TITLE: THAT '70S SHOW - SEASON EIGHT
DVD Release Date: April 1, 2008 (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 22
Running Time: approx. 477 minutes
Total Run Time of Special Features: approx. 129 minutes
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0
Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned
* Commentary on 4 episodes by director David Trainer
* 4 Featurettes
* That ‘70s Show Through the Years Retrospective
* Episode promos
This is normally the happy and peppy part of the review, where I go into a spiel plugging any virtues of the set that may exist, usually in a tone worthy of press works. But I’m going to level with you *extremely* quickly -- if you’re not a die-hard fan of the show (and if so, you already own this set), you can pretty much stop now. The first seven seasons are great television, but the final season experiences a marked decline with the outright exit of Topher Grace, plus the exit for a majority of the shows by Ashton Kutcher. And the new guy they got to fill out the roster was so unimportant and unmemorable ultimately that he’s not even on the front cover of the box art!
Nevermind that I’m soured on the set just because it took *so* long for this review to get going, thanks to a serious of unfortunate events -- plus my own issues this past week -- we’re now a full *seven* weeks beyond street date. The folks who were going to buy this set already have. The folks who were dead set against buying this set probably aren’t going to hear anything to change their minds. I can’t stand the final season -- and I’m not making any secret of it. I’ll keep this concise and as painless as possible.
Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:
Well, if you’ve made it this far, you probably didn’t notice the parts where I said this was a terrible season. The season starts a slow decline with the departure of Topher Grace, but still holds on in the first 4 episodes. They aren’t the greatest episodes of the season, mind you, but they aren’t bad. And even the first episode after Ashton leaves, “Stone Cold Crazy,” isn’t that bad. It’s after that that the series takes a nosedive that it doesn’t recover from until the final episodes of the series. The finale is New Year’s Eve - December 31, 1979. The show wraps up well, and then that’s the end of it. And while I’m at it, I have to say I personally think the opening titles this season (with the cast singing lyrics one-by-one in the circle) are...you guessed it...terrible.
In terms of guest stars: I’m ignoring the handful of episodes in the beginning (and very end) of the season where Ashton Kutcher appeared due to his prior regular cast status. This also applies for Topher in the end as well. Bruce Willis appears in “Misfire.” Don Knotts! Appears in “Stone Cold Crazy.” Mary Tyler Moore, Dick Van Patten, and Gavin MacLeod all appear in “Sweet Lady.” Mary’s character would recur for the next 2 episodes as well. Isaac Hayes guests as himself in “Spread Your Wings” while Tom Bosley appears in “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” Barry Williams and Christopher Knight both appear in “We Will Rock You.” Gavin returns for “Sheer Heart Attack.” Great ‘70s stars!
The same packaging you should be used to by now -- outer box, with two twin-disc slimcases inside. The outer color is teal, with a dark/light orange pattern in the center of the usual “H” shape. The front cover of case 1 features the characters of Kelso, Hyde, Donna and Jackie, while the 2nd case features Fez, Red, Kitty, and Bob. The discs feature essentially halved versions -- two cast members each appear on each disc.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The menus are, as usual, a nice work of art. Various circular patterns (some with video clips embedded) float by the teal/orange background, with the main theme in the background. The menu options appear down the right side, with the options in a wavy font. That 70s Show’s logo appears as a translucent circle shape in the bottom right. Episode selection features a static list of episode titles in front of the same teal/orange background. Selecting an episode brings up an option to enable/disable a 30 second promo for the episode you’re about to watch.
Video and Audio Quality:
As if this review weren’t negative enough: Why the blue Hades is this show in full frame? This show aired in widescreen natively this season. I’ve still got a couple of episodes on-hand -- originally it aired in HDTV. The fact that the episodes presented are full-frame makes me wonder if perhaps these episodes aren’t syndication edits. The runtimes of every episode, except the finale, is in the range of 21:45 -- except for the finale which is 22:02. All of this isn’t very short -- but again, full frame? This isn’t right. Audio is a fine 2.0 channel stereo track. Chapter stops at the end of each act.
4 Audio Commentaries (approx. 87 minutes): “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Keep Yourself Alive,” “We Will Rock You,” and “That 70s Finale”-- all featuring David Trainer. You know the drill on this one folks.
That ‘70s Show Flashback (4:57): Tommy Chong.
That ‘70s Show Flashback (4:35): Josh Meyers: Both of these feature lots of clips, with other things mixed in between.
Season 8 in 8 minutes: It’s season 8 in 8 minutes.
That ‘70s Show Retrospective (24:06): This is a retrospective on That ‘70s Show. Really, these all speak for themselves, and there’s nothing new or interesting I can add here.
Running time of special features: approx. 129 minutes
The set’s great from a technical perspective. But the quality of the final season really hurts the score here. I’m giving it a 4, but it’s a dirty 4. The only reason I can give it that score at all is that from a technical perspective it’s a fine set. But I’m not recommending this set. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Those who would buy the set already have. Otherwise, just buy the first seven seasons before you even THINK of buying this one.
It’s sad that this is the end of the line for the show, as the weakness of the season is a sour note to close on. The special features received an uptick this season, but it just couldn’t overcome the show itself.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 2.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
Final Score: 4/5
-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher on 05/22/08
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