A group of aliens has come to Earth to learn about its population, customs, et cetera. To avoid detection, they have taken on human form, which gives them human emotions, physical needs, et cetera, without the understanding of what they mean nor the inhibitions normally present in humans. Their leader takes the position of a college professor, their military expert as his sister, their intelligence expert, supposedly the oldest of group, takes the form of his teenage son. The uninhibited reactions turn everyday events into unusual situations.Written by
Jim Brawn <firstname.lastname@example.org>
During the filming of the final season, NBC refused to let the producers know whether or not they had been renewed until after the filming of the final episode, in order to try and draw in viewers. To compensate, the creators filmed two different endings. In the first ending, which was shown on network television, the Solomons went back to their homeworld and erased Mary's memory. In late 2001, the second ending was shown in syndication for what was billed as the "first and only time." This "second ending" is actually an extension of the original: Mary wakes up and goes to the Solomon's car and finds that Dick has given her the keys (you can see Dick tucking something in her hand in the original broadcast ending). When she puts the key into the ignition, a naked Dick appears next to her in the car and screams "ALIEN ABDUCTION! ALIEN ABDUCTION!" before grabbing Mary and disappearing with her. See more »
It's a low down dirty shame about 3rd Rock. While I've been a faithful viewer going on five years or so, the show never got the appreciation it deserved. Sure it won its share of Emmies, but that doesn't mean anybody watched it. It's a Ross and Rachel world out there, and the brilliance of 3rd Rock was often overshadowed by soap operas disguised as sitcoms.
But 3rd rock is rollicking comedy and nothing but. John Lithgow is simply one of our best in one of his best roles as Dick. If you like this show, I strongly suggest you see some of his movie work such as The World According To Garp, the movie I hate to love and love to hate, but Lithgow's performance falls on the love side of the scale.
Gangly Kristen Johnston plays Sally. The towering beauty and hilarious flake. She adds some amazing physical comedy to the show's ensemble. Her physical presence is so amusing she can crack you up just by standing there. I can't wait to see her in other comedic roles, my main fear being she'll fall into toilet humor instead of something sophisticated.
French Stewart as Harry is more or less the cute little pet and adds tremendously to the show. He acts as what at first might seem like the dumb member of the alien four, but in fact, his idiocy is what exposes that of the people that surround him in how they deal with him.
Finally, teenager Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Tommy is most impressive in the fact that he plays at the same level of the rest of the ensemble. The show hasn't used him as an idle, but as another resource for more of the social observations with which the show is bursting at the seems.
The four play together as a remarkable comedy team, each with their own quirks that evoke criticism on society. The satire is complete with the addition of the stereotypes they encounter every day. Jane Curtin as Mary, Dick's love interest, tries to appear normal and show the Solomon's that they aren't but is really as bizarre as anyone else on the show. Then there's Nina, the secretary; Don, the cop of Sally's dreams; the lovable nympho landlord, Miss Dubcek; and countless other students, colleagues, peers and various characters that teach the Solomons, themselves and us about society (I love Judith.) The show is as observant as any I've ever seen and equally funny with it's slapstick, zany dialogue, unusually usual situations and running gags.
My feeling is that the main source of 3rd Rock's brilliance is it's mocking classic sitcom formula. It takes the perpetually utilized premise of placing a group of outsiders in the middle of a "normal" group of people and completely turns it around. Unlike a show like the Beverly Hillbillies where we principally laugh at the Clampets, we're laughing it the Solomon's AND the people around them. In 3rd Rock, nobody is normal and there is no true norm, which is much truer to the world in which we live. There are all the classic patterned events from sitcoms (meeting people, dating, finding one's purpose, and the trials with which every day sitcom life presents you) but none of these situations lack a deeper meaner on 3rd Rock. Then there's the little things. Aspects such as the fact that there is no couch in the living room and that all the characters' names are those which one would have found on an older sitcom (Who's name is Sally anymore, really? Then Tom, Dick and Harry- the quintessential normal trio) are just some of the ways of the creators screw with our established expectations of prime time.
I love this show, and think it will endure in syndication long after we've forgotten about Veronica's Closet or whatever other weeknight carp they're handing to us these days; I don't pay much attention to it myself. Like M*A*S*H, I Love Lucy, All in the Family and other purposeful shows that have been with us for decades, 3rd Rock From the Sun always has meaning and hilarity at the same time. That's sure enough proof that this is more than your average hip singles in the city tripe and that 3rd Rock will stay a part of our society since it has done such a good job of mocking it.
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