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That '70s Show: Season 1(TV) (1998-1999)
Flash back to a time when platform shoes and puka shells were all the rage in this hilarious retro-sitcom. For Eric, Kelso, Jackie, Hyde, Donna and Fez; a group of high school teens who spend most of their time hanging out in Eric's basement; life in the '70s isn't always so groovy. But between trying to figure out the meaning of life, avoiding their parents, and dealing with out-of-control hormones, they've learned one thing for sure: they'll always get by with a little help from their friends.
For more about That '70s Show: Season 1 and the That '70s Show: Season 1 Blu-ray release, see That '70s Show: Season 1 Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on March 17, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Topher Grace, Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, Kurtwood Smith, Danny Masterson, Wilmer Valderrama
Director: David Trainer
» See full cast & crew
That '70s Show: Season 1 Blu-ray Review
A show about the 70s made in the 90s and looking good in 2012.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, March 17, 2012
It's certainly not every Tuesday that sees the release of a Sitcom on Blu-ray. TV shows, yes, but a late-90s Sitcom? That's pretty much been a market reserved for standard definition DVDs, where source material need not be exactly pristine, where shot-on-video or dated transfers need not hold up on larger, more complex displays, and where only modest audience expectations for quality must be met. But the beauty of film is that its resolution clocks in at a higher level than even Blu-ray can produce, which means in a nutshell that proper film elements -- even proper film elements tied to a goofy Sitcom -- can look quite good in high definition and even on very large screens. Shot-on-film is why something dating as far back as the 1960s -- Star Trek -- can look so great on Blu-ray. But for an older show shot on low-resolution video, the game is off; it's only the advent of HD video that's largely allowed newer programs to flourish on Blu-ray, why modern shows like Justified also look great in 1080p. So when an older TV show was shot on film when a time standard-definition video was still really the only other game in town, it's a candidate for a high definition release. It shouldn't be a surprise, then, that That '70s Show has popped up on Blu-ray. The film elements allow for a quality Blu-ray release, and Mill Creek's Blu-ray presentation of Fox's hit TV show represents a good baseline for an older TV show, originally broadcast in standard definition, now appearing in high definition. It's not been meticulously restored like Star Trek, but this is a fine set that, hopefully, will begin a trend of Sitcoms making the transition to Blu-ray provided the proper original elements are up to spec.
The time is the late 1970s. The era is the rise of Star Wars and the decline of Disco. The things to do include getting high and sorting out life and love. The place to do them happens to be in a little basement in the middle of suburbia -- Point Place, Wisconsin, to be exact -- in a house owned by two everyday adults, Red and Kitty Forman (Kurtwood Smith and Debra Jo Rupp), who aren't exactly hip to the new world the neighborhood kids call life. The Formans' son Eric (Topher Grace) has it made. He's got a few good friends, a new-to-him Vista Cruiser station wagon in which to haul them, and a basement they all call a second home. Eric's got his eye on Donna (Laura Prepon), the girl he's known for most of his life, and she likes him, too. They just don't really know how to move their relationship forward. Their slow-going affair is countered by the hot-and-heavy love affair between Jackie Burkhart (Mila Kunis) and Michael Kelso (Ashton Kutcher), a couple for whom every moment is an opportunity to make out. Their circle is completed by Steven Hyde (Danny Masterson), a cutting-edge radical of sorts, and the foreign exchange student Fez (Wilmer Valderrama) who can't get enough of American culture and American women. Add to that Eric's ultra-hot sister Laurie (Lisa Robin Kelly), and the recipe is there for, well, for something, nothing, or whatever they want to make of any and every situation. But with time and place the constants, the group manages to find their way even if it means a little hilarity, quite a few hormones, and a whole lot of marijuana to get there.
Who knew that a show that's pretty much about nothing could have so much going for it? That '70s Show never really ventures out beyond the life and times of a handful of people in 1970s Wisconsin, or better said a specific basement in a single house in one Wisconsin town. But even as the show hits the same notes time and again, it remains largely fresh, with a sense of repetition only occasionally hindering the show and the total randomness of it all never much of a problem. The sense of adventure is small -- as small as the few little sets that appear in every episode -- but the scale of humanity is rather large, the characters a microcosm of a time which is reflected in the daily activities of a handful of high school-aged stoners, lovers, and livers. The show gets a whole lot of mileage out of playing off of everyday things both specific to the 1970s and which transcend the decade, that dichotomy the true key to the series' success. Pop culture, politics, and fashion might separate the show from the modern world, but themes of teenage rebellion, young love, and sorting out this crazy thing called life offer today's audiences a way to relate to those characters, to understand what they do and how they live even if their clothes, furniture, entertainment, and lifestyle might be almost foreign to audiences removed just a few decades from them.
Of course and above all else it is called That '70s Show, so it pretty much has to all but guarantee an authentic throwback experience. It succeeds. For those who lived through the 70s, missed the decade by that much, or who were too busy getting high in their parents' basements to notice, the decade pretty much threw all the rules out the window in terms of its style. Anything and everything was hip and cool. Gaudy colors were in, conservative appearances were out. Clashing clothes ruled the day, subtle hues and blended attire weren't allowed. Shaggy carpets, colorful appliances, whatever the 70s had, That '70s Show has. Granted it's not exactly a chore to get it right -- not only are there such things as color photos and TV shows but, yes, there are still homes out there with the shaggy orange carpet, the lime green oven, the pale yellow fridge -- but this show just nails it. Everything right down to the hairdos, glasses, and electronics is in order. One can only wonder about how or why the decade looked as it did, but this is a pretty nifty recreation that might blind its audience from time to time, but seeing that the show isn't really about the look so much as it is the people who lived in the look, it's often easy to overlook the ugliness and enjoy the show for its well-rounded and likable characters, to become absorbed into the environment rather than taken aback by it. And for those times that the show slows down and the look takes over, well, they say variety is the spice of life, and this show really kicks.
That '70s Show: Season 1 Blu-ray, Video Quality
That '70s Show: Season One arrives on Blu-ray looking rather great. The film elements transition nicely, and the show appears crisp, detailed, and very colorful. It also plays in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio -- filling the screen of new HDTV sets -- rather than the original broadcast aspect ratio of 1.33:1, which filled the screen of the prevalent 4x3 sets of the late 1990s. Purists might prefer the original exhibition ratio, but there's nothing missing here and the image hasn't been horizontally stretched. The wider aspect ratio shows more information to the sides and, of course, everything visible in the original broadcasts is also here. As for the image quality, it's remarkably good. Grain can be a little spiky and reds rather garish, but the image is otherwise superb. Fine detail is great, particularly on the heavy 70s textures. Clothes reveal many stitches and fabric intricacies. Appliances, carpets, wood trim, era electronics, all appear sharp and cleanly detailed. Facial textures are sound, and the image enjoys a consistently strong sense of clarity and sharpness with only a few random shots going a touch soft. Colors are many and vibrant, nicely balanced and only those bright reds ever really sticking out from the crowd. Flesh tones are neutral, and blacks are rather strong, if not a little noisy. Some of the graphics and effects shots appear as jagged and messy up-converts, but the general photography is gorgeous. Though not quite up to the level of excellence of a Star Trek, Mill Creek's Blu-ray release of That '70s Show looks fantastic. Here's hoping subsequent seasons enjoy the same treatment!
That '70s Show: Season 1 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
That '70s Show: Season One features a DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. The opening title music plays with great energy and volume, strong clarity, and fine spacing. The show's sound effects come across clearly, with a generally strong sense of body and realism. Whether exterior ambience or background music at a concert or the drive-in, the effects play nicely with the primary dialogue. The spoken word is delivered crisply and efficiently from the center channel; there are no clarity problems here. The primary element away from dialogue, however, is the laugh track. While it sometimes goes a bit overboard -- it laughs at pretty much everything -- its presentation on Blu-ray practically places the listener amongst the "live studio audience." Laughter pretty much encircles the audience, with specific chuckles and other reactions not exactly in-line with the general guffaws coming distinctly and helping to add another layer to the experience. The laugh track can get a little old, but there's no denying its effect here, and there's no denying the relative quality of this lossless soundtrack, which serves the show and the high definition presentation in particular quite well.
That '70s Show: Season 1 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
All of That '70s Show: Season One's supplements appear on disc four of this set. All supplements are framed around a flower-power border.
That '70s Show: Season 1 Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
How wonderful is it that something like That '70s Show: Season One is on Blu-ray? Whouldathunkit? But it really does make sense. Good show? Check. Fan favorite? Check. Shot on film? Check. Why not toss it on Blu-ray and see what happens? The result is one of the nicer four-disc sets to come around in a while, both in terms of content and technical presentation. It's not groundbreaking TV or a release-for-the-ages like Star Trek, but darn it if this isn't a rock-solid presentation from top to bottom. The transfer look great, the lossless soundtrack is a real surprise, and there's even a few supplements thrown in for good measure. Top top it off, for the price Mill Creek is charging, this set nearly borders on thievery. This Blu-ray release of That '70s Show: Season One surprises and impresses at every turn. Highly recommended!
That '70s Show: Other Seasons
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That '70s Show: Season 1 Blu-ray, News and Updates
• That '70s Show: Season 1 Blu-ray (Updated) - October 27, 2011
Next year, Mill Creek Entertainment will bring That '70s Show: Season 1 to Blu-ray. The popular situation comedy stars Topher Grace (Traffic) as Eric Forman, a teenager coming of age with his offbeat friends in 1970's Wisconsin. That '70s Show: Season 1 streets ...
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