Reviews

That 70s Show: Season Six

This season focuses mainly on character development, as slight as is, rather than era-specific humor.


That 70's Show

Distributor: Fox
Cast: Topher Grace, Kurtwood Smith, Debra Jo Rupp, Christina Moore
Network: Fox
First date: 1998
US Release Date: 2007-05-08
Last date: 2006
Amazon

I’m a relative newcomer to the That ‘70s Show phenomenon. So when I sat down to watch its sixth season, I expected to fondly re-live some of the strange cultural oddities of my high school years. Yep, I’m a child of the ‘70s. And while such clues as clothing styles, car makes, and household décor were dead giveaways about the program’s era, little of the dialogue revealed this program’s time period.

At first, this disconnect was disappointing, especially since all of season six’s individual episodes are named after The Who songs – a truly iconic band from that decade. In other words, I expected the show to be hipper than it really was. But after a half decade, this program had become just another sitcom – albeit, one with a specific decade named in its title.

Another thing that bothered me -- the newbie -- was how unlikable the characters are. Like Seinfeld before it, this is a show where you never feel sorry or sad about anyone onscreen. Instead, it’s all about the jokes. Thus, each episode stands or falls on the quality of the writing. The writing is okay, but rarely great.

Overall, the program is built around Eric Forman, his friends, and his family. By now he has graduated from high school and is asked to help support the family after a heart condition puts his dad, Red, out of work. Like Jerry Seinfeld, Forman is surrounded by some zany friends: Steven Hyde is the perpetually cool stoner; Michael Kelso, the dumb, but loveable, lady’s man; and Fez, the undersexed, clueless hanger-on.

Their girlfriends are of the same calliber. Steven’s honey is Jackie Burkhart, a cold and self-centered chick, while Eric’s girlfriend and eventually fiancée, Donna Pinciotti, is about the only character with her head on straight most of the time. Lastly, Eric’s parents are hardly the model kind. His mom, Kitty, has a drinking problem, and his dad is a commie-hating perpetual grumbler, forever wanting to put his foot into somebody’s ass.

Eric’s engagement to Donna is the season’s biggest plot development. Donna gives up going to college to stay in a small town (Point Place, Wisconsin) with Eric, where she works as a radio DJ. Eric and Donna’s road to the altar includes pre-marital counseling, on the episode “Baby Don’t You Do It”. During “Do You Think It’s Alright”, Eric painfully assists Donna with putting together a wedding gift registration.

The funniest show of the season is “Sparks”. First, Red gets drunk and wastes his wedding gift money on a canoe, which he gives to Steven, Fez, and Kelso. This trio then uses the boat for a little extreme sports action, such as sliding down a steep and rocky hill and pulling it behind a car. Of course, the brave, bold, and foolish Kelso is always the test dummy pilot on these doomed missions. Funnier still, however, is when Eric accidentally rips Donna’s wedding dress while sneakily peeking at it before the wedding. In a hilarious bit of slapstick, he also stains it and discolors it in the dryer.

Kelso also has an eventful sixth season. He learns that a hot girl he banged at a rock concert is pregnant with his child. She, Brooke, is a librarian and way out of his intellectual league. But he nevertheless makes a valiant effort to win her heart in order to be there for his child, once the little one arrives. Furthermore, Kelso joins the police academy. And despite not being anything close to officer material, he sticks with the program like a true trouper.

There isn’t much in the way of extras on this set. There are promo spots and commentaries and a summary called “Six Minutes of Season Six”, but except for interview flashbacks with Kurtwood Smith (who plays Red), and Debra Jo Rupp, the lush that is Kitty, there’s not a whole lot of additional footage.

If you’re too young to remember the ‘70s, you won’t learn anything about that decade from watching this program’s sixth season. Additionally, you will not get any warm and fuzzies from the characters in this series. But when the writing is good, and it’s especially good on “Sparks”, That ‘70s Show can be laugh-out-loud funny.

6

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

Electronic music is one of the broadest-reaching genres by design, and 2017 highlights that as well as any other year on record. These are the 20 best albums.


20. Vitalic - Voyager (Citizen)

Pascal Arbez-Nicolas (a.k.a. Vitalic) made waves in the French Touch electro-house scene with his 2005 debut, OK Cowboy, which had a hard-hitting maximalist sound, but several albums later, Voyager finds him launching into realms beyond at his own speed. The quirky, wallflower vocals and guitar snippets employed throughout Voyager drop a funk that brings to mind WhoMadeWho or Matthew Dear if they had disco-pop injected between their toes. "Levitation" is as pure a slice of dance floor motivation as theoretically possible, a sci-fi gunfight with a cracking house beat sure to please his oldest fans, yet the album-as-form is equally effective in its more contemplative moments, like when Miss Kitten's vocals bring an ethereal dispassion to "Hans Is Driving" to balance out its somber vocoder or the heartfelt cover of "Don't Leave Me Now" by Supertramp. Voyager may infect you with a futuristic form of Saturday Night Fever, but afterwards, it gives you a hearty dose of aural acetaminophen to break it. - Alan Ranta


Keep reading... Show less
Film

Hitchcock, 'Psycho', and '78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene'

Alfred Hitchock and Janet Leigh on the set of Psycho (courtesy of Dogwoof)

"... [Psycho] broke every taboo you could possibly think of, it reinvented the language of film and revolutionised what you could do with a story on a very precise level. It also fundamentally and profoundly changed the ritual of movie going," says 78/52 director, Alexandre O. Philippe.

The title of Alexandre O. Philippe's 78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene (2017) denotes the 78 set-ups and the 52 cuts across a full week of shooting for Psycho's (1960) famous shower scene. Known for The People vs. George Lucas (2010), The Life and Times of Paul the Psychic Octopus (2012) and Doc of the Dead (2014), Philippe's exploration of a singular moment is a conversational one, featuring interviews with Walter Murch, Peter Bogdanovich, Guillermo del Toro, Jamie Lee Curtis, Osgood Perkins, Danny Elfman, Eli Roth, Elijah Wood, Bret Easton Ellis, Karyn Kusama, Neil Marshall, Richard Stanley and Marli Renfro, body double for Janet Leigh.

Keep reading... Show less

Mary Poppins, Mrs. Gamp, Egyptian deities, a Japanese umbrella spirit, and a supporting cast of hundreds of brollies fill Marion Rankine's lively history.

"What can go up a chimney down but can't go down a chimney up?" Marion Rankine begins her wide-ranging survey of the umbrella and its significance with this riddle. It nicely establishes her theme: just as umbrellas undergo, in the everyday use of them, a transformation, so too looking at this familiar, even forgettable object from multiple perspectives transforms our view of it.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Those who regard the reclusive Argerich as one of the world's two or three greatest living pianists—classical or otherwise—would not have left the concert hall disillusioned.

In a staid city like Washington, D.C., too many concert programs still stick to the basics. An endless litany of Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky concerti clog the schedules and parades of overeager virtuosi seem unwilling to vary their repertoire for blasé D.C. concertgoers. But occasionally you encounter a concert that refreshes your perspective of the familiar. The works presented at The Kennedy Center on 25 October 2017 might be stalwarts of 20th century repertoire, but guest conductor Antonio Pappano, leading the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, reminded us how galvanizing the canonical can still be. Though grandiose executions of Respighi's The Fountains of Rome and The Pines of Rome were the main event, the sold-out crowd gathered to see Martha Argerich perform one of her showpieces, Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto. Those who regard the reclusive Argerich as one of the world's two or three greatest living pianists—classical or otherwise—would not have left the concert hall disillusioned.

Keep reading... Show less
9
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image