Monday, April 13, 2009

3rd Rock From the Sun

Continuous re-runs of "3rd Rock" are a welcome TV diversion. The show was originally broadcast between 1996 and 2001. I never did get a chance to see any of the episodes when they were aired over in the UK, and wasn't even sure what it was all about. I saw my first repeat here in the US and immediately loved the show. Now we pounce with delight on 3rd Rock repeats.

From Wikipedia's 3rd Rock page

"As many intelligent people know, aliens are all around us. This is a story of a band of four such explorers. In order to blend in, they have assumed human form. This is the High Commander [Dick]. He has assembled an elite team of experts: A decorated military officer [Sally], a seasoned intelligence specialist [Tommy] and, well, they had an extra seat [Harry]."

The premise of the show revolves around an extraterrestrial research expedition attempting to live as a normal human family in the fictional city of Rutherford, Ohio, where they live in a loft apartment. Humor was principally derived from the aliens' attempts to study human society and, because of their living as humans themselves while on Earth, to understand the human condition. In later episodes, they became more accustomed to Earth and often seemed to be more interested in their human lives than in their mission.

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 glamorous form lives the weapons and security officer: uncouth, swaggering, and macho. Tommy, the oldest of the group, is morphed into a teenager, his former wisdom at odds with the strange and often humiliating life in which his teenage persona and raging hormones casts him. Only the oddball of the group, Harry, seems comfortable with Earth — yet he is the weirdest of them all, particularly when his built-in radio function takes unexpected control over his body, relaying orders from the aliens' home world in an odd, booming voice.

My favourite character is Harry, played by French Stewart, who, for some reason cracks me up far more than the others. His oddball straight-faced delivery appeals to me, and it's a great foil for the more manic styles of John Lithgow and Kristen Johnston who play Dick and Sally. Tommy, the youngest character is the most sane of the bunch, probably reflecting the maturity of his hidden alien persona.

I couldn't resist looking into the astrology of the four actors. 12 noon charts below will accurately show planets in signs (click on image to enlarge), but ascending signs and degree of Moon in each case will not be correct.

French Stewart (top left)plays Harry: 20 February 1964, Albuquerque NM, has Sun conjunct Mars in the first degree of Pisces, with Uranus opposing, and Saturn and Mercury in Aquarius. He'd find it easy to be zany and oddball with that line-up!

Joseph Gordon Levitt (top right): 17 February 1981, Los Angeles CA, plays Tommy. Sun/Mercury/Venus in Aquarius, with Uranus (his Sun's ruler) squaring Sun from 00 Sagittarius. Another who will slip easily into his quirky character.

John Lithgow (bottom left):19 October 1945, Rochester NY, plays Dick, the Commander. Sun/Jupiter/Neptune/Venus all in Libra with Uranus trining these from Gemini.

Kristen Johnston (bottom right): 20 September 1967, Washington DC, plays Sally. Sun/Uranus/Pluto all close together in Virgo, Mercury in Libra and Jupiter/Venus in Leo.

It's interesting that in each case Uranus, the planet usually connected with everything oddball, quirky and zany is linked to personal planets by aspect or conjunction. It's not surprising then, that these actors found it easy to relate to the characters they were asked to portray - and that they did so with such resounding success. List of awards and nominations here.

Harry: I want to make the world a better place. I want to give mankind the gift... of electricity.
Tommy: They have electricity.
Harry: Ah, then my work is done!

Dick: What's the point of having a democracy, if everybody's going to vote wrong?

Dick: Welcome to Rusty's. How may I serve you?
Customer: How do you make your burgers?
Dick: Excellent question. First, a clamp comes down onto the cow's head, forcing it onto a conveyor belt, where a prod is inserted into the cow's rectum, electrocuting it.
Customer: Gimme two.
Dick: Thank you, and remember: at Rusty's, E-coli is not on the menu.

[Tommy is selling chocolate door-to-door and he encounters a priest at one door]
Tommy: Hi, Father, I'm selling chocolate so the high-school band can go to Washington... and learn about they can become priests.
[The priest closes the door in Tommy's face]
Tommy: Fine then; they'll stay here in Rutherford and worship Satan!

Sally: The Official Boy Scouts' Guidebook. Who're the Boy Scouts?
Harry: They're an elite, prepubescent, paramilitary society and I'm going to follow their ways.
Sally: But Harry, you're neither elite nor prepubescent.
Harry: All in good time, Sally... all in good time.

Dick: Where would we be without the agitators of the world to attach the electrodes of knowledge to the nipples of ignorance?

Dick: Harry, are you naked or am I seeing things?
Harry: Actually it's a little of both.

Tommy: [about a movie Harry has seen] How was it? I heard there was an awesome shower scene.
Harry: Oh, yeah...but then this naked girl got in and you could barely see the shower.


anyjazz said...

You are right.

That is funny stuff!

The right cast, the right premis and the right people behind the scenes. Sometimes it works.

Wisewebwoman said...

I've caught it a few times, T, and liked it. I must watch out for more episodes!

anthonynorth said...

I nwever watched this either in the UK. After your post, must give it a try next time.

Twilight said...

Anyjazz ~~~ Yes - the scriptwriters and cast need to be on the same zany wavelength - and here it has happened. :-)

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ I always find it a real tonic! :-)

Twilight said...

AN ~~~ Yes, do! I'm sure you'll enjoy. :-)

anand_icomm said...

love the show...