That '70s Show: Season One

In hindsight, it's a little surprising that Fox's That '70s Show made it past its first season and into what is now its seventh. The concept and setting, costume/wardrobe and characters were all refreshing, but looking back on its conception in this DVD release of all 25 episodes, there were too few laughs. Of course, the show took a while to find its feet, that's understandable and forgivable, but with such ridiculously lovable characters, it should have been a gimme. The writers did their research finding the perfect clothes, lingo, décor and subject matter, and yet, for the most part, they couldn't write a joke to save their lives. Luckily, something saved the show, allowing it to become the excellent program it is today. Set in Point Place, Wisconsin in 1976, the show follows a gang of high schoolers — Eric, Donna, Hyde, Kelso, Jackie and Fez — as they experiment with drugs (we think), find love, party, drive around in the Vista Cruiser and most often, insult each other. I suppose it can be compared to The Simpsons, another Fox comedy that did well in creating offbeat situations where characters got in over their heads, but even hardcore fans will admit the jokes were on the weak side. All in all, That '70s Show definitely had some good moments in its first year. Highlights include the group's discovery of Star Wars, which includes a fairly humorous dream sequence with the cast dressed as Lucas's characters, Eric's discovery of his parents' sex life, the mysterious keg without a tap and the moment where Eric kills his grandma with "kindness." Unfortunately, even more disappointing is the poor example of extras across these four discs. First of all, no commentary is featured, which must be a first for DVD. What is featured is a "Hello Wisconsin!" featurette with the cast explaining their characters in detail, but it fails to produce many laughs or interest. The trivia show could have been very promising, but instead it's too easy, quite short and only gives you a nanosecond to think of the right answer. Judging by the show's impressive evolution, the upcoming DVD releases should be much better. Let's just be thankful this was the series that succeeded and not the doomed-from-the-start That '80s Show. Plus: "Promo-Palooza" (Fox)