DVD Review
by Kevin Carr

    MOVIE: **** (out of 5 stars)
    DVD EXPERIENCE: **1/2 (out of 5 stars)

    Topher Grace as ERIC
    Mila Kunis as JACKIE
    Ashton Kutcher as KELSO
    Danny Masterson as HYDE
    Laura Prepon as DONNA
    Wilmer Valderram as FEZ
    Debra Jo Rupp as MRS. FOREMAN
    Kurtwood Smith as MR. FOREMAN

    Not Rated
    Studio: Fox

    Created by: Bonnie Turner, Terry Turner and Mark Brazill
    Back to DVD Review Home


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Okay, I think I’ve figured out the seasonal structure of “That 70s Show.”

I know that’s not exactly a monumental feat. It’s not like I derived Schroedinger’s wave equation or developed Einstein’s theory of relativity, but I feel proud of myself all the same.

What really annoys me about sitcoms is when they try to be signficant and relevant. There’s nothing worse than watching a show so you can laugh, and then have a message forced down your throat. On the same token, it’s equally as annoying to watch a show where you just want to have fun and you’re given a heavy drama instead.

The 80s were notorious for serious sitcoms. Remember Gordon Jump as the child molester on “Diff’rent Strokes”? Remember Tom Hanks’ stint as the alcoholic uncle on “Family Ties”? Remember every single episode of “Punky Brewster” that ever aired?

By the time “Seinfeld” hit the small screen in the 1990s, the “very special episode” had started to fall off. What I loved about “Seinfeld” was that it never tried to teach us anything, never tried to have a message, never tried to do anything that could remotely be described as “very special.”

And that’s the same reason why I like most of “That 70s Show.” Instead of ramming a message into our faces, we just have fun watching the teenagers make idiots of themselves. Even when otherwise “very special” topics are brought up – like joblessness, losing your virginity and drugs – they’re dealt with in a comedic fashion, more for a nostalgic laugh than for a real social point.

Except this doesn’t happen in all 25 shows of the season. Instead, the first two episodes and the last two episodes of the season are given the dramatic treatment. Donna’s gonna leave. Donna and Eric are going to get married. Jackie falls in love with Hyde. Fez is trying to legally stay in the country. Hyde decides to get himself arrested so they won’t bust Jackie for drugs.

“That 70s Show: Season Six” starts off the run with a slew of serious plot points. Fortunately, they all get resovled by the third episode, and then the hilarity starts. It’s a good thing they don’t stay on the dramatic couch because the normally funny characters just become jerks without the humor.

However, when you finally reach the third or fourth episode, the characters are back to their own tricks. Even when Kelso faces an unwanted pregnancy with a girl he banged at the Molly Hatchet concert, it was handled with kid gloves (if you’ll pardon the pun).

Usually, the box sets of “That 70s Show” have plenty of extra features. However, by the time you do five years of shows, the special features run a little dry. Still, in the sixth season box set, there’s audio commentary on selected epsidoes, a season retrospective, promo spots on all episodes and two flashback interviews featuring Kurtwood Smith and Debra Jo Rupp.

I’ve found “That 70s Show” to be one of the most consistently funny sitcoms on television in recent years. I love the characters, and for the most part, I love the writing. There’s only two more seasons to come out, and only one of them leads off with Topher Grace (who bailed from the role of Eric Forman to star in this summer’s “Spider-Man 3”). When this show comes to the end of its run on DVD, it will be a sad day for me.

Specifications: Dolby Surround Sound. Fullscreen (1.33:1). English language subtitles for the hearing impaired.

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