'30 Days: The Complete Second Season'
(Morgan Spurlock, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NR / 2008 / Arts Alliance America)p>
Overview: '30 Days' features a diverse group of participants each given the opportunity to experience first-hand a world antithetical to their own comfortable existence. Each episode examines a very different subject and is hosted by Morgan Spurlock.
DVD Verdict: Like most Spurlock's endeavors, this series' first season creates a familiar setting most of us can relate to. Whether it's an issue (sexuality, drinking, religion, minimum wages, etc.) within our own lives, or our family or friends, Spurlock delivers an honest viewpoint about the concerns of our day.
In 2004, Spurlock directed and stared in the Oscar nominated documentary, 'Super Size Me,' where he vowed to eat nothing but McDonald's for a full month. His goal? To show that the fast food dynamo's effect on the human body can be catastrophic. In this 2nd season of this series, Spurlock manages to stay relatively detached from his creation, opting to only serve as narrator for most of the episodes.
Each segment begins with Spurlock explaining the concept of the given show's experiment, with episodic thesis statements so riffed with puns it would make Carrie Bradshaw blush. While he does appear every once and a while in given episodes doing outside research for the segments topic and participating in random side experiments, Spurlock is only really present in the seasons final episode, "Jail", where he spends 30 days in a minimum security jail. This episode proves to be one of the seasons best, rounding out the set nicely.
Some episodes fare better than others; the season premiere, "Immigration", proves to be one of the season's better episodes, partly because of the focus on a strong believer. By having the border-obsessed activist be devout in his ideals, there is a stronger connect to his side of the argument, and a stronger disconnect between him and the opposing ideals. As a result, the episode becomes one of better examples of the opposing sides being shown equally, with the minuteman understanding the contrasting ideal of immigration, while still standing by his own beliefs.
'30 Days' has unnerving maturity in its presentation of such controversial topics, treating each side of the given debate with equal explanation and understanding. Never is one side painted badly, or the opposing shone as the obvious answer to the nagging questions being presented. And alternately, we never have any over-dramatic clash of ideals.
The series is delightfully comfortable in being honest, never taking advantage of the tension to "create" a moment of two opposing views that lead to an all out war. There are no clichéd fights, yet no tidy endings; the two sides never really change their position or their beliefs, but simply beginning to understand the "other half" better. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Audio Commentary on Immigration and Jail