Probably the closest thing these days to classic Woody Allen comedies, "30 Rock" shows exec producer/star/writer Tina Fey not only moving on from "Saturday Night Live", but managing to create a comedy leaps and bounds funnier. I have no problems calling "30" the best comedy on television, although there's less and less competition.
The series stars Tina Fey as Liz Lemon, the head of "The Girly Show", a "SNL"-like series that airs on NBC. Socially awkward and geeky, Liz manages to keep a confident front at work, only occasionally revealing her insecurities. She keeps watch over: Jenna (Jane Krakowski), an ultra-diva; Tracey (Tracey Morgan), who is an example of what happens when money and insanity mix (Morgan proved that he may be close to his character in real-life on a bizarre and now legendary WGN News appearance promoting the show), and a series of writers, including slacker Frank (Judah Friedlander). Lording over them all is network head Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin), who has to work with GE's seemingly infinite subsidiaries. There's also cheerful NBC page Kenneth (Jack McBrayer), who often manages to be more resourceful than one might expect.
The core of the series continues to work superbly in season three. Baldwin and Fey are perfect against one another - despite the sharp variation between the two and his occasional cracks at her awkwardness - there's a genuine affection between the two that, while possibly never anything more than that, is a well-played element of the show. The rest of the series is a set of well-defined "types", but Fey makes the characters richer and more memorable (and the performances certainly add to that - there's not a bad or even mediocre performance in the bunch - this remains one of the best ensemble casts on TV.)
The only issue with the third season is the romantic entanglement between Jack and his mother's caretaker, Elisa (Salma Hayek). Baldwin and Hayek don't have a whole lot of chemistry, and the whole subplot generally spins its wheels (although it occasionally does throw off some laughs.) The rest of the season generally fires on all cylinders, with some highlights including: "The Funcooker" (Jack has to come up with a name for GE's new mini-cooker, while Tracey gets fined for cursing in the midst of the St. Patrick's Day parade), "Believe in the Stars" (Liz spills her secrets and anxities to Oprah on the midst of a flight), "Apollo, Apollo" (Jack seeks out what was the one thing that lead to his happiest moment as a child) and "Jackie Jormp-Jormp" (Liz finds freedom with a "club" of women when she's suspended.)
37. 3- 1 30 Oct 08 Do-Over
38. 3- 2 6 Nov 08 Believe in the Stars
39. 3- 3 13 Nov 08 The One with the Cast of 'Night Court'
40. 3- 4 20 Nov 08 Gavin Volure
41. 3- 5 4 Dec 08 Reunion
42. 3- 6 11 Dec 08 Christmas Special
43. 3- 7 8 Jan 09 Senor Macho Solo
44. 3- 8 15 Jan 09 Flu Shot
45. 3- 9 22 Jan 09 Retreat To Move Forward
46. 3-10 5 Feb 09 Generalissimo
47. 3-11 12 Feb 09 St. Valentine's Day
48. 3-12 26 Feb 09 Larry King
49. 3-13 5 Mar 09 Goodbye, My Friend
50. 3-14 12 Mar 09 The Funcooker 51. 3-15 19 Mar 09 The Bubble
52. 3-16 26 Mar 09 Apollo, Apollo
53. 3-17 9 Apr 09 Cutbacks
54. 3-18 16 Apr 09 Jackie Jormp-Jomp
55. 3-19 23 Apr 09 The Ones
56. 3-20 30 Apr 09 The Natural Order
57. 3-21 7 May 09 Mama Mia
58. 3-22 14 May 09 Kidney Now!
VIDEO: "30 Rock" is presented by Buena Vista Home Entertainment in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The picture quality is quite good, as the image remained crisp and well-defined for the majority of the running time.
Some minor edge enhancement and a couple of slight artifacts were visible, but the image was almost entirely free of issues. Colors appeared natural and accurate, with no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: The series is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. Surrounds are understandably silent throughout the majority of the dialogue-driven presentation. Audio quality is just fine, with crisp, well-recorded dialogue and music.
EXTRAS: Commentaries: "Goodbye, My Friend" (Judah Friedlander and John Lutz), "The Bubble" (John Hamm, Jack McBrayer), "Apollo, Apollo" (Jack Burditt, Robert Carlock - both of whom spend a lot of time talking about Burditt's rather wild days as a youth), "Flu Shot" (Tina Fey, Jeff Richmond), "The Ones" (Jane Krakowski, Jack McBrayer), "Kidney Now" (Tina Fey, Jeff Richmond) and "Mamma Mia" (Alan Alda). The commentaries are a little uneven as they sometimes get sidetracked, but they're usually quite funny and very informative about the production of the series.
We also get a photo gallery, Alec Baldwin's SNL monologue, the "1-900-OKFACE" spoof phone ad, a brief featurette about working with the Muppets for an episode, 13 deleted scenes, Tracey Jordan's rant (fake, but funny), "making of" for the finale, full table read for the finale and finally, 3 award speeches.
Final Thoughts: "30 Rock" keeps clicking in the third season, which offers continued strong performances and several highlight episodes. The DVD set offers excellent audio/video quality, as well as quite a few nice extras. Highly recommended.