The Fifth Season
3rd Rock From the Sun is one of the richest and hilarious television comedies to air. The series first aired in 1996 and lasted for a total of six seasons. The show molds science fiction into a sitcom and the results are a blast. A team of aliens from Mars take on human form in Rutherford, Ohio and integrate themselves into the local populace. Their goal is to learn everything they can about humans in a couple of days. Of course, it turns out humans are much more complex than expected and the team of aliens decide to stay a while longer. The strongest aspect of this show is its cast. They are remarkable together. Within minutes of any episode, it is apparent how well they interact and play off of each other. The show's writing is also top notch and delivers one great joke after another. For more details about this series and its cast, please refer to DVD Talk's reviews of season one, season two, season three, season four, and the best of release.
Season five is the second to last season of 3rd Rock From the Sun. In this season, some crazy things happen with the cast. First off, there are several storylines about Vicki, the Big Giant Head, and their baby. Four of the season's twenty-two episodes are used to cover it. The story makes for some great jokes and has Shatner giving an admirable performance as the Big Giant Head. There are also several stories scattered throughout the season dealing with Tommy and his relationship with Alissa. The heat between Don and Sally continues, especially when he becomes Rutherford's lone motorcycle cop. And Harry lands himself a lady, Janice, who is Rutherford's toughest (and hottest) female cop. The season also includes plenty of more tales with the family blowing nearly everything out of proportion. It is a fun season and should make any fan of the series laugh until it hurts.
The fifth season picks up where the fourth season ended, with the final part "The Baby Menace (3)" in a three-part episode. If you recall in the season four finale "Dick's Big Giant Headache (1)" and "Dick's Big Giant Headache (2)", William Shatner guest starred as the Big Giant Head. He came to Earth to check up on Dick, Sally, Tommy, and Harry due to their poor mission performance evaluations. While on Earth, Shatner as the Big Giant Head spiced things up for the Solomons and their Earth friends by getting drunk, revoking Dick's command (and giving it to Sally), and impregnating Vicki. In the conclusion to this three-part story, Vicki is in labor and the Solomon's are desperate to prevent the public from seeing the baby. They fear the baby, having an alien as the father, will not be entirely human. Fortunately for our favorite Ohioan aliens, there is nothing wrong with the baby to indicate it is of alien lineage. Unfortunately, Vicki wants to sell her story about being impregnated by aliens to the tabloids. What is great about this episode is how over-the-top the Solomon's reaction is to something most people wouldn't believe even if they read it in a tabloid.
"Dick For Tat" is one of my favorite episodes this season. It is a great story about misconceptions and adulterous affairs. While drinking heavily and playing an adult-oriented board game, Mary reveals her last "fling" was with Strudwick, who is the professor that Dick despises. The two just don't get along. And when he finds out he had a thing with Mary, Dick goes over-the-top with jealousy and tries to fix the matter by sleeping with Strudwick's wife. The situation is blown out of proportion and even includes Strudwick's daughter Alissa and Tommy. Sally also becomes enchanted by the sight of Don, who is now Rutherford's lone motorcycle cop. Both situations turn out to be a riot. The next episode "The Fifth Solomon" is a silly episode about car accidents and insurance. It is an important life lesson Dick never had the chance to get before. The story has two interesting angles, one with Dick getting adjusted to life with a modern car with all the features and Harry and his journey into acquiring all kinds of insurance. This episode was included in the series best of compilation 3rd Rock from the Sun: The Best Episodes in the Universe, Really.
"Dial M For Dick" is a story with a situation that I suppose anyone who did not know what was going on might react in a similar manner to the Solomon's. When Mary invites Dick to a murder mystery weekend, he insists the entire family join them. All five gear up and head off for a weekend of fun. When they get their, Mary starts to feel under the weather and stays in the room. While Dick and the gang are in the mansion, someone gets killed. What they don't realize is that the death was scripted and part of the murder mystery weekend. The Solomon's get a little too serious about the killings and their overreaction to the situation turns out to be worth a few chuckles. In "Charitable Dick", Dick goes head to head with Strudwick again. While at a charity auction, Dick bids on an ugly piece of artwork he does not want Strudwick to win. In the end, Dick ends up with a seventeen hundred dollar painter he can't stand. It is not the season's strongest episode, but it has a few fun moments with Dick's ego getting the best of him.
In the episode "The Loud Solomon Family: A Dickumentary", Mary receives funding to make a documentary about the typical American family, a.k.a. the Solomon's. As an anthropologist she has been studying the family for the last four years. Since the family does not want the truth about their alien heritage coming out, they make up all kinds of things about each other to misdirect suspicion, which include Sally is a lesbian, Harry is an alcoholic, and other antics. "Gwen, Larry, Dick & Mary" is an episode with Dick and Mary trying to branch out their social circle. Mary is tired of always spending time with Dick's family. So, they double date with Mary's tennis partner Gwen and her husband Larry. They all have a swell time, or at least Dick and Mary think they did. Their new friends ignore them; Mary believes it is Dick's odd behavior keeping them away, but she's shocked to learn it is really her. The other plotline has Tommy, Harry, and Sally doing laundry at the laundromat since their washer and dryer broke. Tommy and Harry find out the public laundry facilities are a great place to meet women and Sally becomes the laundry police!
"Dick Puts the 'Id' In Cupid" is an episode about teenage sex and the first time. Valentine's Day is on the horizon and Tommy believes it would be the perfect time to consummate his relationship with Alissa. She agrees and he say he will get a nice hotel room for their first time. Tommy, however, finds out it is not her first time. Tommy becomes intimidated that he won't be good enough. Fortunately for him, Mary's niece Tiffany is more than willing. After losing his virginity to Tiffany, Tommy tells Alissa about it and believes everything is okay. What he didn't realize is how she would react to his affair with Tiffany. And while the issue is fairly serious, the cast does a fine job putting in bits of humor. "The Big Giant Head Returns" sees Shatner returning to Earth as the Big Giant Head in human form Stone Philips and Vicki coming back into the Solomon's lives. Stone wants both Vicki and the baby. Vicki, however, has no desire to be with Stone or give him the baby. To that end, Stone commands Dick to make Vicki love him or else. It is a silly story with Shatner making a royal ass of himself once again and finding true love, or so it would seem.
In "Frankie Goes To Rutherford", Dick has a lesson about homosexuality and the misconceptions of being an "alien". Frank, a former student of Mary's, shows up to say hello and Dick becomes insanely jealous. Dick believes there is something between the two. Frank assures Dick he is not like other guys and he tries to reveal something about himself. Dick mistaken his hints and he falls under the impression Frank is an alien. Matters are complicated when Dick tells him he is one too. The fun part is watching Frank and Dick go to a gay bar, which Dick thinks is an alien hideout. The season finale is the two-part episode "The Big Giant Head Returns Again". Hopefully not a surprise, but Shatner makes another appearance as the Big Giant Head. He returns to Earth with his marriage to Vicki on the rocks, as the two are not getting along very well. He confides in Dick (which includes a heart-to-heart moment and some song and dance) and reveals a big secret to him. Later he demands Dick ends it with Mary after getting to know her better. Sally also comes to believe Alissa is going to break it off with Tommy and does it for him, which obviously complicates their relationship. Tommy is also selected as valedictorian and gives a speech you will probably never hear at a high school. It is a riot! Harry and Vicki resume their relationship, sort of. There are some complications like Vicki's spouse and Harry's new girlfriend Janice. The story is pretty fun way to close out the season, with a lot of things going on for the cast.
Overall, season five sees has some big events for the cast and situations dealing with the Big Giant Head, Vicki, and their newborn baby, as well as the cast just getting mixed up into some good old fashion situations that can only happen when you have a cast of aliens pretending to be humans. As far as the quality, it is still quite good. Fans of the series should enjoy getting another twenty-two episodes of Dick, Tommy, Harry, Sally, Mary, Nina, Don, and all of the other supporting roles getting into one mixed up situation after the next.
1. The Baby Menace (3)
2. Dick for Tat
3. The Fifth Solomon
4. Dial M for Dick
5. Dick and Tuck
6. Dick, Who's Coming to Dinner
7. Sex and the Sally
8. Charitable Dick
9. The Loud Solomon Family: A Dickumentary
10. Gwen, Larry, Dick and Mary
11. Dick Puts the Id in Cupid
12. The Big Giant Head Returns
13. Rutherford Beauty
14. This Little Dick Goes to Market
15. Youth is Wasted on the Dick
16. Dick Strikes Out
17. Shall We Dick?
18. Dick and Harry Fall Down a Hole
19. Frankie Goes to Rutherford
20. Dick Solomon's Day Off
21. The Big Giant Head Returns Again (1)
22. The Big Giant Head Returns Again (2)
The video format is given in its original aspect ratio 1.33:1 full frame color. The overall quality is fairly good. There are some noticeable of compression artifacts and ghosting during heavy movement. In addition there is also a slight roughness in the picture as a result of edge enhancement. As for colors, the picture tends to represent them well. However darker tones tend to highlight the picture's imperfections. Overall, while not outstanding, the visual representation is still quite good.
The audio track is given in English 2.0 Dolby digital stereo sound. The sound quality is good and like most TV on DVD releases, it is dialogue driven and incorporates a laugh track during the funnier moments. The laugh track does not interfere with the audibility of spoken dialogue. As for channel separation, there is very little distinction between left and right channels, but on occasion a sound effect will utilize it.
For special features, season five of 3rd Rock From the Sun gets very little. Past season sets have had various combinations of featurettes, interview segments, and other such thing. One season even had a few episode commentaries. This season set comes with a bloopers reel that runs for five and a half minutes and trailers for Grounded For Life: Season One and Roseanne: Season Four.
There is also a 16 page booklet with excerpts from 3rd Rock From the Sun - The Official Report on Earth by High Commander Dick Solomon and episode synopses (note the episode synopses are out of order).
3rd Rock From the Sun is one of those television series I hold near and dear to my heart, simply because it makes me laugh. This season continues to offer rich comedy with a cast who is adept at delivering comical dialogue and using physical comedy. The writing is still quite good and produces some storylines that are absurd, yet comically fun. Fans of the series should be sure to pick this set up as soon as possible.