Release Date: April 3, 2012 (Mill Creek Entertainment)
Packaging: Keepcase with black paper sleeves
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 25
Running Time: 548 minutes
Running Time of Features: approx. 53 minutes
Audio: English Stereo
Subtitles and Captioning: Closed-Captioned
Special Features: Episode Introductions (18 episodes); Commentaries (6 episodes); Season 3 Overview; Syndication Promos
Your favorite crew of the swinging '70s is back and funnier than ever! That '70s Show - Season Three arrives on DVD for a second time (originally released by Fox in 2005) from Mill Creek at a very low $14.98 MSRP! The three disc set contains all 25 episodes of the 2000-2001 season of the "retro" series which was a flagship series of Fox in the early part of the 21st century. In the third season, we see Hyde get in trouble with the law, Red getting stricter with the kids (or at least trying), Fez getting a girlfriend (even if she is psycho), and more. So rev up the Vista Cruiser for more hilarity and fun in That '70s Show - Season Three!
The season begins with "Reefer Madness," where Hyde is in trouble with Red from his antics from the last episode of the previous season (i.e. his arrest for possession of marijuana), so Eric does his part by telling Red that he also smokes pot. Shirley Jones and Charo both guest star in "Red Sees Red," where Red sets a new curfew for the kids. Hyde meets his father after eight years in "Hyde's Father." Halloween goes all wrong for the gang in "Too Old to Trick or Treat, Too Young to Die." Roller disco comes to Kenosha in "Roller Disco," and Jackie insists that Hyde be her partner. Eric has a bit of an embarrassing incident in "Eric's Panties." In "Baby Fever," Kitty gets to babysit a friend's baby, and gets ideas. Jackie is after Hyde like never before in "Jackie Bags Hyde." A Christmas party at Hyde's new place gets out of control (and fast) in "Hyde's Christmas Rager."
In "Ice Shack," Kelso will do anything to get Jackie back. We get more of Donna and Eric's love-hate relationship in "Who Wants it More?" In "Fez Gets the Girl," Donna has two tickets to a Led Zeppelin concert, and Eric can't go... but somebody has to take the other ticket. The gang engages in a bit of dine and dash (or at least that is the plan) in "Dine & Dash." Howard Hesseman, Alice Cooper, and Danny Bonaduce all guest star in "Radio Daze," where Donna's new job leaves Eric jealous. Eric decides to cheat when he is losing in basketball in "Donna's Panties." Eric and Donna want a romantic weekend, at a hotel, no less, in "Romantic Weekend." Eric and Red forget a very important birthday in "Kitty's Birthday (That's Today??)."
We get even more Jackie-Kelso drama in "The Trials of M. Kelso." Valerie Harper guest stars in "Eric's Naughty No-No," where the guys see an X-rated film. In "Holy Craps," Kitty volunteers at a church fundraiser, but the whole family is going to be involved. John Ratzenbeger guest stars. Fez's new girlfriend is a little bit crazy and psycho, and he wants to get rid of her... and finds the solution to that in "Fez Dates Donna." Eric fears that he isn't cool enough for Donna and decides to get a tattoo in "Eric's Drunken Tattoo." In "Canadian Road Trip," the guys are willing to cross the northern border JUST to buy beer. Ted Nugent guest stars in "Backstage Pass." The season ends with "The Promise Ring," where Eric gives Donna a promise ring and Eric doesn't get the response which he expects. Monty Hall guest stars.
I wish that I could say that the episodes on this set are completely unedited, and if I had to judge for myself, I would say that. Unfortunately, I just don't know that for certain. Since my reviews of the first two seasons of the series (including the first season on both DVD and Blu-ray), I have received many comments claiming that appearances are deceiving, and that there actually are some edits on the episodes. All of these involve music issues, particularly shortening scenes in which music is played to avoid some of the costs of using the music. So with that being said, I don't think that anybody is going to pick up this set and be terribly upset because a scene lasting a few seconds with their favorite song is cut short, but full disclosure is always a good thing (and I feel like Mill Creek has failed to do that to some extent). Runtimes for the episodes are as follows.
1. "Reefer Madness" (21:55)
2. "Red Sees Red" (22:05)
3. "Hyde's Father" (22:07)
4. "Too Old to Trick or Treat, Too Young to Die" (21:54)
5. "Roller Disco" (22:04)
6. "Eric's Panties" (22:04)
7. "Baby Fever" (22:05)
8. "Jackie Bags Hyde" (22:05)
9. "Hyde's Christmas Rager" (22:04)
The DVDs are packaged in a standard sized DVD case (not the double-thick one this time). On the cover, we have a photo of the entire cast, with a larger photo of Hyde taking the spotlight. There is another cast photo on the back, along with a brief description of the season and a listing of special features. Everything looks very nice on the outside. But of course, once you open up the case, you'll be disappointed. As usual, Mill Creek has packaged all of the discs in those obnoxious black paper sleeves. So you'll just find three discs in black paper sleeves, which is incredibly disappointing. And there is no listing of episodes in the set, but they did print all of the episode titles on the discs. The disc artwork is simply the series logo on a background which appears to be the lights from a disco ball (on an unrelated note, it is amazing how often a disco ball is associated with this series, yet seems to not be seen quite so much IN the series). Disc 1 contains episodes 1-9, Disc 2 contains episodes 10-17, and Disc 3 contains episodes 18-25.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The menus on the set are very similar to the previous two releases. On the main menu, there is a photo of one of the cast members (it is different on each disc), with options of Play All and Episodes, as well as a Bonus Features option on Disc 3. Once you select Episodes, you get a menu which gives a text listing of all of the episodes on the disc. If the episode has one of the introductions, then that introduction plays immediately upon selecting the episode. You can skip past it once you play the episode, but it'll play by default, and there is no option to skip it from the menu. If the episode has a commentary, you also have the option to play the episode with or without the commentary here. Chapters are placed throughout each episode. The theme song plays in the background on EVERY menu screen, and trust me it gets annoying fast, especially considering that it is the version from the first season.
Video and Audio Quality:
Oh, there is something a little peculiar going on here. Before I go into the peculiarities of these episodes, I should first say that everything looks decent, though not perfect. As is typical for a Mill Creek release, episodes are crammed onto each disc, and there are some compression issues. But it isn't a disaster. What might be a disaster, though... and I don't know this for certain, because maybe there is some valid reason for this... is the aspect ratio of the episodes. The first episode which I watched on this set was in widescreen, which made me think to myself that the episodes in this season must all be in widescreen. But then I watched another episode after that one, and suddenly, it was in full screen. And as I went through the entire set, I came to discover that there is no point where episodes switch, on a whole, from widescreen to full screen. Some episodes are in widescreen, and others are in full screen, and there doesn't seem to be any particular reason for this. But as I've found out, the episodes on the original version of this release were all in full screen, so I'm not exactly sure what Mill Creek is doing here.
The audio, though, seems to be fine in general, and the levels aren't too low. The episodes are all in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, and the episodes are all closed-captioned as well.
Every single special feature which was on the previous release of this season on DVD is included again, so you won't miss out on anything. And if you own that, you aren't going to get anything new in this set. Still, we'll run through them again in case you never even owned the release from Fox (as was the case for me).
First up, there are episode introductions for eighteen of the episodes on the set from the actors and actresses on the series. The packaging actually says twelve episodes, but that is wrong, and I'm sure fans won't be upset that there we get 50% more than what is advertised. Some of these are very nice introductions, but others are just completely useless. I won't call out any of the particular actors or actresses, but there is definitely a correlation between how long each one is and the quality of the introduction and the shortest ones are invariably useless. But it is still good to see them all looking back, even if their memories of episodes from the 2000-2001 season seem to have already faded by the original 2005 release of these episodes (no exaggeration). The episodes which have these automatically play the introduction immediately before the episode plays, but you can skip past them if you choose. The episodes which these can be found on, along with the runtime of the introduction and the person providing the introduction, are as follows.
"Reefer Madness" (0:27) - Danny Masterson
"Red Sees Red" (1:06) - Debra Jo Rupp
"Hyde's Father" (0:20) - Danny Masterson
"Too Old to Trick or Treat, Too Young to Die" (0:22) - Mila Kunis
"Roller Disco" (0:41) - Wilmer Valderrama
"Eric's Panties" (1:16) - Debra Jo Rupp
"Jackie Bags Hyde" (2:35) - Kurtwood Smith
"Hyde's Christmas Rager" (0:28) - Danny Masterson
"Ice Shack" (0:14) - Mila Kunis
"Who Wants it More" (2:06) - Kurtwood Smith
"Fez Gets the Girl" (1:02) - Wilmer Valderrama
"Dine & Dash" (0:38) - Don Stark
"Romantic Weekend" (1:35) - Kurtwood Smith
"Kitty's Birthday (That's Today??)" (1:48) - Debra Jo Rupp
"The Trials of M. Kelso" (0:46) - Don Stark
"Fez Dates Donna" (1:19) - Don Stark
"Canadian Road Trip" (0:50) - Wilmer Valderrama
"Backstage Pass" (0:18) - Mila Kunis
There are commentaries for six of the episodes, but they aren't really that exciting, because there is no involvement from the cast in these, only the production crew. Even worse, in most cases, director David Trainer provides a solo commentary. The best commentaries seem to come when there is wider participation from both sides. As a result, we get a more technical behind-the-scenes look at these episodes. Such commentaries can be found on the following episodes:
"Too Old to Trick or Treat, Too Young to Die" - David Trainer and Patrick Kienlen
"Eric's Panties" - David Trainer and Patrick Kienlen
"Dine and Dash" - David Trainer and Patrick Kienlen
"Radio Daze" - David Trainer
"Eric's Drunken Tatto" - David Trainer
"The Promise Ring" - David Trainer
The remaining special features are on Disc 3. In "Season 3 Overview" (23:14), we have a collection of interviews and clips from the third season. Featured here are David Trainer, Debra Jo Rupp, Kurtwood Smith, Danny Masterson, Wilmer Valderrama, Mila Kunis, and Dona Stark... basically the same ones appearing in the episode introductions and the commentaries.
Finally, "Episode Promos" (12:39) is a very nice collection of all of the syndication promos for the episodes from the third season. It is a shame that Fox didn't include these on all of the seasons, because I'm sure that Mill Creek would have carried them over. But nonetheless, we have them for the third season.
As you can tell, quite a few special features are included, although the quality of the commentaries and the episode introductions is a bit lacking in my opinion. The other features were very nice, though. Fans shouldn't hold their breath hoping for something better in future seasons, though. These DVDs have already been produced and released, and all we are getting is rereleased versions, and perhaps the best that we can hope for is that we don't lose any previously included special features.
I'd really like to know what the issue is on this set with the aspect ratios. I don't notice any real problems with it, per se, but I just don't feel that it is "correct" to have this mixed grab bag of full screen and widescreen episodes on this set. Other than that, though, this is a decent set that is worth owning if you are a fan of the series, especially given the low price. Mill Creek recently experimented with a release of the first season on Blu-ray, which was actually a nice improvement over the DVD quality. However, it is unknown if there will be any future Blu-ray releases of this series. So, given the price of this set, I think it is worth going ahead and picking up, just to enjoy 25 more "groovy" episodes of this series.