That 70's Show - Season 4
Fox // Unrated // $39.99 // May 9, 2006
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted May 14, 2006
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The Movie:

Although the show ended up going a few seasons past its prime, "That 70's Show" has been consistently excellent throughout a good deal of its five year run, with the first half of the seasons containing some of the best episodes of the series.

For those unfamiliar with the show, it involves a group of teenagers living in Point Place, Wisconsin in 1976. Leading the group, seemingly by default, is Eric Foreman (Topher Grace), a shrimpy, good-hearted kid that manages to attract the attention of his attractive next-door neighbor, Donna (Laura Prepon). Joining the two are: vain idiot Kelso (Ashton Kutcher), paranoid Hyde (Danny Masterson), spoiled Jackie (Mila Kunis) and foreign exchange student Fez (Wilmer Valderrama). Also featured are Eric's parents - the nervous Kitty (Debra Jo Rupp) and the rage-a-holic Red (the brilliant Kurtwood Smith) and Donna's parents, Bob and Midge (Don Stark and Tanya Roberts.)

The show chronicles the lives of the kids, with the romance between Donna and Eric remaining the core of the show. Superbly played by the two actors, the romantic angle of the series became unfocused and got off track, but Grace and Prepon have always had terrific chemistry. Kutcher's idiotic character could have become old after a few seasons, but Kelso continually reaches new and funny heights of stupidity. The actor's delivery has never really been as good as it has in this series, either. Masterson, Valderama, Kunis and others provide superb supporting efforts, as well.

After a slow sophmore season, the series got back on solid ground with a very funny third year whose only fault was a so-so finale that saw Donna and Eric break-up over her choice not to wear the promise ring he'd given her. While breaking the two up seemed like the wrong road to take, the series was able to make one of its best episodes out of the situation, as "It's a Wonderful Life" sees Eric guided by a guardian angel (a priceless Wayne Knight) on a trip to see what would happen if Eric and Donna never kissed. While the episode has a lot of laughs ("Safety Dance" plays when the angel announces he's taking Eric into the future - the 80's. Eric's response: "Man, what the hell was that?"), there's also a few touching moments, as well.

The break-up plot continues with "Eric's Depression" continuing Eric's grief over the break-up while the gang heads off to Funland, where Kelso manages to get lost. "Pinciotti vs. Forman" sees the two exs competing over their friends, with Donna getting the lead thanks to cable. Much to Eric's dismay, Donna eventually starts dating Kelso's older brother, Casey (guest star Luke Wilson). Other couples on the show split this season, as "The Relapse" sees Midge suddenly leave Bob, who later gets a new girlfriend in Joanne (Mo Gaffney, brilliant in "Absolutely Fabulous").

Other highlights from this season (one of the show's best) include: "Bye-Bye Basement" (Kitty gets Leo and his brother, Theo - played by "Home Improvement" star Richard Karn - to redecorate the basement), "The Forgotten Son" (Red choses Kelso to star in a Pricemart training film instead of Eric), Third Wheel" (Eric feels like the third wheel when Hyde's new girlfriend shows up on bowling night), "Eric's Hot Cousin" (Eric is suprised when the cousin he used to torment - "That 80's Show" star Brittany Daniels - visits and looks quite different than she used to), "Jackie's Cheese Squeeze" (Eric plots against Jackie when he sees her kissing a coworker), "Prank Day" (Kelso announces that it's "Prank Day" and he gets his friends, who plot to retaliate with pranks of their own) and "Hyde's Birthday" (Although Hyde says he doesn't want a birthday, Kitty plans one anyway and the gang steals a street sign for him.)

Season 4

77. 4- 1 25 Sep 01 It's a Wonderful Life
78. 4- 2 26 Sep 01 Eric's Depression
79. 4- 3 2 Oct 01 Pinciotti vs. Forman
80. 4- 4 9 Oct 01 Hyde Gets the Girl
81. 4- 5 16 Oct 01 Bye-Bye Basement
82. 4- 6 6 Nov 01 The Relapse (1)
83. 4- 7 13 Nov 01 Uncomfortable Ball Stuff (2)
84. 4- 8 20 Nov 01 Donna's Story
85. 4- 9 21 Nov 01 Forgotten Son
86. 4-10 27 Nov 01 Red and Stacey
87. 4-11 11 Dec 01 The Third Wheel
88. 4-12 18 Dec 01 An Eric Forman Christmas
89. 4-13 8 Jan 02 Jackie Says Cheese
90. 4-14 22 Jan 02 Eric's Hot Cousin
91. 4-15 5 Feb 02 Tornado Prom
92. 4-16 5 Feb 02 Donna Dates a Kelso
93. 4-17 12 Feb 02 Kelso's Career
94. 4-18 19 Feb 02 Leo Loves Kitty
95. 4-19 26 Feb 02 Jackie's Cheese Squeeze
96. 4-20 19 Mar 02 Class Picture
97. 4-21 26 Mar 02 Prank Day
98. 4-22 9 Apr 02 Eric's Corvette Caper
99. 4-23 23 Apr 02 Hyde's Birthday
100. 4-24 30 Apr 02 That '70s Musical
101. 4-25 7 May 02 Eric's False Alarm
102. 4-26 14 May 02 Everybody Loves Casey
102. 4-27 21 May 02 Love, Wisconsin Style


VIDEO: "That 70's Show" is presented in its original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio on this release. The picture quality does show a few minor faults, but it's often equal to broadcast quality and sometimes looks slightly better than that. Sharpness and detail are often very good, and the picture looked consistently a bit better-defined than the first season set.

Some slight traces of pixelation appeared in a few scenes, but they did not cause distraction. No edge enhancement was noticed, nor were any flaws with the source material. Colors appeared well-saturated, accurate and without any concerns. Although not quite flawless, these episodes looked very good.

SOUND: The show's 2.0 soundtrack sounds perfectly fine, with clean, clear-sounding dialogue and music.

EXTRAS: Frequent show director David Trainer offers audio commentary on "Class Picture", "Hyde's Birthday" and "Eric's Depression". The fourth disc also offers the highlight reel, "Season 4 in 4 Minutes", interviews with actresses Laura Prepon and Mila Kunis and "Making Company", where David Trainer discusses directing the show. Episode promo spots are also included, as well.

Final Thoughts: The fourth season of "That 70's Show" continues to see the show at its prime, with several strong episodes and a few that rank among the show's best. The DVD presentation offers fine audio/video quality and a nice helping of supplemental features. Recommended.

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