TITLE: 3RD ROCK FROM THE SUN - THE COMPLETE SEASON ONE (MILL CREEK)
DVD Release Date: September 13, 2011 (Mill Creek Entertainment)
Packaging: Standard 2-disc Amaray case
Number of Discs: 2
Number of Episodes: 20
Running Time: 452 minutes
Audio: English: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
Special Features: Interview with the Entire Cast, Bloopers, 3rd Rock -- Behind the Scenes Mini-documentary, Season One Highlights
Six years after its initial release on DVD, the first season of 3rd Rock from the Sun has been released again! Only this time, all the episodes are in their original unedited form. The show debuted mid-season in 1996 on NBC and follows the adventures of four aliens -- High Commander Dick Solomon (John Lithgow), a Lieutenant trapped in a woman’s body and going by the name of Sally (Kristen Johnston), senior officer/hormonal teenager Tommy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and bizarre Harry (French Stewart) -- as well, there was an extra seat on the ship. The group has come to Earth disguised as a human family in order to study our culture. Only they don’t understand it very well, and even the simplest of things prove to be quite complicated for them. Also in the cast is Jane Curtin as Dr. Albright -- a co-worker of Dick’s at the local college, whom Dick has begun to fall in love with.
The show is extremely funny, especially in this first season, as the aliens are still getting adjusted to Earth and to their human bodies. Even the simplest things as getting sick or turning a doorknob become a fascination to them. There are a lot of classic episodes in this season, including the pilot “Brains and Eggs,” in which the aliens first begin getting adjusted to live on Earth. In “Post Nasal Dick,” the aliens become sick (and become fascinated with it), “Green Eyed Dick” as the Solomon’s learn about jealousy when one of Dr. Albright’s old flames shows up, and “Dick Like Me,” in which Dick realizes the family has no ethnicity, so he tries to determine what the “best one” would be for them. There are several big-name guest stars in this season as well, including Martha Stewart in episode 2, Ed Begley, Jr. in episode 6, Naomi Judd in episode 18, and Harry Morgan in episode 19.
A big complaint about the original release of Season 1 by Anchor Bay in 2005 is that all of the episodes were syndicated versions. These episodes are sometimes nearly a minute (sometimes less) longer, though some of that can be attributed to the reinstatement of the original main titles with a comical voiceover by James Earl Jones. At any rate, these are longer than the versions released on DVD before, so I have no reason to believe that they aren’t finally, uncut.
Brains and Eggs (22:39)
Post Nasal Dick (22:18)
Dick’s First Birthday (22:41)
Dick is From Mars, Sally is From Venus (22:43)
Dick, Smoker (22:39)
Green-Eyed Dick (22:40)
Lonely Dick (22:31)
Body & Soul & Dick (22:36)
Truth or Dick (22:02)
The Art of Dick (22:40)
Frozen Dick (22:40)
Angry Dick (22:22)
The Dicks They Are A-Changin’ (22:40)
I Enjoy Being a Dick (22:30)
Dick Like Me (22:37)
Assault With a Deadly Dick (22:35)
Father Knows Dick (22:34)
Selfish Dick (22:35)
See Dick Run (1) (22:38)
The outer packaging is, in my opinion, a bit more attractive than the original release from Anchor Bay. On the front, we see the cast sitting on the roof of their home (as they frequently did in the series) with the show logo beneath them and “The Complete Season One” above them. The rear shows Dr. Albright serving the aliens a Jell-o dish, frightening them. (The same photo is on the Anchor Bay set.) The discs themselves look almost identical to the outer cover. The only problem is that the informative and comical booklet included with the original set is not carried over here. Otherwise, the packaging is very nice.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The main menu is very nice. The show’s main theme plays with the show’s logo on screen, and images of the aliens in planets whip by, sort of similar to the opening sequence. You can choose from “Play All,” “Episode Select,” or “Special Features.” Clicking on episode select makes a postcard from the cast (similar to the “Greetings from Earth” postcard in the opening titles) pop up, from which you can choose an episode. Clicking Special Features makes a planet whip by on the screen showing that disc’s special features options. Chapter stops are placed at commercial breaks.
Video and Audio Quality:
The audio quality is nice, in its original stereo sound. Not much to complain about here. The video is also alright, but not terrific. Mill Creek is cramming 20 episodes onto two discs (meaning 10 discs per episode.) The original release spread the 20 out over four discs. As a result, there are some noticeable compression artifacts throughout the set. After watching a few episodes in a row, it becomes easier to ignore, but the problem is still there. The episodes on disc 2 look even worse than the ones on disc 1. There is, of course, the argument that the smaller number of discs is a large part of how Mill Creek is able to sell the set so cheaply, but I still feel the video quality could be a hair better.
Nearly all of the special features from the original Anchor Bay release are carried over here. On disc one, we have “Cast Interviews” (53:50) which is a large set of interview with John Lithgow, Kristen Johnston, French Stewart, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jane Curtin, Simbi Khali, Elmarie Wendel, and Wayne Knight. These were broken up into separate clickable items on the old release, but are in one large title here with no chapter marks. That makes it kind of difficult to navigate through the interviews. The interviews were apparently shot while one of the later seasons was in production (as the cast keeps making references to the way shows were written “early on” and they way they are being written “now.”). Also on disc one is Season One Highlights (10:26) which is basically just a set of clips of funny moments from the season.
On disc 2: Behind the Scenes (2:26) is a very brief look behind the scenes, going from a table read of the script, to an episode’s filming, to a photo shoot. And finally, Bloopers (6:46) is a set of hilarious bloopers by the cast from the first season. Missing from this set that is on the original set are NBC promos for each episode, and the DVD-ROM teleplays of a handful of episodes.
3rd Rock from the Sun is a hilarious show, and I’m glad that an uncut version of the first season is finally available on DVD. The show has been somewhat underrated since its cancellation, and even though it’s been a number of years since I’ve seen an episode, it’s still quite funny to me.
An obvious benefit of this set over the previous one is the fact that all the episodes are uncut, but the video quality on some of them is actually pretty bad. Some of the special features from the original are not carried over either. I do recommend that people who have the older set buy this one, especially considering the low price point, and I would also recommend the set to people who don’t have the first set, or who have never even seen the show at all. I would, however, not advise getting rid of the Anchor Bay set if you already have it.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 3/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 3.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 5/5
-- Reviewed by Greg Brobeck on 09/18/11
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