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Grounded for Life: Season 3
The Third Season
Grounded For Life is a hilarious sitcom that first aired in 2001 and ended a five season run in 2005. Grounded For Life's basic premise is about the life of a Staten Island couple who were pregnant and married at the tender age of eighteen. Now in their thirties with three kids they struggle to be responsible adults and parents. Grounded For Life is an extremely funny sitcom with plenty of absurd situations and goofy characters. For more details about this series please refer to DVD Talk's reviews of season one and season two.
In the series' third season, Grounded For Life made a transition from Fox to the WB, with a few episodes airing on Fox and the rest on the WB. With season three, the series also underwent several changes with its crew and production. Due to the transition, season three only produced thirteen episodes, two of which were never aired until the series went into syndication on ABC Family. The episodes are "Oh, What A Knight" and "Part Time Lover" and I am personally glad to have them on DVD.
In addition to the different hosting network, season three of Grounded For Life has some big changes for the cast. The biggest is the local Irish pub, the Red Boot Pub Sean and Eddie invest in. It becomes the focal point of several of the season's episodes. And what would a sitcom be without problematic teenage relationships? Not much of one. Lily finds herself torn between geeky next door neighbor Brad and the hunky drummer Dean from season two. Some other fun stories include Henry's odd behavior and perception on life leads him to believing the family has drug problems, Jimmy becomes a kleptomaniac, Walt dates a woman who turns out to be a guy in drag, and Claudia pushes Sean into getting "little Sean" cut short, e.g. vasectomy. Overall, while season three comes with only thirteen episodes it is still a riotous ride and it will leave you wanting more.
The season begins with the episode "We Didn't Start the Fire". The local Irish pub is closing and Sean and Eddie decide to purchase it. While it might sound like a good idea, it is not for a couple of reasons. First of all, going into business with Eddie is not the safest move, especially when he plans on burning the bar down for the insurance money! Also, being married to someone like Claudia and not consulting such a big financial venture with her before doing it may produce some issues. This episode gets quite hilarious as Sean deals with both Eddie and Claudia. There are also some fun side stories with the younger bunch of the cast getting accustomed to bar life, like Brad and Lily trying out alcoholic beverages.
The episode "Cat Scratch Fever" has two fun plots going for it. Sean and Eddie hire Nicole Fiordelissi (Elena Lyons) to work at the pub as a bartender. The only catch is that Sean and Nicole go all the way back to high school. She was an old love interest and having her around Sean all day does not bode well with Claudia. Trying to make her happy, he fires her, only to find out Eddie is involved with her. Lyons makes additional appearances in both of the unaired episodes "Oh, What A Knight" and "Part Time Lover". The other fun part of the story deals with Lily and Dean. While at a concert, she tells him he loves her. Unfortunately because of the loud music, she couldn't tell what he said in response. It leaves Lily in quite the pickle, which is fun to watch.
"Drive Me Crazy" is an episode all about teenagers and driving. The thought of Lily operating an automobile scares Sean, so he decides to sabotage Lily's driving lessons. He teaches her to drive, but he uses some unorthodox approaches and it leaves Lily looking like a crazy driver. After failing her second driving exam, Eddie helps her get on the fast track to a driver's license with his unorthodox methods. The things Sean teaches Lily are so ridiculous it is hard not to laugh! "Just Like A Woman" is a story dealing with male machismo. Jimmy and Henry make Sean the butt of their jokes when he is unable to change a tire and hides in the back of the car with a shawl covering his face while Claudia uses her sex appeal to get someone to help. Afterwards, Sean goes on a variety of macho acts to get the boy's respect back. It is a hilarious ride as Sean tries to prove what kind of man he is. Also, Eddie sells some of the family's stuff at a garage sale, which includes one of Lily's bras. Of course, Brad buys the bra and tells everyone at school he is "doing it" with her. Some fun stories with the entire cast goofy as ever.
"Cuts Like A Knife" is a serious story put into goofy light. Claudia and Sean believe she might be pregnant again, and the thought of a fourth kid is not on their wish list. After finding out she is not pregnant, Claudia instructs Sean to get a vasectomy. Of course, when Sean goes in to get snipped, his fears get the best of him and he fails to get the operation done. It is a fun story with Sean burying himself in a sticky situation he can only "cut" himself out of. The main storyline in "Tonight's The Night" is about Lily, Dean, and sex. It is Lily's sixteenth birthday and she wants to make the night special by losing her virginity with Dean. Of course, nothing goes perfectly and the night does not feel right for her. Oddly enough, she ends up with Brad and their relationship starts to bloom into more than friends, although it isn't until season four they are official "together". The story includes a fun adventure in acquiring condoms, which for a sixteen year old is never quite as simple as purchasing them.
The two unaired, bonus episodes "Oh, What A Knight" and "Part Time Lover" are also worthy of noting. In "Oh, What A Knight", Sean joins the Knights of Hibernia and shocks Eddie because they both swore as kids never to join because of Walt's obsessive fascination with being a member. Sean, however, joined on Lily's behalf. She wanted to be in the Knights' Rose of Tralee beauty pageant. The preparation leading up to the pageant includes some funny moments, but it isn't until the actual pageant when things start to get hilarious. Lily sings a song when she isn't supposed to and her archrival Jenna setups herself up to fail, thanks to Sean. "Part Time Lover" has two major plotlines about relationships and love. Walt lost his job at the dump and has been around the house far too much. Lily and Brad arrange a personal ad for Walt. It describes he is a TV enthusiast. Of course, Walt does not get a fellow television enthusiast, but a transvestite named Clara. The other plotline deals with Eddie and Nicole. He finds out she is involved with another guy named Lomax, who comes to the bar looking for Sean after Eddie describes himself as Sean. A fun story about relationships and mistaken identities!
Overall, the third season of Grounded For Life continues to offer some fantastic episodes with a great cast. Despite some of the changes behind the scenes, the performances, comedy, and writing are just as good as before. You will not want to miss out on hilarious episodes like "We Didn't Start The Fire" and "Cuts Like A Knife". In addition, this season three set has the unaired (during original broadcast) episodes that you will be able to watch whenever you want.
1. We Didn't Start The Fire
2. Mustang Lily
3. Cat Scratch Fever
4. Drive Me Crazy
5. Just Like A Woman
6. Henry's Been Working For A Drug Squad
7. Cuts Like A Knife
8. Who Are You?
9. Welcome To The Working Week
10. Claudia In Disguise (With Glasses)
11. Tonight's The Night
12. Oh, What A Knight
13. Part Time Lover
The video format is given in its original aspect ratio 1.33:1 full frame color. The overall quality is fairly good. There are some noticeable of compression artifacts and ghosting during heavy movement. In addition there is also a slight roughness in the picture as a result of edge enhancement. As for colors, the picture tends to represent them well. However darker tones tend to highlight the picture's imperfections. Overall, while not outstanding, the visual representation is still quite good.
The audio track is given in English 2.0 Dolby digital stereo sound. The sound quality is good and like most TV on DVD releases, it is dialogue driven and incorporates a laugh track during the funnier moments. The laugh track does not interfere with the audibility of spoken dialogue. As for channel separation, there is very little distinction between left and right channels, but on occasion a sound effect will utilize it. This release has no support for subtitles, but does support English closed captioning.
For special features, this season set does not include any featurettes, interviews or blooper reels. Instead, six of the thirteen episodes come with audio commentaries. The episodes cover "We Didn't Start The Fire", "Cat Scratch Fever", "Drive Me Crazy", "Henry's Been Working For A Drug Squad", "Claudia In Disguise (With Glasses) ", and "Tonight's The Night". Sitting in on the commentaries include Bill Martin, Mike Schiff, Aron Abrams, Ned Goldreyer, Chris Kelly, Gregory Thompson, Lynsey Bartilson, Miriam Flynn, and Chris Hogan. The commentaries are interesting enough and include some general discussion about the episodes, off topic comments, the series network jump, and season three in general. Overall, if you enjoyed the season episodes you will want to hear these.
Since reviewing seasons one and two, I have really gotten into this show, and I have been watching re-runs on syndication. Because of that, I have seen several of the episodes included this set recently on television. Despite having seen them not too long ago, I still had a blast watching them again (with no commercials!). The humor is rich, the character's performances are great, and the stories are goofy. In the end, Grounded For Life: Season Three makes for a great purchase. It may only have thirteen episodes, but they sure are funny and the set has a fairly low M.S.R.P. of $19.98.