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3rd Rock From the Sun - Season 5


TITLE: 3RD ROCK FROM THE SUN - SEASON 5


Info:

DVD Release Date: August 15, 2006 (Anchor Bay Entertainment)
Color/1999-2000
MSRP: $39.98
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 22
Running Time: Approx. 431 minutes
Total Runtime of Special Features: Approx. 5 1/2 minutes (not counting the previews)
Audio: English
Closed Captioned
Special Features:
*Bloopers
*Previews/TV Spots
*16-Page Collectible Booklet


Introduction:

Attention people of Earth: Behold the hilarious 5th season of The Solomons' mission to investigate human behavior! Share the joy of a possible alien childbirth! Scream in terror as the family attends an interactive murder mystery! Weep in sorrow as the family car is wrecked! Gasp in suspense as Dick and Harry are trapped deep in a hole! Release the beast within as Sally discovers birth control! Get all sweaty as Tommy prepares to lose his virginity! Soak up the shocking secrets of the local laundromat! And bow down in surrender as The Big Giant Head returns to claim his offspring in the two-part season finale!

Experience all 22 complete episodes on several strangely shiny discs featuring such guest stars as William Shatner, Billy Connolly, David Hasselhoff, Genie Francis, Jonathan Frakes, Bob Odenkirk, Miguel Ferrer, Alan Cumming, Curtis Armstrong, Ana Gasteyer and more!


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

3rd Rock From the Sun aired from 1996-2001 for 6 seasons on NBC. A total of 139 episodes were produced. It aired in about 20 different slots, which is probably the most of any series in the last 20 years. The series won 5 Emmy Awards in 1997. John Lithgow was nominated for "Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series" for this season. He was nominated every season and won in 1996, 1997, and 1999. Dick Solomon was ranked #24 in TV Guide's list of the "25 Greatest Sci-Fi Legends." The series starred John Lithgow as Dr. Dick Solomon, Kristen Johnston as Sally Solomon, French Stewart as Harry Solomon, Joseph Gordon-Leviett as Tommy Solomon, Jane Curtin as Dr. Mary Albright, Simbi Khali as Nina Campbell, Larisa Olyeynik as Alissa Strudwick, Elmarie Wendel as Mrs. Mamie Dubcek, Jan Hooks as Vicki Dubcek, and Wayne Knight as Officer Don Orville.

Memorable fifth season episode included "Dial M For Dick," in which Dick agrees to attend a murder mystery weekend with Mary (even though he has no idea what that is) as long as he can bring the rest of the family along. When Mary asks Dick if the Solomons will be the subjects of her documentary on the typical American family, Dick is star struck and immediately agrees in "The Loud Solomon Family: A Dicumentary." In "Dick, Who's Coming To Dinner," Dick can't understand why Nina won't let him attend the Black Student Union meeting with her. Tired of spending all her time with the Solomons, Mary suggests she and Dick go on a double date with her tennis partner Gwen, and Gwen's husband Larry in "Gwen, Larry, Dick & Mary." Tommy suggests to Alissa that Valentine's Day would be the perfect time for them to get a hotel room in "Dick Puts the 'Id' in Cupid." Vicki Dubcek returns with her baby, little Eric Travis, and everyone is surprised at her change of style and the Big Giant Head returns, as obnoxious as ever in "The Big Giant Head Returns." Dick is consumed with jealously when Frank Cooper, a very handsome, former student of Mary's, shows up to visit her in "Frankie Goes To Rutherford."

There were a number of notable guest stars. Curtis Armstrong guest starred as Ken Fretts in "The Baby Menace." Kim Johnston Ulrich played Dorothy Strudwick in "Dick For Tat." Billy Connolly was Inspector Macffery in "Dial M For Dick." David Hasselhoff appeared as Dr. Lasker in "Dick & Tuck." Bob Odenkirk guest starred as Gary and Steve Witting was Ted in "The Fifth Solomon" Real-life married couple Genie Francis and Jonathan Frakes played Gwen and Larry in "Gwen, Larry, Dick & Mary." Ana Gasteyer played Dr. Brand in "Dick Puts the 'Id' In Cupid." Miguel Ferrer was the Cop in "Youth Is Wasted On The Dick." Olivia d'Abo appeared as Andrea in "Dick Solomon's Day Off." William Shatner returns as the Big Giant Head in "The Big Giant Head Returns" and "The Big Giant Head Returns Again (Parts I and II)." Alan Cumming guest starred as Angus "The Hole" McDuff in "Dick and Harry Fall In A Hole."


Packaging:

The packaging remains the same as previous seasons. There is no talking box thing once again. They didn't have it either for season 4. The outer box has a photo of John Lithgow, Kristen Johnston, French Stewart, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Don't worry Jane Curtin fans, she is featured elsewhere on the packaging. Planets and stars can be seen in the background. On the back of the box, there is a summary of the set, a listing of the special features and DVD specs, and a photo of the 5 main cast members smiling at the camera in normal clothes. There is a nice, shiny gloss effect on the box. Kristen Johnston is featured on the spine of the box. The main Digipak slides out from the right of the box. There are 5 panels inside that hold the 4 discs. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is pictured on the front cover. John Lithgow is featured on the back, playing a ukelele. Unfolding the Digipak, there are photos of French Stewart in western attire, Jane Curtin singing, and Kristen Johnson in a wedding dress. Once again, there's a random star field in the background of the disc holders. The actual discs featured the 3rd Rock logo and have a different color theme and photo on each of them. Disc 1 is blue and features John Lithgow swooning a shocked Jane Curtin. Disc 2 is light purple and has a photo of Kristen Johnston wearing shades in a Marilyn Monroe-like dress. Very sexy. Disc 3 is darker purple and pictures French Stewart in a white suit and cowboy hat. Disc 4 is green features Joseph Gordon-Levitt in regular-looking clothes. The episodes are split with 6 each on Disc 1-3 and 4 on Disc 4.

Inside the Digipak, there is a folder that holds the 16-page collectible booklet. It features some excerprts from the 3rd Rock From the Sun book (The Official Report on Earth by High Commander Dick Solomon). There are sections on Sports, Some Basic Rules, The Art of Argument, and Earth Wisdom. There are a number of nice photos sprinkled throughtout the book. There is also a cast photo that is split over 2 pages. The last 4 pages have a listing of the episode titles, with some pretty detailed summaries. The only additions I would have liked to see in the book are the original airdates and a listing of the notable guest stars for each episode. There is also a sheet that promotoes the previous 3rd Rock DVD releases with photos of the artwork, as well as Roseanne and Grounded for Life.


Menu Design and Navigation:

Although I haven't seen the earlier 3rd Rock seasons, our previous reviews describe the menus the same way. The theme song can be heard in the background. I would assume this is the Season 5 theme. I read that they had a new theme starting with this seson. There are animations with a 3-d earth spinning on the left and various spinning and bouncing planets moving around it. There are options for Episodes and Play All in yellow in the lower right portion of the screen. Your highlighed option is in green text and it turns pink when you select it. An Extras option is available on the fourth disc. When you select Episodes, it takes you to a separate menu. There is selectable text below 4 planets. After clicking on one of the episode titles, it takes you to another menu that gives you a detailed summary of the episode (the same summaries are listed in the booklet), a still photo from the episode, and two "Play" options. There is an option to play the preview for each episode or you can just play the episode by itself. Each preview runs about 30 seconds. I guess these are shown with the episodes in syndication. Disc 4 has the special features option for the bloopers and promo for Roseanne - Season 4 and Grounded for Life - Season 1. Chapter stops are provided within the episodes, but there are no separate scene selection menus. There is only one chapter stop in each episode. It comes right after the intro/opening credits.


Video and Audio Quality:

The video and audio quality is excellent. These episodes are already about 6-7 years old. Wow, has it been that long already? Most episodes are bright and vivid and look as good as when they were first broadcast. The episodes are well spread out, with no more than 6 episodes per disc, so there are no compression issues. The audio track is your basic Dolby Digital 2.0 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. Essentially itís the same as the previous seasons.

It seems like every season had shorter and shorter episodes. The season 4 episodes all ran a little over 22 minutes. By the 5th season, the episodes were running a little over 21 and 1/2 minutes. All the episodes appear to be uncut, and it states that on the packaging.

Note that these episodes are presented in their original production order (the order in which they were made) and not the original broadcast airdate order. Here is a list of the episodes, including the running times:

Disc 1
---------
The Baby Menace (21:38)
Dick For Tat (21:38)
Dick & Tuck (21:36)
Dial M For Dick (21:37)
The Fifth Solomon (21:36)
The Loud Solomon Family: A Dickumentary (21:36)

Disc 2
---------
Dick, Who's Coming To Dinner (21:36)
Charitable Dick (21:36)
Sex And The Sally (21:38)
Dick Strikes Out (21:38)
Rutherford Beauty (21:36)
Gwen, Larry, Dick & Mary (21:36)

Disc 3
---------
Shall We Dick (21:36)
Dick Puts the 'Id' In Cupid (21:37)
Youth Is Wasted On The Dick (21:36)
Dick Solomon's Day Off (21:37)
The Big Giant Head Returns (21:37)
This Little Dick Went To Market (21:38)

Disc 4
---------
Dick and Harry Fall In A Hole (21:38)
Frankie Goes To Rutherford (21:3)
The Big Giant Head Returns Again, Part I (21:39)
The Big Giant Head Returns Again, Part II (21:38)


Special Features:

Looking at the special features of the previous 4 seasons, it seems like they've taken a major spiral downward. Previous seasons have included behind the scenes clips, interviews, season highlights, bloopers, previews/tv spots, teleplays, and audio commentaries. All we get here are the Previews/TV spots and bloopers.

Previews/TV Spots - These are included for every episode and run about 30 seconds. A nice way to get a feel for the episode.

Bloopers (5:34) - These are not the best quality at all. They appear to be from a VHS source, but they are still a lot of fun to watch. There's even one where French Stewart is bleeped out. Funny stuff. It is nice that all seasons have had bloopers.

Maybe they were just saving them for the last season. Hopefully Season 6 will go out with a bang, and Anchor Bay will include a ton of special features for the final season. One extra that I'm sure that we'll see is the alternate ending for the series finale.


Final Comments:

Anchor Bay has done a very good job with releasing 3rd Rock at such a fast rate. They started with Season 1 on July 26, 2005. The final sixth season is already listed at one e-tailer as being slated to release on Nobember 14, 2006. If only every show could have 6 seasons available in less than a year and half. It's not just 3rd Rock. Anchor Bay has released many of their other sitcoms at this rate.

The special features on this set were a bit of a disappointment. Maybe they just have run out of material, or they were saving some things for the final season. It would be nice to see the return of the audio commentaries and a retrospective documentary included on the sixth season release.

It will be great to see John Lithgow returning to a sitcom this fall. He will be on NBC's "Twenty Good Years" with Jeffrey Tambor. They could be a great comedic duo. Hopefully NBC doesn't move it around in so many slots like 3rd Rock, and John Lithgow can add to his Emmy collection. Read our New Fall 2006 Sitcoms Preview here.


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

Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 2/5
Menu Navigation/Design: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 08/13/06

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

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000FS2W26/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20

Questions or comments about this set? Post on our message board:

http://www.sitcomsonline.com/boards/showthread.php?t=180272


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