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Case Number 08816

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3rd Rock From The Sun: Season Three

Anchor Bay // 1998 // 594 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Cynthia Boris (Retired) // March 15th, 2006

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All Rise...

Judge Cynthia Boris is glad she lives on Earth, because she'd have a hard time breathing liquid metallic hydrogen.

Editor's Note

Our reviews of 3rd Rock From The Sun: Season One (published October 5th, 2005), 3rd Rock From The Sun: Season Two (published October 25th, 2005), 3rd Rock From The Sun: Season Four (published May 24th, 2006), and 3rd Rock From The Sun: The Complete Season One (published November 2nd, 2011) are also available.

The Charge

"I prepared a short speech…it's only two words and one of them is 'off'."

Opening Statement

It sounds like a bad '70s sitcom. Four aliens are sent to Earth to scope out our "advanced" society. To do this, they masquerade as human beings and attempt to assimilate themselves into society—one as a teenager, one as a woman, one as a man, and one as…well, French Stewart, who defies category. It sounds like a cross between the Coneheads and Mork & Mindy. What it is, is irreverent, wildly wicked, hysterically funny, and even poignant. It's 3rd Rock from the Sun: Season Three, and it'll be a hot time on the old Earth tonight!

Facts of the Case

I'll allow James Earl Jones to give you the run down (close eyes, get that voice in your head, now read…oh, opening your eyes first might help): "Aliens all around us. This is a story of a band of four such explorers. In order to blend in, they have assumed human form. This is the High Commander (Dick, John Lithgow). He has assembled an elite team of experts: A decorated military officer (Sally, Kirsten Johnson), a seasoned intelligence specialist (Tommy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt), and…(Harry, French Stewart), well, they had an extra seat."

Following orders from the supreme commander, known as The Big Giant Head, the team settles down in Rutherford, Ohio under the family name of Solomon. Dick takes a job teaching at a local university, where he shares an office with the love of his life, Mary (Jane Curtin). Tommy goes to high school, even though he's a grown man on his planet. Sally woos police officer Don (Wayne Knight, Seinfeld), even though she's a man on her planet. And Harry…well…is Harry.

Experiencing life, emotions, the frailties of the human body, and the strangeness of the human mind for the first time, our alien travelers are often confused, but they do their best to fit in. They study pop culture and use the references liberally. They attend social functions, much to everyone's dismay, and they end their days sitting on the roof musing over the contradictions of human life. Oh, yes and along the way, they're also hysterically funny.

On this DVD set you get:

Disc One:

• Fun with Dick and Janet, Part One and Two (With guest star Roseanne Barr)
• Tricky Dick
• Dick-In-Law
• Scaredy Dick
• Moby Dick (I'm sensing a theme)
• Eleven Angry Men and One Dick

Disc Two:

• A Friend in Dick
• Seven Deadly Clips
• Tom, Dick and Mary
• Jailhouse Dick
• Dick on a Roll
• The Great Dickdater
• 36! 24! 36! Dick! (Supermodel aliens take over the Super Bowl)

Disc Three:

• Pickles and Ice Cream
• Auto EuroDicka
• Stuck with Dick
• Portrait of Tommy as an Old Man
• My Daddy's Little Girl
• The Physics of Being Dick

Disc Four:

• Just Your Average Dick (with John Cleese)
• Dick and the Other Guy
• Sally and Don's First Kiss
• When Aliens Camp
• The Tooth Harry
• Eat, Drink, Mary

The Evidence

3rd Rock from the Sun is the ultimate outsider tale. It's every story of the poor boy who tries to fit in with the rich crowd. The adult trapped in the body of a child, or a dog, or a car even! That's what makes the show work. By getting inside the mind of four totally alien beings, we get a chance to see how really weird our world is. Don't think so? Think about Halloween. We dress in costumes and allow our children to eat candy given to them by strangers, and yet the other 364 days of the year, these two things are strongly discouraged. We loudly profess that we're all alike, yet the Solomons quickly find that they're each treated differently depending on their age and sex.

The writing in the series is truly top notch. It's quick, witty, and irreverent, and just when you think you've got it covered, it hits you with a piece of lowbrow or slapstick humor. Although the show is an intelligent comedy, it never takes itself too seriously; it can't with the likes of Lithgow and Stewart in front of the cameras.

John Lithgow (The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, Shrek) is an underrated comedy genius. He brings an innocence and pathos to Dick Solomon that keeps you rooting for him episode after episode. He acts with such honest emotions and can communicate more with an eyebrow lift than any other actor on this third rock. Lithgow is also an amazing ensemble player, and what an ensemble to play with! Jane Curtin (Saturday Night Live) is Dick's greatest foe and his cherished true love. She's also human and thus one of the stabilizing factors of the show. Gordon-Levitt as Tommy and Johnson as Sally manage to hold their own, while French Stewart is the love-him-or-hate-him guy. Stewart is wacky and over the top and is usually responsible for the broader moments of comedy in the series.

3rd Rock from the Sun has a very distinctive style: bright and bouncy music, scene transitions that look like an interplanetary pinball machine, and tags that run under the end credits, so don't hit that menu button just yet. But here's the really funny thing: I was watching an episode with my son, who commented that it reminded him very much of That '70s Show, though he didn't know why. Interesting, because both shows are Carsey/Werner productions. The plots are different, the casts are different, but yes, there is a strange similarity between the two shows, and I'll be darned if I can put my finger on what it is either.

There are some fun extras in this set: two episodes with commentary, two cast interviews, a very funny blooper reel, and two clips montages, one with the best of Harry and one covering the entire season. The best extra, however, is the packaging! It's a digipack in a slipcase, with four discs and really fun photo graphics. Inside the box, you'll find a small booklet, "A Guide to Living on Earth." Though mostly an episode guide, it also includes photos and quirky quotes from the series. But the best part is the slipcase, which is neon green with a metallic sheen and it talks! Since I only have the one set, I don't know if they all say the same thing but mine is to die for—it's Dick shouting out "Oh my God, you're gorgeous!" Needless to say, I hit the button every time I need an ego boost. Kudos for a package that truly captures the spirit of the show. Extra points are also awarded for using the theme music in the navigation screen and linking the episode previews to the matching episode play page instead of lumping them all together at the end. Definitely my favorite packaging out of the hundreds in my collection.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

You won't believe it, but there's no bad here. Great package, great presentation, sharp transfer, and a funny, funny show.

Closing Statement

Dick (indignant): "We didn't come to this planet to watch television."
Harry: "No, but it's given us a reason to stay."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

The Verdict

This court finds 3rd Rock from the Sun: Season Three guilty of causing sustained laugher and they're sentenced to keep it up for three more seasons.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 95
Audio: 95
Extras: 85
Acting: 90
Story: 90
Judgment: 90

Perp Profile

Studio: Anchor Bay
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 594 Minutes
Release Year: 1998
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• Comedy
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Audio Commentaries
• Bloopers
• New French Stewart Interview
• "Wild About Harry" -- Favorite Harry Moments
• Interviews With The Cast: "The Superest 2-Part Episode EVER!"
• Season Three Highlights
• TV Spots
• 16-Page Collectible Booklet

Accomplices

• IMDb
• Official Site
• Season One Review
• Season Two Review








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