‘Finding Your Roots’ Proves Interesting But Once Again Imperfect In Its Seventh Season

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

PBS’ hit genealogy based series Finding Your Roots wrapped its seventh season late this past May.  With the season officially wrapped, PBS Distribution released the season to home audiences late last month on a three-disc DVD set.  The discussions that host Henry Louis Gates Jr. has with his guests this season make for the majority of the season’s interest.  For all of the interest that those discussions offer, the season’s presentation in its new home release proves problematic.  This will be discussed a little later.  Keeping all of this in mind, it makes the set’s average price point and separate listings worth noting in their own right.  Each item noted is important in its own right to the whole of the season’s presentation.  All things considered, they make this season worth watching at least once.

The seventh season of PBS’ Finding Your Roots is an intriguing presentation that audiences will find worth watching at least once.  Its interest comes largely through the discussions that host Henry Louis Gates, Jr. has with his guests.  Gates welcomes guests from across the entertainment world once more in this season.  Actors John Lithgow and Mandy Patinkin join journalist Nina Totenberg and Gretchen Carlson, as well as comedian Lewis Black and hip-hop star Pharrell Williams along so many others.  One of the most interesting interviews that Gates conducts is with filmmaker John Waters.  That is due to one point in particular in which the discussion turns (as Waters even notes that it so often does in Gates’ interviews) to the talk of a guest’s ancestors being slave owners.  Waters seemed irritated that the discussion turned to the matter, too.  As the discussion progresses, Waters says very briefly that “It’s always astounding when this kind of thing is found, but what can you do?”  That brief statement is so powerful.  Gates has made a habit of pointing out to certain interviewees that their ancestors were slave owners.  In the process, Gates seems to have a certain sense of schadenfreude as his guests react (normally in shock and disgust).  It is really discouraging to go back and see that happen time and again throughout the series, including in this season.  Waters’ comments are necessary because they speak to what so many people feel and think.  Yes, many people have ancestors who did bad things.  This critic’s own ancestors were on-board the Mayflower.  That means they were part of the group that persecuted the Native Americans in the region with that so-called treaty that essentially gave the Native Americans no rights against the Pilgrims.  This critic also has ancestors who fought on the side of the Confederacy during the Civil War.  That does not make this critic a bad person.  At the same time, this critic also has ancestors who fought for America’s freedom from British rule.  This is a discussion that we as Americans must have just as much as the discussion on the white washing of America’s history, yet Gates even in this season does not seem to want to have the discussion on people’s ancestry.

Staying on that topic, Williams’ reaction at the revelation that his ancestors were slaves is powerful, as is his statement following that revelation.  Justifiably, he is shocked and angry.  At the same time, he stresses in his comments that while he would like to have a conversation with the descendants of the man who owned his ancestors, that conversation would not be to try and make them feel ashamed of themselves, but just to have that discussion on the white washing of America’s history.  That is a mature reaction and statement from Williams, even though it certainly seemed at times that Gates was trying to egg him on, telling him “You should be angry.  We should allbe angry.”  Yes, we should be angry, but we should also not allow that anger to divide ourselves.  It seemed here that Gates did not care about that.  He just wanted to get a reaction out of Williams, it seemed, which is so discouraging.

Williams’ discussion with Gates is just one more example of what makes this season’s discussions so interesting.  His discussion with Mandy Patinkin is one of the season’s most powerful.  That is Patinkin is known on and off screen for being very stoic and strong.  Yet his reaction at finding out the fates of his Jewish ancestors at the hands of the Nazis shows a completely different profile from him.  It shows a real human side from him.  What’s more, learning about his upbringing might also explain his inability or unwillingness to stick to one project for but so long.  It is just one more notable interview conducted in this season of Finding Your Roots.  Between these interviews and all of the others featured in this season, the whole makes the interviews a solid starting point for the season.  While the featured interviews do plenty to make this season of Finding Your Roots worth watching, the season’s DVD packaging proves problematic.

Once again, the packaging lacks any episode listing anywhere on the case or even on the three discs that make up the season.  This means that audiences are left to have to play each DVD to figure out which interviews are on which disc.  This in itself is problematic, too.  Instead of listing the celebrities in the episodes, the episodes have semi-cryptic titles, leaving audiences again to spend that extra time to figure out which episodes are on which discs.  Having to take that unnecessary extra time is an aesthetic element, but do not be confused, the frustration at having to take that extra time can and will discourage audiences from even wanting to take the time to try.  That means that it will decrease odds of audiences even wanting to watch, having to take that extra time going from one disc to the next.  This sadly, nothing new from the series in terms of its home releases.  In only one season so far have audiences had an episode guide.  It is just too bad that that only happened that one time.

There is no denying that the lack of an episode guide once again detracts from Season 7’s home presentation.  In this case, that negative impact can and will be very notable.  Luckily for the same of those behind the show, there is at least one more positive.  That positive is the set’s average price point.  The set’s average price point is $32.70.  That price was obtained by averaging prices listed Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Books-A-Million, and PBS’ store.  That price is about on part with most other DVD sets of the same size.  The least expensive listing, $26.99 is at Amazon, Walmart, and Target.  That is well below that average.  Again, considering the average price of most other box sets of the same size, that price of less than $30 is welcoming to say the least.  Even Best Buy’s price of $27.99 is below that average.  Yes, it is more expensive than the other three retailers, but is still relatively affordable.  By comparison, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Books-A-Million, and PBS each list the set far above the average at $39.99.  So considering those prices against the average price point and those of the other retailers, this is actually encouraging in its own right.  That is because it reminds audiences that there are some affordable prices for this set.  Keeping that in mind along with the interviews featured in this season and even the problems posed by the set’s packaging, the whole proves still worth watching at least once.

The seventh season of PBS’ Finding Your Roots is a presentation that audiences will find interesting and worth watching at least once.  That is even despite the problems posed by its packaging.  The interviews featured in this season are the main reason audiences will want to watch.  They are with celebrities from across the entertainment world.  They also serve as starting points for bigger discussions on race relations this time around.  While the interviews form a strong foundation for this season, the lack of an episode guide in the packaging detracts from the season’s engagement and entertainment.  The extra time that audiences will once again have to spend going from disc to disc in order to find specific episodes will detract notably from audiences’ enjoyment. Audiences do not want to have to take that extra time, and in turn, may end up just not watching any of the episodes.  As much as the issue of the packaging detracts from the enjoyment of this season, the average and separate pricing for the set makes for its own positive.  The set’s average price point is in line with most other DVD sets of its size.  Many of the separate listings are even below that point, too.  That is more encouragement for audiences to purchase the set even despite the packaging problems.  Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the season’s set.  All things considered, they make the album neither a full success nor a total failure.  Finding Your Roots Season 7 is available now.

More information on Finding Your Roots is available online now at:




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PBS Announces Release Date For New Fred Rogers Doc

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

Public Media Distribution will release to DVD next month another documentary focused on Fred Rogers and his beloved series Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.

Mister Rogers: It’s You I Like was released digitally Sept. 3 and is currently scheduled to be released on DVD Oct. 2. The hour-long documentary, which originally aired on PBS and not to be confused with the other Fred Rogers documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor, is a retrospective on Fred Rogers and his beloved series.

Veteran actor Michael Keaton (Batman, Baman Returns, SpidermanHomecoming) serves as host for the heartwarming documentary.  It also features interviews from other well-known figures, such as Yo-Yo Ma, John Lithgow (3rd Rock from the SunThe World According to GarpInterstellar), Whoopi Goldberg (The ViewStar TrekThe Next GenerationGhost) and others.

Mr. RogersIt’s You I Like was produced by JoAnn Young (JFKThe Lost Inaugural GalaOscar HammersteinOut of my Dreams) and John Paulson (JFKThe Lost Inaugural GalaA Raising in the Sun Revisited).  Ellen Doherty and Kevin Morrison of Fred Rogers Productions executive produced.

Mr. RogersIt’s You I Like will retail for MSRP of $19.99 and can be pre-ordered now at a reduced price of $14.99 at PBS’ online store.  More information on this and other titles from PBS is available online now at:


Website: http://www.pbs.org

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pbs

Twitter: http://twitter.com/pbs


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3rd Rock’s Season 6 A Funny Finale For Former Standout NBC Sitcom

Courtesy:  Mill Creek Entertainment

Courtesy: Mill Creek Entertainment

Today’s sitcoms are anything family friendly.  They have become increasingly over laden with sexual innuendo, foul language, and completely dumbed down humor.  These are the main complaints that are received by many audiences about many of the sitcoms currently airing on television’s “Big 4”, and even on some cable based comedies.  Thank goodness for companies Mill Creek Entertainment for offering audiences an alternative to the mostly blue humor that pollutes today’s comedies.  One of the most recent of those alternatives from Mill Creek Entertainment is the release of NBC’s hit sitcom, 3rd Rock from the Sun Season Six.

The sixth and final season of the once powerhouse NBC comedy is just as funny as the show’s previous five seasons thanks once again to the show’s writers.  The Solomon family continues trying to learn the ways of humans in its ongoing mission, all while creating its own share of laughs along the way.  Dick learns in the show’s final season that he’s *gasp* Canadian.  The Solomon family also temporarily takes on new lives in an alternate universe.  And Tommy experiences the human experience that is college.  These are just a few of the funny moments that fill out the final season of 3rd Rock from the Sun.  That’s not all that makes this season such a joy.  A who’s who of guest stars appears throughout Season six, too, adding to the laughs.  A whole slew of fellow NBC stars come in this season including former Saturday Night Live cast members Darrell Hammond, Tracy Morgan, and Ana Gasteyer.  Richard Belzer (Law & Order: SVU) and Mark McKinney (The Kids in the Hall) and singer Elvis Costello also show up this season.  Even as small as their parts are, the guest stars add their own comic element to the show, making it even more entertaining.

The writing in 3rd Rock’s final season is just as entertaining as it was in the series’ premiere season.  Some might have considered it a bit of a cheap thing to do a Saturday Night Live crossover and a slight pump for Law & Order: SVU.  But it all works quite well in the two-part episode, “Dick’ll Take Manhattan.”  The writers, probably knowing it was the show’s last season, take a playful stab at then fellow NBC hit, Saturday Night Live and even the NBC brass as Harry becomes the head of the network.  The writers didn’t just take a stab at NBC.  They even poked fun at HBO’s then hit show, Sex and the City, with Sally (Kristen Johnston) taking the place of Sarah Jessica Parker’s Carrie.  It gets even funnier, with each member of the cast having their own hilarious moments.  This standout episode was just one that served as a tribute to the wit of the show’s writers.  Fans will also love the semi-political comedy of “Red, White & Dick.”  This episode sees Dick discovering that he is Canadian in his quest to become more American.  What it is about this kind of joke that makes it so funny is anyone’s guess.  Canada seems to be the butt of so many jokes in American entertainment.  But it is hilarious nonetheless, and it serves as a solid cornerstone for Dick’s attempts to become more American and in the same vein, more human.  It will have any viewer laughing till they cry.

The writing behind each episode of 3rd Rock’s final season offers nonstop laughs in every episode.  It’s a prime example of what used to make NBC a powerhouse network during the 1990s.  The cameo guest spots don’t hurt, either.  Megan Mullally (Will & Grace) appears as Mary’s (Jane Curtin) sister Renita Albright this season.  She sets out to steal Dick from Mary purely out of sibling rivalry.  That adults could be such strong rivals goes back to the show’s solid writing.  Audiences will love watching Mary and Renita going back and forth, sniping at one another like two little children.  Mullally is just one of the many guest stars that made an appearance this season.  Richard Belzer, Tracy Morgan, and Ana Gasteyer—all NBC stars—made appearances, as did singer Elvis Costello.  Costello made an appearance in the series finale.  The others all appeared in the two-parter, “Dick’ll Take Manhattan.”  Watching a then young Joseph Gordon-Levitt go toe to toe with the then rising SNL stars is a laugh riot.  Who ever would have thought that Tommy would date Ana Gasteyer.  And his moments with Tracy Morgan are just as funny.

The writing and the guest spots together make this final season a fitting way to close out what is by this critic’s view, one of the greatest sitcoms of the 20th century.  The DVD release of this season has one more aspect that while not being perfect, is still good in its own right.  Mill Creek has packaged all three discs of this set in their own envelope.  Mill Creek Entertainment is the only company that packages DVDs in this fashion.  It isn’t a perfect packaging method, considering that the envelopes are not padded.  That would make them perfect.  But having them in envelopes allows audiences to take as many discs as they want when travelling instead of having to take an entire DVD case.  This is actually quite smart in its own right.  If the higher ups at Mill Creek would maintain its form of packaging and simply make the envelopes padded, it would make this packaging fashion quite impressive and the overall presentation of its multi-disc sets that much more impressive.  3rd Rock from the Sun Season Six is available now on DVD.  It can be ordered online via the Mill Creek Direct website at https://www.millcreekdirect.com/3rd-rock-from-the-sun-season-6.html. After ordering the three-disc set, audiences can find out about more releases from Mill Creek Entertainment on its official website, http://www.millcreekentertainment.com or its official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/MillCreekEnt.

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3rd Rock Reclaims Its Spot In TV’s Upper Realms With Complete Set

Courtesy:  Mill Creek Entertainment/carsey werner Distribution

Courtesy: Mill Creek Entertainment/carsey werner Distribution

Mill Creek Entertainment will release tomorrow, the full collection of what is one of the greatest sitcoms of the 1990s.  That sitcom is the one and only 3rd Rock From The Sun.  The one of a kind show ran on NBC from January of 1996 to October of 2000.  Since the show’s original run, few shows—if any—have managed to live up to the level of 3rd Rock.  The show’s writers and the now all-star cast proved throughout its six-season run that comedy could (and can) be fun without being too blue.  Thanks to Mill Creek Entertainment, the show’s original fans and a whole new generation of audiences can see exactly that even over a decade after it ended its original run on NBC.

A big part of the success behind 3rd Rock From The Sun is the show’s writing.  In some bizarre way, the show’s writers were able to take what would have otherwise been mere observational humor and made it into a format that is as funny today as it was in its original run.  It would be safe to say that a big reason for the show’s writing being so timeless is its balance of being edgy, but not too edgy.  Simply put, there were comic elements that only older audiences would get, and then there were elements that some younger viewers would get.  The more adult comic elements weren’t so overt as to make parents want to usher their kids out of the room.  And the show’s tamer elements were still edgy enough to be proper for younger audiences, but still just as entertaining for the parents of said audiences.  Take a pick from any episode of this show’s six seasons on air.  Any of them exhibit that.  One good example of this comes from the show’s fifth season.  “Dial M For Dick” sees the Solomons going to a Murder Mystery playhouse, not knowing that everything that happens was an act.  Needless to say, plenty of laughs ensure, including plenty from the show’s final minutes.  Audiences will have to see for themselves what that means when they pick up this complete collection of the show’s six seasons.

The writing behind 3rd Rock From The Sun is a big part of the success behind the show’s continued success even more than ten years after it ended.  It wasn’t the only part of the show’s success, though.  The acting of the show’s cast also played a big part in its success.  There was an obvious chemistry between the cast—veteran John Lithgow, Kristen Johnston, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and French Stewart—throughout every episode.  The cast’s ability to interpret the comic elements of each script was expert.  And it makes for nonstop laughs from one episode to the next in every season.  If the chemistry between the cast isn’t enough for audiences, then the physical comedy from every member of the cast will push the show over the top.  This too is an element that today’s sitcoms have lost.  The physical comedy in this show harkened back to television’s golden age.  It just heightened each episode’s writing that much more, and made it that much more enjoyable for both adults and some younger viewers.

As one can already tell by this point, 3rd Rock From The Sun had so much to offer audiences.  It still offers every bit of that same comedy and heart to this day.  There is one more factor in this new complete set that audiences will appreciate.  That factor is the inclusion of the same bonus features from the original single season sets released over the past couple of years.  Now audiences who perhaps were unable to pick up previous seasons have the chance to have the complete series exactly as it appeared from Mill Creek’s previous releases.  Mill Creek Entertainment is to be applauded for this inclusion.  Considering everything that this show still offers today, one can only wonder if Mill Creek, or perhaps even another company, will one day give it the re-mastering it deserves and re-issue it to blu-ray.  Until then, audiences now have the entire series in one complete box set that they can enjoy over and over again.  It will be available in stores and online tomorrow, Tuesday, May 14th

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3rd Rock At Its Best In Its Fifth Season

Courtesy:  Mill Creek Entertainment/NBCUniversal

Courtesy: Mill Creek Entertainment/NBCUniversal

NBC’s hit sitcom 3rd Rock From The Sun was one of the greatest sitcoms of the 90s.  Now nearly twenty years after it first debuted, it still stands as one of the funniest sitcoms to have ever been created, despite what some critics might want audiences to believe.  And thanks to Mill Creek Entertainment, fans can now own all six seasons of this laugh riot comedy.  Audiences who remember the series in its original airings will each have their own favorite season(s) and episode(s).  But there’s no denying that of the series’ six seasons, its fifth season marks one of the series major high points.  From the general writing to the guest spots, 3rd Rock From The Sun Season Five is an example of everything that used to make sitcoms great in television’s modern era.

3rd Rock’s fifth season is an exemplar of great comedic writing and timing right from the get-go.  The triple-disc set’s first disc offers what are two of the series’ best episodes in “Dial M For Dick” and “Sex and the Sally.”  In the first of the pair of episodes Dick and the others attend a mystery dinner theater.  Obviously being aliens from another world, they have no idea that the murders in question are just an act.  That is, they don’t know until something quite unexpected happens.  Audiences will have to find out what exactly that is for themselves.  Along the way, Dick thinks himself a sleuth and tries to pin the blame for the murders on one of his own group.  This alone will leave audiences laughing no less with each watch.  Speaking of laughing, audiences might find themselves laughing so hard that they’re crying in “Sex and the Sally.”  Sally discovers the dangers of sex and ways to keep from getting pregnant.  Along the way, the side effects of her using birth control will undoubtedly leave audiences laughing uncontrollably.

The set’s first disc offers more than its share of laughs, as is already noted.  But the laughs don’t end there.  The second and third discs are also front-loaded with more than enough comedy for audiences to enjoy over and over.  The return of guest star William Shatner as The Big Giant Head in “The Big Giant Head Returns” leads to a love triangle as Harry admits to Mamie that he loves her.  At the same time, Tommy tries to hypnotize Sally in order to get her to stop buying shoes.  It doesn’t work.  But it does work on Harry, resulting in some hilarious physical comedy on his part. 

If the solid writing and the physical comedy aren’t enough to keep audiences engaged, then maybe the bevy of guest stars will.  William Shatner returns not once, but twice this season.  Also Star Trek TNG star Jonathan Frakes makes an appearance along with then WWF/WWE wrestler Chyna, Larisa Oleynick (The Secret World of Alex Mack), “The Hoff” himself, David Hasselhoff (Baywatch, America’s Got Talent, The Spongebob Squarepants Movie, Pirana 3DD), and many others.  The continued revolving door of guest stars proves just how popular the show was.  Though, Shatner shined brighter than any others with both appearances this season.  Audiences will love seeing Shatner poke fun at himself when he brings Dick (John Lithgow) to a club and The Big Giant Head decides to do some “singing.”  This is just one of so many moments that will stick with both long-time audiences and newer audiences.

Whether for this moment or the loads of others peppered throughout all three discs of Season Five, 3rd Rock From The Sun has proven once more that it is still one of the greatest sitcoms in modern television history.  It’s available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online via Mill Creek Entertainment’s online store at https://www.millcreekdirect.com/3rd-rock-from-the-sun-season-5.html

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Scholastic’s new dvd set is a treasure trove of family fun

Courtesy: New Video Group

The most recent Storybook Treasures collection from Scholastic and New Video Group is, much like the first two collections, a properly titled set.  The three discs included in the set are loaded with fun and family friendly stories based on some of the greatest children’s books ever written.  Along with entertaining young audiences, it also educates them with stories that teach valuable lessons.  Add in original animation and a read along option, and families have a collection that will be a favorite for one child to the next.

All three discs in the collection offer their own share of fun and learning.  Among some of the most enjoyable stories included in the set are stories of a little squirrel that had to overcome his fear of the world, a group of singing farm animals, and a little dog who couldn’t bark.  There’s even a fun and insightful story of a little squirrel who had to overcome his fear of the world.

In the story of “Scaredy Squirrel”–narrated by David de Vries–audiences are introduced to a little squirrel who is scared of the outside world.  He goes through every day of his life doing exactly the same thing without coming out of his tree.  He even has an emergency kit and emergency plan in case anything should ever happen to him.  The emergency kit is stocked with all kinds of items, from band-aids to anything else that a person could imagine.  Scaredy Squirrel goes about his daily routine every day until a bee comes along one day and changes everything for him.  When the bee buzzes Scaredy Squirrel, he’s forced to jump from his tree.  In the process, he forgets his emergency kit.  But that’s not an entirely bad thing.  Because of what happens, Scaredy Squirrel discovers that he didn’t even know he was a flying squirrel.  So now, he was far less frightened of the world.  He even tosses out his emergency kit, and changes up his daily routine.  The story teaches young audiences that change is a part of life.  And change can be a good thing.  So why be afraid of the outside world and its change.  It teaches viewers to embrace life and change.  This is in itself an important lesson.

“Scaredy Squirrel” teaches a valuable lesson about accepting change and everything that the world has to offer.  It’s only one of the many high points of Scholastic’s Storybook Treasures Vol. 3.  Along with teaching valuable life lessons, the collection also entertains audiences.  One of the funniest stories included in this set is “Doby Dooby Moo.”  “Dooby Dooby Moo” is narrated by country legend Randy Travis.  It tells the story of a group of farm animals who decide to enter a talent contest at the annual county fair to try and win a trampoline.  As they’re practicing for the talent show, the farmer who owns the animals is keeping a close eye on them.  He wants to catch them in the act.  One can’t help but wonder if this story was the influence behind Nickelodeon’s cg-based movie and short lived tv series, “Barnyard.”  The animals do win the trampoline.  It’s thanks to Duck singing ‘Born To Be Wild.’  Think that’s outrageously funny?  Try having one of the judges in the talent contest being a cat.

“Dooby Dooby Moo” is a wonderfully hilarious short story.  It’s not the only funny story included in the set, either. “Bark, George” is the lead story on the set’s third disc.  It is among the silliest stories in the entire collection.  Acting legend John Lithgow narrates the story of the little dog, George who tries to bark, but can’t.  George’s mother tries again and again to get George to bark.  But each time he tries to bark, he makes a different noise.  First he meows like a cat.  And then he quacks like a duck.  Then he oinks like a pig and even moos like a cow.  Unable to figure out what’s wrong, George’s mother takes him to the vet to get checked out.  The vet tells George to bark.  Again, George meows instead of barks.  So the vet puts on a pair of gloves and reaches down inside of George.  To everyone’s surprise, the vet pulls a cat out of George.  The vet says again for George to bark.  This time, George quacks.  So again, the vet reaches in.  This time he pulls out a duck.  Then again, the vet repeats his procedure, and pulls out a pig and then a cow.  Finally after all the animals are out, the vet once more tells George to bark, and he does.  George’s mother is so excited that George can bark that she takes him out and tells him to bark for everyone.  Much to her surprise, instead of barking, George simply says, “Hello.” 

Audiences of all ages will love the inanity of George’s story.  It’s just a fun, turn off your brain moment for the whole family.  And it’s just one of so many included throughout the entire three disc set that will make it a family favorite.  Whether for such funny moments, or for the educational moments, Scholastic’s Storybook Treasures Vol. 3 is loaded with plenty of treasures for the whole family.  It’s one of those collections that will be fun for parents and kids, and even for grandkids.  It’s one of those sets whose stories are so timeless and fun that it will be a staple in any family’s home library for generations to come.

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The Solomons are stil as funny as ever in 3rd Rock Season Four

3rd Rock From The Sun is arguably one of the greatest sitcoms not only in the history of NBC, but in the modern history of broadcasting.  This outrageously hilarious comedy was unlike anything else during the entire six seasons that it aired.  And now, thanks to the people at Mill Creek Entertainment, fans of the show can re-live all the laughs once again.  Four of the show’s six seasons are now available on dvd.  3rd Rock Season Four is just as funny as the show’s first three seasons.  Season Four sees the on again/off again relationship between Dick and Mary roll on, with the introduction of another new love interest making for plenty of laughs.  The Solomons also discover the *joys* of having to pay taxes this season.  And when Mary receives a chain letter, her refusal to send it leads to a string of bad luck for her. It all makes for plenty of laughs.

Dick’s relationship with Mary has been a hilarious ride ever since the first season of this show.  Now four seasons in, the pair has another wave as the show introduces guest star Laurie Metcalf (Roseanne, The Big Bang Theory) in the episode, “What’s Love Got to do, Got to do with Dick?”  Metcalf plays professor Jennier Ravelli, who is brought in after Mary is promoted.  Jennifer and Dick become an item, and eventually lead Mary to get jealous.  This leads to one of many of the show’s funny moments in the companion episode, “D3:  Judgement Day.”  Dick and Mary play a game of wits to see who will crumble to the other first, with Nina playing her own role in the back and forth battle.  This battle of the sexes is something to which almost every viewer can relate.  That the duo would take it over the top how they do makes this mini-storyline all the funnier.

Of course, the ongoing story of Dick and Mary doesn’t get all the attention this season.  Another relateable matter for viewers is that of dealing with taxes each year.  In the episode, “Dick and Taxes”, the Solomons learn what humans deal with in having to file tax returns.  The family has to figure out its returns after a discussion between Dick and Mary.  The resultant frazzled effect on the family is, again, something to which every viewer can relate.  The family’s plans to try and defraud the IRS as a solution are hilarious.  One can’t help but laugh when the family makes up a fake salon as part of its attempts, only to suddenly have that backfire on them.  People actually start coming in.  Of course, the Solomons end up getting audited.  Their attempts to cover up being aliens make for their own laughs too.  It all adds up to yet another laugh riot episode.

The relateability of dealing with taxes makes “Dick and Taxes” one of the best episodes of Season Four.  Though it’s just one of the moments that make the whole season so enjoyable.  Another of the season’s really funny moments comes in the episode, “Superstitious Dick.”  In this episode, Dick learns the human concept of superstition after Mary receives a chain letter and refuses to send it on.  She starts having lots of bad luck when she doesn’t send it off.  From injuring her arm to her head, and even being hit by a hockey puck, Mary’s bad luck leads Dick to bring Miss Dubcek to the hearing for his grant proposal.  He’s so paranoid that he looks like someone with OCD, stepping only on certain floor tiles, tugging on Miss Dubcek’s ears, and more.  In the end, Dick doesn’t get his grant because of that.  But he does learn another valuable lesson about another human behavior and mindset.  And it leads to even more laughs for audiences.

It’s already been noted that 3rd Rock from The Sun is one of the single greatest sitcoms in the modern era of broadcasting.  The stories written for each season made this show unlike anything else out there in its entire six seasons on air.  The episodes included here are just a tiny sampling of what made the show so great even four seasons in.  Season Four ran a total of twenty-four episodes.  And this season has plenty more laughs for audiences, regardless of which episode one picks.  It’s one more great piece of television nostalgia for fans of truly great sitcoms.

3rd Rock From The Sun Season three is more out of this world fun

NBC is known historically for having some of the best programming on tv during the latter half of the twentieth century.  And much like Nickelodeon had its heydey during the 1990’s NBC also had its real heydey during that decade.  It ran strong on the shoulders of its Must See TV Thursday lineup.  Its Thursday lineup included major hits such as:  ER, Frasier, Seinfeld, and Friends.  The early 90’s on NBC also saw two other long time staples begin to wind down in The Cosby Show and Cheers.  By the latter half of the 90’s, NBC’s Thursday night lineup was visibly shaky.  Luckily, NBC did have one more trick up its sleeve with a little show that wasn’t in its Thursday lineup.  That show was the ensemble comedy, 3rd Rock From The Sun. 

3rd Rock From The Sun ran a total of six seasons on NBC.  It aired from 1996 – 2001.  There’s no argument that despite not being on the “Peacock Network’s” Thursday lineup, it was one of the most solid of the network’s shows in the latter half of the 90’s.  It really helped to ease NBC into the new millenium.  That’s because unlike most of its Thursday lineup, 3rd Rock From The Sun really appealed to a wide range of viewers.  It was a show that the entire family could really enjoy.  Having veterans John Lithgow and Jane Curtin leading the cast only served to make the show even funnier.  Now, thanks to Mill Creek Entertainment, that classic hit show is seeing the light of day once again.  The third and fourth seasons were released on dvd last month. And the laughs come just as fast in these two seasons as in the show’s first two seasons.

Season Three opens with Tommy, Sally, and Harry returning to Earth after the second season’s finale.  Season two ended with Harry, Tommy and Sally returning to their home planet after experiencing dreams.  Their dreams made them think that their brains were decomposing.  While they’re gone, Dick stays behind and plans his wedding with Mary.  When the trio return, they’re not alone.  They bring along a fellow alien named Janet, who is played by guest star Roseanne.  They tell Dick that Janet is his new wife, to which Dick obviously freaks out.  He freaks out not just because it throws a wrench in the works for his impending wedding with Mary.  It’s also because Janet is the niece of the Big Giant Head (William Shatner).  They tell Dick that if he gets rid of her, the Big Giant Head could get rid of them, literally.  This leads Dick to figure out any way that he can to make Janet want to leave.  Classic movie buffs will love the reference to A Streetcar Named Desire in one of Dick’s plans.  Needless to say, Janet ends up ruining things for Dick and Mary.  She thinks he’s been lying to her all along, and calls off the wedding.  Luckily, it does all end with a good laugh.

Also in Season Three, the Solomon’s (specifically Sally) learn about pregnancy after Sally goes to the gynecologist in the episode, “Pickles and Ice Cream.”  Sally meets a group of expectant mothers after leaving the exam room.  The moment in which she leaves the exam room is funny in itself.  When all the mothers start to talk about their pregnancies, it makes Sally jealous.  So she pretends to be pregnant.  This leads to all kinds of laughs.  It ties in to the episode’s secondary story.  The episode’s secondary story has Harry’s pet, Pickles, returning to the family.  There’s just one problem.  Pickles is in human form.  Pickles ties in to Sally’s pretend pregnancy because when Sally’s boyfriend, Don (Wayne Knight) finds out about her being allegedly pregnant through Dick, he thinks Pickles is the dad, not knowing Pickles isn’t human.  So when Sally returns home at the episode’s end, Don tells her that he wants to be the father of Sally’s baby.  That’s when she reveals that she’d been pretending all along.  Of course, for all the laughs, this episode does have its heartwarming moment.  Sally actually sees another woman giving birth.  She admits she wouldn’t mind having a child.  She’s just afraid she won’t be good enough because of the amount of time and dedication.  She says something that rings true for every expecting couple.  A baby is forever.  It shows that even female aliens have a certain motherly instinct.

Sally learns about pregnancy and motherhood in Season Three.  She also learns about the ins and outs of love.  In “Sally and Don’s First Kiss”, Don confronts Sally about why in the amount of time they’ve dated, they haven’t kissed yet.  So Sally starts reading romance novels to try and come up with the perfect scenario for their first kiss.  But when what she reads doesn’t work out in reality, she nearly breaks up with Don, until he takes charge of the situation.  That ignites the spark that they both need for romance.  While all this is going on, Dick is having to deal with a hateful lunchlady who is charging him for crackers every day during his lunch.  That is until Mary explains that he needs to take control of his situation.  And Tommy teaches Harry how to pass the test for his G.E.D. using random choice instead of studying.  Weirdly enough, that advice works.  This storyline ties in to Sally’s story, albeit very briefly.  That’s part of what makes this such a great episode.  Far too often, tv shows try to interweave too many storylines into an episode/episodes, thus bogging down said episode(s).  This episode of 3rd Rock is an example to students of the media arts of episode writing done right. While there are three entirely separate storylines here, they all work perfectly independently, making for lots of laughs from start to finish.

3rd Rock From The Sun was a great show when it originally aired on NBC.  Its writers had a wonderful grip of comedy.  For that matter, their writing gave the show a certain kind of heart, too.  That combination of heart and comedy made all six seasons of this show a hit.  And Season Three was just one part of the whole that made the show so great, as evidenced in the episodes listed.  Whether for those episodes, or any others not listed here, Season Three of 3rd Rock From The Sun is one more wonderful addition to the library of any fan of true worthwhile television.