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
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

Run the Jewels - "Ooh LA LA" (Singles Going Steady)

Run the Jewels' "Ooh LA LA" may hit with old-school hip-hop swagger, but it also frustratingly affirms misogynistic bro-culture.

Books

New Translation of Balzac's 'Lost Illusions' Captivates

More than just a tale of one man's fall, Balzac's Lost Illusions charts how literature becomes another commodity in a system that demands backroom deals, moral compromise, and connections.

Music

Protomartyr - "Processed by the Boys" (Singles Going Steady)

Protomartyr's "Processed By the Boys" is a gripping spin on reality as we know it, and here, the revolution is being televised.

Music

Go-Go's Bassist Kathy Valentine Is on the "Write" Track After a Rock-Hard Life

The '80s were a wild and crazy time also filled with troubles, heartbreak and disappointment for Go-Go's bass player-guitarist Kathy Valentine, who covers many of those moments in her intriguing dual project that she discusses in this freewheeling interview.

Music

New Brain Trajectory: An Interview With Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree

Two guitarists, Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree make an album largely absent of guitar playing and enter into a bold new phase of their careers. "We want to take this wherever we can and be free of genre restraints," says Lee Ranaldo.

Books

'Trans Power' Is a Celebration of Radical Power and Beauty

Juno Roche's Trans Power discusses trans identity not as a passageway between one of two linear destinations, but as a destination of its own.

Music

Yves Tumor Soars With 'Heaven to a Tortured Mind'

On Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor relishes his shift to microphone caressing rock star. Here he steps out of his sonic chrysalis, dons some shiny black wings and soars.

Music

Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras' tētēma Don't Hit the Mark on 'Necroscape'

tētēma's Necroscape has some highlights and some interesting ambiance, but ultimately it's a catalog of misses for Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras.

Music

M. Ward Offers Comforting Escapism on 'Migration Stories'

Although M. Ward didn't plan the songs on Migration Stories for this pandemic, they're still capable of acting as a balm in these dark hours.

Music

Parsonsfield Add Indie Pop to Their Folk on 'Happy Hour on the Floor'

Happy Hour on the Floor is a considerable departure from Parsonsfield's acclaimed rustic folk sound signaling their indie-pop orientation. Parsonsfield remind their audience to bestow gratitude and practice happiness: a truly welcomed exaltation.

Music

JARV IS... - "House Music All Night Long" (Singles Going Steady)

"House Music All Night Long" is a song our inner, self-isolated freaks can jive to. JARV IS... cleverly captures how dazed and confused some of us may feel over the current pandemic, trapped in our homes.

Music

All Kinds of Time: Adam Schlesinger's Pursuit of Pure, Peerless Pop

Adam Schlesinger was a poet laureate of pure pop music. There was never a melody too bright, a lyrical conceit too playfully dumb, or a vibe full of radiation that he would shy away from. His sudden passing from COVID-19 means one of the brightest stars in the power-pop universe has suddenly dimmed.

Music

Folkie Eliza Gilkyson Turns Up the Heat on '2020'

Eliza Gilkyson aims to inspire the troops of resistance on her superb new album, 2020. The ten songs serve as a rallying cry for the long haul.

Music

Human Impact Hit Home with a Seismic First Album From a Veteran Lineup

On their self-titled debut, Human Impact provide a soundtrack for this dislocated moment where both humanity and nature are crying out for relief.

Music

Monophonics Are an Ardent Blast of True Rock 'n' Soul on 'It's Only Us'

The third time's the charm as Bay Area soul sextet Monophonics release their shiniest record yet in It's Only Us.

Film

'Slay the Dragon' Is a Road Map of the GOP's Methods for Dividing and Conquering American Democracy

If a time traveler from the past wanted to learn how to subvert democracy for a few million bucks, gerrymandering documentary Slay the Dragon would be a superb guide.

Music

Bobby Previte / Jamie Saft / Nels Cline: Music from the Early 21st Century

A power-trio of electric guitar, keyboards, and drums takes on the challenge of free improvisation—but using primarily elements of rock and electronica as strongly as the usual creative music or jazz. The result is focused.

Books

Does Inclusivity Mean That Everyone Does the Same Thing?

What is the meaning of diversity in today's world? Russell Jacoby raises and addresses some pertinent questions in his latest work, On Diversity.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews
Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.