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3rd Rock from the Sun (sometimes referred to as simply 3rd Rock) is an American sitcom that aired from 1996 to 2001 on NBC. The show is about four extraterrestrials who are on an expedition to Earth, which they consider to be a very insignificant planet. The extraterrestrials pose as a human family to observe the behavior of human beings.

3rd Rock from the Sun
3rd Rock From the Sun logo.png
Genre Sitcom
Science fiction
Created by Bonnie Turner
Terry Turner
Starring John Lithgow
Kristen Johnston
French Stewart
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Jane Curtin
Simbi Khali
Elmarie Wendel
Wayne Knight
Ileen Getz
Theme music composer Ben Vaughn
(seasons 1–3)
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
(seasons 4–5)
Ben Vaughn & Jeff Sudakin
(season 6)
Composer(s) Quincy Jones III
(seasons 1–3)
Jonathan Wolff
(seasons 4–5)
Paul Buckley
(seasons 4–5)
Jeff Sudakin
(season 6)
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 6
No. of episodes 139 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) John Lithgow
Bonnie Turner
Terry Turner
Marcy Carsey
Tom Werner
Caryn Mandabach
Linwood Boomer (season 1)
Bill Martin
Mike Schiff (seasons 4–5)
David Sacks (seasons 4–5)
Bob Kushell
Christine Zander (seasons 5–6)
David Goetsch
Jason Venokur (season 6)
Producer(s) Patrick Kienlen
David Goetsch
Jason Venokur
David M. Israel
Jim O'Doherty
Andrew Orenstein
Michael Glouberman
Gregg Mettler
Tim Ryder
Aron Abrams
Gregory Thompson (co-producer)
Camera setup Film; Multi-camera
Running time 22 minutes
Production company(s) You're a Jackass! Productions
Bonter Productions
The Carsey-Werner Company
Distributor Carsey-Werner Distribution
The Program Exchange
Release
Original network NBC
Original release January 9, 1996 (1996-01-09) – May 22, 2001 (2001-05-22)
External links
Website

Contents

OverviewEdit

The premise of the show revolves around an extraterrestrial research expedition attempting to live as a normal human family in the fictional city of Rutherford, Ohio, said to be 52 mi (84 km) outside of Cleveland, where they live in an attic apartment. Humor was principally derived from the aliens' attempts to study human society and, because of their living as humans themselves while on Earth, to understand the human condition. This show reflects human life from the perspective of aliens and many sources of humor are from the learning experiences the alien characters have. Most of the episodes are named after the protagonist "Dick". In later episodes, they are more accustomed to Earth and often are more interested in their human lives than in their mission.

The show also takes humor from its mirroring of all human anthropological expeditions and their assumptions of superiority to the "natives", as well as their inability to distinguish themselves from the natives. Dr. Mary Albright (Jane Curtin) is a professor of anthropology at (fictional) Pendelton State University, and many of the issues with which the four aliens struggle appear in her conversation and work. Furthermore, these four alien researchers end up looking more or less like joyriders as they get drawn further and further into human life.

Dick Solomon (John Lithgow), the High Commander and leader of the expedition, is the family provider as a physics professor at Pendelton (with Ian Lithgow, John Lithgow's oldest son, playing one of his less successful students). Information officer and oldest member of the crew Tommy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has been given the body of a teenager and is forced to enroll in high school (later college), leaving security officer Sally (Kristen Johnston) and "the one with the transmitter in his head", Harry (French Stewart) to spend their lives as 20-somethings hanging out at home and bouncing through short-term jobs. The show also involves their relationships with humans, mostly their love interests.

The family often communicates through Harry with their off-world (and usually unseen) boss, the Big Giant Head, who when he finally visits Earth, appears in the body of William Shatner. Harry unexpectedly (and often in inconvenient circumstances) stands up, his arms stiff (acting as the antenna), and proclaims: "Incoming message from the Big Giant Head."

CastEdit

3rd Rock maintained a constant ensemble cast; the four main characters are Dick, Sally, Tommy, and Harry. Several other main characters who left or joined the show through its original run supplemented these four. The three male aliens' names are a play on the phrase "Tom, Dick and Harry".

Main charactersEdit

 
From left to right: John Lithgow as Dick, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (top) as Tommy, Jane Curtin (bottom) as Mary, Kristen Johnston as Sally, and French Stewart as Harry

Recurring charactersEdit

  • David DeLuise as Bug Pollone, one of Dick's students
  • Ian Lithgow as Leon, one of Dick's students (portrayed by John Lithgow's oldest son)
  • Danielle Nicolet as Caryn, one of Dick's students
  • Chris Hogan as Aubrey Pitman, one of Dick's students
  • Ileen Getz as Dr. Judith Draper, professor at Pendelton and colleague of Mary
  • Shay Astar as August Leffler, Tommy's first girlfriend (seasons 1–3, sparsely appears in seasons 3 and 4)
  • Larisa Oleynik as Alissa Strudwick, Tommy's second girlfriend (seasons 4–6)
  • Ron West as Dr. Vincent Strudwick, Alissa's father and rival to Dick (seasons 2–6)
  • William Shatner as The Big Giant Head, the aliens' boss
  • Jan Hooks as Vicki Dubcek, daughter of Ms. Dubcek and Harry's on-and-off girlfriend
  • John Cleese as Dr. Liam Neesam, a professor who briefly has a relationship with Mary, and is later revealed to be an evil alien (seasons 3 and 6)
  • Chyna as Janice, a muscular female police officer who is briefly Harry's girlfriend
  • Michael Milhoan as Coach Strickland, a high school physical education teacher at Tommy's high school

Guest starsEdit

ProductionEdit

Theme musicEdit

The show's opening theme music was composed by Ben Vaughn, and for the first three seasons, it was originally a 1950s-style rock-and-roll instrumental piece; the theme was extended slightly in season three, when Simbi Khali, Elmarie Wendel, and Wayne Knight were officially made series regulars and added to the opening credits. Only one alternate version of the theme was used during the course of the show's run. For Christmas episodes, jingle bells were added to the theme. For the sixth and final season, a modern jazz underline version of the theme was used during that season. The only major change to the theme was in season four through five, when the original Ben Vaughn version was replaced by a big band cover of the theme, performed by the group Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and was only used during that season. During season one, James Earl Jones provided a voice introduction describing the crew.

Title sequenceEdit

The opening title sequence, which was produced by the London graphic design firm SVC Television, opens with computerized shots of planets and celestial bodies, some either with the planets dancing or moving in warp speed. It opens and closes with a shot of Earth (which at the open is where the show's title logo appears, after a sunburst appears on the side of Earth). For the sixth and final season only, the typeface of the cast and creators' names was altered.

DistributionEdit

BroadcastEdit

The six seasons had 139 episodes in the series.

Season Episodes Originally aired
Season premiere Season finale
1 20 January 9, 1996 (1996-01-09) May 21, 1996 (1996-05-21)
2 26 September 22, 1996 (1996-09-22) May 18, 1997 (1997-05-18)
3 27 September 24, 1997 (1997-09-24) May 20, 1998 (1998-05-20)
4 24 September 23, 1998 (1998-09-23) May 25, 1999 (1999-05-25)
5 22 September 21, 1999 (1999-09-21) May 23, 2000 (2000-05-23)
6 20 October 24, 2000 (2000-10-24) May 22, 2001 (2001-05-22)

Of 139 episodes of the series, 108 contained "Dick" in the title (in reference to John Lithgow's character). While some of the episode titles with "Dick" in them are innocent (i.e., "Tom, Dick and Mary", "Dick Is From Mars, Sally Is From Venus"), others are more risque and often are double entendres (i.e., "Sensitive Dick", "A Dick Replacement", "Frozen Dick", "Shall We Dick"), due to the fact that the word "Dick" is both a short form of Richard and a slang term for penis. One episode from season six used an abbreviation for a title, "B.D.O.C.", since the full title ("Big Dick on Campus") was deemed too risque.

During the show's sixth and final season, John Lithgow commented to several media outlets that "3rd Rock" had been moved to more than fifteen different time slots in six years, causing its ratings to decrease substantially.

SyndicationEdit

In the United States, the series is distributed for syndication by Carsey-Warner Distribution, and entered broadcast syndication in September 1999, where it continued until the fall of 2004. In 2004, the show moved into limited-run barter syndication, where it remains; The Program Exchange handles distribution for Carsey-Werner.[1] ABC Family aired reruns between 2002 and 2006. Reruns of the series aired on TV Land from 2008 through 2010. In the fall of 2010, ReelzChannel began airing the series.

This series rerun is now also aired on Malaysia's national broadcast TV channel RTM's TV2 in the 12:30am time slot on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

In the United Kingdom, the series originally aired on BBC Two from 1996 to 2001 and ITV2 later reran the entire series from 2005 to 2006. Cable network Virgin Media currently has 40 episodes from seasons 1 and 2 available 'on demand' from the Comedy Central menu option. The series began airing from the beginning on Channel 4 from May 12, 2014.[2] A repeat of Channel 4's episodes are broadcast on 4Seven.

In the Republic of Ireland, 3e run reruns of the show during the late night slot after Conan at 12:30 am.

Netflix made the complete series available online in March 2011. It was removed several months later in the fall of 2011 but returned on March 15, 2015, but was removed again exactly two years later.

In the fall of 2011, Canada's TVTropolis cable channel began airing the show, and featured a long weekend marathon run of episodes.

The entire series also set to air on Laff.

DVD releasesEdit

Region 1
Anchor Bay Entertainment released all six seasons of 3rd Rock from the Sun on DVD for the first time in 2005–2006.[3][4][5][6][7][8] Seasons 1 & 2 contain the edited, syndicated versions of the episodes instead of the original broadcast versions. As of 2010, these releases have been discontinued and are out of print. On these DVDs, the bloopers segments (on the last disc of each season) are in 16:9 format, indicating the series may have been filmed in 16:9 format.

On May 4, 2011, Mill Creek Entertainment announced they had acquired the rights to re-release the series on DVD in Region 1.[9] They have subsequently re-released seasons 1–4. These releases contain the unedited, original broadcast versions of the episodes.[10][11] Seasons 5 and 6 were re-released on January 8, 2013.[12][13][14]

On May 14, 2013, Mill Creek released 3rd Rock from the Sun – The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1.[15]

Region 2
Network DVD released all six seasons on DVD in the UK. While seasons 1–4 feature unedited versions of the episodes, seasons 5 and 6 feature syndicated, edited episodes. Network re-released the series in 2008 in individual set and a complete collection.

  • The Complete Season One (released May 17, 2004)[16]
  • The Complete Season Two (released June 21, 2004)[17]
  • The Complete Season Three (released August 30, 2004)[18]
  • The Complete Season Four (released October 25, 2004)[19]
  • The Complete Season Five (released January 24, 2005)[20]
  • The Complete Season Six (released January 24, 2005)[21]
  • The Complete Series (released October 25, 2004)[22]
  • Series One (re-released November 3, 2008)[23]
  • Series Two (re-released November 3, 2008)[24]
  • Series Three (re-released November 3, 2008)[25]
  • Series Four (re-released November 3, 2008)[26]
  • Series Five (re-released November 3, 2008)[27]
  • Series Six (re-released November 3, 2008)[28]
  • The Complete Series (re-released November 3, 2008)[29]

Region 4
Magna Home Entertainment released all six seasons on DVD in Australia between 2005 and 2007. These releases have been discontinued and are now out of print.

On November 15, 2010, Beyond Home Entertainment re-released all six seasons on DVD in Region 4.[30][31][32][33][34][35] The complete collection was also released three days later, on November 18.[36]

As of January 2012, all seasons are available through Netflix. On February 4, the series was removed, although returned to availability on March 15, 2015. The series has since been removed.[37]

Seasons 1 and 2 were available to download in the UK through iTunes, but are no longer and no episodes or seasons have been made available digitally since.

The entire series is currently available to Amazon Prime users through Amazon Video in the US.

ReceptionEdit

Nielsen rankingsEdit

Season TV season Rank
1 1995–1996 22[38]
2 1996–1997 28[39]
3 1997–1998 44[40]
4 1998–1999 77[41]
5 1999–2000 82[42]
6 2000–2001 89[43]

Awards and nominationsEdit

In 1997, 3rd Rock won the most Primetime Emmy Awards (five from eight nominations) for a television series:

  • 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 — Outstanding Lead Actor — Comedy Series — John Lithgow
  • 1997, 1998, 1999 — Outstanding Supporting Actress — Comedy Series — Kristen Johnston
  • 1996, 1997 — Outstanding Hairstyling for a Series — Pixie Schwartz
  • 1996 — Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series — James Burrows
  • 1998 — Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series — Terry Hughes
  • 1997 — Outstanding Special Visual Effects — Glen Bennett, Visual Effects Artists; Patrick Shearn, Visual Effects Supervisor; Chris Staves, Visual Effects Artists
  • 1997, 1999, 2000 — Outstanding Sound Mixing — Comedy Series
  • 1998 — Outstanding Sound Mixing — Comedy Series — "A Nightmare on Dick Street"
  • 1997, 1998 — Outstanding Costume Design — Series — Melina Root
  • 1997, 1998 — Outstanding Comedy Series
  • 1997 — Outstanding Choreography — Marguerite Derricks
  • 1998 — Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series — Jan Hooks as Vicki Dubcek
  • 1998 — Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series — John Cleese as Dr. Neesam
  • 1999, 2000 — Outstanding Multi-camera Picture Editing for a Series
  • 1999 — Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series — Kathy Bates as Charlotte Everly and Laurie Metcalf as Jennifer
  • 1999 — Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series — William Shatner as the Big Giant Head
  • 2000 — Outstanding Cinematography for a Multi-camera Series

John Lithgow received an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for each year the show was broadcast, winning the Emmy in 1996, 1997, and 1999. Accepting the 1999 award, he said, "Many wonderful things have happened to me in my life, but the two best are 3rd Rock and my dear family."[44]

Golden Globe Awards

  • 1997 — Best Actor in a Television Comedy or Musical — John Lithgow

Screen Actors Guild Awards

  • 1996, 1997 — Best Male Actor — Comedy Series — John Lithgow

Other mediaEdit

A tie-in book, 3rd Rock from the Sun: The Official Report On Earth, was released in 1997. It is essentially a report of the Solomon's findings during their stay on Earth. Primarily a source of humor, the book includes such features as "What to do if you encounter Jell-O", a fan biography of Katie Couric written by Harry, and Sally's version of a Cosmo quiz. Portions of the book are included in the booklets inside each season set of the series.

Despite the report's being set within the fictional world of 3rd Rock, a foreword written by John Lithgow himself is included in which he explains how he was abducted by the 3rd Rock producers and forced to work on their production. A Post-it note is attached to the foreword, apparently written by Dick Solomon, stating he does not know why the foreword is there, but that Lithgow is an Earth actor who appeared in "some helicopter movie".

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ 3rd Rock from the Sun Archived 2015-07-02 at the Wayback Machine. at The Program Exchange. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  2. ^ "3rd Rock from the Sun". channel4.com. Retrieved 14 May 2014. 
  3. ^ "3rd Rock From The Sun: Season 1 DVD @ DVD Empire". Dvdempire.com. 2005-07-26. Retrieved 2011-12-15. 
  4. ^ "3rd Rock From The Sun: Season 2 DVD @ DVD Empire". Dvdempire.com. 2005-10-25. Retrieved 2011-12-15. 
  5. ^ "3rd Rock From The Sun: Season 3 DVD @ DVD Empire". Dvdempire.com. 2006-02-21. Retrieved 2011-12-15. 
  6. ^ "3rd Rock From The Sun: Season 4 DVD @ DVD Empire". Dvdempire.com. 2006-02-05. Retrieved 2011-12-15. 
  7. ^ "3rd Rock From The Sun: Season 5 DVD @ DVD Empire". Dvdempire.com. 2006-08-15. Retrieved 2011-12-15. 
  8. ^ "3rd Rock From The Sun: Season 6 DVD @ DVD Empire". Dvdempire.com. 2006-11-14. Retrieved 2011-12-15. 
  9. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-09-28. Retrieved 2013-10-07. 
  10. ^ "3rd Rock from the Sun DVD news: Announcement for 3rd Rock from the Sun – The Complete Season 1 and 3rd Rock from the Sun – The Complete Season 2". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved 2012-12-05. 
  11. ^ "3rd Rock from the Sun DVD news: Announcement for The Complete Season 3 and The Complete Season 4". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved 2012-12-05. 
  12. ^ "3rd Rock from the Sun – The Complete Season Five (Mill Creek) DVD Review – Sitcoms Online". sitcomsonline.com. Retrieved 2017-11-12. 
  13. ^ "3rd Rock from the Sun DVD news: Announcement for 3rd Rock from the Sun – Season 5 AND Season 6". TVShowsOnDVD.com. 2007-05-25. Retrieved 2012-12-05. 
  14. ^ "3rd Rock from the Sun – The Complete Season Six (Mill Creek) DVD Review – Sitcoms Online". sitcomsonline.com. Retrieved 2017-11-12. 
  15. ^ "3rd Rock from the Sun DVD news: Announcement for 3rd Rock from the Sun - The Complete Series - TVShowsOnDVD.com". tvshowsondvd.com. 
  16. ^ "3rd Rock From The Sun – The Complete Season 1 [DVD] [1996]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 24 March 2017. 
  17. ^ "3rd Rock From The Sun – The Complete Season 2 [DVD] [1996]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 24 March 2017. 
  18. ^ "3rd Rock From The Sun – The Complete Season 3 [DVD] [1996]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 24 March 2017. 
  19. ^ "3rd Rock From The Sun – The Complete Season 4 [DVD] [1996]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 24 March 2017. 
  20. ^ "3rd Rock From The Sun – The Complete Season 5 [DVD]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 24 March 2017. 
  21. ^ "3rd Rock From The Sun – The Complete Season 6 [DVD] [1996]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 24 March 2017. 
  22. ^ "3rd Rock From The Sun – Complete [DVD] [1996]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 24 March 2017. 
  23. ^ "Third Rock From The Sun – Series 1 – Complete [1996] [DVD]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 24 March 2017. 
  24. ^ "Third Rock From The Sun – Series 2 – Complete [1997] [DVD]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 24 March 2017. 
  25. ^ "Third Rock From The Sun – Series 3 – Complete [1998] [DVD]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 24 March 2017. 
  26. ^ "Third Rock From The Sun – Series 4 – Complete [DVD]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 24 March 2017. 
  27. ^ "Third Rock From The Sun – Series 5 – Complete [DVD]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 24 March 2017. 
  28. ^ "Third Rock From The Sun – Series 6 – Complete [2001] [DVD]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 24 March 2017. 
  29. ^ "Third Rock From The Sun – Series 1–6 – Complete [DVD]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 24 March 2017. 
  30. ^ "3rd Rock From The Sun – Season 1 | DVD, DVD Genres, Comedy : JB HI-FI". Jbhifionline.com.au. 2010-11-15. Retrieved 2011-12-15. 
  31. ^ "3rd Rock From The Sun – Season 2 | DVD, DVD Genres, Comedy : JB HI-FI". Jbhifionline.com.au. 2010-11-15. Retrieved 2011-12-15. 
  32. ^ "3rd Rock From The Sun – Season 3 | DVD, DVD Genres, Comedy : JB HI-FI". Jbhifionline.com.au. 2010-11-15. Retrieved 2011-12-15. 
  33. ^ "3rd Rock From The Sun – Season 4 | DVD, DVD Genres, Comedy : JB HI-FI". Jbhifionline.com.au. 2010-11-15. Retrieved 2011-12-15. 
  34. ^ "3rd Rock From The Sun – Season 5 | DVD, DVD Genres, Comedy : JB HI-FI". Jbhifionline.com.au. 2010-11-15. Retrieved 2011-12-15. 
  35. ^ "3rd Rock From The Sun – Season 6 | DVD, DVD Genres, Comedy : JB HI-FI". Jbhifionline.com.au. 2010-11-15. Retrieved 2011-12-15. 
  36. ^ "3rd Rock From The Sun: Complete Collection | DVD, DVD Genres, TV : JB HI-FI". Jbhifionline.com.au. 2010-11-18. Retrieved 2011-12-15. 
  37. ^ "New To Netflix March 2015: Patch Adams, Mad Men, Archer". Geeks of Doom. 
  38. ^ "1995–1996 TV Ratings Archived 2009-11-09 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved July 25, 2008.
  39. ^ "1996–1997 TV Ratings Archived 2010-01-06 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved July 25, 2008.
  40. ^ "1997–1998 TV Ratings Archived May 24, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved July 25, 2008.
  41. ^ "1998–1999 TV Ratings Retrieved July 24, 2008. Archived 2009-10-22.
  42. ^ "Top TV Shows for 1999–2000 Season
  43. ^ "2000–2001 TV Ratings Retrieved July 24, 2008.
  44. ^ "Academy of Television Arts & Sciences". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Archived from the original on 12 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-18. 

External linksEdit

Preceded by
The X-Files
1997
3rd Rock from the Sun
Super Bowl lead-out program
1998
Succeeded by
The Simpsons
and
Family Guy
1999 Super Bowl