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Re-experience the complete fifth season of the Primetime Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning comedy 30 Rock, heralded as “funny” by some random Twitter user and “a bitterly merry comic jihad against corporate stupidity and mendaciousness” by Glenn Garvin of the Miami Herald -- which is pretty much what the Twitterer said in 140 characters or less. Primetime Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG Award winner Tina Fey stars as showrunner Liz Lemon and Primetime Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG Award winner Alec Baldwin is corporate executive Jack Donaghy in this behind-the-scenes romp about sketch show “TGS;” its neurotic stars, Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) and Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski) ; hapless NBC page Kenneth Parcell (Jack McBrayer) and the rest of the befuddled crew working to create the “magic of television.” Brought to you by the folks at GE Kabletown, it’s a season of video obituaries, cross-dressing love, page showdowns, Canadian births and other strange events in 22 blerg-worthy episodes from executive producer Lorne Michaels.
No doubt a lot of work goes into the daft, delirious comedy of 30 Rock, but it seems to spring fully formed from the brow of Tina Fey. Ridiculous plot turns and giddy wordplay unfold organically in every episode. Fey, Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski, Jack McBrayer, and the supporting cast turn every episode into a nimble dance--punctuated by pratfalls. There's something truly elegant about 30 Rock, a sense of flow and delight that runs under the surface of every episode. Over the course of season five, Liz Lemon (Fey), the eternally floundering head writer of sketch comedy show TGS, struggles to maintain her relationship with airplane pilot Carol (guest star Matt Damon); unflappable and domineering network executive Jack Donaghy (Baldwin) navigates life as a husband and father while fighting to maintain his status within the new hierarchy of Kabletown; erratic star Tracy Jordan (Morgan) lusts after awards while his wife gets a reality show (one entire episode is presented as an episode of Queen of Jordan); greedy, grasping Jenna (Krakowski) does her best to weasel her way into celebrity; and eternally cheerful page Kenneth (McBrayer) glides above all the chaos with a blissful smile.
Guest stars are as wildly varied as Susan Sarandon (as a newly released sex offender), Queen Latifah (as a congresswoman ordering more diversity on NBC), and Condoleezza Rice (as herself, a former lover of Jack). Highlights include an episode performed live (in which Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays Liz Lemon in her memories), dozens of inspired tossed-off bits like Kenneth being used as a human sushi platter, and celebrities' will to mock themselves mercilessly, like Matt Lauer fawning over Tracy in an interview. Extras include audio commentaries by completely inappropriate guests like Aaron Sorkin, deleted scenes, animated shorts of Jack Donaghy as a superhero, and more. 30 Rock: Season 5 combines lunacy and surefooted rhythm. --Bret Fetzer