3rd Rock from the Sun

Tagged: TV

US tv series (1996-2001). Created by Bonnie and Terry Turner. Producers include the Turners, Bill Martin, Mike Schiff, Marcy Carsey, and Caryn Mandabach. Directors include Terry Hughes, Robert Berlinger, and James Burrows. Writers include the Turners, Martin, Schiff, Christine Zander, and Bob Kushell. Cast includes Jane Curtin (Dr Mary Albright), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Tommy Solomon), Kristen Johnston (Sally Solomon), Wayne Knight (Officer Don Orville), John Lithgow (Dick Solomon) and French Stewart (Harry Solomon). 139 30-minute episodes.

Situation comedy about a group of Alien explorers who study humanity by pretending to be a human family – grown-up brothers and sister and the older brother's young son. The humour is derived, naturally, from the aliens' incomprehension of Earth culture and customs, particularly as they relate to romantic and sexual relationships, and from the contrast between the aliens' roles on their mission and the roles they are forced to assume as humans – the tough-as-nails security chief must explore the meaning of femininity, the oldest team member is trapped in the body of a child. The series was a ratings success and a star-making turn for Lithgow, who won several Emmy awards for his portrayal of the whiny, immature Dick (Johnston also won two Emmys for best supporting actress in a comedy, and the show itself was nominated for best comedy). Several well-known actors guest-star as aliens, most notably William Shatner as the aliens' boss, The Big Giant Head. The series finale sees the Solomons bidding a fond farewell to Earth and the friends and lovers they'd made there, and returning to their home. [AN]

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