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  Third Rock From the Sun / 3rd Rock

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> Description 
3rd Rock From the Sun was an American television situation comedy that ran from 1996 until 2001. The show was about a "family" of four extraterrestrials that landed on Earth to observe human beings, while pretending (often awkwardly) to be humans.

The plot

The show derived much humor from the contrast between the outward appearance adopted by each of the aliens and his or her actual, internal nature. Dick, far from being a wise and fatherly figurehead, is arrogant, self-absorbed, petulant, faddish, and often downright foolish. Inside Sally's glamourous form lives the weapons and security officer: uncouth, swaggering and macho. The oldest of the group was morphed into teenager Tommy, his former wisdom at odds with the strange and often humiliating life in which his teenage persona casts him. Only the oddball of the group, Harry, seems comfortable with Earth - yet he is the most obviously weird of them all (particularly when his built-in "radio" function takes unexpected control over his body, relaying orders from the aliens' homeworld in an odd, booming voice).

The family comprise a survey-team from an alien culture, and often communicate with their offworld (and unseen) boss, "The Big Giant Head" who apparently only got the job by kissing "The Big Giant Butt". His orders are received by Harry, who unexpectedly (and often in inconvenient circumstances) stands erect, his arms stiff (acting perhaps as the antenna), and declaims "INCOMING MESSAGE FROM THE BIG GIANT HEAD". The Big Giant Head finally makes an appearance in the fourth season, played by actor William Shatner. His desire to review the team's results and performance is soon forgotten, as the newly corporeal alien is quickly distracted by all the vices his new flesh affords.

At the end of his first appearance, TBGH tells Dick of a bad experience he had once on an airplane. Dick exclaims that the same thing happened to him! This is an inside joke to the Twilight Zone episode "Terror at 20,000 Feet". Shatner appeared in the original television version; Lithgow appeared in the movie remake some thirty years later.

Comedic style

Third Rock uses comedic elements which are strikingly unusual in modern North American television comedy, yet drawn from established sources. Clowning techniques, all with a long pedigree in European theatre, are employed throughout the several seasons of the show. Mime, slapstick, speaking in rhyme and role reversals are employed, giving this science fiction comedy a solid anchoring in more venerable clown traditions, such as the Commedia dell'arte. In the well established style of clown parody, the aliens repeatedly ape the behavior patterns, mannerisms and speech style of humans in various walks of life and much humor is derived from their abilty to be more like their target human than the original. Relationships between the characters are similarly familiar from theatrical and circus comedy performed in Europe during the past few centuries.

Show Description Credit: Wikipedia
 
> Airing History & Information 
Last Airing May 22, 2001
Premiere January 9, 1996
Episodes 139
Network NBC
Format/Time Color / 30 Minutes
Country United States
Upcoming Airs Not currently airing
 
> Cast 
Chris Hogan....   Aubrey Pitman (45 episodes)
David DeLuise....   Bug Pollone (48 episodes)
Danielle Nicolet....   Caryn (45 episodes)
John Lithgow....   Dr. Dick Solomon
Jane Curtin....   Dr. Mary Margaret Albright
French Stewart....   Harry Solomon
Ileen Getz....   Judith Draper (33 episodes)
Ian Lithgow....   Leon (49 episodes)
Elmarie Wendel....   Mrs. Mamie Dubcek (1997-2001)
James Earl Jones....   Narrator (uncredited) (1996)
Simbi Khali....   Nina Campbell (1997-2001)
Wayne Knight....   Officer Donald 'Don' Orville (1997-2001)
Kristen Johnston....   Sally Solomon
Joseph Gordon-Levitt....   Tommy Solomon
Kristin Morley....   Waitress (uncredited)

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