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Anchor Bay Entertainment presents

3rd Rock From the Sun: Season 1 (1996)

"Our home for this mission is Earth, a third-rate planet."- Dick Solomon (John Lithgow)

Stars: John Lithgow, Kristen Johnston, French Stewart, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Other Stars: Jane Curtin, Wayne Knight, Lauren Graham, Phil Hartman, Bronson Pinchot, Naomi Judd, John Mahoney, Martha Stewart, Simbi Khali, Elmarie Wendel
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 07h:22m:00s
Release Date: 2005-07-26
Genre: television

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Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- AAB B-

 

DVD Review

John Lithgow was probably the last actor anyone would think of as suitable to headline a sitcom, despite his very funny performance in The World According to Garp. Lithgow is the epitome of the classically trained actor, making a lucrative career out of numerous dramatic roles, both in films and theater. A sitcom almost seemed above his talents and stature as a master thespian, but Lithgow proved all of the doubters wrong, winning an amazing three Emmys for his role as Dick Solomon, the leader of a group of aliens who come to Earth and have to adjust to our strange ways.

The rest of this "family" includes Dick's so-called sister, Sally (Kirsten Johnston), an ex-First Lieutenant who can go toe-to-toe with just about anyone. Tommy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is the group's intelligence office, and has a hard time dealing with his new position as the kid of the family. The final family member and most strange is Harry (French Stewart), whose main function is to serve as a communications device between Dick and the Big Giant Head.

3rd Rock From the Sun: Season 1 focuses quite a bit on these aliens adjusting to human life, or in their case, life as humans. It's bad enough that they have to pose as humans to complete their mission, but they consider the Big Giant Head to be even more cruel for sending them to Ohio (my home state), which is extra cruel, believe me. The wonderful premiere episode, Brains and Eggs, does a fine job establishing the Solomon's arrival and discovery of their first apartment.

What set this show apart from similar alien fish-out-of-water series is its ability to provide a nice mix of stories, an often difficult task for a premiere season. Instead of dwelling on just how hard it is to be human, that basic theme is always blended into each episode, with the overall message never becoming preachy or getting in the way of the Solomons' zany antics. French Stewart often goes way over the top as the moronic Harry, but it's difficult to think of another actor pulling this character off, even though Stewart wasn't exactly a household name before this show came along. Still, it's all about Lithgow with this show, as this opportunity to revisit these initial episodes make it easy to see how he became a multiple Emmy winner. Lithgow completely sells Dick's deer-in-the-headlights attitude about Earth with about as much realism as possible, with one of the best examples occurring in only the show's second installment, Post-Nasal Dick. The genius of the writers' decision to throw Dick into a wedding environment results in some of the show's most hilarious moments. Not only does Dick struggle with his first illness, but he also shows off his affinity for the tango and doesn't waste any time in professing his love for Mary (Jane Curtin).

Dick feels another emotion, jealousy, for the first time when he discovers that Mary has been seeing an old friend in the episode, Green-Eyed Dick. The rest of the gang gets involved in this story as well, with Sally discovering how to make herself irresistible to a man, and Harry being an emotional wreck when he's told he can't keep a little puppy. This represents French Stewart's best effort in the first season as he really makes Harry an indispensable, completely loveable character that was a little tough to figure out through the episodes leading up to this. Another truly funny French Stewart moment comes in The Dicks They Are a Changin', where Harry is overwhelmed by the dynamics of joining a CD club.

After about 12 episodes, or just about the time we hit the third disc in this set, 3rd Rock has completely hit its stride, and we know we have a series that will at least be around for a few years. Through the course of the season, we do get some clichéd sitcom storylines such as the vertically-challenged Tommy trying out for his school's basketball team (Assault With a Deadly Dick), the steadily heightening competition of a board game night (Father Knows Dick), and Dick being called by Tommy's school due to discipline problems (Dick Is From Mars, Sally Is From Venus). Fortunately, these are rare, and aren't as groan inducing as they would be in a lesser show.

While Anchor Bay doesn't exactly pump out the titles week-by-week like the big-shot studios do, this little-distributor-that-could continues to impress with the quality of their output. This bodes particularly well for the rest of the seasonal sets of the series, as the technical aspects are more than solid, and the extras can only become more plentiful than they are now.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: These full-frame transfers look great, and much better than they did on TV. The show was always very colorful, from the animated opening title sequence to the end credits, and each and every color used in the scheme comes across as bright and natural. Contrast and shadow levels are handled well, but the best part of these presentations is the near complete lack of print flaws.

Image Transfer Grade: A
 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Each episode features a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack, and these mixes are quite good as well. The crisp, clear dialogue always stays up front, but the rears do get a chance to shine, housing much of the music and laugh track.

Audio Transfer Grade:

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English
20 TV Spots/Teasers
Screenplay
2 Featurette(s)
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Box Set
Picture Disc
4 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Bloopers
Extras Review: The nice collection of extras is available on the fourth disc of the set, aside from the TV spots that are available throughout, and for each episode. The bulk of the extras consist of interviews with all of the show's cast members. These eight segments have these actors talk about the dynamics of their characters, with the John Lithgow Interview easily being the most entertaining of the bunch.

3rd Rock: Behind-the-Scenes is a short piece (two minutes) that is basically a typical EPK for the show's first season.

Season One Highlights runs for 10 minutes, and is a montage of the funniest moments from the inaugural season.

The nearly seven-minute Bloopers segment is the highlight of the extras, featuring some great outtakes. Even the always straight-laced John Lithgow can't help but crack-up when he flubs his lines.

There are also Teleplays for the episodes: Brains and Eggs, Dick Is From Mars, Sally Is From Venus, Dick Like Me, and See Dick Run. All of these can only be accessed by placing the fourth disc in a DVD-ROM drive.

Extras Grade: B-
 

Final Comments

3rd Rock From the Sun fans have waited far too long for this show to come to DVD. This boxed set of all of the first season's shows is a must-buy for fans as well as anyone who's heard good things about it but never got to enjoy it on TV. Of course, above average audio and video always help a DVD collection shine, and the nice choice of extras and impressive booklet make your decision to pick this up even easier.

Chuck Aliaga 2005-08-04