Pros: Entertaining, funny show with interesting characters.
Cons: Won’t appeal to everyone
With some shows, I don't see them when they first start airing for whatever reason. I can't remember exactly when I started to watch That 70s Show, but I've been enjoying the show for several years. I decided to pick up the DVD sets and I recently watched That 70s Show - Season 1.
That 70s Show is a half hour comedy that aired for eight seasons on FOX, starting in 1998. It is actually the only new show that survived that year on FOX. Given that network's history of cancelling promising shows before they have a chance, it is probably a miracle that the show wasn't cancelled. The show is currently airing in syndication on several different stations. The show is set in the last 1970s with the first season starting in 1976. Even though the show aired for eight seasons, less time passed on the show with the final episode taking place on New Year's Eve 1979.
That 70s Show is focused on teenager Eric Forman, his five friends, and his family. The episodes mostly show the things Eric and his friends do with a few family issues popping up every so often. Some of the family issues are connected to one of Eric's friends instead of him. The episodes all have their own plots, but certain things do develop over the course of the season, like Eric and Donna's relationship. Because of those things, it really is best to watch the episodes in order so that everything makes sense.
Donna lives next door to Eric and the two have a changing relationship during the first season as they try to move from being friends to dating. Steven Hyde is Eric's best friend. Steven, usually called Hyde by most of the characters, is a bit rebellious and smokes marijuana. Michael Kelso is good looking, but rather dense. He is involved with Jackie Burkhart, a snobby girl very focused on social status. Fez is a foreign exchange student who hangs out with them and slowly becomes a more integral part of their group. Eric's parents, Red and Kitty turn up at least briefly in every episode. Red is very over bearing and seems annoyed by just about everything about Eric and his friends. Kitty is a nurse who still tries to take care of her son. Laurie is Eric's older sister who is in danger of flunking out of college. She dates a lot of guys and loves to torment Eric. Donna's parents Bob and Midge, are in several episodes too. All of the things about these characters play a part in most of the episodes, which helps to make the character development stronger.
The episodes of the first season of That 70s Show illustrate daily life in the small fictional town of Point Place Wisconsin in 1976 and 1977. Eric and his friends spend a lot of time in the basement of his house. Sometimes they are watching television, sometimes they are just talking, and other times they are sitting in a circle smoking marijuana. Other times they are shown driving around town or hanging out at a restaurant or the town's water tower. Even though they really don't do a lot, the show is still interesting because of the interactions between the characters. There are at least some scenes set in rooms of Eric's house other than the basement like the kitchen or living room. A few episodes deal with three holidays and the prom is the focus of another one.
The decor of the house and the clothing that the characters are wearing look right for the period to me. Every so often, a scene takes place around the dining room table, with the camera moving around the table to focus on each person as they say something. The same technique is used for the circle scenes when the characters are using marijuana. The drug isn't actually mentioned by name, but it is clear by the way they are acting and all the smoke in the scene what is happening. Some different images were used between scenes, like showing a poster with the mouth moving along with a bit of a song. That makes for some unique transitions. At the beginning of most of the episodes in the first season, a time and location is given which sometimes includes a specific date.
In my opinion, That 70s Show is very funny. The humor is silly at times and crude at others. I think the humor works very well for the show, though it won't appeal to everyone. All of the characters say and do things that are funny, though it seems like Kelso and Fez tend to do more things that make me laugh. Much of the humor comes from the everyday things that are shown. The characters do act a bit goofy while high, which also adds some laughs. Some of the episodes also manage to deal with a more serious issue while still being funny, like when Red is upset about his hours being cut or when Jackie has a pregnancy scare.
There are several pop culture references throughout the first season of That 70s Show. Some of the popular music is mentioned, like KISS, and Eric and his friends even go to a disco at one point. Eric has a collection of G.I. Joe action figures that his friends tease him about every so often. They watch Gilligan's Island a few times and go to movies like The Omen and Star Wars. Seeing Star Wars sets off an obsession with the movie for Eric. Some of the characters are shown reading comic books. In one episode Fez is reading comic strips and mentions Dick Tracey specifically. In other episode there is a reference to Charlie Brown. Eric has a Farrah Fawcett poster in his room. Other things going on around 1976, like the women's movement and streaking are mentioned. One episode even deals with President Ford making a stop in town.
When the first season begins, it is established that Eric and Donna have feelings for each other though both of them seem unsure about how to proceed since they've been friends for so long. As the season progresses, they do start dating and they are shown making out more than once. The two of them do have a few discussions about sex. The entire group tends to bring up sex every so often. Michael and Jackie are officially dating when the season begins, though he keeps saying that he is going to break up with her. They are more physical in their relationship, and them having sex for the first time is dealt with during one of the episodes. Hyde ends up involved with someone briefly as well while Fez keeps chasing after women with little luck. There were hints of a possible love triangle featuring Eric, Donna, and Hyde that ultimately went nowhere. The fact that Laurie sleeps around is brought up in several episodes even though she really isn't shown with any guys. Red and Kitty still have an active sex life, which Eric is mortified by when he walks in on them. Things from Bob and Midge's marriage are also mentioned a few times. The sexual content of the show really isn't explicit, but parents probably wouldn't want younger children to see those things.
Eric is a bit of a wimp and he isn't interested in sports or things that Red enjoys, which does strain their relationship. Eric is a likable character and Topher Grace handles the part well. He has gone on to appear in several movies, including Spider-Man 3. Red is very opinionated and tends to get grumpy over many things. He gets annoyed by Eric and tends to favor Laurie. Kurtwood Smith is really good in the part.
Kitty is Eric's loving mother who is having a few issues because her youngest child is getting older. She works as a nurse and still tries to pamper Eric and some of his friends. Her motherly instincts get her to convince Red to take Hyde in after his mother leaves town. Debra Jo Rupp makes her a believable character. Red's mother is in a few episodes. Marion Ross is wonderful as the generally nasty woman who finds fault with everything Kitty does. Laurie turns up in a few episodes, acting like the perfect daughter around her father and tormenting her brother. She is not likable at all, so I'm glad she wasn't around more. Lisa Robin Kelly is fine in the part.
Donna has lived next door to Eric for years and the two of them have been friends since childhood. She is a bit of a tomboy and independent. She supports the women's movement and is annoyed by Jackie and her parents at times. Laura Prepon is good in the part, making Donna a likable character. Bob is a bit goofy and not the smartest crayon in the box. He is mystified by certain things and does do odd things. Midge is even dumber if that is possible and seems to be in her own little world most of the time. Don Stark and Tanya Roberts are fine in the parts.
Steven Hyde is a bit paranoid about the government and tends to think most things are some sort of conspiracy. That might be because he is often high. He acts tough most of the time, though he has a softer side that is hinted at every so often. Danny Masterson is good in the part. Michael Kelso is good looking, but not very smart. He is easily manipulated by Jackie and his friends can usually get him to do stupid things. Ashton Kutcher is really good in the part. He has gone on to make several successful movies.
Jackie is a little younger than the others. It seems like she is only around because she is dating Kelso since the others tend to be annoyed with her. She is a very superficial person and she can be a bit annoying at times. Mila Kunis is good in the part. Fez is the candy loving foreign exchange student that chases after all kinds of girls but never gets anywhere. It isn't said for sure exactly where he is from. Wilmer Valderrama is good in the part.
Topher Grace - Eric Foreman
Lisa Robin Kelly - Laurie Forman
Mila Kunis - Jackie Burkhart
Danny Masterson - Steven Hyde
Laura Prepon - Donna
Tanya Roberts - Midge
Debra Jo Rupp - Kitty Forman
Kurtwood Smith - Red Forman
Don Stark - Bob
Wilmer Valderrama - Fez
That 70s Show - Season 1 has been released alone and as part of a DVD set with every season of That 70's Show. The twenty-five episodes of the first season are on four discs. The menu for each disc has some of the graphics that would be used between scenes in future seasons with the colorful swirling backgrounds and different characters. There is an option to play all the episodes one after the other or each episode individually. The fourth disc has the few extras. Hello Wisconsin! Season One Featurette features the cast talking about their characters and making the show. It is interesting, though it isn't that long. That 70s Trivia Show shares some trivia from the show and Promo-Palooza! shows various promos for the show.
Battle of the Sexists
Eric's Burger Job
That Disco Episode
Sunday, Bloody Sunday
The Best Christmas Ever
That Wrestling Show
A New Hope
Hyde Moves In
The Good Son
That 70s Show is a very funny, entertaining show, though it won't appeal to everyone. That 70s Show - Season 1 is a great DVD set for fans of the series.
This review is part of elvisdo's 2009 Funny Pages Write-Off because of the various references to comic strips and comic books throughout the season.
That 70s Show - Season 2 ~ That 70s Show - Season 3 ~ That 70s Show - Season 4 ~ That 70s Show - Season 5 ~ That 70s Show - Season 6 ~ That 70s Show - Season 7 ~ That 70s Show - Season 8 ~