenes of ‘The Moms’” Featurette
• “Behind the Scenes of ‘I Do Do’” Featurette
• “Tennis Night in America”
• “Food Network’s Ace of Cakes: 30 Rock (And Roll)”
• Photo Gallery
• Previews


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Harman/Kardon DPR 2005 7.1 Channel Receiver; Toshiba A-30 HD-DVD/1080p Upconverting DVD Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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30 Rock: Season 4 (2009)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 27, 2012)

In its first season, 30 Rock made a name for itself as a smart, high-quality comedy. It did nothing to alter that impression during its strike-abbreviated second year, so I looked forward to Season Three. I’ll look at all 22 episodes in broadcast order, which is how the shows appear here. The plot synopses come straight from the series’ website


Season 4 : “Jack (Alec Baldwin) informs Liz (Tina Fey) that it's time for TGS to start appealing to middle America, and wants her to search for a new cast member.”

The episode starts with an obnoxiously quirky note; Jack welcomes us to Season 4, which we’re then told is the name of a restaurant. It gets a little better from there but remains a bit over the top and under funny. The thread in which Tracy tries to reidentify with the common folk works, but the rest seems rather mediocre.

Into the Crevasse: “Liz's book finally hits the stores, but she faces the wrath of Tracy (Tracy Morgan) when he finds out just how much he influenced what Liz wrote.”

Season Four rebounds after a lackluster start with a much more consistent “Crevasse”. It manages to balance its subplots well and delivers clever moments punctuated by a bizarre porn version of Liz’s life. All of these allow it to become a good episode.

Stone Mountain: “Liz and Jack travel south to find their next great TGS talent.”

“Mountain” lacks great creativity – the trip south reminds me a bit of a Simpsons episode in which Homer discovers a country singer – and the show’s cameos are a little annoying. Still, the program’s usually pretty good, as it’s even able to make a ventriloquist amusing. Nothing classic emerges, but it’s mostly solid.

Audition Day: “It's audition day at TGS and the cast and crew each have want their favorites chosen.”

“Season 4” flops because it spreads itself too thin; I think the series works better with a tighter focus, and that aids “Audition Day”. Though we get some minor diversions, much of the episode concentrates on the search for the new actor, and that benefits it. “Day” delivers good comedy as it digs into the nuttiness behind the scenes.

The Problem Solvers: “While the TGS crew await the arrival of their new cast member, Liz gets an offer of a lifetime.”

After the very good “Day”, “Solvers” falls back a bit, but not to a substantial degree. I must admit the constant parade of cameos gets a little wearying, but I like the intro of the new actors and the use of Jenna and Tracy as “Problem Solvers”. This ends up as a good but not great episode.

Sun Tea: “Liz stops at nothing to purchase her dream apartment, even if that means taking the advice of Jack, Tracy, and Jenna (Jane Krakowski).”

While “Tea” balances a number of plots, it works okay because it lacks the frenetic manic nature of “Season 4”. That doesn’t mean it soars, as some aspects – such as a gratuitous cameo from a noted environmentalist – flop. Still, it has more good than bad.

Dealbreakers Talk Show #0001: “Production begins on Liz's new talk show, Dealbreakers, and she realizes what it's like to walk in Jenna's shoes.”

“Dealbreakers” delivers an erratic show. The aspects related to Liz’s show work, but the subplot in which Frank takes over for her seems a little easy and cutesy; Judah Friedlander’s attempts to emulate Fey flop. Tracy’s desire to become a quadruple threat also falters. As always, we get a reasonable amount of amusement, but this isn’t one of the better episodes.

Secret Santa: “Jack takes a trip down memory lane when his high school crush resurfaces in his life.”

Christmas episodes tend to be hit or miss, and that’s true for this one. I do like the guest appearance from Julianne Moore as Jack’s old crush, but the rest of it falls into the “up and down” category.


Klaus and Greta: “Jenna enters in a fake relationship with James Franco while Jack tries to gain access to a drunken voicemail he left Nancy (Julianne Moore).”

As I mentioned back with “Season 4”, multi-plot episodes can be too frenetic, like they try to balance a lack of real narrative with lots of flash. Though “Klaus” balances four different tales, it does so surprisingly well. Franco’s cameo is a little gratuitous but still fun, and Kenneth’s inability to work a computer becomes awfully funny. These and other factors add up to a top-notch program.

Black Light Attack!: “Danny (Cheyenne Jackson) reveals to Jack he's having secret make-out sessions with a TGS writer; Jenna auditions for Gossip Girl.”

While not quite up to the last episode’s standards, “Attack” has its moments. Though predictable, the Jenna subplot is probably the most amusing, and Fey’s willingness to make herself look awful remains delightful.

Winter Madness: “To boost morale at TGS, Liz and Jack take the gang up north for a work field trip.”

“Madness” keeps things up with a good mix of narrative via Jack’s relationship and goofy comedy. I like the fictional executive who Liz blames all the staff’s woes on as well as Tracy’s crusade against racist patriots. The show works on a consistent basis.

Verna: “Jenna's estranged mother (Jan Hooks) comes into town and Jenna turns to Jack for advice on how to deal with her.”

I don’t know if Hooks is aging terribly or if she was intentionally made to look bad for the character, but yikes! Whatever the case, it’s nice to see her; she’d not done any acting since 2004’s Jiminy Glick in La La Wood and she adds a trashy glory to her character. The subplot about Liz and Frank’s competition also amuses, especially when we see her surveillance tape.

Anna Howard Shaw Day: “Liz schedules her root canal on Valentine's Day, but has a hard time finding somebody to drive her home.”

That theme’s a good one, especially when Liz trips out on anesthesia. A bigger plot twist occurs when Jack romances a new potential love interest – one more his business-oriented speed. The Jack story may turn soap opera-ish eventually, but here it works, primarily because Avery (Elizabeth Banks) seems like such an apt match. Toss in Jenna’s stalker rejection and this becomes a fine show.

Future Husband: “Liz sets out to find the identity of a mystery number in her phone labeled ‘Future Husband’”.

After a good run, “Husband” fizzles a little. Oh, it’s not a bad episode, and I suspect some of its story threads will pay off later. It’s more plot-oriented than most, though, and that’s a bit of a negative; that side of things means less of the usual silliness.

Don Geiss, America and Hope: “Jack struggles to find his new place in the business after hearing of the Kabletown buy out and Liz continues to wonder if Wesley (Michael Sheen) is the ‘one’”.

“Hope” loses some points because Jack’s big innovation isn’t new: I’ve seen “Porn for Women” calendars, and the show doesn’t do anything unique with the idea. The Liz subplot works pretty well, though, partially due to a nice turn from Sheen.

Floyd: “Revenge is in the air when Liz discovers an engaged Floyd (Jason Sudeikis) is back in town to compete for a dream wedding on The Today Show; meanwhile Danny and Jack plan their own revenge against the writers.”

Bringing back Floyd offers a decent twist, but the show doesn’t exploit it in a particularly compelling manner. The revenge subplot fares somewhat better, though, and the way Kenneth keeps Tracy and Jenna occupied amuses.


Lee Marvin Vs. Derek Jeter: “Jack is torn between Nancy and Avery (Elizabeth Banks) while Jenna offers to be Liz's wingman.”

As someone who spent a lot of time on the dating scene, I know what it’s like to meet multiple appealing prospects and have to choose. Granted, they weren’t as hot as Banks or Moore, but I still relate to Jack’s dilemma, and that note of truth gives the show a bit of added zest. I also like the affirmative action subplot and the program delivers a good 20 minutes.

Khonani: “Determined to show her staff she knows how to cut loose, Liz offers to throw a bridal shower for Cerie (Katrina Bowden).”

The thread about Jack’s decision continues to amuse, especially when it makes an analogy to the big Conan O’Brien/Jay Leno flap. Liz’s party is less compelling, but it still has its moments.

Argus: “Liz steps in when Tracy and Dotcom (Kevin Brown) argue over who will be Grizz's (Grizz Chapman) best man.”

The title character is a peacock bequeathed to Jack from Don Geiss; yeah, that concept is as dopey as it sounds. The Argus thread flops, but the rest of the show has its moments, especially when we meet Jenna’s unusual new boyfriend.

The Moms: “Liz sets out to reunite her mother (Anita Gilette) with her one true love, Buzz Aldrin.”

That synopsis makes the episode sound “high concept”, and elements of it are, but overall, it works pretty well. It’s always fun to have Jan Hooks and Elaine Stritch back on the show, and I like a couple of the other threads – including a great choice for Lutz’s mom.

Emmanuelle Goes to Dinosaur Land: “Wedding fever hits TGS!”

The best elements here come from a subplot not mentioned in the synposis: Tracy’s suppressed childhood memories. The string of awful experiences he eventually recalls amuse in a perverse way and add the funniest moments. The rest of the show works too, though it can be a little in the soap opera vein as it leads toward the season finale.

I Do Do: “Liz finally meets her soul mate, just as Jack is forced to finally decide between Avery and Nancy.”

“Do” ends the season on a decent – though somewhat melodramatic – note. It ties up some plot threads and opens others, all with a reasonable dollop of comedy. Don’t expect a great finale, but it’s fairly enjoyable.

The DVD Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B/ Bonus B

30 Rock appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on these single-sided, double-layered DVDs; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Across the four seasons of the series, the DVDs have looked a lot alike, so expect consistent visuals here.

Overall sharpness was good but could be up and down. Most close-ups and similar shots offered nice delineation, but wider elements tended to be a little soft. Still, the nature of the photography meant the shows usually offered positive definition. I noticed only minor jaggies and shimmering, and no edge haloes appeared. Source flaws didn’t show up, but some light artifacts could be found.

As usual, the programs went with natural hues, and they looked okay. Some scenes fared better than others, so the colors could be a bit runny at times, but they mostly came across as reasonably attractive. Blacks were acceptably dark, while shadows were decent; though they could seem somewhat flat, they were mostly fine. All of this resulted in the usual “C+” grade for the visuals.

Similar consistency came from the series’ Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. The shows emphasized dialogue, so the soundfield didn’t get a lot to do. General atmosphere was the most prominent element, which meant a feeling for the settings and not much more. If anything interesting occurred, I missed it – and that was fine, since the shows didn’t need sonic theatrics.

Audio quality was always fine. Speech seemed consistently natural and distinctive, without edginess or other concerns. Music showed decent range and punch, while effects were clear and accurate; they didn’t have much to do, but they appeared solid. The audio was perfectly fine for the series.

With that we head to the set’s extras. Seven audio commentaries span all three discs. Here’s the breakdown:

“Stone Mountain”: Community actors Donald Glover and Gillian Jacobs. Why are two actors from a different series here? Because Glover used to write for 30 Rock and grew up in Stone Mountain, GA – and Jacobs just really likes the series. They tell us a little trivia – some real, some fake – and joke around most of the time. It’s moderately entertaining and that’s about it. I do appreciate the fact that Jacobs points out the illogical name of the Eat ‘n’ Park restaurant chain, though.

“Audition Day”: executive producer Lorne Michaels and actor Alec Baldwin. They talk a little about the show, but mostly Baldwin peppers Michaels with questions, most of which seem intended to make Lorne look wealthy and out of touch with the common man. And that’s funny, especially given that I’d guess Baldwin’s pretty rich and distant from the working classes as well.

Of course, it’s intended to be funny; Baldwin isn’t trying to slander Michaels. Though we hear only a few series-related notes, the track moves well and is consistently enjoyable, in its own weird way.

“The Problem Solvers”: actors Jane Krakowski and Jack McBrayer. The actors offer a few notes about deleted/altered scenes as well as cast and crew. Mostly they giggle and joke with each other, however. They can be amusing at times but not to a significant degree, so this tends to be a spotty track.

“Dealbreakers Talk Show #0001”: actor Scott Adsit and director Don Scardino. They discuss episode specifics, cast and crew. Some joking comes along for the ride and there’s not a ton of great info, but we do learn a decent amount about the program. This becomes a reasonably useful chat.

“Black Light Attack!”: actors John Lutz and Sue Galloway. The real-life married couple offer a pleasant but not especially informative piece. They demonstrate enjoyable banter and allow the track to move acceptably well. We don’t learn much, though, so it’s a mediocre piece overall.

“Verna”: actor/writer/producer Tina Fey. I always expect Fey commentaries to be good; she’s the series’ key player, and she’s smart and funny. Inevitably, Fey’s chats disappoint. She throws out a smattering of decent notes but she tends to tell us what she likes about the show and doesn’t deliver much meat.

“Anna Howard Shaw Day”: actors Jane Krakowski and Jack McBrayer. Go back to “Problem Solvers” and read that overview. They do the same shtick here, and it’s not getting any better.

“Don Geiss, America and Hope”: writer Tracey Wigfield and script coordinator Tom Ceraulo. One of the more informative of the commentaries, this one gives us a smattering of good notes about story and character subjects. In particular, we learn a fair amount about changes to the script and cut lines/scenes. It’s not great objectively, but it’s better than most for 30 Rock.

“Argus”: Tina Fey and composer/director Jeff Richmond. This episode marked Richmond’s directorial debut, so we get some thoughts about that. The track moves pretty well and throws out a nice mix of notes about the episodes. Other Fey/Richmond chats have been spotty, but this one’s a solid look at the episode.

“Emmanuelle Goes to Dinosaur Land”: McBrayer and actor Jon Hamm. Will the McBrayer/Hamm partnership work better than McBrayer/Krakowski? Nope – if anything, this track proves to be even less informative than those earlier chats. The guys joke around a lot and say virtually nothing that educates us about the show. McBrayer’s wheezy laugh gets annoying quickly, so this is a lackluster piece.

Nine Deleted Scenes cover six episodes and run a total of five minutes, 58 seconds. These come for “Season 4” (2 scenes, 1:02 total), “Sun Tea” (1, 0:18), “Secret Santa” (1, 0:35), “Verna” (1, 0:47), “Floyd” (2, 1:06) and “Emmanuelle Goes to Dinosaur Land” (2, 2:08). All of these are minor comedic bits, so don’t expect anything substantial. They can be funny, though and the second clip for “Land” offers multiple alternate takes from Liz’s attempts to stall at Floyd’s wedding.

Two featurettes follow. We get Behind the Scenes of ‘The Moms’ (7:02) and Behind the Scenes of ‘I Do Do’ (5:21). It provides notes from Fey, Krakowski, Scardino, writer/director John Riggi, production designer Teresa Mastropierro, and actors Judah Friedlander, Patti LuPone, Anita Gillette, Grizz Chapman, and Kevin Brown. “Moms” mostly discusses bringing all the mother characters together, and “Do” looks at set design and a few other production elements. Neither one gives us a lot of details, but both are enjoyable enough, and they include some good shots from the sets.

Tennis Night in America runs one minutes, two seconds. It simply shows the entire fake show introduction featured briefly in an episode. It’s fun to see.

Next comes the 20-minute, 29-second Food Network’s Ace of Cakes: 30 Rock (And Roll). This looks at the creation of a cake for one of the end-of-season weddings as well as one for the 30 Rock wrap party and features the Cakes regulars. They can be rather annoying, but it’s moderately interesting to see the work that went into the cakes.

Finally, we get a Photo Gallery. This offers a running montage that lasts two minutes, eight seconds and shows a mix of shots from the set across various episodes. It’s a decent compilation.

A few ads open DVD One. We get clips for The Office Season Six, Parks and Recreation Season Two, MacGruber, and Outsourced.

With the fourth season of 30 Rock, you get what you expect: generally solid comedy. Some episodes fare better than others, but the series rarely falters for long, and it packs in a lot of laughs along the way. The DVDs provide decent visuals, fairly good audio and a minor set of supplements with the usual inconsistent commentaries. The presentation doesn’t dazzle, but the shows entertain.

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