Recurring Themes and Alien Premises
- as every intelligent person knows -

The idea of aliens living among us, casting wry observations on human values and assumptions was not new to TV sitcoms before Third Rock from the Sun (aka 3rd Rock) came along - ALF, Mork and Mindy, My Favourite Martian. But it is almost undeniable that 3rd Rock ad more fun with the genre and took the comedy a lot further than anyone previously dared. And really they did so, by posing the very simple question-premise - if there really were aliens among us, would we be able to recognise them?

In exploring the human condition, through the eyes of outsiders, the theme that recurs most often is the notion that artificially trying to 'fit in' puts us even more at odds with other people and our surroundings. Comedy in 3rd Rock is squeamish at best of times.

For the Solomons, learning to 'act human' is largely a matter or learning to be one's self - except that the aliens, as we discover, didn't really have a 'self' before they landed on Earth. Tot them, the human experience is at the same time compulsive and confusing. Despite, or perhaps because they are mere alien drones, each member of the mission seem to revel in each and every aspect of that human experience. They each manage to acquire their own insight and experiences while somehow continuing to function as a unit.

From the glimpses we get into their own culture and society, we can see that it is clearly autocratic and militaristic - the total opposite of what humans would regard as an 'advanced civilisation'. They judge human civilisation from a detached and benignly condescending standpoint; which means they often come across as insensitive. Nevertheless the aliens do come to like humans, often seeking to emulate this humanity. At times even, they appear to question their loyalty to each other and to their own species; something that might only be possible because they have embraced 'humanity'.

In the words of actor John Lithgow:

"We are entitled to go absolutely anywhere and do anything, mainly because we don't know there is anything wrong with what we are doing. We can be dirtier, we can be more outrageous, we can be more politically incorrect, we can be incorrect in every conceiveable way, and ... we didn't know, don't blame us, we didn't know, we're aliens! It's just a gigantic sanction, it's a permit that we have that no-one else has!"

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