Back in the days when Kiss wore makeup (well the first time around), Farrah Fawcett (before she was -Majors) was on as many walls as Britney Spears is now and flared trousers were apparently popular (still hard to believe), "That '70s Show" is a flashback to those simpler times. Set in the suburbs of Wisconsin, our main characters are Eric Forman (Topher Grace) who lives with his parents, Red and Kitty (Kurtwood Smith and Debra Jo Rupp), Eric's next door neighbour/girlfriend, Donna Pinciotti (Laura Prepon) and her parents Bob and Midge (Don Stark and Tanya Roberts). The rest of the gang includes Jackie (Mila Kunis), and her boyfriend, Kelso (Ashton Kutcher), Hyde (Danny Masterson), a conspiracy theorist and Fez (Wilmer Valderrama), a foreign exchange student (who REALLY grates). The gang of teenagers spend most of their time in Eric's basement, pondering all of life's greatest mysteries, including parents, and their futures.All 25 episodes of Season 1 are present on the 4 disks here and for fans, I'm sure you'll have a blast. However, as much as there are many fans of this, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that it's not funny. It's amusing and entertaining enough - mostly harmless even - but it's not funny. It relies on a very simple premise which is to take what we know now about the 70's and how awful certain elements were and milk it dry. I was going to say that you can almost hear them thinking “Let's do a That 80's Show”, but apparently they did and it bombed.
There's nothing wrong with the cast, except for the fact that the character Fez really annoys the hell out of me and Jackie's voice just pierces so much, it's like nails dragged across a chalkboard, which is shocking when you remember Ashton Kutcher stars in this. In fact, the strongest characters are Eric's parents, Red and Kitty, who I have to say totally steal every scene they are in. Other gripes with the show are the canned laughs (so typically American - and if they aren't canned, it's worse than I thought) and the annoying cut scenes interspersed within the episode. Why they have to put the laughter track in is beyond me - it's almost like they have a quota to fulfil as it's present so much, you wonder if you missed something that was supposed to be funny (don't worry, you didn't). The cut scenes, from little flower animations to characters dancing in front of a psychedelic background or lava lamps serve no purpose whatsoever - so why have them, they are just annoying. However, as negative as I sound, like I said, it's sort of charming (flaws aside) and amusing but it's just devoid of any real laughs, which means I'm probably in a minority, but surely if it's a comedy I'm supposed to laugh? Mind you, as it is American that probably explains it, as with the exception of 2 shows, nothing they make is laugh out loud funny to me. Give me Red Dwarf any day.......
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