Release Date: September 13, 2011 (Mill Creek Entertainment)
Packaging: Double-Thick Keepcase or Regular Keepcase (see Packaging section)
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 25
Running Time: 638 minutes
Running Time of Features: 24 minutes
Audio: English Stereo
Subtitles and Captioning: Closed-Captioned
Special Features: "Hello Wisconsin! Season One" featurette; Trivia; Original Promos
Get ready to boogie once again with That '70s Show! Over several years in the past decade, 20th Century Fox released the entire series on DVD, but fans weren't completely satisfied with the release as there were some issues, most specifically with music edits. But now, Mill Creek has taken over the series, and purports to have restored the episodes to their original glory, and to top it off, they've made these value-priced releases. Get ready to enjoy Eric, Kelso, Jackie, Hyde, Donna, and Fez as they spend more time "handgun' out" in Eric's groovy basement in That '70s Show - Season One!
The series begins with "Pilot," where Red Forman and Kitty hand the keys to their car over to their son Eric with one stipulation: don't leave town. So naturally, he leaves town. Eric tries to prevent his mom from throwing him another birthday party in "Eric's Birthday." In "Streaking," Gerald Ford is coming to town, and the guys have their plan for how to greet them. Donna is constantly beating Eric in "Battle of the Sexists." In "Eric's Burger Job," Eric's new job is making him miserable. The gang throws a wild party at a real estate model home in "The Keg." In "That Disco Episode," Bob seems to think Kitty and Hyde are having an affair. Eric and Donna go to the drive-in with Kelso and Jackie in "Drive-In." In "Thanksgiving," Laurie brings her friend home with her for Thanksgiving, but Donna is angry when she finds out that the friend kissed Eric.
Marion Ross makes her first appearance as Red's mother in "Sunday, Bloody Sunday," where she comes for a Sunday visit that is bound to make everybody (except for Fez oddly enough) miserable. Joseph Gordon-Levitt guest stars in "Eric's Buddy," where he plays Eric's new lab partner and friend who has a secret. In "The Best Christmas Ever," Red gives Eric $40 to buy a Christmas tree, but Eric and the guys have other ideas of how to get a tree and keep the money. Jackie invites everybody (except for her now ex-boyfriend Kelso) to her ski cabin in "Ski Trip." The guys end up in jail after driving Kelso's cousin's car in "Stolen Car." Red joins the guys as they go to a wrestling match in "That Wrestling Show." In "First Date," everybody is trying to build and work on their relationships. Jackie thinks she is pregnant in "The Pill." Katey Sagal guest stars as Hyde's mom, the lunch lady, in "Career Day."
Kelso tries to make Jackie jealous In "Prom Night." The series takes on the Star Wars franchise in "A New Hope." In "Water Tower," the guys paint a pot leaf on the town water tower, but it doesn't end pretty at all. Hyde's meets a girl wants him to join her punk band in New York in "Punk Chick." Eric thinks that he killed his grandmother when she suddenly dies in "Grandma's Dead." Hyde's mother runs off in "Hyde Moves In," which means new changes in the Forman household. The season ends with "The Good Son," where Eric is annoyed because he thinks his parents favor Hyde over him.
As far as I can tell, the episodes on the set are unedited. The original music appears to be intact in the episodes (something that was not the case for the Fox releases), and the episodes generally appear to be unedited. Runtimes are as follows:
1. "Pilot" (22:26)
2. "Eric's Birthday" (22:25)
3. "Streaking" (22:25)
4. "Battle of the Sexists" (22:26)
5. "Eric's Burger Job" (22:25)
6. "The Keg" (22:25)
7. "That Disco Episode" (22:26)
8. "Drive-In" (22:26)
9. "Thanksgiving" (22:25)
19. "Prom Night" (22:24)
20. "A New Hope" (22:26)
21. "Water Tower" (22:24)
22. "Punk Chick" (22:25)
23. "Grandma's Dead" (22:28)
24. "Hyde Moves In" (22:24)
25. "The Good Son" (22:24)
The packaging on this set appears to come in two variations for some reason. The review copy that I received came in a double-thick keepcase, but I have seen the exact same release, from Mill Creek, in a regular single-thick keepcase at some retailers. It appears that some retailers are getting different packages for this set with the same ISBN. In any event, though, both of them are likely to come with those awful black paper sleeves that Mill Creek has become notorious for using. It really is a shame, because they have suddenly transformed from a low-budget, most public domain studio to a prominent player in high-quality licensed releases at value-prices, and this is really their only detractor these days. On the cover, we have a small cast photo in the center, with larger photos of Eric and Donna on the sides. On the back, we see an "extended cast" photo with everybody around the family station wagon. There is also a brief description of the series, along with a short blurb from DVDTalk.com about the first season of the series. Inside, there is nothing more than the three discs inside their black paper sleeves. The disc artwork just has the series logo on a yellow background. Discs 1 and 2 contain nine episodes each, while Disc 3 contains seven episodes.
Menu Design and Navigation:
As always, Mill Creek has created excellent menus for this set. The main menu has the series theme song (from the first season) playing, with a cast photo and an animated disco ball background. Options on the main menu include Play All and Episodes, as well as Bonus on Disc 3. Selecting Episodes will take you to a submenu that gives a text list of all of the episodes, with the theme song still playing in the background. Once you select an episode, it plays right away. Unfortunately, there is only one chapter per episode, placed in the middle of each episode.
Video and Audio Quality:
The video and audio on the set is, for the most part, pretty good. However, it is worth noting that, once again, Mill Creek has crammed entirely too many episodes on each disc. I understand that this is supposed to be a more "value-priced" release, but it would have been nice to have one more disc on this. Still, it doesn't seem to cause a major problem with the quality of the set. The episodes are presented in full-screen, in stereo. And fortunately, the episodes on this set are closed-captioned.
There are a few special features on this set, but you won't find anything new that wasn't on the previous release. Still, it is nice to see that the special features included on the previous release have been carried over. Everything can be found on Disc 3, beginning with "Hello Wisconsin! Season One" (18:03), where we get some cast interview interspersed with some clips from the first season. We get to see just about all of the "kids" in this feature, as well as Kurtwood Smith and Debra Jo Rupp. "That '70s Trivia Show" (2:21) is kind of a boring non-interactive trivia segment. Basically, it is just a running video of cast members asking trivia questions, with clips giving the answer. It would be more interesting if this was an interactive feature, but I understand that Mill Creek just carried over what was used on the previous release. Finally, "Promopalooza" (3:44) is a series of promos for the series from Fox from the first season. It is really great to see these included, although they are edited together in an unconventional form.
This is a decent and functional set for the series, although the black paper sleeves and the cramming of too many episodes per discs is a bit disappointing. Still, I think that the Mill Creek sets are much better than the releases that Fox put out, simply because they went back to the original unedited versions of the episodes--or so they say they did (I am assuming they are being truthful). Fans who have upgraded to Blu-ray, though, may want to wait a few months, as Mill Creek is set to debut this series on Blu-ray in the near future (the exact date is currently slated for March, but it has been delayed at least once so far). I have watched this series occasionally during the original airing and in syndication, though I've never been a regular viewer of the series. I think that these Mill Creek releases of the set provide a great opportunity for the devoted fans, and even casual fans, to enjoy the series without breaking the bank. Their business model really is a win-win situation for everybody, and this set is a great example of a set that everybody who enjoys the series to any extent should own.