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3rd Rock From the Sun - Season 2


TITLE: 3RD ROCK FROM THE SUN - SEASON 2


Info:

DVD Release Date: October 25, 2005 (Anchor Bay Home Entertainment)
Color/1996
MSRP: $39.98
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 26
Running Time: 572 Minutes
Total Runtime of Special Features: approximately 38 min.
Languages: English; No Subtitles; Closed Captioned
Special Features:
*Bloopers
*Season Two Highlights
*John Lithgow Interview
*Preview spots of the episodes from their original NBC Broadcasts
*Behind the Scenes of the 3D Episode
*Alternate Ending for the 3D Episode
*Bloopers from the 3D Episode


Introduction:

The New York Daily News instantly called 3rd Rock from the Sun “by a long shot, the funniest, most original, best written, and best produced new comedy of the season,” when it debuted. For the next five years, it remained the most wildly inventive, critically acclaimed, and flat-out hilarious show on TV. Now we get to enjoy season two of 3rd Rock from the Sun on DVD!

It’s now the second year on Earth for “The Solomon Family” ­ High Commander Dr. Dick Solomon (three-time Emmy-winner John Lithgow), beautiful and outrageous Sally (two-time Emmy-winner Kristen Johnston), typical teen Tommy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), and adorably odd Harry (French Stewart) ­ as they accelerate their mission to understand the absurdities of human behavior. Jane Curtin, Simbi Khali, Wayne Knight, and Elmarie Wendel co-star in this five-time Emmy-winning season.


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

This is yet another consistently funny season for the series. Starts with the 2-part season premiere. After that, where you go depends on how you like to view TV DVD sets. Those of you who prefer to take sets linearly, as I do, can rest assured knowing that the episodes never fail to provide the funny in ample doses. For those of you who do like to skip around, however, my advice would be to watch the 2-part season finale (AKA The 3D Show) next.

And now for the one part of my review that’s actually comprehendible:

THE BIG LIST OF GUEST STARS, 3rd ROCK SEASON TWO EDITION:

Dennis Rodman: See Dick Continue to Run (1, 2)
George Takei (“Star Trek”): Hotel Dick (3)
Al Franken (“Saturday Night Live”): Dick the Vote (6)
Mike Ditka: Fourth and Dick (7), Romeo & Juliet & Dick (14)
Brenda Strong (“Desperate Housewives”): Fourth and Dick (7), A Nightmare on Dick Street (25/26)
Laraine Newman (“Saturday Night Live”): World’s Greatest Dick (8)
Jan Hooks (“Saturday Night Live”): Gobble, Gobble, Dick, Dick (10)
Dick Martin (“Rowan & Martin’s Laugh In”): Dick Jokes (11)
Jay Leno (“The Tonight Show”): Dick Jokes (11)
Greg Proops (“Whose Line is it Anyway?”): Sensitive Dick (21)
Harry Morgan (“Dragnet [60s],” “M*A*S*H,” “AfterMASH”): Sensitive Dick (21)
Mark Hamill (“Star Wars”): Fifteen Minutes of Dick (23)
Christine Baranski (“Cybill,” “Happy Family”): Dick and the Single Girl (44)
Randy Newman (singer/songwriter): A Nightmare on Dick Street (45/46)


Packaging:

The packaging is your standard 4-disc Digipak…sort of. Pressing a certain spot on the front cover of the box results in the box actually talking. (Tidbit: the mechanism is hidden in a compartment behind the cover, resulting in the packaging being thicker than normal). Unfortunately, something happened in transit to the copy I received for review, and the sound didn’t work…again. I’d like to say it’ll work on retain copies, but your mileage can, may, and probably will vary.

The front cover features the main cast (sans Dr. Albright) in the Rambler flying around in front of a reflective space background, with the 3rd Rock logo at the top. Reverse cover has the introduction on the top, while, underneath a “ring,” the cast (in Rambler) fly around…and Dr. Albright’s with them! [I’m not even going to ask...]. The inside panels are again distinct photos and fans of the show will recognize what’s going on immediately. The interior panels are the various characters in their dreams from the 3D Show! Dick is strolling through the sunflowers, Sally is descending from the plane in furs, Harry’s out in the street, and Tommy’s out in the middle of the desert. The artwork on the other side, immediately behind the disc holders, is its own little section, found below. For season two, part two of “A Guide to Living on Earth”, a new version of the amazingly funny replacement for the standard info books you usually see in DVD sets that was used for Season 1. I noticed something on the back of the book that dampers my liking of the booklet that I must have missed the first time but more later on that.

The first section is "Five Basic Rules on Fitting In with the Humans," with, uh, five rules for fitting in with the humans. Rule #1 is: Be loud and aggressive whenever possible. Be the center of attention. Dominate conversation. Look people in the eye, kiss them on the lips, and touch them on their…well that one goes over about 40 percent of the time. But you get the point. It’s that kind of planet. The silent loners in society are looked upon with suspicion and often fear. Especially the postal workers! (I guess some things are universal). This intro section is a bit weaker than last time, but is still pretty good. After that, you’re on your own. One hint as to another section is contained later in the review. My one gripe with the booklets is that, in actuality, it’s not original material. It’s taken from excerpts from 3rd Rock from the Sun ­ The Official Report on Earth by High Commander Dick Solomon (available from Harper-Collins Publishers and finer bookstores everywhere).

The discs themselves are the reason I stalled on talking about the background behind the disc holders. The discs are worked into the background art, with the disc art being the same as the part of the background it obscures, but with a character also on the disc. The planet itself is a greener version of Saturn. Disc 1 (containing shows 1-7) has Dr. Albright on the cover; Disc 2 has Sally, and contains 8-14. Disc three, Harry, has 15-21, while Disc 4, Dick, has 22-26.


Menu Design and Navigation:

The menus are spectacular, again. The cast members fly around hanging onto various meteors, dancing around and having fun. The opening theme plays throughout. The episode selection menus are standard text­ in the show title font­ beneath two planets. Clicking the episode title presents you with a screen with info about the episode,­ the episode synopsis, a photo for the episode, as well as two Play options…you can either play the episode…or choose “preview,” which will play the NBC-aired episode preview for each episode. Each preview runs 0:30. Extras menu is a rehash of the Season 1 features menu. Each option is its own text link in much the same style as the episode selection menu. Menu options are a bit tough to select on PCs playing the set, but work fine on standard DVD units.


Video and Audio Quality:

The video quality is fairly good. Most episodes are bright and vivid with minimal compression. Some of the later episodes appear slightly faded, but still look good. Audio is your basic 2.0 English. The sound is spread evenly among both channels. The audio is loud and clear. There are no detectable muffled spots. Essentially it’s the same as season 1’s review.

OK, critics of syndicated cuts, pay close attention to what I am about to tell you--all of it. The episodes on this set, as well as the previous 1st Season set, are SYNDICATED cuts. They’re missing roughly 45 seconds per episode, 30 seconds of which are made up of cutting the James Earl Jones introduction. The usage of syndicated prints is NOT, I repeat, IS NOT the fault of Anchor Bay Entertainment. Carsey-Werner, for a lot of the early sets they licensed to Anchor Bay (and to another company, UrbanWorks), sent syndicated prints to the respective publishers. This caused the confusion which led to syndicated editions of A Different World Season 1, Cosby Show Season 1, Roseanne Season 1, and 3rd Rock seasons one and two. After receiving EXTENSIVE heat for Roseanne and Cosby show in particular, Carsey-Werner has agreed to give the original broadcast prints for all future releases. Unfortunately, this set (in addition to World) was too far into production to swap out the episodes. I’m one of the harsher critics of syndicated cuts in the review business, however, I implore you not to let it affect your purchase of this and other 3rd Rock sets. Only 10 to 15 seconds of content is even cut out thanks to removing the Jones intro, and what’s missing WILL be restored from season three onward. That being said, runtimes for ALL episodes are in the 21:50 range, THE runtime for syndicated prints on Carsey-Werner-leased releases.

The 3D episodes do appear to be in 3D, and there’s even a set of 3D glasses in the set. However, I cannot see the 3D. It’s entirely possible that, based on the 3D technology used for the episodes, that it’s a Seth problem, and not an episode problem. A note, the picture in the preview, which is almost certainly not 3D, looks identical to the picture in the episode. Use your own judgment. Still it is an enjoyable episode regardless. Once again, there are no chapter stops in the release. Not surprised…I’m just saying it’d be nice to see them for future releases.


Special Features:

John Lithgow Interview (New) (9:58): An interview with John Lithgow (Dick) shot exclusively for the DVD. This one’s detailed, folks! Starts off immediately with John saying he got ambushed into the pitch, was trying to find the nicest way to say no…and within five minutes had agreed to do the show. He talks about the various cast members (with high regard). They were originally planning to do Harry differently, but when French Stewart tested, they decided to rewrite the role around French. Apparently John’s played his own evil twin five times in his own career. Fascinating stuff -­ much more than I’ve detailed here.

Season Two Highlights (10:39). This is various funny clips from the 2nd Season. This is a great montage of wall to wall comedy.

Season Two Bloopers (10:15): Various bloopers picked up off the cutting room floor. Video quality varies wildly. It is funny stuff all around--Cheeriules?

Behind the Scenes of the 3D Episode (4:36): One episode got its own feature! The 3D show is when the aliens first start dreaming, so why not make the dreams vivid? This is filmed during the making of the 3D show. Harry’s dream sequence, which was supposed to be done in one take, took 27. All kinds of neat little bits, interspersed with other bits from the Lithgow interview above.

Bloopers from the 3D Show (2:45). More bloopers, this time all from the 3D Show.


Final Comments:

What can I say about the show itself other than it’s still as great as I remember it. It was a bit sad not getting to see the 3D show in 3D (I missed its original airing) due to whatever reason, but the episode was still great.

There are only two problems with this set, and one is guaranteed to be addressed for season three. One is the syndication prints. I know that a bit of Narration from the intro and a few lines of dialogue don’t seem like much, but fans of the show want those chopped off things. Luckily we’ve already been told that all releases onward will be original broadcast prints! The only other problem is the lack of chapter stops.

Seth’s Guide to Placing Chapter Stops (abridged):
Step One: Every time show fades to black, insert stop there
Step Two: Repeat.

It’s a simple thing, and I seriously do NOT know why some releases don’t have them. I, honestly, recommend this set to anyone who’s a fan of virtually any form of comedy. The show, particularly in the early seasons, hit all its comedic marks, and is a genuine treat to behold. I personally can’t wait for season three, and the usage of the original broadcast prints. Also in the recommendations department, I’d like to recommend the set to anyone having trouble selecting their morning breakfast cereal. (If you’ve read the entire review, you’ll understand that). Great set and recommended!


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 4/5
Menu Navigation/Design: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher on 10/16/05

To purchase the DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000AQ69TA/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20


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