That ’90s Show: Season 1 – TV Review

TL;DR – While it had a rough start, it found its feet and became something full of charm.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix service that viewed this series.

The gang on the couch.

That ’90s Show Review

The wheel of nostalgia always grinds on, and I think that was why I didn’t think much of when they announced that they would be doing a follow-up to That ‘70s Show set in the 1990s. This was a nostalgia ouroboros. But today, I needed something on the TV as I cleaned and packed the house, and as time went on, I found myself becoming more and more entwined with the show.  

So to set the scene, it is an excellent day in the Forman household because Kitty (Debra Jo Rupp) is getting ready for a visit from Eric (Topher Grace), Donna (Laura Prepon), and their daughter Leia (Callie Haverda). Red (Kurtwood Smith) is happy with the quiet, but Kitty misses the sounds of the house being busy. While they were only meant to be there for the weekend, Leia found a bunch of friends, including her neighbours Gwen (Ashley Aufderheide) and Nate Runck (Maxwell Acee Donovan), Nate’s girlfriend Nikki (Sam Morelos), the sassy Ozzie (Reyn Doi), and of course a Kelso, Jay (Mace Coronel). Leia was meant only to stay the weekend, but after making connections, she cons her parents into staying for the whole summer. Now from here, we will be looking at the season as a whole, so there will be [SPOILERS] ahead for the show.   

The gang on the water tower.
I liked the new batch of kids. Image Credit: Netflix.

Now, I need to be clear from the start that the first episode is a tough watch. Everything that was not just Kitty and Red felt forced like somehow all the timing was off. If I were a betting man, I would say that people were not used to working with a laugh track and pausing just a bit too long or short. This meant that all the introductions of characters, both old and new, fell flat. I almost pulled the rip cord here. Thankfully I didn’t. Maybe it was just to have something on in the background, and perhaps it was because it was building strength in each episode, but I was along for the ride.

Part of my difficulties and then my full forced acceptance of this film is that it is set in the historical period of the 1990s. As a child of the 1990s who was sent to spend the summer with my grandparents, this was a hard pill to swallow, which I should know, given how old I am now. But there was also this sort of vibe of the time, with computers and the internet showing the possibility of the world before the internet became the actual cesspool it is today. But if nothing else, the show captures the vibe of the times in clothes, hair, malls, looks, and everything.  

Kurtwood Smith & Debra Jo Rupp
It was a joy to see Kurtwood Smith & Debra Jo Rupp back. Image Credit: Netflix.

The significant change from That ‘70s Show is that the young cast feels reasonably close to the age they are meant to be. There is a youthful energy to the proceedings that fits the tone they are going for, someone trying to find their own identity outside of their parent’s pressure. Add to this a chaotic group of friends and at least one potential love interest, and you have a good foundation for an exciting narrative; on the whole, I think they pull it off.

This first season’s big strength and weakness was its need to rest on nostalgia. The inclusion of Kurtwood Smith and Debra Jo Rupp was part of the show’s strength. Not only do Kitty and Red work as perfect foils for the cast, with them falling into both old and new patterns. But it was a joy just to sit back and watch them perform and also to watch them in the background, watching the others perform with a knowing smile on his face. However, while It was fun to see some of the faces at first, there is almost a relentless parade of cameos that all lose impact with each reception. This also hinders the younger cast because they are never given the space they need to grow.

Mila Kunis & Ashton Kutcher
Not all the nostalgia worked. Image Credit: Netflix.

In the end, do we recommend season one of That ‘70s Show? Generally, yes. There are some real rough edges that are hard to avoid at times. However, the new cast is fun, and it is just nice that we get to see more of Kurtwood Smith & Debra Jo Rupp.     

By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.

Have you seen That ’90s Show yet ?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review
on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.    

Credits –
All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of That ’90s Show
Directed by
– Gail Mancuso & Laura Prepon
Written by – Bonnie Turner, Terry Turner, Lindsey Turner, Gregg Mettler, Chrissy Pietrosh, Jessica Goldstein, Andrew Ti, Jake Lasker, Erin Foley, Clarissa Carson & Tommy Johnagin
Created by – Bonnie Turner, Terry Turner, Lindsey Turner, Gregg Mettler
Based OnThat ’70s Show by Bonnie Turner, Terry Turner & Mark Brazill
Production/Distribution Companies – The Carsey-Werner Company, Ratamacue & Netflix
Starring – Kurtwood Smith, Debra Jo Rupp, Callie Haverda, Ashley Aufderheide, Mace Coronel, Reyn Doi, Sam Morelos & Maxwell Acee Donovan with Andrea Anders, Laura Prepon, Topher Grace, Wilmer Valderrama, Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher, Tommy Chong, Don Stark, Jim Rash & Brian Austin Green     
Episodes CoveredThat ’90s Pilot, Free Leia, Lip Smackers, Rave, Step by Step, The Birthday Girl, Boyfriend Day One, Summer Storm, Dirty Double Booker & Kids in America


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