DVD Review: That ’70s Show (Season Seven and Season Eight)

Why did Donna Pinciotti (Laura Prepon) go blonde on That ’70s Show? She was the hottest redhead on TV. How could she sell out to the bleach? Supposedly she swapped hues for a movie about a homicidal Canadian couple that went straight to video. That’s understandable. But she stayed a blonde for the final two seasons of That ’70s Show despite the outcry of fans. The show suffered from the change as it went from its height of popularity to canceled in 18 months. The cast changes might have also contributed to the audience tuning out. Blonde Donna signaled that 1979 wasn’t going to be the same as 1978 on That ’70s Show: Season Seven and Season Eight.

“Time Is On My Side” ushers in the blonde Donna era which at first makes sense. She’s come to terms about being left at the altar by Eric (Topher Grace). This wasn’t a bad thing. She wasn’t ready to live in a trailer park with him. However Red (Kurtwood Smith) and Kitty (Debra Jo Rupp) aren’t eager to have the single Eric sit around the house all day sponging off them. Eric comes up with a plan, but he needs the return of Donna’s engagement ring to make it happen. The biggest problem of the episode belongs to Donna’s dad Bob (Don Stark). He has to choose between Brooke Shields and Tanya Roberts as his girlfriend. Bob can’t lose, but he wants to keep the threesome going so he wins. “Let’s Spend the Night Together” features the startling discover of the real father of Hyde (Danny Masterson). Turns out he’s half black and the son of Tim Reid (WKRP). Dad runs a chain of record stores. This eventually leads to Hyde running a record store with Jackie (Mila Kunis). “Angie” might be the peak of Eric’s time on the show when he becomes Rainbow, a roller disco sensation. “Surprise, Surprise” lets Kelso (Ashton Kutcher) sleep with Hyde’s new half sister (Megalyn Echikunwoke). This doesn’t sit too well with Hyde. Kelso also becomes a first time father this season. He’s not too swift minding the kid on his parent day. Fez (Wilmer Valderrama) gets nervous that the baby will make him lose his friendship time with Kelso. “Mother’s Little Helper” proves Fez might not be alone for long when Lindsay Lohan can’t resist his magic shampoo fingers. Eric’s future gets weird when Red uses his college fund to open up a muffler shop. Turns out Eric decorated the building before the old man bought it. Tommy Chong returns to the show as the dopey Leo in “Down the Road Apiece.” Where had he gone? He’d been in prison for running a company that sells bongs. Good thing such a conviction didn’t prevent him from playing a stoner. It was no secret that Topher Grace wanted off the show to pursue his cinematic career. The same was true for Kutcher. “Til The Next Goodbye” is Eric’s big farewell after he figures out his future. Kutcher would stick around for a few more episodes in what would turn out to be the final season.

Why didn’t That ’70s Show end with the departure of Eric? Back in the ’70s there was highly popular show about a high school kid coming of age in Wisconsin called Happy Days. At the end of Season 7, Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard) and his best friend Ralph (Don Most) left the show. What happened to Happy Days? It went on for another 4 seasons. Granted they weren’t the greatest of seasons, but 4 seasons is a nice amount of work for the cast and crew. Why should the departure of Eric and Kelso matter with a hot young cast of supporting players ready to step up? Hyde would become the new Eric and Leo would become a less sexy Kelso. But what about the new Ted McGinley? That would fall to Seth Meyers as Randy Pearson. He arrives in “”Bohemian Rhapsody (Part 2)” to work in the record store under Hyde. Hyde has enough problems since he married a stripper during what appears to be an alcoholic black out. Randy would date Donna (still a blonde). “Misfire” sends Kelso packing for his dream job as security at the Playboy Mansion in Chicago. “Sweet Lady” marks the arrival of Mary Tyler Moore as a talkshow host that Jackie idolizes. But can she deal with the icon up close? Since the show was given a warning that there would be no season nine, the producers were able to bring things toward a bit of an ending. Jackie and Fez appear bound to hook up. Red considers an offer from Bob to move to Florida to run a bait shop. But a chance at Green Bay Packer tickets might keep him in the frozen tundra. Although it should be noted that the Packers were 5-11 in ’79. “That ’70s Finale” wraps up the show and the decade at the same time. Kelso visits and there’s a chance Eric will return before Donna leaves for her new life. As finales go, this one does a fine job of wrapping up 200 episodes. All it was missing was Donna red hair.

That ’70s Show: Season Seven and Season Eight bring to an end a sitcom that deserves to be watched way too many times. Most of the cast has gone on the bigger things or at least regular work on Robot Chicken. The show brought out the elements of what made it special to grown up in the ’70s. These were kids that didn’t have iPhones, computers, Red Bull or even answering machines. They didn’t facetime to hang out. They went down to Eric’s basement for a little smoking circle to shoot the breeze and shotgun the joy. Sure you have to overcome the lack of redness in Donna’s hair, but these last two seasons aren’t nearly as painful as the final episodes of Happy Days. You may wonder why they just didn’t bring the kids into the next decade. Sadly in 2002 Fox aired That ’80s Show with a different cast of characters. It was canceled after 13 episodes. For those of you who flipped the channel in these later seasons of That ’70s Show, it’s worth finally catching up on them on DVD since you don’t have to sit through a decade of commercials.

Season Seven
“Time Is On My Side,” “Let’s Spend The Night Together,” “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” “Beast of Burden,” “It’s Only Rock and Roll,” “Rip This Joint,” “Mother’s Little Helper,” “Angie,” “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” “Surprise, Surprise,” “Winter,” “Don’t Lie To Me,” “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking,” “Street Fighting Man,” “It’s All Over Now,” “On With The Show,” “Down The Road Apiece,” “Oh, Baby (We Got A Good Thing Goin’),” “Who’s Been Sleeping Here?,” “Gimme Shelter,” “2120 So. Michigan Ave.,” “2000 Light Years From Home,” “Take It Or Leave It,” “Short And Curlies” and “Til The Next Goodbye.”

Season Eight
“Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Somebody to Love,” “You’re My Best Friend,” “Misfire,” “Stone Cold Crazy,” “Long Away,” “Fun It,” “Good Company,” “Who Needs You,” “Sweet Lady,” “Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy,” “Killer Queen,” “Spread Your Wings,” “Son And Daughter,” “Keep Yourself Alive,” “My Fairy King,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” “We Will Rock You,” “Sheer Heart Attack,” “Leaving Home Ain’t Easy,” “Love Of My Life” and “That ’70s Finale.”

The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. You’ll get to relish the details of the posters in the basement. You’ll also see Donna’s red roots once and a while. The audio is Dolby Digital stereo. You’ll get to hear the magic of Styx at proper volume. The episodes are Closed Captioned.

Commentary Tracks on “Time Is On My Side,” “Angie” and “Til The Next Goodbye.” The speakers provides a little more background on the penultimate season.

Flashback: Don Stark (7:27) brings us to the dad who had decided between Brooke Shields and Tanya Roberts. You won’t recognize the guy without his hug afro and sideburns.

Behind the Polyester: Writing That 70s Show
(7:56) introduces us to the folks in charge of the worlds. This means Ashton didn’t just ad-lib all 8 seasons?

That Seventh 70s Season Highlights (12:56) sums up the 25 episodes in one big swoop.

Season 8 in 8 minutes (8:00) sums up the 22 episodes extra fast.

Audio Commentaries are provided for “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “My Fairy King,” “We Will Rock You” and “That ’70s Finale.” Cast and director David Trainer remember the days.

Flashback: Tommy Chong (4:56) lets him admit that he hadn’t seen the show till they cast him. He loves playing the burn out character. He points out how odd it is that for a bunch of stoner kids, they don’t have Cheech and Chong posters in the basement.

Set Tour with Director David Trainer (11:34) is a last chance to visit the sets before the show wrapped.

Flashback: Josh Meyers
(4:34) does his best to prove he’s not Ted McGinley Jr. His brother is Seth Meyers on Saturday Night Live.

That 70s Show Retrospective (24:04) looks back at the show over the 8 year run with the actors.

Promo for each episode
(11:45) teases all the episodes in case you make your own TV station.

That ’70s Show: Season 7 and Season 8 brings to an end the Have A Nice Decade. The gang gets split up a bit, but the good times keep rolling until the end. These new editions are less expensive than the previous releases. You can catch how things wrapped up at a groovy discount.

Mill Creek Entertainment presents That ’70s Show: Season 7. Starring: Topher Grace, Mila Kunis, Laura Prepon and Ashton Kutcher. Boxset Contents: 25 episodes on 3 DVDs. Released: March 19, 2013. Available at Amazon.com.

Mill Creek Entertainment presents That ’70s Show: Season 8. Starring: Kurtwood Smith, Danny Masterson and Tommy Chong. Boxset Contents: 22 episodes on 3 DVDs. Released: March 19, 2013. Available at Amazon.com.

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