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That '70s Show: Season 1

Fox // Unrated // October 26, 2004
List Price: $49.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Jeffrey Robinson | posted October 23, 2004 | E-mail the Author
The First Season

In 1998 the creators of 3rd Rock from the Sun introduced That '70s Show. It's a very hilarious sitcom that takes place in, believe it or not, the 70s. Located in a fictional suburb of Green Bay, Wisconsin known as Point Place, the series revolves around the comical daily interactions of the Forman family and their friends and neighbors. Through twenty-five great episodes, the first season tackles many familiar issues like sex, drugs, dating, friendships, and family values. These issues turn into a few sticky situations that should leave you rolling over with laughter. The first season has some really great episodes, which is mostly due to the great cast and some outright great stories. That '70s Show is without a doubt, a great sitcom.

The first season cast of That '70s Show is fairly large, with eleven different characters. This series does well handling this large cast, in presenting their neurotic behaviors and quirks and their overall character development, as well as outlining their interactions. The cast is also presented in a manner that is attractive, which makes them all very likeable. It's really hard not to love this cast.

The series' main character is a teenage boy, Eric Forman (Topher Grace). He's your average kid, although a bit geeky. It's his life that the series revolves around. His parents Red (Kurtwood Smith) and Kitty (Debra Jo Rupp) join him in every episode. There relationship is comical, but a little unhealthy at times. Red doesn't like to show his feelings towards his son, so he typically treats him like an idiot and quite frankly, sometimes Eric can be an idiot. While this may sound "bad" or "mean", it comes off in a manner that's comical and not cynical. It's one of my favorite aspects of the series. I simply love the relationship that Eric and Red have. Between the two is Kitty, she typically tries her best to promote a healthy father/son relationship. In the episode "That Wresting Show" (guest starring The Rock) she's mildly successful, when she gets them to go to an amateur wrestling match together. Eric's sister, Laurie (Lisa Robin Kelly), while not officially on cast until season two, makes a few appearances that leave Eric's friends drooling.

One house down the street lives the Pinciotti family. Donna (Laura Prepon) is one of Eric's childhood friends and his current love interest. In the first season their relationship evolves into something beyond friendship. It's fun to watch them haphazardly venture into the issues of love, as two inexperienced teenagers. There are more than a couple of episodes that show just how comical love can be. For instance, in the episode "First Date", Eric and Donna's first date doesn't go as well as planned when somebody's ice tea turns out to be a long island ice tea! Donna's parents, Bob (Don Stark) and Midge (Tanya Roberts) are the type of characters that are oblivious to the obvious. Bob gets put at the butt of a few jokes, with the best coming from Red. Midge is a stereotypical blonde trying to find herself as a Feminist. These two add quite a bit to the season, especially in episodes like "The Pill". Bob doesn't handle it well when he finds out his daughter is taking birth control pills.

The rest of Eric's friends are made up of Michael Kelso (Ashton Kutcher), a clueless dumbstruck pretty boy, Jackie Beulah Burkhart (Mila Kunis), a rich stuck-up snob with no shame, Steven Hyde (Danny Masterson), an average I hate everything kind of guy, and Fez (Wilmer Valderrama), a foreign exchange student who is learning the American way of life. Their interactions add a lot to the series. Hyde is a great character, because he's so cynical and he's constantly cracking jokes on his friends. Fez is always making you laugh, because his translation of English is sketchy. More frequently than not he misses a few things in translation, which results in a few funny statements. Jackie isn't well liked by the gang. Her personality tends to drive people away, except for Kelso. He seems to be captivated by her beauty. For this reason, they're behind a lot of Hyde's jokes. Furthermore, Kelso just says and does some pretty stupid things that make you laugh. Together the cast provides some great characters that are both funny and likeable. Their interactions with each other are amazing, in just how they can turn boring daily situations into a laugh fest.

I thought that this was a very good season. It's all of the little things about the cast and their interactions that really make this a great comedy series. In addition, there are some outright great episodes. One of my favorite episodes of the season is "Streaking". When President Ford decides to stop in Point Place, Eric and the gang see the opportunity to do something wild and crazy, streaking. I really enjoyed this episode because running around naked is funny. There's no question about it. Another great episode is "Eric's Buddy", where Eric befriends one of the cool kids at school, 3rd Rock from the Sun's Joseph Gordon-Levitt. However, friendship isn't everything the new guy's got in mind, as Eric soon finds out! For the fans of Star Wars, there's a great parody episode, "A New Hope". After Eric and the gang see Star Wars, a couple of them get a little too into it. So naturally, when Eric and Donna run into problems with their relationship, he dreams about them in a Star Wars setting. This is a great episode, because Eric really blows things out of proportion, which of course isn't anything new. These are only a few examples of the great episodes that season one has to offer.

Another great aspect about this series is its alternative look on life. In many of the episodes, we get a view of Eric and company's lives while high. This aspect isn't really about the drug use, but rather the funny aftermath. When Eric and his friends are high, they say some pretty stupid things. Of course, even when they're not high they still say and do some pretty stupid things. In general, the dialogue is very good, which is another reason that the cast's interactions are so funny. Some of the things they say and the jokes they make seem like pure genius. It's also presented in manner that isn't corny or cliched, but is bluntly put, comical.

Overall, I thought that the first season of That '70s Show was very strong. While it doesn't offer very much as an entire season (no big underlying season story), on an episode by episode basis it's great. I found that watching each episode was just as funny as the first time I watched it. There is a lot about this series that makes it funny, whether you consider the wonderful cast, their interactions, or the outright funny stories. The first season was done very well and if you're a fan of good comedy, these twenty-five episodes should leave you with nonstop laughter. I really enjoyed the first season and can't wait for the future DVD releases!

Episode Guide
1. That '70s Pilot
2. Eric's Birthday
3. Streaking
4. Battle of the Sexists
5. Eric's Burger Job
6. The Keg
7. That Disco Episode
8. Drive In
9. Thanksgiving
10. Sunday, Bloody Sunday
11. Eric's Buddy
12. The Best Christmas Ever
13. Ski Trip
14. Stolen Car
15. That Wrestling Show
16. First Date
17. The Pill
18. Career Day
19. Prom Night
20. A New Hope
21. Water Tower
22. Punk Chick
23. Grandma's Dead
24. Hyde Moves In
25. The Good Son


Fun Screen Caps - click to enlarge

That '70s Show is given in its original television aspect ratio of 1.33:1 full frame color. The picture quality is very good, providing a clear and clean picture. It looks substantially better than its original television broadcast presentation, providing less grain in the picture and more richness in colors.

The first season release of That '70s Show's audio track is an English Dolby digital stereo surround track. The audio in this release comes off fairly flat. However as with most TV on DVD releases it's not necessarily bad, as the majority of the audio is spoken dialogue. The sound quality is very good, providing an audible and clean audio track. There also seems to be very little distinction between audio channels. This release also has subtitles in the English language.

There aren't a lot of special features with this release. For the most part, there's only one of interest. "Hello Wisconsin! That '70s Show: Season One Featurette" presents eighteen minutes of interviews with cast and crew and many clips from the first season. As a fan of the series, I found that this was pretty entertaining, especially the comments from the cast. The other two extras aren't that exciting. "Promo~palooza" is a montage of TV promotional spots. Finally, "That '70s Trivia Show" isn't much of a trivia game. Some of the cast members ask various trivia questions that are immediately answered with clips from the first season.

Final Thoughts:
The first season of That '70s Show is one of those rare television sitcoms, where each episode is diabolically funny. The experience of watching the entire first season can be just as funny as the first time. It is because of the series' wonderful cast, and their daily interactions that make for some really great situations that will leave you laughing over and over again. The first season is simply great, filled with twenty-five excellent episodes. Fans of the series should be more than excited to have the first season on DVD and newcomers, well, let's just say that you should really enjoy That '70s Show.

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Highly Recommended

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