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3rd Rock from the Sun

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

3rd Rock from the Sun
3rd Rock From the Sun logo.png
Created by
Theme music composer
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons6
No. of episodes139 (list of episodes)
Executive producers
Camera setupFilm; Multi-camera
Running time22 minutes
Production companyThe Carsey-Werner Company
DistributorCarsey-Werner Distribution
Original networkNBC
Picture formatNTSC
Original releaseJanuary 9, 1996 (1996-01-09) –
May 22, 2001 (2001-05-22)
External links

3rd Rock from the Sun is an American sitcom television series created by Bonnie and Terry Turner, which originally aired from January 9, 1996, to May 22, 2001, on NBC. The show is about four extraterrestrials who are on an expedition to Earth, the third planet from the Sun, which they consider to be a very insignificant planet. The extraterrestrials pose as a human family to observe the behavior of human beings.


The premise of the show revolves around an extraterrestrial research expedition hailing from a planet in a barred spiral galaxy on the Cepheus-Draco border 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, is played by 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!"


Main characters

From left to right: John Lithgow as Dick, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (top) as Tommy, Jane Curtin (bottom) as Mary, Kristen Johnston as Sally, and French Stewart as Harry
From left to right: John Lithgow as Dick, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (top) as Tommy, Jane Curtin (bottom) as Mary, Kristen Johnston as Sally, and French Stewart as Harry

Recurring characters

  • David DeLuise as Bug Pollone, one of Dick's students
  • Ian Lithgow as Leon, one of Dick's students
  • Danielle Nicolet as Caryn, one of Dick's students
  • Chris Hogan as Aubrey Pitman, one of Dick's students
  • Ileen Getz as Dr. Judith Draper, professor at Pendelton and colleague of Mary
  • Shay Astar as August Leffler, Tommy's first girlfriend (seasons 1–3, sparsely appears in seasons 3 and 4)
  • Larisa Oleynik as Alissa Strudwick, Tommy's second girlfriend (seasons 4–6)
  • Ron West as Dr. Vincent Strudwick, Alissa's father and rival to Dick (seasons 2–6)
  • William Shatner as The Big Giant Head, the aliens' boss
  • Jan Hooks as Vicki Dubcek, daughter of Ms. Dubcek, Harry's on-and-off girlfriend and later the wife of the Big Giant Head and the mother of his child
  • John Cleese as Dr. Liam Neesam, a professor who briefly has a relationship with Mary, and is later revealed to be an evil alien (seasons 3 and 6)
  • Chyna as Janice, a muscular female police officer who is briefly Harry's girlfriend
  • Michael Milhoan as Coach Strickland, a high school physical education teacher at Tommy's high school

Guest stars


Theme music

The show's opening theme music was composed by Ben Vaughn, and for the first four 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. During season one, James Earl Jones provided a voice introduction describing the crew. For Christmas episodes, jingle bells were added to the theme. The only major change to the theme was in season 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. For the sixth and final season, the original theme returned and a modern jazz underline version of the theme was used for two episodes.

Title sequence

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.


SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedRankRatingTied with
First airedLast aired
120January 9, 1996 (1996-01-09)May 21, 1996 (1996-05-21)2212.1N/A
226September 22, 1996 (1996-09-22)May 18, 1997 (1997-05-18)2710.8Law & Order
327September 24, 1997 (1997-09-24)May 20, 1998 (1998-05-20)N/AN/AN/A
424September 23, 1998 (1998-09-23)May 25, 1999 (1999-05-25)N/AN/AN/A
522September 21, 1999 (1999-09-21)May 23, 2000 (2000-05-23)N/AN/AN/A
620October 24, 2000 (2000-10-24)May 22, 2001 (2001-05-22)N/AN/AN/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"), because 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 15 different time slots in six years, causing its ratings to decrease substantially.



In the United States, the series is distributed for syndication by Carsey-Werner Distribution, and entered broadcast syndication in September 1999, where it continued until the fall of 2004, when the show moved into limited-run barter syndication, where it remained until 2016; The Program Exchange handled distribution for Carsey-Werner.[1] 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 until May 16, 2021 when it moved to IFC as well on Cozi TV beginning July 18.

This series rerun is now also aired on Malaysia's national broadcast TV channel RTM's TV2 in the 12:30 am time slot on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

In the United Kingdom, the series originally aired on BBC Two from 1996 to 2002, and ITV2 later reran the entire series from 2005 to 2006. Cable network Virgin Media currently has 40 episodes from seasons one and two available on demand from the Comedy Central menu option. The series began airing from the beginning on Channel 4 from May 12, 2014,[2] but moved to 5Star in January 2019 but was dropped in July 2020. Beginning on the 29th of March 2021 the series began airing on Comedy Central.

In the Republic of Ireland, channel 3e reruns the show during the late-night slot after Conan at 12:30 am.

In the fall of 2011, Canada's TVTropolis cable channel began airing the show, and featured a long weekend marathon run of episodes.


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,[3] and was removed again exactly two years later. The series also was available to stream on Hulu.[4]

In the UK, the first two seasons were available to download through the UK iTunes store but are no longer offered, and no episodes or seasons have been made available digitally in the region since.

As of 2021, the series is currently available to stream on Amazon Prime Video, FilmRise, Hoopla, Tubi,[5] Pluto TV, Crackle,[6] Vudu,[7] IMDb TV[8] and Peacock.[9]

Home media

Region 1
Anchor Bay Entertainment released all six seasons of 3rd Rock from the Sun on DVD for the first time in 2005–2006.[10][11][12][13][14][15] 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.[16] They have subsequently re-released seasons 1–4. These releases contain the unedited, original broadcast versions of the episodes.[17][18] Seasons 5 and 6 were re-released on January 8, 2013.[19][20][21]

On May 14, 2013, Mill Creek released 3rd Rock from the Sun – The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1.[22]

Region 2
Network DVD released all six seasons on DVD in the UK. While seasons 1–4 feature unedited versions of the episodes, seasons five and six feature syndicated, edited episodes. Network re-released the series in 2008 in an individual set and a complete collection.

  • The Complete Season One (released May 17, 2004)[23]
  • The Complete Season Two (released June 21, 2004)[24]
  • The Complete Season Three (released August 30, 2004)[25]
  • The Complete Season Four (released October 25, 2004)[26]
  • The Complete Season Five (released January 24, 2005)[27]
  • The Complete Season Six (released January 24, 2005)[28]
  • The Complete Series (released October 25, 2004)[29]
  • Series One (re-released November 3, 2008)[30]
  • Series Two (re-released November 3, 2008)[31]
  • Series Three (re-released November 3, 2008)[32]
  • Series Four (re-released November 3, 2008)[33]
  • Series Five (re-released November 3, 2008)[34]
  • Series Six (re-released November 3, 2008)[35]
  • The Complete Series (re-released November 3, 2008)[36]

Region 4
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.

  • Season 1 and Season 2 (released November 11, 2005)
  • Season 3 (released February 7, 2006)
  • Season 4 (July 6, 2006)
  • Season 5 and Season 6 (released February 16, 2007)

On November 15, 2010, Beyond Home Entertainment re-released all six seasons on DVD in Region 4.[37][38][39][40][41][42] The complete collection was also released three days later, on November 18.[43]


Nielsen rankings

Season TV season Rank
1 1995–1996 22[44]
2 1996–1997 28[45]
3 1997–1998 44[46]
4 1998–1999 77[47]
5 1999–2000 82[48]
6 2000–2001 89[49]

Awards and nominations

In 1997, 3rd Rock won the most Primetime Emmy Awards (five from eight nominations) for a television series:

  • 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 — Outstanding Lead Actor — Comedy Series — John Lithgow
  • 1997, 1998, 1999 — Outstanding Supporting Actress — Comedy Series — Kristen Johnston
  • 1996, 1997 — Outstanding Hairstyling for a Series — Pixie Schwartz
  • 1996 — Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series — James Burrows
  • 1998 — Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series — Terry Hughes
  • 1997 — Outstanding Special Visual Effects — Glen Bennett, Visual Effects Artists; Patrick Shearn, Visual Effects Supervisor; Chris Staves, Visual Effects Artists
  • 1997, 1999, 2000 — Outstanding Sound Mixing — Comedy Series
  • 1998 — Outstanding Sound Mixing — Comedy Series — "A Nightmare on Dick Street"
  • 1997, 1998 — Outstanding Costume Design — Series — Melina Root
  • 1997, 1998 — Outstanding Comedy Series
  • 1997 — Outstanding Choreography — Marguerite Derricks
  • 1998 — Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series — Jan Hooks as Vicki Dubcek
  • 1998 — Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series — John Cleese as Dr. Neesam
  • 1999, 2000 — Outstanding Multicamera Picture Editing for a Series
  • 1999 — Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series — Kathy Bates as Charlotte Everly and Laurie Metcalf as Jennifer
  • 1999 — Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series — William Shatner as the Big Giant Head
  • 2000 — Outstanding Cinematography for a Multicamera 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."[50]

Golden Globe Awards

  • 1997 — Best Actor in a Television Comedy or Musical — John Lithgow

Screen Actors Guild Awards

  • 1996, 1997 — Best Male Actor — Comedy Series — John Lithgow

Other media

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".

See also


  1. ^ 3rd Rock from the Sun Archived 2015-07-02 at the Wayback Machine at The Program Exchange. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  2. ^ "3rd Rock from the Sun". Retrieved 14 May 2014.
  3. ^ "New To Netflix March 2015: Patch Adams, Mad Men, Archer". Geeks of Doom.
  4. ^ "3rd Rock from the Sun". Hulu. Archived from the original on November 21, 2011. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
  5. ^ "3rd Rock From the Sun". Tubi. Retrieved 2021-01-04.
  6. ^ "3rd Rock from the Sub". Crackle. Retrieved 2021-01-04.
  7. ^ "3rd Rock from the Sun". Vudu. Retrieved 2021-01-04.
  8. ^ 3rd Rock from the Sun, retrieved 2021-01-04
  9. ^ "3rd Rock from the Sun". Peacock. Retrieved 2021-01-04.
  10. ^ "3rd Rock From The Sun: Season 1 DVD @ DVD Empire". 2005-07-26. Retrieved 2011-12-15.
  11. ^ "3rd Rock From The Sun: Season 2 DVD @ DVD Empire". 2005-10-25. Retrieved 2011-12-15.
  12. ^ "3rd Rock From The Sun: Season 3 DVD @ DVD Empire". 2006-02-21. Retrieved 2011-12-15.
  13. ^ "3rd Rock From The Sun: Season 4 DVD @ DVD Empire". 2006-02-05. Retrieved 2011-12-15.
  14. ^ "3rd Rock From The Sun: Season 5 DVD @ DVD Empire". 2006-08-15. Retrieved 2011-12-15.
  15. ^ "3rd Rock From The Sun: Season 6 DVD @ DVD Empire". 2006-11-14. Retrieved 2011-12-15.
  16. ^ "Carsey Werner Press Release" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-09-28. Retrieved 2013-10-07.
  17. ^ "3rd Rock from the Sun DVD news: Announcement for 3rd Rock from the Sun – The Complete Season 1 and 3rd Rock from the Sun – The Complete Season 2". Archived from the original on 2012-02-01. Retrieved 2012-12-05.
  18. ^ "3rd Rock from the Sun DVD news: Announcement for The Complete Season 3 and The Complete Season 4". Archived from the original on 2012-12-19. Retrieved 2012-12-05.
  19. ^ "3rd Rock from the Sun – The Complete Season Five (Mill Creek) DVD Review – Sitcoms Online". Retrieved 2017-11-12.
  20. ^ "3rd Rock from the Sun DVD news: Announcement for 3rd Rock from the Sun – Season 5 AND Season 6". 2007-05-25. Archived from the original on 2012-12-13. Retrieved 2012-12-05.
  21. ^ "3rd Rock from the Sun – The Complete Season Six (Mill Creek) DVD Review – Sitcoms Online". Retrieved 2017-11-12.
  22. ^ "3rd Rock from the Sun DVD news: Announcement for 3rd Rock from the Sun - The Complete Series -". Archived from the original on 2013-03-20.
  23. ^ "3rd Rock From The Sun – The Complete Season 1 [DVD] [1996]". Retrieved 24 March 2017.
  24. ^ "3rd Rock From The Sun – The Complete Season 2 [DVD] [1996]". Retrieved 24 March 2017.
  25. ^ "3rd Rock From The Sun – The Complete Season 3 [DVD] [1996]". Retrieved 24 March 2017.
  26. ^ "3rd Rock From The Sun – The Complete Season 4 [DVD] [1996]". Retrieved 24 March 2017.
  27. ^ "3rd Rock From The Sun – The Complete Season 5 [DVD]". Retrieved 24 March 2017.
  28. ^ "3rd Rock From The Sun – The Complete Season 6 [DVD] [1996]". Retrieved 24 March 2017.
  29. ^ "3rd Rock From The Sun – Complete [DVD] [1996]". Retrieved 24 March 2017.
  30. ^ "Third Rock From The Sun – Series 1 – Complete [1996] [DVD]". Retrieved 24 March 2017.
  31. ^ "Third Rock From The Sun – Series 2 – Complete [1997] [DVD]". Retrieved 24 March 2017.
  32. ^ "Third Rock From The Sun – Series 3 – Complete [1998] [DVD]". Retrieved 24 March 2017.
  33. ^ "Third Rock From The Sun – Series 4 – Complete [DVD]". Retrieved 24 March 2017.
  34. ^ "Third Rock From The Sun – Series 5 – Complete [DVD]". Retrieved 24 March 2017.
  35. ^ "Third Rock From The Sun – Series 6 – Complete [2001] [DVD]". Retrieved 24 March 2017.
  36. ^ "Third Rock From The Sun – Series 1–6 – Complete [DVD]". Retrieved 24 March 2017.
  37. ^ "3rd Rock From The Sun – Season 1 | DVD, DVD Genres, Comedy : JB HI-FI". 2010-11-15. Retrieved 2011-12-15.
  38. ^ "3rd Rock From The Sun – Season 2 | DVD, DVD Genres, Comedy : JB HI-FI". 2010-11-15. Retrieved 2011-12-15.
  39. ^ "3rd Rock From The Sun – Season 3 | DVD, DVD Genres, Comedy : JB HI-FI". 2010-11-15. Retrieved 2011-12-15.
  40. ^ "3rd Rock From The Sun – Season 4 | DVD, DVD Genres, Comedy : JB HI-FI". 2010-11-15. Retrieved 2011-12-15.
  41. ^ "3rd Rock From The Sun – Season 5 | DVD, DVD Genres, Comedy : JB HI-FI". 2010-11-15. Retrieved 2011-12-15.
  42. ^ "3rd Rock From The Sun – Season 6 | DVD, DVD Genres, Comedy : JB HI-FI". 2010-11-15. Retrieved 2011-12-15.
  43. ^ "3rd Rock From The Sun: Complete Collection | DVD, DVD Genres, TV : JB HI-FI". 2010-11-18. Retrieved 2011-12-15.
  44. ^ "1995–1996 TV Ratings Archived 2009-11-09 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved July 25, 2008.
  45. ^ "1996–1997 TV Ratings Archived 2010-01-06 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved July 25, 2008.
  46. ^ "1997–1998 TV Ratings Archived May 24, 2007, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved July 25, 2008.
  47. ^ "1998–1999 TV Ratings Retrieved July 24, 2008. Archived 2009-10-22.
  48. ^ "Top TV Shows for 1999–2000 Season
  49. ^ "2000–2001 TV Ratings Retrieved July 24, 2008.
  50. ^ "Academy of Television Arts & Sciences". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Archived from the original on 12 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-18.

External links

Preceded by
The X-Files
3rd Rock from the Sun
Super Bowl lead-out program
Succeeded by
The Simpsons
Family Guy
1999 Super Bowl
This page was last edited on 15 September 2021, at 16:31
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