Since seasons of television shows are now available as DVD sets, I have picked up sets for some of my favorite shows, usually when I find them on sale. I recently watched 3rd Rock From the Sun - Season 1.
3rd Rock From the Sun started off as a mid season replacement show on NBC in 1996 and ran until 2001. I watched the show when it first started airing and kept watching until it was cancelled, though I did miss episodes because of the way it was bounced around the schedule. I just discovered when double checking some information about the show that the time slot was changed more than fifteen times during the run of the show. I hate when networks do that to shows.
3rd Rock From the Sun was about a group of four aliens who traveled to Earth to study humans and their behavior. In order to fit in, they took on human appearances and acted like they were a family. They ended up in the fictional town of Rutherford Ohio where they moved into a small apartment. The High Commander became Dick Solomon and he took a job as a physics professor at the local college. His immediate attraction to Dr. Mary Albright, the anthropology professor that he shared an office with, caused Dick to decide to extend their mission.
Sally was the security officer and not at all happy about being the woman. Tommy, the information officer, was supposed to be Dick's teenage son even though he was actually the oldest and most intelligent member of the group. Dealing with being a human teenager frequently frustrated him. Harry was the goofball in the group and he didn't seem to have any reason for being with the others. It was said at first that he just went along because they had an extra seat in the ship. It later came out that there was some kind of transmitter in Harry's head that allowed him to transmit and receive reports from their home planet and their boss, the Big Giant Head.
Very little about the planet the aliens were from was shared throughout the first season. Only a few things, like how they were all some sort of purple tube, were shared. Everyone on their planet was asexual and the aliens had a lot of trouble understanding the differences between men and women once they were on Earth. They never called the planet they were from by a name. They just called it the home world. More things about the home planet and their lives there would come out during later seasons of the show.
I thought that 3rd Rock from the Sun was a very funny show. Most of the humor came from how the aliens were trying to deal with life on Earth and adapt to things they had no clue about. That caused them all to end up in funny situations throughout the first season. In Post-Nasal Dick, all four of the aliens got colds, something they had never experienced on their own world. Dick was fascinated by a box of tissues the first time he saw one. Sally enjoyed sneezing at first before they all decided that they were dying. In trying to learn and understand about things on Earth, they asked some interesting questions that were very funny. The episodes did use a lot of slapstick type of humor, but it was all done very well and worked perfectly with what was going on. Some people may feel that the show is too silly, but I think it is highly entertaining. All of the characters said and did things that made me laugh. I think Dick was probably the funniest throughout the first season. He was basically a buffoon that said and did crazy things but he was still likable.
I thought that every episode from the first season of 3rd Rock From the Sun was funny. There were a few episodes that I thought were extremely funny and really stood out to me. I think Dick, Smoker was one of the funniest episodes of the entire series. Dick decided that people who smoked looked sophisticated and decided to take up the habit, quickly becoming a chain smoker. He had to go smoke in a stairwell when he took Sally to the dentist where he got locked in. He wasn't too concerned until he ran of cigarettes. The way he dealt with the nicotine withdrawal was hilarious. In I Enjoy Being a Dick, Dick decided it would be a good idea to dress up as a woman so he could go to a women's group that Mary was attending. It was really funny to see Dick dressed as a woman and how he thought he was blending in when he wasn't. I also thought it was very funny the way all four of the aliens reacted to Jell-O every time they saw it. They believed it was a nasty carnivorous species that they had encountered previously and were terrified of it.
I do think that the episodes in the first season of 3rd Rock From the Sun stand alone well. There was the main overall plot of the series that dealt with the aliens coming to Earth to learn about humans and how they were trying to fit in. Something connected to that popped up in every episode. Things did build on what had happened in previous episodes, so certain things will make more sense if the episodes are watched in order. There were a few minor continuing subplots that frequently popped up as well. Dick's obsession with Mary came up at least once in every episode. Sally trying to deal with being a woman came up in most of the episodes as well. The subplots worked well and helped to compliment the main focus of the series.
The main characters throughout the first season were Dick, Harry, Tommy, and Sally. Every episode was focused on them and their attempts to learn or fit in with humans in some way. Dick was in charge of the mission and acting as head of the family, but it seemed like he didn't have a clue what he was doing much of the time. He did have a tendency to over react at times which did make for several amusing incidents. Dick had a way of panicking that was very funny. He would do things that he shouldn't and then be clueless about why people were upset with him. I loved John Lithgow as Dick. Before seeing this show, I had only seen Lithgow in more serious parts. He fully embraced the insanity of Dick and ran with it, creating one of the funniest characters ever. Lithgow definitely deserved the awards he won for this part.
Sally was the second in command and in charge of security. She took that very seriously and was very interested in weapons and fighting. She had a horrible time adjusting to be the woman and still working to figure out things. She did start to appreciate certain aspects about being a woman, like shopping and high price cosmetics. Kristen Johnson was wonderful in the part. Tommy had to pose as a teenager even though he was actually the oldest and most knowledgeable member of the group. He reminded everyone about that fact every so often. Joseph Gordon-Levitt was really good in the part. Harry just seemed to be along for the ride at first. He was stranger than the others and really just a goofball. He was likable and every once in a while he had an insight into something that made sense. French Stewart fit the part well.
Dr. Mary Albright was the human character who was around the most. She was an anthropology professor at the college and shared an office with Dick. She really didn't seem to like Dick at first, but she started to slowly change her mind. She was independent and opinionated about certain things and did seem a bit grumpy or just mean at times. She was likable and interesting overall. Jane Curtain was great in the part. Nina was an administrative assistant who worked for Mary and Dick. She mostly considered Dick and idiot and would ignore some of his demands. Simbi Khali worked well with Curtain and Lithgow.
There were several scenes that took place in the physics class that Dick was teaching, so at least some of his students turned up every so often. Bug and Leon tended to stand out more than others because of things they said in class and how Dick responded to them. Most of the rest of the students just sort of blended together. Mrs. Dubcek was the woman the aliens rent from. She was unique herself and never noticed all the odd things going on.
August was a girl that Tommy became interested in, so she turned up in several episodes. She tended to boss him around and had a bit of an attitude. Officer Don Orville was a police officer who turned up once or twice in the first season. Sally started to date and a few of the men she went out with turned up. Mr. Randall, one of Tommy's teachers, was the one that she seemed to be the most interested in. He didn't have much to do when he was around.
Jane Curtain - Dr. Mary Albright
Joseph Gordon-Levitt - Tommy Solomon
Kristen Johnson - Sally Solomon
Simbi Khali - Nina
Wayne Knight - Officer Don Orville
John Lithgow - Dick Solomon
French Stewart - Harry Solomon
Elmarie Wendell - Mrs. Dubcek
The twenty episodes that make up the first season of 3rd Rock From the Sun are on four discs. The case unfolds and has one disc per panel. The booklet that came with the DVD set has little bits that were supposed to be exerts from Dick's reports to the Big Giant Head. Most of them were very funny to read. The last several pages of the booklet had a listing of the episodes on each disc. There were short plot summaries for the episodes.
There is the option to play all the episodes on each disc one after the other. People can also go to a list of episodes and pick them one at a time that way. When they are selected that way, the plot summary is shared after a particular episode is chosen and there is even an option to watch a preview of the episode as well as watching the entire episode. The extras were all on the fourth disc. There was a blooper reel which was funny and a short featurette called 3rd Rock: Behind-The-Scenes. There were some interviews with all the cast members, highlights from the first season and tv spots as well. It did look like the interviews had been done several seasons into the show instead of during the first season.
Brains and Eggs
Dick's First Birthday
Dick is From Mars, Sally is From Venus
Body & Soul & Dick
Truth or Dick
The Art of Dick
The Dicks They Are a Changin'
I Enjoy Being a Dick
Dick Like Me
Assault With a Deadly Dick
Father Knows Dick
See Dick Run
3rd Rock From the Sun was a very funny, entertaining show that is worth watching. 3rd Rock From the Sun - Season 1 is a great DVD set for fans of the show.
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