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30 Days - The Complete 1st Season Review




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Rating
Video:   7/10
Audio:   7/10
Extras:   3/10

Very cool show
by Gord Lacey (All reviews)
7/03/2006

30 Days is an intelligent and innovative TV show from Morgan Spurlock, the Academy Award-nominated writer/director and star of Super Size Me. Spurlock invites viewers to "take a walk in someone else's shoes" as they explore some of America's most pressing issues by following the lives of ordinary people who agree to live outside their comfort zones for 30 days. This 2 disc set contains all 6 episodes from the first season.

I hadn't seen this series before, but I heard a lot about it. One of my friends kept raving about the show, but I didn't really know what to expect until I sat down. Spurlock was criticized for some of the one-sided arguments made in Super Size Me (which I haven't seen either), and I wondered if 30 Days would be one-sided as well.

Disc 1 (2:15:58)
Minimum Wage (45:09)
Anti-Aging (44:38)
Muslims and America (46:11)

Disc 2 (2:14:40)
Straight Man in a Gay World (45:42)
Off the Grid (44:06)
Binge Drinking Mom (44:52)

Video

I'm not sure what they used to tape 30 Days, but the video quality isn't the best I've seen. The picture looks soft, and slightly blurry, throughout every scene of every episode. It's possible they used cheap cameras, non-broadcast stuff; I can't say I've seen video like this on a DVD before. There's a "play all" on each disc, but Fox hasn't placed a chapter after the opening of the episode. The video is in Full Frame (1.33:1).

Audio

There's just one audio track for the set (English Stereo), but it suits the material. I didn't have any major problems with the audio (the dialog is clear and easy to understand), but it's not outstanding either. There are subtitles in English and Spanish, as well as captions.

Extras - How we rate extras

Commentary Tracks
Minimum Wage - Morgan Spurlock (creator/executive producer/participant), R.J. Cutler (executive producer), H.T. Owens (executive producer) and participant Alexandra Jamieson
Anti-Aging - R.J. Cutler, Jonathan Chinn (co-executive producer), Keith Hoffman (supervising producer) and Max Swedlow (lead story producer)
Muslims and America - Morgan Spurlock, R.J. Cutler, H.T. Owens and participants David Stacy, Shamael Haque & Sadia Shakir Haque
Straight Man in a Gay World - Morgan Surlock, R.J. Cutler and participants Ryan Hickmott and Ed Collar.

Lost Diarycams (1:18:11)
Each episode features diarycams; this is material that wasn't used in the episode. Minimum Wage (18:07)
Anti-Aging (9:24)
Muslims and America (11:46)
Straight Man in a Gay World (12:51)
Off the Grid (13:28)
Binge Drinking Mom (12:35)

Summary

I was worried that some of the issues in 30 days would be presented in a one-sided manner, often making someone look bad in the process. That wasn't the case at all; the did a great job of presenting a balanced look through each episode. My favorite episodes were "Muslims and America" and "Straight Man in a Gay World." I enjoyed watching David ("Muslims and America") and Ryan ("Straight Man in a Gay World") open up and learn something about the opposing view. Ryan probably changed his views the most, and he certainly isn't the same person he was on day 1.

The set looks a little light on bonus material, but everything on the set is quality stuff. The commentary tracks were great, and I was annoyed there wasn't anything for the final 2 episodes. The lost Diarycams were fun to watch as well.

I met Morgan Spurlock at a party when I was in Las Vegas last summer. He had just won an award at a VSDA (Video Software Dealers Association) event, and he came to the party afterwards to chill. He seemed like a cool guy, and he was excited that the show had been picked up for a second season and that DVDs would be released (he already knew about the DVDs last July). You can see a few photos of Spurlock and his award on my Flickr page.

I'm hooked on this show now, and I hope it lasts for at least a few more years. If you're interested in documentaries then you should check this out; it's great. The new season premieres on July 26.


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