That ’70s Show: Season 6
June 5, 2007
As the season begins, Eric (Grace) and Donna (Prepon) have graduated high school and are faced with the prospect of staying in Point Place or going to college in Madison. Kelso (Kutcher) flunked out of high school and plans to enroll in the police academy while Fez (Valderrama) gets used to being married to Eric’s sister, Laurie who is on their honeymoon with another man. Jackie (Kunis) has to decide who she wants as her boyfriend – Hyde (Masterson) or Kelso.
Meanwhile, Red (Smith) has been released from the hospital after suffering from a heart attack when he found out that Fez had married his daughter. He is unable to work for three months and so his wife, Kitty (Rupp) becomes the sole moneymaker in the Foreman household, which puts way too much pressure on her. This, of course, causes friction between Eric and his parents who need him to stay and help out around the house. However, Eric wants to leave and see the rest of the world… or at least Madison.
The love-hate relationship between Hyde and Jackie culminates in a funny dream sequence where the cast re-enact a musical number from Grease (1978). He feigns disinterest in Jackie who does her best to win him back but it isn’t going to be that easy and the writers milk this conflict for a few laughs. Kelso is still dumb as dirt and demonstrates this in an episode where he tries to impress the hot, local librarian (played by Shannon Elizabeth) who resists his obvious, oafish advances. It also allows Ashton Kutcher to show off his comedic talents.
Debra Jo Rupp and Kurtwood Smith have some funny scenes together as she helps him quit food and drinks that could cause another heart attack by not eating or drinking them either. They find that going cold turkey isn’t easy and the interplay between them in this particular episode is amusing. In another episode, they address having sex soon after his heart attack that also highlights the excellent chemistry between these two actors and sheds some light on the relationship of the parents which is a nice break from always focusing on the kids.
If there is one weak spot in this season it is the whole Fez-Laurie marriage. The set-up from season five had this as a major subplot for season six but this changed when Christina Moore was replaced by Lisa Robin Kelly. She just doesn’t have the same handle on the character and the writers seemed to realize this. Her screen time was diminished greatly and instead, the focus is on Fez’s relationship with Red and his struggle to become an American citizen.
Over the course of the season, all sorts of obstacles are thrown at the characters to complicate their lives as is par for the course for a sitcom. Kelso finds out that he got the sexy librarian pregnant and Eric loses his job while trying to help support his family. This season also sees the gang growing up a little. They still hang out together and pull mindless pranks on each other but they have to face actual responsibility, like Eric having to help his parents or Kelso dealing with being a father. The writers manage to maintain a delicate balance of serious stuff with the funny stuff and this elevates the show above your standard sitcom fare.
On the third disc there is an audio commentary on “Substitute” by director David Trainer. He says that what made the show so fun was working with the cast and, for this episode in particular, working with guest star Seth Green. Trainer talks about the dichotomy of the cast in their 20s, playing characters in their teens. He also addresses Red’s racism and working with Brooke Shields.
The fourth disc starts off with “A ‘70s Flashback: Debra Jo Rupp.” The veteran actress reflects on the entire run of the show and recounts auditioning for it. She also talks about her chemistry with Kurtwood Smith.
“A ‘70s Flashback: Kurtwood Smith.” He talks about the origins of his character and how he drew upon his memories of his own father in portraying Red.
“Six Minutes of Season Six” is a montage of highlights from this season.
Also included is a commentary on “Sparks” by Trainer who points out that the core of the show is the relationship between Eric and Donna. He also addresses the artifice of the show in a particularly pretentious moment.
Finally, there is a commentary for “My Wife” by Trainer. He talks about Eric and Donna’s impending marriage and also points out the closeness of the cast – how their off-screen friendships informed the ones on-screen.