That ’70s Show, an American television sitcom, centers on the lives of a group of teenagers living in Point Place, Wisconsin, a fictional suburb of either Kenosha or Green Bay[1] from May 17, 1976 to December 31, 1979. It debuted on August 23, 1998 and its final episode aired May 18, 2006. That ’70s Show proved to be a launching pad for the film careers of its young stars, mostly unknowns at the time they were hired. The show remains in syndication on FX and various broadcast television stations in the United States, Virgin 1, Paramount Comedy 1 & MTV ONE in the United Kingdom, CH in Canada, as well as the Seven Network and FOX8 in Australia. It will begin airing on ABC Family and The N in 2008.

Series overview
History

That ’70s Show is the brainchild of 3rd Rock From the Sun creators Bonnie and Terry Turner and writer Mark Brazill. The working title for the series was Teenage Wasteland, before being changed to That ’70s Show. Other names considered were The Kids Are Alright, Feelin’ All Right, and Reeling in the Years,[1] all of which are names of popular songs during the period. The series was commissioned by the Fox Network, and the first season premiered on Sunday, August 23, 1998, with an initial order of 22 episodes (extended to 25 on January 12, 1999).[3] The series did well, rating highly among several target demographics, including adults aged 18-49, as well as teen viewers.[3] In February 1999, FOX ordered a second season, and as ratings rose the following September, the network opted to renew the series for two more seasons, bringing the total to four.[3] Continuing success saw changing timeslots (Sundays to Mondays to Tuesdays to Wednesdays to Thursdays), as well as four additional seasons. The eighth season was announced to be the final season of the show on January 17, 2006, [4] and the final episode was filmed a month later, on February 17, 2006.[5] «That ’70s Finale» originally aired on May 18, 2006.

Characters

Set in Point Place, Wisconsin, That ’70s Show depicts the life of teenager Eric Forman (Topher Grace) and his five teenage friends: Donna Pinciotti (Laura Prepon), his girlfriend and next-door neighbor, Steven Hyde (Danny Masterson), a rebellious stoner who was adopted by the Forman family and lives in their basement, Michael Kelso (Ashton Kutcher), a dim-witted narcissistic ladies man, Jacqueline Burkhart (Mila Kunis), a self-involved high school cheerleader overly preoccupied with wealth and status, and Fez (Wilmer Valderrama), the nicknamed immigrant from an ambiguous country of origin and whose hormones are raging out of control. Relationships among the teens are explored, the primary focus being between Eric and Donna, who are the responsible ones, as evidenced in episodes such as «Dine and Dash». Their relationship sharply contrasts with the on-again, off-again relationship between Kelso and Jackie, who were usually portrayed as mutually obsessed despite their arguments and denials of love to spite one another. In both relationships, the couples would have harsh disagreements, but would come to terms with their differences. Jackie eventually moved on to Hyde and later Fez as the series progessed. Other main characters include Eric’s overbearing war veteran father, Red (Kurtwood Smith), his doting mother Kitty (Debra Jo Rupp), who is struggling to be a full-time mom and housewife while working as a nurse in a local hospital, and his older sister Laurie (Lisa Robin Kelly, 1998-2003 and Christina Moore, 2003-2004), whose promiscuity is the brunt of many jokes by the teenagers but does not deter Kelso from making moves on her. The show also depicts the relationship of Midge and Bob Pinciotti (Tanya Roberts and Don Stark), Donna’s dimwitted parents, both of whom are easily influenced by the 1970s movements and fads, which places occasional stress on their marriage. Tommy Chong appeared as a frequently recurring character, Leo, the aging hippie owner of the Foto Hut.

Eighth season changes

Eric Forman and Michael Kelso were written out of the series after the seventh season, as actors Topher Grace and Ashton Kutcher were to star in movies to be filmed during that season (Grace in Spider-Man 3 and Kutcher in The Guardian). Longtime character Leo returned with a more prominent role to help fill the gap. A new character named Randy Pearson, played by Josh Meyers, was introduced to take Eric Forman’s place. Another new character, Samantha, played by Judy Tylor, was added to the cast as Hyde’s wife for nine episodes. Kelso appears in the first four episodes of the eighth season (with Kutcher credited as a special guest star) before moving to Chicago; both he and Eric returned for the series final episode. The location of the show’s introduction was also changed from Eric’s 1969 Vista Cruiser to the «Circle».

Elements of the show
The show gained recognition for providing a bold retrospective of a decade full of political events and technological milestones that have dramatically shaped today’s world. The show tackled significant social phenomena of the times, such as feminism, progressive sexual attitudes (although in some episodes more traditional values would carry the day, such as when Red ended his friendship with a fellow veteran when he was unknowingly invited to a key party), the economic hardships of recession, mistrust in the American government among blue-collar workers, political figures such as Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, teenage drug use, and developments in entertainment technology, from the television remote («the clicker») to the videogame Pong. The first season of the show focused extensively on current events and cultural trends, with each successive season focusing less and less on the socio-political aspects of the story, to the point that the decade simply became a backdrop against which the storylines unfolded. Likewise, the first season of the show also featured a recurring, non-comedic storyline in which the Forman family was in constant danger of losing their home due to Red’s hours being cut back at the auto parts plant where he worked. Recurring storylines in later seasons, even when they carried dramatic elements, were always presented as primarily comedic. Signature elements of That ’70s Show include surreal, sometimes elaborate, dream sequences to depict various characters’ vivid imaginations, some of which include references to or parodies of fads and films of the time, such as Star Wars, Rocky, and Grease, and the 360-degree scenes, also known as «The Circle» (seen below). The «Circle» is used to illustrate the teens’ marijuana use, typically occurring in Eric’s basement. All of these segments combine nonsensical dialogue with deadpan humor. Of note, no actual smoking is depicted in these scenes, as smoke is only visible in the background and foreground. Other stylistic elements include the use of split screens, which tends to involve two characters talking to each other about a given topic, as two other people with foil viewpoints speak. The viewpoints are disturbingly similar yet contradictory in key ways for optimal comic effect. The series is something of a homage to the hit 1970s series Happy Days, which itself looked back twenty years to the Wisconsin of the 1950s.

Timeline

Due to the show’s long run, the timeline was noticeably slowed. The show was set in May 1976 upon its August 23, 1998 premiere. After twelve episodes of the first season (as well as episode 23, «Grandma’s Dead», due to it being aired out of production order), the series transitioned to 1977, where it remained until late in the third season, when the time setting was 1978 until early in the sixth season. The remaining episodes took place in 1979. Hyde had an 18th birthday in 1978, despite dialogue suggesting that he is older than Eric, who turned 17 in episode 2, «Eric’s Birthday» (set in 1976). Eric then turned 18 in episode 131, «Magic Bus» in 1978, two years after turning 17. This, combined with the fact that there were holiday-themed episodes almost every season, indicated a sense of t
ime on That ’70s Show that was loose at best. M*A*S*H, which aired for eleven years despite the Korean War lasting only three years, also made liberal use of time settings. The year is determined in the last scene of the opening credits, which reveals a close-up of a Wisconsin license plate that reads the names of the creators and the sticker with the two-digit year — in this case, either «76», «77», «78» or «79» and, in the final episode, «80».The year stickers for Wisconsin plates are issued for the upcoming twelve months (e.g., a sticker for «80» would be issued in 1979). The plate also appears at the end as the production logo for Carsey-Werner, also showing the year.
British remake

In 1999, the show was remade by the British ITV network as Days Like These using almost verbatim scripts with minor changes to cultural references. The show failed to attract an audience and was removed from the schedules after 10 of the 13 episodes were broadcast. The remaining three episodes were shown in later reruns. After the failure of the UK remake, rival commercial terrestrial Five started broadcasting the original show in primetime before moving it to a post 11 p.m. timeslot.
International broadcasts of US version

The American version of the show is currently shown on Trouble, Paramount Comedy, Virgin 1, MTV One and Bravo 2 in the UK and Ireland, and RT? Two, Channel 6 in Ireland, Paramount Comedy in Spain, Star World in Asia, Jack TV in the Philippines, Comedy Central in the Netherlands, TV2 Zulu in Denmark, TV 2 (Norway) in Norway, Seven Network and FOX8 in Australia, MBC4 in the Middle East, Sony Entertainment Television in Brazil and Latin America, Sitel in the Republic of Macedonia, Eesti Televisioon in Estonia and Nelonen in Finland, TV 2 originally (later airing on rival station TV3 (New Zealand)), in New Zealand, Kanaal 2 in Belgium, NRJ12 in France, Kabel 1 in Germany, TV4 (Sweden) in Sweden, B92 in Serbia, Nova TV in Croatia and Atlas TV in Montenegro.
Theme song

The show usually opens with the theme song, «In the Street», by Alex Chilton and Chris Bell of the band Big Star. It was initially sung by Todd Griffin, but beginning with the second season, the song was performed by the band Cheap Trick, whose version is referred to as «That ’70s Song (In the Street)». In a Rolling Stone magazine article in 2000, Chilton thought it was ironic that he is paid $70 in royalties each time the song is aired. [6] According to the official That ’70s Show website, Danny Masterson (Steven Hyde) yells «Hello Wisconsin!» during the first season and Rick Nielsen (lead guitarist/songwriter for Cheap Trick) in all other seasons.[1] The lyrics were also slightly different during the first season, with instead of «We’re all alright!» being shouted twice (a reference to Cheap Trick’s 1978 single «Surrender»), «Whooa yeah!» is heard. The first season’s theme was also in the key of G, whereas in subsequent seasons it was lowered to the key of D. Alternate holiday versions of the theme song were arranged for Halloween, Christmas and musical specials, using organ music and bells, respectively.

DVD releases

That ’70s Show is currently being released on DVD by FOX Home Entertainment at an increment of two seasons per year. Season seven was the most recent release in Region 1, being released on October 162007 with Season 8 being released on April 12008. The DVDs contain various bonus features, such as the original promos for the episodes that aired on FOX on the original air date, retrospective interviews with various cast members, and commentaries by director David Trainer on selected episodes. The first five seasons were released in four slimcases per season with one disc per slimcase, however, beginning with season six, FOX scaled back the sets to two cases with two discs in each.

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