3rd Rock from the Sun 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|
|Created by||Bonnie Turner|
|Theme music composer||Ben Vaughn|
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
Ben Vaughn & Jeff Sudakin
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||6|
|No. of episodes||139 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||John Lithgow|
Linwood Boomer (season 1)
Mike Schiff (seasons 4–5)
David Sacks (seasons 4–5)
Christine Zander (seasons 5–6)
Jason Venokur (season 6)
David M. Israel
Gregory Thompson (co-producer)
|Camera setup||Film; Multi-camera|
|Running time||22 minutes|
|Production company(s)||The Carsey-Werner Company|
The Program Exchange
|Original release||January 9, 1996 –|
May 22, 2001
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. The show's humor is principally derived from the aliens' attempts to study human society and understand the human condition while living as humans on Earth, reflecting on human life from the perspective of aliens. Most of the episodes are named after the protagonist, Dick. In later episodes, they have become more accustomed to Earth and are often 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 and a physics professor at Pendelton (with Ian Lithgow, John Lithgow's eldest 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."
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. 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.
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.
The six seasons had 139 episodes in the series.
|Season||Episodes||Originally aired||Nielsen ratings|
|First aired||Last aired||Rank||Rating||Tied with|
|1||20||January 9, 1996||May 21, 1996||22||12.1||N/A|
|2||26||September 22, 1996||May 18, 1997||27||10.8||Law & Order|
|3||27||September 24, 1997||May 20, 1998||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|4||24||September 23, 1998||May 25, 1999||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|5||22||September 21, 1999||May 23, 2000||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|6||20||January 30, 2001||May 22, 2001||N/A||N/A||N/A|
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.
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. 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. The series made its debut on digital broadcast network Laff on July 16, 2018.
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., but moved to 5Star in January 2019.
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.
Anchor Bay Entertainment released all six seasons of 3rd Rock from the Sun on DVD for the first time in 2005–2006. 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. They have subsequently re-released seasons 1–4. These releases contain the unedited, original broadcast versions of the episodes. Seasons 5 and 6 were re-released on January 8, 2013.
On May 14, 2013, Mill Creek released 3rd Rock from the Sun – The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1.
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.
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.
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.
In 1997, 3rd Rock won the most Primetime Emmy Awards (five from eight nominations) for a television 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."
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".
| 3rd Rock from the Sun
Super Bowl lead-out program
1999 Super Bowl
The first season of 3rd Rock from the Sun, an American television sitcom, began on January 9, 1996, and ended on May 21, 1996. It aired on NBC. The region 1 DVD was released on July 26, 2005.3rd Rock from the Sun (season 2)
The second season of 3rd Rock from the Sun, an American television sitcom, began on December 1, 1996, and ended on May 18, 1997. It aired on NBC. The region 1 DVD was released on October 25, 2005.3rd Rock from the Sun (season 3)
The third season of 3rd Rock from the Sun, an American television series, began September 24, 1997, and ended on May 20, 1998. It aired on NBC. The region 1 DVD was released on February 21, 2006.3rd Rock from the Sun (season 4)
The fourth season of 3rd Rock from the Sun, an American television series, began December 22, 1998, and ended on May 25, 1999. It aired on NBC. The region 1 DVD was released on May 2, 2006.3rd Rock from the Sun (season 5)
The fifth season of 3rd Rock from the Sun, an American television series, began January 4, 2000, and ended on May 23, 2000. It aired on NBC. The region 1 DVD was released on August 15, 2006.3rd Rock from the Sun (season 6)
The sixth and final season of 3rd Rock from the Sun, an American television series, began January 30, 2001, and ended on May 22, 2001. It aired on NBC. The region 1 DVD was released on October 14, 2006.Big Giant Head
The Big Giant Head is a fictional character from the American sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun; he is the Solomons' mission leader and king of the galaxy.Brains and Eggs
"Brains and Eggs" is the pilot episode of the American sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun. The episode, which originally aired on NBC on January 9, 1996, depicts an extraterrestrial research expedition coming to Earth in the guise of what they think is a typical human family.Dick Solomon
Dr. Richard Solomon is a character played by John Lithgow in the late-1990s NBC sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun. Solomon is the High Commander of a highly trained alien unit, sent to Earth by their leader, The Big Giant Head. His crew is made up of Sally Solomon (played by Kristen Johnston), Harry Solomon (played by French Stewart), and Tommy Solomon (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt). In the first episode, "Brains and Eggs", Dick states that he has made a home of a "third rate planet, has a job at a third rate university, and now we are looking at a third floor apartment."Don Orville
Officer Donald Leslie "Don" Orville is a fictional character in the NBC sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun. He is portrayed by Wayne Knight and works as a Police Sergeant in the fictional town of Rutherford, Ohio, though he is consistently referred to as "Officer" throughout the series, much like real-world Police Sergeants and others are referred to as Officer by lay-persons, despite their actual rank. The character is first introduced to the series late in the first season, in the episode "Assault with a Deadly Dick", in which the Solomon family go to the police for help after they fall victim to crime.French Stewart
Milton French-Stewart (born February 20, 1964), known professionally as French Stewart, is an American actor, known for his role as Harry Solomon on the 1990s sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun and for his role as Chef Rudy on the sitcom Mom.Harry Solomon
Harry S. Solomon is a character in 3rd Rock from the Sun, played by French Stewart. He is the brother of Dick Solomon and Sally Solomon, and the uncle of Tommy Solomon. His middle initial is mentioned in the episode "Dick the Vote." French Stewart said in a 1998 interview, "The way the character was originally described to me was he would be an idiot on any planet. So he's got to be the biggest idiot in the universe!"List of 3rd Rock from the Sun episodes
This is an episode list for the American television sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun, which ran from 9 January 1996 until 22 May 2001. A total of 139 episodes were produced.List of awards and nominations received by 3rd Rock from the Sun
The sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun has been nominated for and won a number of major television awards.List of guest stars in 3rd Rock from the Sun
This is a list of notable guest stars who appeared in the American television sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun throughout its six season run.Mary Albright
Mary Margaret Albright is a fictional character who was played by Jane Curtin in the American situation comedy 3rd Rock from the Sun. She serves as a straight foil and love interest for the eccentric Dick Solomon.Sally Solomon
Sally Solomon (played by Kristen Johnston) is a fictional character from the television sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun.Tommy Solomon (3rd Rock from the Sun)
Tommy Solomon is a fictional character created by Bonnie and Terry Turner from the American sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun. He was portrayed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt.