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That 70s Show | Season One | review | dvd | Lollipop

That '70s Show

Season One (Fox Home Entertainment)
by Brian Varney

The 1970s are a pretty important decade for me. Although I was born in their midst, I didn't become conscious of the decade's impact upon me and a lot of stuff that I really love until much later. It's hard to tell how much is being filtered through rose-colored glasses by movies like Dazed and Confused that celebrate the decade's cool attitude, but it's equally difficult to refute the quantity of great music, fashion, and cars that came from those 10 years. I've often felt that I was born 20 years too late, that I would've been happier being a teenager in the '70s than in the '90s. However, another side of me figures I'd be a misfit no matter when I was born, and that if I was a teenager in 1975, I'd be pining for the '50s.

In any case, because I'm too young to really remember the '70s, I'm a big fan of movies and television that portray the decade. Although I normally tend to avoid network sitcoms, the allure of a show focusing on a group of teenagers set in the middle of nowhere (Point Place, Wisconsin, to be exact) in 1976 was too strong.

Despite the series title, the 1970s are not so much the focus of the series as simply a backdrop for the real action, which is a portrayal of adolescence. The first TV series that comes to mind as a comparison is The Wonder Years, although That '70s Show is set in a different decade and is much less prone to the maudlin sentimentalizing that dampened a lot of that show's appeal. Overall, its take on being a teenager is more light-hearted, the goal always being laughter rather than contemplation. This is a good thing, as it makes for more entertaining viewing, especially since the That '70s Show's writers hit their intended targets a lot more often than The Wonder Years' writers did.

As a result, That '70s Show possesses a timeless appeal: People who were teenagers in the '70s can probably relate to this group of kids just as much as a child of the '90s like myself or even someone who's a teenager today. Although the world of the 1970s makes for some nice eye candy and a few laughs, the fun and the frustration of being a teenager is timeless when rendered properly, whether it's "Summertime Blues" or "Fight for Your Right to Party," Better Off Dead, or That '70s Show.

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