'3rd Rock From the Sun - Season 1 + 2'
(John Lithgow, Kirsten Johnston, French Stewart, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jane Curtin, et al / 2-Disc DVD / PG / 2011 / Mill Creek Entertainment)
Overview: Four extra-terrestrials suddenly materialize in the college town of Rutherford, Ohio. Disguised as humans, they name themselves the Solomons - Dick , Sally, Tommy, and Harry. On the surface, this family functions as normal as possible, but underneath they out of sync with every person on the planet. Their mission from The Big Giant Head is to study a confusing planet and its confounding inhabitants while trying to gain acceptance on Earth. Welcome to Earth, Baby!
DVD Verdict: Even though the series' quality declined over the years, the first season of 3rd Rock has a great premise, excellent writing and a truly astounding cast. Each of the actors playing the Solomons completely throw themselves into their roles, resulting in some of the most impressive physical comedy I've seen in a series over the last 2 decades.
Of particular note are French Stewart, who plays Harry with a deadpan idiocy and Kristen Johnston, who completely sells a fire-breathing warrior trapped in a woman's body. But the true star of the show is the brilliant John Lithgow, in the greatest role of his long and storied career, as Dick Solomon, the High Commander. Every moment he's on the screen, he is simply a marvel to behold; whether roaring in fury over the smallest perceived slight, sputtering in shocked disbelief when questioned, preening and prancing when happy, being casually dismissive of his poor, suffering students, or just racing around in excitement, he is always compelling and completely hilarious.
His articulation, his command of physical comedy, his playing off of the other actors; it's all flawless. It's not a role that calls for much nuance, but rarely has a loud, arrogant and dismissive buffoon been this much fun to watch. His playing of an 'evil' version of himself at the end of the season is also a treat, and showcases his range even more. Just great stuff.
While the first season had it's share of hit 'n miss episodes, the second season was solid and funnier with the cast more comfortible in their zany roles. From the opening two-parter ("See Dick Run"...you'll notice that almost ALL the episodes have "Dick" in the title) that set the tone for rest of the season through such glorious highlights as "Big Angry Virgin From Outer Space", "World's Greatest Dick" has John Lithgow go completely nuts over the football team (just wonderful) and the introduction of the great Jan Hooks in "Gobble, Gobble, Dick, Dick", this is a season not to be missed for the devoted 3rd Rock fan.
And, being that this is a brand new DVD release, there is something important I need to tell you about. It concerns the season-ending two parter "A Nightmare on Dick Street" which has the wonderful 3-D scenes. The original presentation was of a single, hour long show (I know since I still have the original airing on NBC) and this two-parter is from the syndicated release. Meaning that there were small sections CUT from the original show. But NOT here, baby as these are all UNCUT episodes, all featuring their entire filmed lengths!
In wrap, and given the very modest price point, I'm a glad I purchased these sets - especially with the UNCUT version of the 3-D episode in tact now! These are all Full-Screen Presentations (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.