InsidePulse DVD Review – 30 Days – Season One


Credit: Amazon.com

Creator:

Morgan Spurlock

Cast:

Morgan Spurlock ………. Himself (Host)

The Show

In 2004, filmmaker, Morgan Spurlock, took his documentary called Super Size Me to the Sundance Film Festival and won the best director award there. Spurlock examined the affects of eating fast food on the health of America today. He subjected himself to a diet of McDonald’s cuisine for 30 days. He ate there three times a day and only ate there. What resulted from that was Spurlock getting fat, his cholesterol skyrocketing, his organs being damaged, and him suffering from headaches, mood swings, lessened sexual energy, and even signs of addiction to the food. Super Size Me may not stop you eating fast food, but it did enlighten you on the dangers of fast food. It made you think.

Since he was so successful with that film, even being nominated for an Academy Award, Morgan decided to venture into the TV world for a bit. Morgan created ’30 days’ in the summer of 2005. He dares you to “take a walk in someone else’s shoes” for 30 days. He even volunteers to be a participant in the first episode along with his fiancé. In each episode, an individual is placed into a lifestyle that is completely different from his or her upbringing, beliefs, religion, or profession for 30 days.

This is a pretty unique idea for a television show. There are only 6 episodes in this season and the topics range from serious issues in America today to simple experiments on the body like Morgan did in Super Size Me. Morgan and his fiancé, Alex, decide to see what is life is like for people only working minimum wage jobs. Distribution of wealth is a big issue in America today. Other topics in the first season include a Christian living with a Muslim family, a homophobic Conservative living in a gay community, a man trying to stop aging and regain his youthful appearance, common American urban consumers living in a rural “eco-village”, and a mother of a college student going on an alcohol binge.

The inconsistency of this season is the main problem here. All of the topics are good to look at, but some are more serious issues than others. Poverty, religious beliefs, homosexual rights, and the environment tend to be more serious problems than alcoholism and beauty. All are problems, but not all of these problems are on the same intensity level. It’s also not hard to believe that the first episode, where Morgan is the participant, is the best episode in this season. This is more to do with Morgan Spurlock and the charisma he has on camera. Some of the other participants are not as engaging as Morgan is on-screen. On the bright side, Morgan appears as the host in each episode and adds to each episode’s story with entertaining side-steps dealing with the topic being discussed.

One might expect that these documentaries would be one-sided and skewed towards Morgan’s point of view. That’s not so, though. Morgan usually presents both sides of the argument, while placing someone in a different lifestyle. It’s up to the viewer to decide what is right and wrong. And really that is all subjective anyways. The point of ’30 Days’, which is the same as Super Size Me, is to make you think. To make you open your eyes and look at these issues in a new light. What if you had to walk in someone else’s shoes for 30 days? Would it change your way of thinking on certain things? Morgan dares you to do that here and in the second season coming in late July.

Episodes:

Disc One:

Episode 1 – Minimum Wage
Morgan Spurlock and his fiancé, Alex, move to Columbus, Ohio to try to make ends meet while earning minimum wage..$5.15 per hour. The situation gets worse when Morgan’s niece and nephew come to visit.

Episode 2 – Anti-Aging
A former athlete, now in his thirties, tries to reverse the aging process by going on a controversial anti-aging drug regimen and is shocked by the impact it has upon his marriage, career, and mental and physical well-being.

Episode 3 – Muslims and America
A devout Christian goes to live, share customs, and worship with a Muslim family in a largely Islamic community, where he learns a lot about faith, prejudice, and himself.

Disc Two:

Episode 4 – Straight Man in a Gay World
A homophobic young man goes to live and work in San Francisco’s largely gay Castro District, where he experiences what it’s like to live as a member of a misunderstood minority that still elicits feelings of fear and hatred from many Americans.

Episode 5 – Off the Grid
Two typical American consumers move to an “eco-village” in Missouri where they must live without the use of products derived from fossil fuels, including gas and electricity, for thirty days.

Episode 6 – Binge Drinking Mom
Concerned about her collegiate daughter’s alcohol consumption, a mother agrees to go on a thirty-day drinking binge, and she experiences firsthand the enormous social pressure to drink that many college students face today.

Score: 7/10

The Video:

The video is given in fullscreen color with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. Transfer is decent with minimal distortion. Colors look bright. Could probably be a little better quality, but this documentary-style of footage looks good and pleasing to the eye even for those who don’t like the way documentaries look.

The Audio:

The audio included is in English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound. There is an option for both English and Spanish subtitles as well. No problems here either. Good enough to serve its purpose.

The Extras:

Audio Commentaries

Morgan Spurlock and other crew members along with some of the participants in certain episodes comment on each episode as it plays. There are only four of these. Morgan Spurlock, R.J. Cutler (executive producer), H.T. Owens (executive producer), and Alexandra Jamieson (participant) comment on the “Minimum Wage” episode. R.J. Cutler, Jonathan Chinn (co-executive producer), Keith Hoffman (supervising producer), and Max Swedlow (lead story producer) comment on the “Anti-Aging” episode. Morgan Spurlock, R.J. Cutler, H.T. Owens, and David Stacy, Shamael Haque & Sadia Shakir Haque (participants) comment on the “Muslims and America” episode. And finally, Morgan Spurlock, R.J. Cutler, and Ryan Hickmott & Ed Collar (participants) comment on the “Straight Man in a Gay World” episode. When Morgan leads the conversation in these commentaries, which he does for all except the “Anti-Aging” one, they tend be extra insightful into what the crew and people involved think about each episode. Morgan keeps each commentary running smoothly. However, since neither Morgan nor the participant are involved in the “Anti-Aging” commentary, it’s a little slower than the others, but still good to listen to. These really add to the overall value of the DVD set.

Diary Cams

These are basically the deleted scenes for each episode. It’s all the stuff that they didn’t use in each episode. Like most deleted stuff, most was not needed for the main story. However, since all of them run around 10 minutes or longer, there is some stuff that is watchable and you might as well take a look at it, since the season is only 6 episodes. Plus, it gives you a chance to see what the participants really think since they have a chance to vent their feelings into the camera at the end of the day.

Score: 8/10

InsidePulse’s Ratings for 30 Days – Season One
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE SHOW

7
THE EXTRAS

8
REPLAY VALUE

8
OVERALL
7.5
(NOT AN AVERAGE)

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