Topher Grace … Eric Foreman
Laura Prepon …. Donna Pinciotti
Ashton Kutcher …. Michael Kelso
Danny Masterson …. Steven Hyde
Mila Kunis …. Jackie Burkhart
Wilmer Valderrama …. Fez
Debra Jo Rupp …. Kitty Foreman
Kurtwood Smith …. Reginald “Red” Foreman
Tanya Roberts …. Midge Pinciotti
Don Stark …. Bob Pinciotti
Lisa Robin Kelly …. Laurie Foreman
Tommy Chong …. Leo
Fox never shows much faith in new series, unless they’re a critical hit or get the ratings they’re expected to chances are they’ll find their way to the island of lost sitcoms sooner rather than later. A prime example of this is the year 1998, That 70’s Show was the ONLY new show to get picked up for additional seasons from Fox. Everything else was left in the dust. Why Fox expects so much in such little time is anyones guess I suppose. Maybe they’re a little jaded still by what a rousing success Married…With Children was in their infant years as a network.
Luckily That 70’s Show survived the axe and is still in production and just started airing their eighth season. And to coincide with that Fox has released the complete third season of the show on DVD. Some might consider season three as the catalyst that shaped the show for years to come. The production had finally hit its stride with unmatchable writing and quite the ensemble cast to bring the words on the page to life. Everything just began to work together, it was as if they could do no wrong with the stories they were writing. Some may even say this was the best season of the show period.
For those unfamiliar with the show, it takes place in Point Place Wisconsin during the late 70’s (hence the title) focusing on the lives of a close-nit group of friends. First up is Eric Forman your average teenager who’s basement is the quintessential hang out place for him and his friends. Donna, Eric’s next door neighbor and high school sweetheart who’s the prime example of the “modern woman” standing for equality in a time where that movement was just starting up. Then there’s Hyde the man of 1001 conspiracy theories who has recently moved in with Eric when his mother left town. Jackie is your basic material girl who thinks that the prime objective in life is to marry a wealthy man and shop all day. Michael Kelso is about as bright as a broken tail light who always winds up being the butt of every joke. And lastly is the foreign kid Fez from… where ever the hell it is he’s from. These six are living proof that opposites attract.
Season three starts right where the second seasons cliff hanger left off, where Jackie tried to impress Hyde by buying some pot only to be caught by a cop with it in her possession. Hyde takes the fall for her which leaves him held up at the local police department. When he gets home Red wastes little time to give him the ol’ heave-ho. Soon enough what really happened that night is revealed to everyone and everything returns to normal. Other things brought to light over the coarse of the season include finding out that Hydes father who has been gone for eight years has been back in town for a year. Donna gets a part-time job at the local radio station garnering the alias “hot Donna”. And Kelso realizes the errors of his ways when he dumped Jackie and spends most of the season trying to win her back.
The most important thing about these 25 episodes is we slowly begin to see the gang progress from teenagers to young adults. The relationship between Eric and Donna has gone from school crush to budding relationship and now the writers begin to show us the possible outcomes of their future together. Also starting to blossom is the love interest between Hyde and Jackie which gets explored a lot more as the seasons progress. Even the lovable foreign kid Fez has captured the heart of Caroline, a girl in his gym class. Too bad she’s certifiably insane, but it’s nice to see Fez finally get some love.
That 70’s Show is to the 90’s what Happy Days was to the 70’s, it showcases a time period 20 years earlier and gives the audience a nice dose of nostalgia that’s enjoyable for both young and old alike. Shows like these manage to capture audience attention because of how they transcend generations. Families can join together without the parents unable to understand the slang terms of the new millennium, while the kids can sit and not worry about feeling uncomfortable while watching adult themed dramas with their mothers and fathers. The episodes are so packed with laughter it’s easy to simply sit back and let the good times roll.
The episode lineup is as follows:
Disc One: Reefer Madness (2), Red See’s Red, Hyde’s Father, Too Old to Trick or Treat Too Young to Die, Roller Disco, Eric’s Panties
Disc Two: Baby Fever, Jackie Bags Hyde, Hyde’s Christmas Rager, Ice Shack, Who Wants it More, Fez Gets the Girl, Dine & Dash
Disc Three: Radio Daze, Donna’s Panties, Romantic Weekend, Kitty’s Birthday (That’s Today?!), The Trials of M. Kelso, Eric’s Naughty No-No, Holy Craps
Disc Four: Fez Dates Donna, Eric’s Drunken Tattoo, Canadian Road Trip, Backstage Pass, The Promise Ring
(Presented in 1.33:1 Fullscreen)
The video transfer is equal to that of the shows broadcast quality. No compression issues are noticeable, and for a TV on DVD title it looks average. One strange thing while watching the show is that for episodes that are only 4 years old they come across looking much older, perhaps it’s just the style of the show that make it come off that way.
(English 2.0 Dolby Surround)
The Dolby Surround sounds wonderful coming out through the speakers. While most sitcoms with laugh tracks rarely come off as anything but annoying the set up manages to make the tracks less obtrusive for your viewing pleasure.
Too Old to Trick or Treat, too Young to Die – Commentary by Director David Trainer and Line Producer Patrick Kienlen: While the episode is a real treat (pardon the pun) for any Hitchcock fan, the commentary track is anything but, the first half of the show is almost void of any discussion between our two narrators. The only times they talk is when they say what Hitchcock movie they were referencing while shooting (Vertigo, Rear Window, North by Northwest, The Birds, Psycho) or they find ways to remind us that this episode wasn’t filmed before an audience.
Eric’s Panties – Commentary by Director David Trainer and Line Producer Patrick Kienlen: David and Patrick talk together about how the creators wanted to make a show about the kids and not about the school which is why we rarely ever see the inside of it. They have more fun talking about the set pieces and props than the story itself in this episode.
Dine & Dash – Commentary by Director David Trainer and Line Producer Patrick Kienlen: The only real “technical” thing talked about during this track is how they made the cut scenes or as they refer to them, “bumpers”. Besides that the guys once again get lost in the show, in fact you actually hear them laughing as the show progresses.
Radio Daze – Commentary by Director David Trainer: With David left alone in the recording booth this time around we’re given a more indepth commentary. He talks about the number of special guest stars the episode has and how great they were to work with. Most of the time is spent covering Eric and Donna’s relationship and how it’s slowly beginning to fall apart.
Eric’s Drunken Tattoo – Commentary by Director David Trainer: As you can tell there’s a running theme with the commentary tracks, they’re specifically picked out as episodes where Donna and Eric are slowly drifting apart. And this one is no different. Aside from that portion of the show, David talks about how the shows are put together by stringing two smaller plots to the main story, it’s a very interesting listen.
The Promise Ring – Commentary by Director David Trainer: Brought up at the start of the track of every episode David tells us the episode number the current year the production is in now and how old the episode is. He says this on every one of the six commentaries which can become a bit tedious. He talks about the significance of the Vista Cruiser and how just about every major scene in the shows run takes place near it.
Various Episode Introductions by the Cast – Most of the episodes include an optional introduction with one cast member in the beginning discussing the show that’s about to play. Included cast members are Danny Masterson, Debra Jo Rupp, Mila Kunis, Wilmer Valderrama, Kurwood Smith and Don Stark. Only Debra Jo Rupp’s comments add any real insight with onset anecdotes while everyone else seems to give standard descriptions of the episode and say to enjoy it.
Episode Previews – Each episode has an optional preview of what it’s about that can be played at the beginning of the show.
Season Three Featurette (23 mins) – This is basically the cast and crew taking look back at season three and discussing all of the things that happened to the characters. About half the the piece is recycled footage from the episodes and what’s talked about is covered in both the commentaries or cast introductions. It’s a nice piece, but if you’ve watched everything on the set already it won’t tell you much that you don’t already know.