3rd Rock from the Sun (sometimes referred to as simply 3rd Rock) is an American sitcom that aired from 1996 to 2001 on NBC. The show is about a group of extraterrestrials on an expedition of what they consider to be the least important planet, Earth (the 3rd Rock from the Sun), while posing as a human family of four, to observe human beings.
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.
Dick Solomon (played by John Lithgow), the High Commander and leader of the expedition, is the family provider, and takes a position as a physics professor at Pendelton State University. Information officer Tommy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has been given the body of a teenager and is forced to enroll in high school (later college), leaving security officer Sally (Kristen Johnston) and communications officer Harry (French Stewart) to spend their lives as thirty somethings hanging out at home and bouncing through short-term jobs.
The family often communicates with their off-world (and usually unseen) boss, the Big Giant Head, who apparently only got the job by kissing "The Big Giant Butt." His orders are received through Harry, who unexpectedly (and often in inconvenient circumstances) stands up, his arms stiff (acting as the antenna), and proclaims: "Incoming message from the Big Giant Head."
Bonnie Turner and Terry Turner
Jane Curtin (all, entire run)
Wayne Knight (all, seasons 3-6; recurring previously)
Theme music composer Ben Vaughn
(seasons 1-4 and 6)
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (season 5)
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 6
No. of episodes 139
Linwood Boomer (season 1)
Mike Schiff (seasons 3-5)
David Sacks (seasons 4-5)
Christine Zander (seasons 5-6)
Jason Venokur (season 6)
David M. Israel
Gregg Mettler (producer)
Gregory Thompson (co-producer)
Location(s) Rutherford, Ohio (setting)
CBS Studio Center, Studio City, Los Angeles, California (filming location)
Camera setup Film; Multi-camera
Running time 22 minutes
Production company(s) The Carsey-Warner Company
Distributor Carsey-Werner Distribution
Original channel NBC
Original run January 9, 1996 (1996-01-09) – May 22, 2001