Back for a fourth season, Dick Solomon (John Lithgow), Sally (Kristen Johnston), Harry (French Stewart), Tommy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Dr. Albright (Jane Curtin) along with their co-stars Don (Wayne Knight), Nina (Simbi Khali), and Miss Dubcek (Elmarie Wendel) continue to amuse us with their uninhibited and candid reactions to life as humans. In this season, Harry works as a sideshow freak at a carnival and doesn't want to return to the group, Mary is promoted to Dean and Dick assumes that he has some power as her boyfriend, Dick finds a new love interest, Jennifer (Laurie Metcalf) and the Big Giant Head (William Shatner) visits the 3rd Rock from the Sun. It's another hilarious look at life on earth!
Season four began with "Dr. Solomon's Traveling Alien Show," in which discovering that Harry has been kidnapped, the other aliens search for him, somewhat handicapped by the fact that the Big Giant Head is punishing them for not filing their reports by shutting down Dick's higher brain functions. When Mary is named the new dean, Dick assumes her power also applies to him, and wastes no time in firing his nemesis from the lunchroom, Lucy -- who immediately files a grievance in "Power Mad Dick." When Sally learns that she's not Don's first girlfriend, she is consumed with retrospective jealousy and determines to track down his exes in "Feelin' Albright." After Dick almost bites into a "Fuzzy Buddy" in a fast-food restaurant burger, he becomes obsessed with the collectibles in "Collect Call for Dick." Sally tries to fix Nina up with Eric, a colleague of Don. Dick finds himself attracted to Jennifer, his new office mate in "What's Love Got to Do, Got to Do with Dick?" Dick tells Mary he thinks they should see other people, and she laughingly agrees, not knowing he already has a candidate lined up--new officemate Jennifer in "I Am Dick Pentameter!" Dick decides to dump Jennifer and finagle his way back into Mary's heart as an uproarious three-part romantic misadventure concludes in "D3: Judgement Day." When Playpen magazine arrives at Pendelton for a model search, the Solomons react to the issue of nudity in different ways in "Indecent Dick." As the New Year approaches, Dick is in despair because he feels he hasn't accomplished anything all year in "Happy New Dick."
The Big Giant Head grants Sally's three-year-old request for a "gender reassignment" - and switches her body with Dick's in "Two-Faced Dick." Dick receives an invitation for a family reunion that was meant for someone else but the Solomons go anyway in "Dick Solomon of the Indiana Solomons." After three years on the planet, the Solomons finally learn about an organization called the IRS in "Dick and Taxes."
When Sally tells Officer Don she can't take living with Dick, Harry, and Tommy anymore, he assumes that she wants him to propose in "Sally Forth." Albright's feeling a little uncertain about her waning power at the college, and Dick eggs her on into full-blown paranoia in "Paranoid Dick." Dick feels like his control over the mission is falling to pieces when Sally decides to move out, and Harry considers having a baby with Vicki Dubcek in "The House That Dick Built." Dick receives a chain letter, but hesitates to discard it when he sees all of the ill fortune that befalls Mary after she scoffs and tosses hers out in "Superstitious Dick." Dick, who's never figured out computers, decides it's time to get plugged in "Y2dick." Sally meets a suave Italian-American man at a restaurant in "Dick The Mouth Solomon."
Now that Sally's moved out and won't clean for them anymore, the male Solomons decide that it's time to get a maid in "Citizen Solomon." A mysterious woman, Charlotte, turns up in Dick's life, claiming first to be auditing his class, then to be writing an article about him, then to be an "intellectual groupie" in "Alien Hunter." Dick's faculty nemesis, Dr. Vincent Strudwick, writes a physics book that's hailed as a work of genius in "Dick vs. Strudwick." When Sally, Harry, and Tommy narrowly miss being crushed by a chandelier at a restaurant, their near-death experience fills them with a new reverence for life -- and fills Dick with jealousy that he wasn't able to share this deep experience in "Near Dick Experience." The Big Giant Head announces his plans to visit the Solomons in person to chastise them for their poor mission performance in "Dick's Big Giant Headache, Part 1." Reeling in the aftermath of his demotion, Dick has to get used to taking orders from everyone else in the crew -- even Harry -- a humiliating experience that makes it difficult for him to perform sexually in "Dick's Big Giant Headache, Part 2."
Here are some notable guest stars as we reported in our earlier fourth season review:
(Note: Despite not being credited among the main cast,
Elmarie Wendell and Jan Hooks are not being listed, as
they appear in the VAST majority of episodes)
Laurie Metcalf (“Roseanne”): “What’s Love Got
to Do, Got to do with Dick,”, “Dick Pentameter”,
“D3: Judgment Day”
Larisa Oleynik (“The Secret World of Alex Mack”):
Indecent Dick, Sally Forth, The House that Dick
Built, Superstitious Dick, Y2dick, Citizen Solomon,
Near Dick Experience
Kurtwood Smith (“That 70s Show”): Dick Solomon of
the Indiana Solomons
Christine Lakin (“Step By Step”): Dick Solomon of
the Indiana Solomons
Kevin Nealon (“Saturday Night Live”): Dick the
William Shatner (“Star Trek”, “Boston Legal”
[Denny Crane]): Dick’s Big Giant Headache (I and II)
All of the episodes appear to be unedited, with running times over 22 minutes. These episodes have pretty much the same runtimes as the previous Anchor Bay release. The runtimes are as follows:
Dr. Solomon's Traveling Alien Show (22:07)
Power Mad Dick (22:08)
Feelin' Albright (22:07)
Collect Call for Dick (22:08)
What's Love Got to Do, Got to Do with Dick (22:07)
I Am Dick Pentameter! (22:07)
D3: Judgement Day (22:07)
Indecent Dick (22:07)
Happy New Dick (22:07)
Two-Faced Dick (22:06)
Dick Solomon of the Indiana Solomons (22:07)
Dick and Taxes (22:06)
Sally Forth (22:06)
Paranoid Dick (22:07)
The House That Dick Built (22:05)
Superstitious Dick (22:06)
Dick "The Mouth" Solomon (22:06)
Citizen Solomon (22:05)
Alien Hunter (22:06)
Dick v. Strudwick (22:06)
Near Dick Experience (22:05)
Dick's Big Giant Headache, Part 1 (22:06)
Dick's Big Giant Headache, Part 2 (22:06)
The 3-disc set contains all 24 episodes from the fourth (1998-99) season. It comes in a standard keepcase with interior paper sleeves. The cover art features large headshots of John Lithgow, Kristen Johnston, French Stewart and Joseph Gordon-Levitt and a smaller photo of co-stars Wayne Knight, Simbi Khali, Elmarie Wendel and Jane Curtin. The show logo is in the center and "The Complete Season Four" is above it. The back cover has a photo of the entire 8 member cast. A short synopsis of the set and a listing of the special features are provided. French Stewart is on the spine of the case. The interior of the packaging is a bit of problem. The 3 discs are stored in the dreaded black paper sleeves that other Mill Creek releases have been using inside a plastic holder. This storage method isn't ideal because the discs can easily be scratched. The original 2006 Anchor Bay DVD release included a 16-page booklet, but there is no booklet included this time. The actual discs have a nice design. They feature a large headshot of one of the cast members on each. Lithgow is on Disc 1. Johnston is on Disc 2. Gordon-Levitt is feautred on Disc 3. There's a smaller cast photo of co-stars Curtin, Knight, Wendel and Khali on each disc. The 3rd Rock logo, episodes titles and special features are printed on them. Discs 1 and 2 hold a whopping 9 episodes. Disc 3 contains only 6 episodes and the special features. Overall, the design and layout of the packaging is very nice, but the interior paper sleeves leave a lot left to be desired. If people really voiced their displeaure with the paper sleeves, maybe Mill Creek would use another method.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The main menu begins with an animated sequence of the cast members heads popping up and moving along the edges of Earth. The theme song plays in the background for about 25 seconds before looping. The show logo is in the top right side of the screen. There are options for Play All, Episode Select and Special Features (only on Disc 3) at the bottom. The option you highlight is in green and turns white upon your selection. When you choose episode selection, there's another menu that has a photo of Knight, Khali, Wendel and Curtin on top of Earth. The episode titles are listed vertically in white text with the episode you select highlighted in green. There are transitions between the menus. The special features menu has a planets and space background. Chapter stops are placed at the appropriate places.
Video and Audio Quality:
The video quality is nice. The video does hav some digital artifacting like the previous three Mill Creek released seasons. There are simply too many episodes (8 this season on Discs 1 and 2) per disc. Disc 3 has only 6 episodes and the special features. You just lose some of the sharpness that these episodes should have. Some scenes look a little blurry and unfocused when they shouldn't be. The Anchor Bay episodes were much better spread out with fewer episodes on each disc and offered some improved video quality. The audio is a Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track. The sound is spread evenly among both channels. The audio is loud and clear. There are no detectable muffled spots. Closed captioning is available on all of the episodes. Closed captioning may not apply to the special features.
Most of the special features from Anchor Bay's 2006 fourth season release have been carried over on this set, but there are no new special features included. There is a Season Four Highlights montage, an Interview with Jane Curtin and Bloopers. No audio commentaries for this season. Those were only included for season four. The only thing that appears to be missing on this release are the TV previews/promos. As previously mentioned, the 16-page collectible booklet from the Anchor Bay set is also not included in this release.
Season Four Highlights (11:04) - The funnier moments of season
four condensed into 11 minutes and 4 seconds.
Jane Curtin Interview (7:17) - Runs a mere 7 minutes, interspersed
with clips. The interview appears to have been shot
during the series’ run, as the interview takes place
on-set, and Jane refers to the show in the present
tense. The extras in the clips are, as always,
Bloopers (4:47) - Under 5 minutes worth of bloopers. The video quality of these isn't great, but they are fun to watch. Over 50% less
bloopers than the third season. Did less just survive the cutting room floor this time?
I love these value priced re-releases! It would be great if there were more these under $10 sets available. I'm not sure how Mill Creek is making any profit on these new sets. It must be all about volume sales for them. Season Four had fewer special features and three less episodes than Season Three, but this set still represents a great value and offers a lot of bang for your buck. The show really slipped in the ratings by the fourth season, but they were still turning out quality episodes. They were nominated for 7 Emmy Awards this season. John Lithgow won the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series award for the fourth consecutive year. Kristen Johnston also won Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for third consecutive year. William Shatner (Denny Crane) won Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for his role as The Big Giant Head. There are only 2 more seasons left for Mill Creek to re-release. Nothing has been officially announced yet, but it seems likely that they will be available later in the fall.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 3.5/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 2.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 05/06/12
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