30 Rock Season Two

30 Rock Season Two
No one can make the case that last year’s writers’ strike had a positive impact on viewers’ favourite TV shows — after all, it reduced this season two box to a mere 15 episodes — but it sure adds some fuel to this Emmy-winning sitcom’s DVD extras. After going a far too cutesy route with season one (Jack McBrayer’s page shouldn’t take a starring role in anything), season two comes back with some bite, especially when creator/star Tina Fey and her music composer husband Jeff Richmond sit down for a commentary on "Episode 210.” Written before but filmed after the writers’ strike started, it has no title because literally not one word was written after the strike began; Fey spends much of the commentary pointing out moments when she’s clearly biting her tongue on-screen, swallowing the clever improv she’s come up with because even a last minute ad-lib would break union rules. The strike also led to a live theatre performance of an upcoming episode; a home video shot look at that is included here as well. But aside from the occasionally political extras, the on-screen action of season two is what’s elevated this show to all-star status; the writing and performances got even sharper and more confident this season, bolstered by a Will and Grace-like parade of high profile guest stars: Jerry Seinfeld, Edie Falco (The Sopranos), Rip Torn (The Larry Sanders Show), Will Arnett (Arrested Development), Carrie Fisher (Star Wars), David Schwimmer (Friends) and Matthew Broderick (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off). That would normally be a disturbing trend, an indication of a ratings-starved grasp for attention, but 30 Rock handles guest appearances better than any show on TV, even Fey’s old gig Saturday Night Live. A classic 30 Rock gambit: one episode features an outbreak of spontaneous musical number, and they have Gladys Knight as a guest that week; naturally, she doesn’t sing a note. Classic. It’s that kind of commitment to comedy regardless of rules and expectations that makes 30 Rock a front-runner for best comedy on TV (my Office mates are the winners in that category). Just one more accolade for Tina Fey, who’s having a better year than almost anyone in the world of entertainment. Plus: deleted scenes, table read, backstage at SNL, more. (Universal)