HTF REVIEW: Third Rock From The Sun - Season 1

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Michael Osadciw, Jul 14, 2005.

  1. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

    Jun 24, 2003
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    Real Name:
    Michael Osadciw

    SEASON 1

    Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment
    Air Date: 1996-1997

    U.S. Rating: NR
    Canadian Rating: NR

    Total Length: 442 minutes
    Genre: Comedy

    Aspect Ratio:[*] 1.33:1 full screen
    Colour/B&W: Colour

    Audio:[*] English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
    Subtitles: None
    Closed Captioned: Yes
    SLP: US $39.98

    Release Date: July 26, 2005

    Show Rating: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Starring: John Lithgow (Dr. Dick Solomon), Kristen Johnston (Sally Solomon), French Stewart (Harry Solomon), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Tommy Solomon), Jane Curtin (Dr. Mary Margaret Albright)

    Guest Stars: Wayne Knight, Lauren Graham, Phil Hartman, Bronson Pinchot, Naomi Judd, John Mahoney, Martha Stewart

    Created by: Bonnie Turner & Terry Turner
    Directed by: Robert Berlinger

    Greetings, Humans! At the command of their supervisor, the Big Giant Head, four aliens arrive in Rutherford, Ohio, where they learn to adapt to a new world, new culture, new bodies, and new social mannerisms in this absolutely hilarious original comedy television series, Third Rock From The Sun. This fantastically written show is out of this world as we meet aliens Dick, Sally, Harry, and Tommy take on human form to avoid detection as they gather information about our world. Because they look like humans no one knows they are aliens. You’ll laugh! You’ll cry! You’ll be reaching for that amazing box of tissues…

    Of the alien four, meet Dick; he’s the High Commander of the mission who assumes the father-figure of the family of aliens. He’s an intelligent being and takes on a job as a physics professor at Pendelton University. He’s very eccentric, self-admiring, and socially inept, and Dick leads the show as we see him being humoured as well as humiliating others.

    Dick has some competition within his group: his so-called “sister” Sally is Dick’s former First Lieutenant with military expertise. She likes to take command when she can, but since Dick is almost always in her presence, she has to take orders from him. She is a male alien trapped inside the body of a tall and attractive woman (some may not find that so bad), and s/he is consistently trying to adapt to this new identity as a female while occasionally showing her masculine traits.

    The intelligence officer of the mission didn’t have it as bad as Sally. He’s still a male but has taken the role as the young son. Tommy soon finds out what it’s like to go through puberty and while he has brought his wisdom with him, he finds his place hanging out in the malls and going through the trials teenage boys go through. He’s able to stay cool though as he fits into the styles and trends of the day.

    …and then there is Harry…the squinty-eyed communications receptor of messages from the Big Giant Head. As Dick’s younger brother, he’s not so smart at all, in fact, he’s so clueless about the whole “secrecy” of them being aliens the other three are afraid he’ll spill the beans first!

    So now that there are aliens in Ohio, what do they do? Dick is consistently pompous and craves for affection from his co-worker Mary and always confesses his love for her in the most embarrassing ways. His ignorance allows him to be unashamed of his actions. Meanwhile, Sally is looking for a sexual affection as she’s exploring and adapting to her new body. As we know it she’s also getting caught up in doing womanly thinks like shopping, spending, and beauty products as well as showing off her body in the most unflattering ways. In light of Dick and Sally’s issues on Earth, Tommy tries to keep them in line and Harry just…well…keeps spoiling things and is so dumb he’s actually hilarious.

    This DVD set of Third Rock From The Sun contains the 20 episodes of season one and a load of special features on the fourth disc. The discs are placed in a fold-out platform and are stored in a master cardboard case. It’s packaged very well and according to the plastic wrap the box “speaks”! All you have to do is push the button and you’ll hear something…what you’ll hear I have no idea because it didn’t work when I kept trying. I’ve been pushing all over the box with no luck and because of the pressure of my fingers, all I have now is a faint ring from the speaking device emerging on the front of the case. Maybe it only works in their alien world?

    Below are the titles of the episodes included in this set. The episode titles are funny and they include Dick in all but the first, most likely because he wasn’t at his highest then. The synopsis of each episode is located in a crafty 16-page booklet titled ”A Guide To living On Earth”. It’s a hoot to look though and constructed as if it were written by Dick. You’ll find it tucked in a pocket in the case.

    When you select an episode manually it’ll take you to a screen where you’ll find the synopsis of the episode typed out. Also on this screen are two options: one is to play the episode (no chapter skips) and the other is to “preview episode”. This is a nice touch because it is the actual T.V. Spot that appeared on the network during the first season advertising what’s in the next episode of Third Rock. Nice touch!!

    Episodes include:

    Disc One
    [*] Brains And Eggs[*] Post-Nasal Dick[*] Dick’s First Birthday[*] Dick Is From Mars, Sally Is From Venus[*] Dick, Smoker[*] Green-Eyed Dick

    Disc Two
    [*] Lonely Dick[*] Body & Soul & Dick[*] Ab-Dick-Ted[*] Truth Or Dick[*] The Art Of Dick[*] Frozen Dick

    Disc Three
    [*] Angry Dick[*] The Dicks They Are A Changin’[*] I Enjoy Being A Dick[*] Dick Like Me[*] Assault With A Deadly Dick[*] Father Knows Dick

    Disc Four
    [*] Selfish Dick[*] See Dick Run

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Most of the episodes I checked are very good transfers to DVD. It doesn’t appear soft or blanketed with grain or haze as other television shows exhibit. The lighting of the aliens’ upstairs apartment is well lit. None of the sets appear overly dim so I’d say contrast is first rate. Colours are neutral and realistic looking except for things with a lot of red (such as a sweater) which I found to be pushed slightly more on my evaluation system. Detail is very good; while some many scenes are three dimensional and the fact that contrast between white/black helps give greater depth to the picture. I have only two complaints and they are relatively minor: one is that there is just a slight amount of edge enhancement present giving the picture a slightly “digitally processed” look; and the other is that not all episodes seemed to be sourced the same way. While I’d say almost all of them are excellent, I did come across one episode that had composite video artefacts such as dot crawl, colour moiré, and ghosting of fine details. This episode did not look so good and I'd give it only 3 of 5 stars. The aspect ratio is correct at 1.33:1.

    AUDIO QUALITY [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Surprisingly, there is a fairly wide soundstage for stereo effects and a stereo laugh track. Sound effects are much quieter than the main dialogue and you can clearly tell many of the sounds are recorded directly off of the set. It doesn’t sound too muffled, but television dialogue always seems to have a slight veil over the voice. You can also tell when the dialogue is peaking because of the mild distortion sometimes heard.

    SPECIAL FEATURES [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The fourth disc as many special features to sort through. Most of them are interviews with the cast. There are separate selections for interviews with John Lithgow, Kristen Johnston, French Stewart, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jane Curtin, Simbi Khali, Elmarie Wendel, and Wayne Knight. Each interview is about 5 to 10 minutes each and they answer a common series of questions to the best of their abilities. These questions are for us to read on screen in a green graphic and an “outer space” sound that gets a little tiring to see over and over through each of these interviews. My advice: don’t do it all in one sitting if you don’t want to get tired of the titles. These aren’t new interviews with the cast but it’s probably the first time anyone has seen them. I’m guessing they were videotaped several seasons after the first based on Gordon-Levitt’s appearance; he’s a few years older here.

    Also included is a 2 ½ minute 3rd Rock: Behind the Scenes clip that is really repetitive and is to the theme song of the show. It just shows laughter at table reads and the actors jumping up and down in front of a green screen (done for networks so they can insert their own network backdrop).

    You’ll also get to see season one highlights, a 10-minute collage of some of the funniest moments in the season. I couldn’t get enough of them – they are hilarious! Also included is a blooper reel where we see the actors goof up. Even though they all come from theatre and do their best to deliver in one take, they still make mistakes!

    You can also check out Teleplays for four episodes by putting the disc into a DVD-ROM player. It’s available as a .PDF.


    I remember when this show came out everyone was talking about it. It was very popular among all age groups and children won’t understand some of the more adult orientated jokes – it’ll just fly over they head like an invisible alien ship. If you haven’t seen this show at all I highly recommend this box set. It’s one of my favourite shows that aired because it’s very original and refreshing from the apartment comedies of regular people that dominate television. Even though we are watching aliens adapt to being humans, we are watching how we live our lives because their life situations are humanly identifiable and all of us have experienced it.

    Michael Osadciw
  2. Joseph J.D

    Joseph J.D Cinematographer

    Dec 4, 2001
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    Great review for this set Michael. I always liked this series but for some reason, I wasn't planning on picking this up....Your review has renewed my interest though and will likely pick it up at a later date.

    Love the episode titles.....had me laughing like an immature teenager.[​IMG]
  3. RoyM

    RoyM Stunt Coordinator

    May 2, 2005
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    I have to admit that I was always somewhat ambivalent about TRFTS. It had such a silly "TV-sit-com" feel to it, from the overall concept to the slapstick approach of many of the shows. It also had a very odd sort of anachronistic 1980's feel, perhaps because of the presence of Lithgow, an actor I so associate with that decade. But I have to admit that everytime I watched an episode, it was absolutely hilarious.

    The best part of the show was that they had three truly gifted comic actors in John Lithgow, French Stewart and Kristen Johnson. I really think it as the performances of those three actors that made the show work so well.

    So I may be very well tempted to start collecting the season box sets, perhaps after I see if the studio will actually be putting them out on a regular basis.
  4. Bill Parisho

    Bill Parisho Stunt Coordinator

    Jan 16, 2004
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    Are any of the episodes in this set cut-syndicated episodes?
    Bill Parisho
  5. Joe Isham

    Joe Isham Stunt Coordinator

    May 1, 2002
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  6. David Rain

    David Rain Screenwriter

    May 7, 2005
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    So if all of this show's seasons have been released then where's the complete series set ?

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