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3rd Rock From The Sun

 

The aliens are coming!  The aliens are coming!  There's four of them and ....... their friendly.

Their trying to learn about humans.  Dick's in charge.  (I'm not making a joke here but you can convince me.)  He's the father like alien.  Tommy (the teenage boy) is the intelligence specialist.  Sally is a decorated military officer.  Harry is only with them because there was a spare seat....oh yeah and he is the one that allows the team to get messages from home.  Whenever a message is coming in Harry acts looks like he's possessed and the leader's voice comes through him.  The voice of the leader (Big Giant Head) is played by William Shatner.

The show also stars Jane Curtin (from Kate and Ally) and Wayne Knight (from Seinfeld). 



3rd Rock from the Sun

Format: Situation comedy

Created by: Bonnie Turner and Terry Turner

Starring: John Lithgow, Kristen Johnston, French Stewart, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Simbi Khali, Elmarie Wendel, Wayne Knight, and Jane Curtin

3rd Rock Country of origin: United States

No. of seasons: 6

No. of episodes: 139 (List of episodes)

Production

Executive producer(s): Marcy Carsey, Caryn Mandabach, Bonnie Turner, Tom Werner, Terry Turner, Bill Martin, Mike Schiff, Linwood Boomer (executive producer), Bob Kushell, Christine Zander, David Sacks, Danny Smith, Joe Fisch (co-executive producer) Producer(s): Patrick Kienlen, David Goetsch, Jason Venokur, David Israel, Jim O'Doherty, Andrew Orenstein, Michael Glouberman Gregg Mettler (producer), Tim Ryder, Aron Abrams, Gregory Thompson (co-producer)

Location(s): Studio City, Los Angeles, California, USA[1]

Running time: 22 minutes (per episode)

Distributor USA: Carsey-Werner Distribution, NBC, Anchor Bay Entertainment

Original run: January 9, 1996 May 22, 2001

3rd Rock from the Sun is an Emmy Award-winning American sitcom that ran from 1996 until 2001 on NBC. The show is about a group of extraterrestrial scientists on an expedition of what they consider to be the least important planet, Earth (the "3rd Rock" from the Sun), whilst posing as a human "family" of four to observe human beings.

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Overview

Basic premise

Four aliens come to Earth to learn what they can about  and life on Earth.  Dick is the High Commander.  The military officer is Sally.  The intelligence specialist is Tommy.  Harry came with them to take the extra seat. 

They are trying to live as "normal" human beings.  What human is normal.  Are you normal.  Do you know where the perfect orange is?  My name is Zane and I'm an alcoholic......not!!!

They become so used to their "human" life that they don't pay as much attention to their mission.  

 

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Dick Solomon (John Lithgow) is the High Commander of the team.  He takes a teaching job at Pendelton State University.  Tommy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is given the role and body of a teenager.  He is the information officer.  Sally (Kristen Johnston) is the security officer.  Harry (French Stewart) is the communications officer.  He hangs out at home and goes from one job to another.

The family communicates with their boss, know as "The Big Giant Head".  William Shatner is "The Big Giant Head".  He sends remote messages through Harry.  Harry goes into a trance and poses as if he an antenna as he relays the messages. 

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Sources of humor

A lot of the humor comes from the mismatch between the teams appearance and their actual internal nature.  For example Tommy appears to be a typical teenager but he is the team's information officer.  He is responsible for educating the team on the way things are for humans and the earth.  Dick is the father figure in the team but he is just really arrogant and self-absorbed.  He gets into trouble.  He is basically a child in the body of an adult.  Sally looks like a promiscuous woman but she is actually a soldier who handles security for the team.  Harry is the only one who seems to have a look that matches his actual self.

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Typical episode themes

Most of the episodes deal with the team having trouble with understanding how things work on Earth.  They interpret human customs incorrectly, mostly because most of their intelligence comes from media, especially television.  (Television is all knowing and we should bow to it on a daily basis.  We need to give our first born to it.  Have you seen some kids?  I think the parents would get the better of the deal.  Television is everything.  .....  Do I take the blue pill or the red pill  or both?  Just kidding.)  

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The teams former lives were actually similar to the Borg on Star Trek because their lives basically involved them interacting with each other but not many others.

Many episodes were based on story ideas from TV and films.  For example when Harry finds out he is a transmitter he portrays a character like Jim in Rebel Without a Cause and plays chicken with a tough guy in a bar.  They also did some scenes similar to that from Twilight Zone and Apocalypse Now, as well as others.

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Common mythology

The characters get in trouble because they aren't familiar with the normal behaviors of humans but their alien skills come to the rescue, kinda.  (I always fry eggs on the sidewalk or the hood of my car.  I also roast a chicken on the engine of the car.  I save a lot of money by eating roadkill......what.....really......if a full pizza box flies out of a car I will fight the idiots who through the box out for it, at least a slice.  I wouldn't hurt a fly, if it's awake.  Okay so this probably isn't normal behavior but the voices in my head says it is, no it isn't, yes it is.)

Tommy, the son, understands physics better than Dick, the father, but Dick's knowledge still outshines the society's knowledge of physics.  In one bit Dick reads from Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time and gets a huge laugh from it.  The other three often question Dick's right to command, especially when he gets into trouble when others might have recognized a tricky situation.  Sally is often only depicted as being attractive; her great physical strength and abilities are not shown.  There is the odd mention of her exploits.

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Tommy has an encyclopedic knowledge about Earth society.  It doesn't help him when situations require street smarts.  He does maintain straight As.

Harry is almost psychotic in his behavior, even for a Solomon.  It is implied that the chip in his brain that allows him to communicate with the home planet makes him that way.  He is extremely horny and he's the only Solomon who has artistic talent.

Dick is jealous of Harry's talents and can't understand how a fool like Harry can outdo him in artistic endeavors.

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Relationships with humans

All four aliens get into relationships with humans.  Dick's relationship with anthropology professor, Mary Albright (Jane Curtain) is the most focused on relationship.  Mary is insecure and suffers many neuroses.  A lifetime of studying the human condition as well as a messy relationship with her parents was probably the cause of it.  She is attracted to Dick's lack of understanding of the human condition.

Sally hooks up with Don Leslie Orville (Wayne Knight-- you know Newman...... from Seinfeld).  Isn't it interesting when you see all the different places actors show up.  I might just have to make a page with a diagram.  I saw that is a magazine somewhere.  I read at least one article....really I did.  I remember there was a nice looking girl in one picture.  The caption said something about a car.  I couldn't see it.  Okay back to the facts of 3rd Rock.... I almost said 30 Rock.  I should do a page on that.  I'll have to watch more shows before I can write about it.

Don is attracted to Sally after meeting her several times when he confronts or arrests the Solomons for various crimes.  They speak to each other is an old 1930s crime drama.

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Tommy dates August Leffler (Shay Astar), a reserved teenager.  Later he dates Alissa Strudwick (Larisa Oleynik).

Harry has a relationship with his landlord, Mrs. Dubcek's daughter (played by Jan Hooks).  I think she's the one from SNL.  Yeah, she is who I was thinking about.  She was on SNL from 1986 to 1991.  More on her if it comes up.  

A neat episode finds Harry foiling a plot by Cindy Crawford to dissolve the Earth.  Harry seduced Cindy Crawford to do it, even though he's not that great at picking up women.

There is sharing of partners.  Mary and Tommy are briefly attracted to each other when they discover they both like social sciences.  Tommy steps aside to let Dick pursue Mary.  Ninaa (Simbi Khali), Dick's assistant has a fling with Harry.  Mrs. dubcek (Elmarie Wendel) has a fling with Harry too.

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Plot twists

References to the aliens actual nature and home world also claimed that their original bodies were "gelatinous purple tubes" without sex organs.  Sally asked why she had to be the woman.  Dick said she lost the draw.  Supposedly individuals in their species are almost completely identical.  This was the reason the Solomons were unaware of the concept of race or ethnicity.  They eventually decided that they were Jewish because of their surname, which they had taken from a trucking company.

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The four adventurers often meet up with or think they've met up with other aliens.  Jell-O was one such a thing.  They thought it was an enemy alien.  When they saw it they would try to destroy it.  We never are told what the home planet is; it simply referred to as "The Home Planet."  

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Cast

Three of the four characters lasted out all six seasons appearing on every episode.  Tommy was the exception.  There were many characters added and subtracted over the 6 seasons.  

3rd Rock Main characters

Dick Solomon character is played by John Lithgow.  He is the High commander.  He is the most childish of the four characters.  He was actually the youngest of the four (in alien years and nature).  His appearance only made him the oldest.  Dick is the source of most of the problems the family has.  

Sally Solomon is played by Kristen Johnston.  She is the Lieutenant, the Security Officer, and second in command.  She is sometimes called Dick's sister and at other times Tommy's sister.  On one occasion she claimed to be Tommy's mother.  She is never seen as Dick's daughter or spouse.  Sally had a harder time dealing with being a woman than the others had dealing with being a man.  She did file a request to be made male but changed her mind later as she began to like being a woman.

Harry Solomon is played by French Stewart.  He wasn't originally part of the mission but came along because there was a spare seat.  When the topic of position comes up Dick tells Harry "Well, eh, you're, uh... you're Harry!".  Harry's reply to this is "Oh, sure, I get the fancy title!".  The group later found out that Harry had a chip in his head that allowed them to communicate with the home planet.  He was then known as the Communicator or Transmitter.  Occasionally, he will get a message from their leader, the Big Giant Head, shaking violently in the middle of a sentence and squats down, with his arms at 90 degree angles, declaring "Incoming message from the Big Giant Head!", before going through the motions of delivering the message.  He posed as Dick and Sally's brother and Tommy's uncle.

Tommy Solomon is played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  Just a side note by I saw him on that show where the spy has been put on burn notice.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt came to kill the main character.  I've only seen the show a couple times but it is pretty good.  Comedy is my first love so I'll deal with that show later.  Okay while I was working on this I did some research.  The show is called Burn Notice.  I'd recommend it to people over 18.  If you have bad parents and you're under 18 you decide.  

Okay back to Tommy Solomon on 3rd Rock From the Sun.  He is the Information Officer and second in command.  He has a teenager's appearance so he plays the role of Dick's adolescent son.  Tommy is actually the oldest and smartest of all the aliens.  He constantly reminds the others of this fact.  He left the series (after the fifth season concluded) as a primary character.  He came back in about half the episodes of sixth season. 

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Dr. Mary Albright is played by Jane Curtain (remember her on SNL and Kate and Ally?).  She works with Dick and dates him on and off.  She thought Dick was an idiot but was attracted to his child-like behavior.  She is insecure because her bad upbringing.  Before Dick was in the picture she was know for sleeping around and given the nickname "Dr. Slutbunny".

Nina Campbell is played by Simbi Khali.  She is Dick and Mary's administrative assistant.  She thinks Dick is an idiot, chauvanist, and a jerk.

Mrs. Mamie Dubcek is played by Elmarie Wendel.  She is the Solomon's landlady.  She is loose, clueless, and carefree.  She is very promiscuous.  She has a friend-like relationship with the Solomon's.

Officer Don Leslie Orville is played by Wayne Knight.  You might remember his as "Newman" on Seinfeld.  His character on 3rd Rock is similar in some ways to his character on Seinfeld.  He does devious things to get his way.  He works for the Rutherford, Ohio's police department.  He is an incompetent police officer.  Sally is his on-off girlfriend.  In the last episode we find out that Don only joined the force because he felt that he would be safe with all the other police around him.

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Minor characters

Some of Dick's Students

Bug Pollone is played by David DeLuise.  

Leon is played by Ian Lithgow.  

Caryn is played by Danielle Nicolet 

Aubrey Pitman is played by Chris Hogan

Others

Vicky Dubcek is played by Jan Hooks.  She is Ms. Dubcek's daughter and Harry's Girlfriend.

Dr. Judith Draper is played by Iileen Getz.  She is a professor at Pendelton and colleague of Mary August Leffler, played by Shay Astar.  She was Tommy's first girlfriend during seasons 1-4. 

Alissa Strudwick is played by Larisa Oleynik.  She was Tommy's second girlfriend during seasons 4-6. 

Dr. Vincent Strudwick is played by Ron West who is Alissa's father and Dick's rival during seasons 2-6.

The Big Giant Head/Stone Phillips is played by William Shatner.  He is the aliens' boss (season 4 and 5).

Dr. Liam Neesam is played by John Cleese who is a professor who has a brief relationship with Mary.  He is later found to be an evil alien who wants to change humans into chimps (seasons 3 and 6).

James Earl Jones did the narration for the first season's opening titles.

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Guest stars

 

 

Martha Stewart - (season 1) playing herself when Harry fantasises about appearing on her show.

Phil Hartman - (seasons 1 & 3) playing a camp cosmetics store worker and later Vicky's jilted ex-lover Randy John Mahoney - (season 1) a rude, sexist professor for whom a faculty party is thrown.

Dennis Rodman - (season 2) playing himself.  It is revealed that he is actually another alien George Takai - (season 2) playing himself at a sci-fi convention.

Mike Ditka - (season 2) as Coach Mafferty.  He is the coach for the Pendelton Badgers football team.

Mark Hamill - (season 2) playing himself.   Sally achieves a degree of fame after she attacks him.

Randy Newman - (season 2) playing himself.  He appears in Harry's dream.

Roseanne Barr - (season 3) playing Dick's forced-wife Janet Elaine Stritch - (seasons 3 & 6).

Martha Albright, Mary's mother Cindy Crawford - (season 3) Mascha, a Venusian woman who falls for Harry John Cleese - (seasons 3 &6) Professor Liam Neesam, an evil alien in disguise as a biology professor Laurie Metcalf - (season 4).

Jennifer Ravelli, a teacher of comparitive literature that Dick has a fling with.

Kathy Bates - (season 4) Charlotte Everley, an alien hunter who discovers the truth about Dick and tries to disect him.

 

William Shatner - (seasons 4 & 5) The Big Giant Head (a.k.a Stone Philips), the aliens' overlord.

Billy Connolly - (season 5) An actor playing the part of a Scotland Yard inspector in a murder mystery the Solomons take part in.

David Hasselhoff - (season 5) A plastic surgeon that Dick visits when considering a facelift.

Alan Cummings - (season 5) Angus 'The Hole' McDuff, a hole expert hired to get Dick and Harry out of a hole.

Enrico Colantoni - (season 5) Frank, a gay friend of Mary's that Dick mistakes for an alien Megan Mullaly - (season 6).

Renata Albright, Mary's rich sister

 

 

Phew......that's a lot of people.  If you want to add comments or information to this page email me at zany1968@sympatico.ca 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 

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