The Girls are Back for Facts of Life - The Complete Third Season

Mar 31, 2010
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Entertaining episodes with likable characters.

Cons:No extras.  No more seasons on DVD.

The Bottom Line: Facts of Life - The Complete Third Season is a good DVD set for fans of the show.


There have been a lot of television shows that I've enjoyed over the years.  When I really like a show, I enjoy watching the episodes over and over.  For some fo the shows that I watched growing up, I can't find on any station that I get.  I've started to pick up more television shows on DVD.  I recently added Facts of Life - The Complete Third Season to my collection and enjoyed watching the episodes for the first time in years.

Facts of Life aired from 1979 to 1988 and I remember watching most of the show in that time.  I think I've only seen the first season in syndication.  The show is a spin off from Diff'rent Strokes that follows Edna Garrett, the housekeeper for the Drummond family, with her new job at Eastland, a private school for girls.  Mrs. Garrett starts off as a house mother for one of the dorms and then become the nutritionist during the second season.  She also takes responsibility for four girls, Blair, Jo, Natalie, and Tootie when they are almost expelled.  The girls have to work in the cafeteria and live together above the kitchen.  

The third season of Facts of Life is still focused on Blair, Jo, Natalie, Tootie, Mrs. Garrett and their adventures at Eastland.  Certain things connected to school are brought up, including some assignments, though the girls usually aren't shown in a classroom.  Every episode has several scenes that take place in the cafeteria, the kitchen, the room the girls live in, and a lounge next to the cafeteria.  Every so often, some other places around the school are briefly shown, like a new library.  The girls end up in New York for different reasons in some of the episodes.  Really none of the city is shown in those episodes.  Natalie's role as editor on the school paper plays a bigger part in a few episodes, causing her to make decisions about publishing certain stories.  

This season does deal with several serious issues like book banning, rape, teen prostitution, and drug use.  Those subjects are handled in a way that works well overall, delivering a message without being overly preachy.  Again many of the episodes have plots focused on more lightweight topics, like Natalie being upset about losing the role she wanted in the musical to Tootie.  Even the episodes with the more trivial topics end up having some serious moments as well.  The episodes continue to have a decent amount of humor that is blended well with the more serious things going on.  The girls are growing up and they have to deal with more issues.  They irritate each other at times, but they have gotten to a point where they get along fairly well overall.  I did remember seeing most of the episodes in the third season before.  I had been thinking that Blair and Jo were going to graduate at the end of the season, but I was wrong about that.  

There are five main characters for the third season of Facts of Life.  Mrs. Garrett continues to be in charge of the girls and the cafeteria.  She acts as an authority figure to the girls and does her best to help them with various issues and problems.  She is usually understanding, but she does get angry with the girls at times.  She is a likable character overall.  Charlotte Rae continues to do well with the part.  A few teachers turn up briefly, usually just in one episode without that much to do.  The headmaster is in a few episodes as well without that much to do.  I think he is the same one that was in the second season.

The four main girls are mostly the same during this season.  They are likable and nice for the most part, but they all act horribly in at least one episode.  Blair continues to be snobby, though she isn't as obnoxious about it as she has been in the previous seasons.  She does like to brag and act like a big shot, but it works for the character.  Lisa Whelchel is fine in the character.  Jo remains tough for the most part, but she is starting to show some softer edges.  She and Blair continue to have conflicts, but they do seem to get along well for the most part.  Nancy McKeon is good in the part.

Natalie shows more responsibility as the editor of the school paper a few times.  She also has some personal issues, including learning something very upsetting about her father, during the season.  She does seem to grow a bit and isn't just the funny girl like she's been previously.  Mindy Cohn is fine in the part.  Tootie is growing up, but it isn't fast enough for her at times since she is the youngest.  She feels left out at times because of her age.  Her singing and acting are starting to become more important to her and that comes up in one episode.  She also comes to deal better with her adoration of Jermaine Jackson.  Kim Fields handles the part well.  

Some of the other students, including a few of the girls from the first season, turn up in some episodes.  Most of them end up with very little to do.  Miko, a student from Japan, is the focus of one episode and she turns up again in one or two other episodes.  Lauren Tom, who does voices for several animated shows like Futurama, did fine with the part.  I think this is the only non-animated thing I've seen her in.  Blair's cousin Geri is in a few episodes, including one where she has a romance.  Some of the parents visit in one or two episodes without any of them having that much to do.

Main Cast

Mindy Cohn - Natalie
Kim Fields - Tootie
Nancy McKeon - Jo
Charlotte Rae - Edna Garrett
Lisa Whelchel - Blair

DVD Information

Facts of Life - The Complete Third Season has all twenty-four episodes from the third season on three discs.  There is an option to play all the episodes on a disc, one after the other, or they can be selected individually.  The discs are in two thin plastic cases.  The back of each case lists the episodes on each disc along with a short plot summary.  There are no extras.  So far, this is the last season of Facts of Life to be released on DVD.  The fourth season is scheduled to be released in May of 2010.

Episode List

Growing Pains
Fear Strikes Back
A Baby in the House
A Friend in Deep
Front Page
Give and Take
Sweet Sorrow
From Russia With Love
Dear Me
Cousin Geri Returns
Legacy
Green-Eyed Monster
The Americanization of Miko
The marriage Brokers
Starstruck
The Four Musketeers
The Affair
Runaway
New York, New York
Kids Can be Cruel
Mind Your Own Business
The Academy
Jo's Cousin
Read No Evil

Facts of Life is an entertaining show that has held up well.  Facts of Life - The Complete Third Season is a good DVD set for fans of the show.

This review is part of CaptainD's Good Movies EpiGuide 3 Write Off.

Facts of Life - The Complete First and Second Seasons ~ Facts of Life - The Complete Third Season ~


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