J.D. Lafrance
That ’70s Show: Season 3 DVD Review

That ’70s Show: Season 3

May 11, 2012

Director: David Trainer,
Starring: Topher Grace, Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher, Danny Masterson, Laura Prepon, Wilmer Valderrama, Debra Jo Rupp, Kurtwood Smith, Don Stark, Tanya Roberts,

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DVD Review

J.D. Lafrance

Initially disregarded as a lame Dazed and Confused (1993) knock-off, That ‘70s Show has survived for more seasons than anyone thought possible and helped launch the careers of Topher Grace and, to a lesser degree, Ashton Kutcher. To the show’s credit, it doesn’t solely rely on the kitschy décor and fashion sense of the decade for cheap laughs. It adheres strictly to standard sitcom conventions. Going into its third season, That ‘70s Show tried mixing things up a little by introducing new characters and coming up with some new and novel plots twists for our favorite denizens of 1970s Wisconsin.

For example, in “Hyde’s Father,” sarcastic practical joker and stoner Hyde (Masterson) meets his dad Bud (played by Robert Hays) and it quickly becomes evident that the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree. Perhaps the best episode of this season is “Too Old to Trick or Treat, Too Young to Die,” which features some spot on spoofs several Alfred Hitchcock films, like Rear Window (1954), Vertigo (1958), Psycho (1960), and The Birds (1963). Most of the humor in this episode comes from how iconic scenes from these films are integrated into the show.

There are a lot of laughs to be had in “Roller Disco,” which sees vain, rich girl Jackie (Kunis) and borderline geek from another country Fez (Valderrama) compete together in a roller disco. They are of course fantastic together and it allows him an opportunity to try and woo her away from Kelso (Kutcher), the not-too-bright jock/ladies man. In “Jackie Bags Hyde,” we finally see Hyde realize that he likes Jackie enough to ask her out on a date. This was something that had been building over time and they certainly make for a good couple as they both annoy the hell out of each other.

For Led Zeppelin fans, there is a certain amount of joy in marveling at Hyde’s seemingly inexhaustible supply of t-shirts dedicated to the band. In “Fez Gets the Girl,” sexy tomboy Donna (Prepon) gets two tickets to see them in concert but isn’t sure who to take and, of course, all the guys fall all over themselves to impress her enough to be her plus one. Comedy of errors is a tried and true convention and is utilized in “Romantic Weekend,” which sees everyman Eric (Grace) and Donna go off to hotel for a romantic weekend only to encounter noisy neighbors next door, which turn out to be Eric’s parents! Much hilarity ensues as Donna gets stinky drunk and ends up hanging out with Eric’s mother Kitty (Rupp) while Eric is stuck with his dad Red (Smith).

“Eric’s Drunken Tattoo” sees Eric trying to acquire a bad boy image to impress Donna so he gets a tattoo with predictably hilarious results but some of the funniest bits involved Topher Grace trying emulate Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler. Fans of Canadian sketch show comedy The Kids in the Hall will enjoy this one as Kevin McDonald makes an appearance as the hopelessly unhip clergyman Pastor Dave who hangs out with Red for a day and it is funny to see these two very different characters bounce of each other.

While That ‘70s Show is hardly groundbreaking television it is very entertaining and quite funny, which is all you really want from a show like this. The folks at Mill Creek Entertainment have presented a solid set with a nice, if not modest, collection of extras that fans of the show will no doubt enjoy.

Special Features:

Cast members Mila Kunis, Danny Masterson, Wilmer Valderrama, Debra Jo Rupp, Kurtwood Smith and Don Stark provide introductions on 18 episodes.

There is an audio commentary on “Too Old to Trick or Treat, Too Young to Die” by line producer Patrick Kienlen and director David Trainer. To prepare for the episode, they watched several Hitchcock films. They purposely structured the episode like his films, setting everything up early on only for it to pay off later. They point out that while it was challenging it was also a lot of fun to make.

Also included is a commentary on “Eric’s Panties” by Kienlen and Trainer. They point out that you rarely see the kids at school because they decided that it wouldn’t be about them at school. The two men talk about the authenticity of period details, including cars and clothes.

There is a commentary on “Dine and Dash” by Kienlen and Trainer. They marvel at the simplicity of the show’s premise and the authenticity of the characters. They stay true to themselves and a lot of the comedy comes from that. The two men talk about how the bumper moments between scenes are done.

Also included is a commentary on “Radio Daze” by Trainer. He points out and speaks highly of guest star Howard Hesseman. He compares the cast to a theater repertory company. He points that this episode showcases the growing tension between Donna and Eric.

There is a commentary on “Eric’s Drunken Tattoo” by Trainer. He points out that not only is Eric a big Star Wars and Star Trek fan, so is Topher Grace who plays him. He continues to talk about the growing tension between Donna and Eric.

Also included is a commentary on “The Promise Ring” by Trainer. He talks about its importance in the context of the show – the evolution of Donna and Eric’s relationship. In this episode they break up – an event that had been building all season long.

“The Season 3 Overview” is a recap of highlights from this season with some of the most memorable bits collected. Trainer points out that by this season the show was quite successful. Cast members recount their thoughts on it.

Finally, there are 12 minutes of promos for each episode.

J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance


Rating: 79%

Website: http://that70sshow.com/


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