Release Date: September 4, 2012 (Mill Creek Entertainment)
Packaging: Keepcase with black paper sleeves
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 25
Running Time: 545 minutes
Running Time of Features: 37 minutes
Audio: English Stereo
Subtitles and Captioning: Closed-Captioned
Special Features: Episode Promos; Interviews with Wilmer Valderrama and Danny Masterson; Season 5 in 5 Minutes
It's time once again for another (well, two really, but we'll get to the other one in another review) season of That '70s Show on DVD! That '70s Show - Season Five is Mill Creek's value priced (but still with all of the original special features and episodes as presented before) rerelease of the 2001-2002 season of the Fox "modern classic." In the 25 episodes in this set, you can see Donna and Eric return from California, Jackie and Hyde having a secret fling, Fez getting a job at the DMV, and everybody getting ready for graduation!
For this season (and all subsequent seasons), episodes were named after songs from popular bands from the '70s, and the choice for this season was Led Zeppelin. Unfortunately, this new naming convention resulted in several episodes having more than one "official" title, thus causing a bit of confusion... but for the sake of our review, we'll use the official Led Zeppelin titles since that is what the set uses.
The season begins with "Going to California," which concludes the season 4 cliffhanger as Eric runs off to California. Jessica Simpson guest stars. Bob sends Donna to Catholic school in "Can't Quit You Baby." Kitty thinks she is pregnant in "What Is and What Should Never Be." The story continues in "Heartbreaker," where her parents (played by Tom Poston and Betty White) come to visit. Donna gives Eric a promise ring in "Ramble On." In "Over the Hills and Far Away," Red and Kitty take the guys on a weekend visit to UW-Madison. Eric and Donna's lives could be changing significantly (or not) in "Hot Dog." In "Thank You," a Forman family Thanksgiving doesn't exactly go so well. Jackie's father is arrested for bribery in "Black Dog."
The SATs will prove true love, or so Eric thinks, in "The Crunge." Fez introduces Nina to his friends in "The Girl I Love." In "Misty Mountain Hop," Jackie asks the Formans to clean out her family's ski cabin after a tiny bank foreclosure. Annette (Jessica Simpson) returns in "Your Time Is Gonna Come." In "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You," Valentine's Day may become yet another annual disaster. Eric and Donna get practice with being a married couple in "When the Levee Breaks." Fez experiences his "first time" in "Whole Lotta Love," but Red wants Eric to have his last time. Kitty tries to patch up Red and Eric's friendship with a jamboree in "The Battle of Evermore."
The gang goes to a job fair in "Hey, Hey What Can I Do?" The Formans discover where Jackie has been sleeping in "Bring It On Home," and they are less than pleased. Jackie moves in with Bob and Donna in "No Quarter." Fez and Nina are no longer an item in "Trampled Under Foot." There is more relationship drama with everybody in the episodes "You Shook Me" and "Nobody's Fault But Mine." A prank could get Fez deported in "The Immigrant Song." The season ends with "Celebration Day," where the gang is about to graduate from high school.
The episodes on this set all run about six seconds shorter than the Fox versions did, but this is likely due to tightening of the fade to blacks. The music edits which appeared on the previous releases, of course, appear here once again. Runtimes are as follows:
1. "Going to California" (21:52)
2. "Canít Quit You Baby" (21:54)
3. "What Is and What Should Never Be" (21:53)
4. "Heartbreaker" (21:54)
5. "Ramble On" (21:54)
6. "Over the Hills and Far Away" (21:53)
7. "Hot Dog" (21:48)
8. "Thank You" (21:23)
9. "Black Dog" (21:48)
10. "The Crunge" (21:21)
11. "The Girl I Love" (21:54)
12. "Misty Mountain Hop" (21:53)
13. "Your Time is Gonna Come" (21:53)
14. "Babe Iím Gonna Leave You" (21:52)
15. "When the Levee Breaks" (21:30)
16. "Whole Lotta Love" (21:53)
17. "The Battle of Evermore" (21:44)
18. "Hey Hey What Can I Do" (21:43)
19. "Bring It On Home" (21:23)
20. "No Quarter" (21:53)
21. "Trampled Under Foot" (21:49)
22. "You Shook Me" (21:53)
23. "Nobodyís Fault But Mine" (21:53)
24. "Immigrant Song" (21:53)
25. "Celebration Day" (21:53)
The packaging for this set is consistent with the previous Mill Creek releases which means... yes, black paper sleeves. This time, the Eric's parents take the spotlight on the cover, with the kids in the background. On the back, we have the entire cast in their Halloween costumes, along with a description of the season. Inside the case, as we mentioned, are the black paper sleeves. The disc artwork just has the series logo on an orange background, and episode titles are printed on each disc.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The menus on the set are similar to Mill Creek's previous releases. On the main menu, we have a cast photo with a yellow-orange background. The theme song from the first season loops in the background, and yes, it still gets annoying very quickly. Options from the main menu include Play All and Episodes, as well as Bonus on Disc 3. Selecting Episodes takes you to a submenu where the theme song STILL loops forever, and all of the episodes are listed as text. Once you select an episode, it plays right away. Chapters are placed throughout each episode, but as usual, they didn't put one just before the closing credits.
Video and Audio Quality:
For the most part, the video quality looks about the same as the previous releases. But there is something new to note here from the releases that Fox did: each episode on this set is presented in widescreen as opposed to full screen. Widescreen is not the original aspect ratio, but this series has, in fact, been airing in widescreen in syndication lately, so this isn't too unusual. The compression of the video is still a problem, though. The audio is a decent, though somewhat lackluster Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track. The episodes are closed-captioned.
Once again, all of the special features from Fox's release of this season have returned! These begin with episode promos (12:48), where we get to see the 30 second syndication promos for EVERY episode in this season.
"A '70's Flashback: Wilmer Valderrama" (8:34) is an interview where Wilmer Valderrama looks back at the season, along with some clips from the season. We get a similar feature with "A '70s Flashback: Danny Masterson" (6:51).
Finally, "Season 5 in 5 Minutes" (5:00) takes us through several clips of the fifth season, to summarize it all on five minutes. Watching the real thing is better than the "Cliff's Notes" version though.
As usual, we've got a repeat of the Fox release... but we're in widescreen now. I actually don't mind the widescreen, but I wish that Mill Creek would have done this from the beginning if that was in fact their plan. Of course, this is a much cheaper set too, and we still get all of the original special features. I'm still wondering how far Mill Creek will get with their Blu-ray releases of these series. While I do think that these DVDs are a great deal, the Blu-rays are an even better deal. However, so far we've only gotten one season on Blu-ray, with one more on the way. Until then, these DVDs should satisfy your grooviness requirements.