As much as I dearly love That 70s Show, I will be the first to admit that it really did jump the shark in the eighth (and final) season. True, this doesn’t necessarily mean it was bad from that point on. After all, there were still plenty of funny moments in this last season. However, with the loss of Topher Grace as Eric Forman at the onset and Ashton Kutcher as Michael Kelso early into the season, it just wasn’t the same.
I’ll give the show credit, though. It made due and still managed to give us a pretty funny season, all things considered.
Season Eight takes off after Eric Foreman has left to be a teacher in Africa. At the same time, Kelso is planning on moving to Chicago to be closer to his daughter. Jackie and Hyde have broken up, and Donna is struggling with her disintegrating long-distance relationship with Eric.
Because the show lost two key cast members, they brought on a new one. Randy, played by Josh Meyers, never quite gels in with the group, and that’s no big surprise. The rest of the cast – from the parents to the kids – have been together since the beginning. And Meyers is expected to fill two very different shoes. He can’t be strictly a replacement for Eric or Kelso, so they give us something in the middle.
Ultimately, the opened character map gives a chance for some development of Jackie and Fez, and it explores them a little more than in the past. This works out well, and the show soon becomes much more about Jackie than anyone else. Without Kelso to pair up for his antics, Fez also gets a spotlight.
In this respect, That 70s Show: Season Eight goes places we haven’t been before. It’s not the glory days of the show, which miraculously hit its stride in the beginning of its run, but it’s still funny enough. And for fans of the show, if you already own the first seven seasons, what’s another box set for the collection?
As a fan of the show, I am glad they didn’t attempt to make a season nine. With the characters in the final episode left counting down to New Years Day 1980, the show pretty much seals its fate. And that’s a good thing. They’ve been dragging 1979 out for years now, and the teenager characters are well into their twenties.
That 70s Show: Season Eight includes audio commentary on four episodes, including the season finale. There’s also a traditional look back at the season in just a few minutes, which was really only useful in previous seasons to get ready for the next DVD set.
Josh Meyers and Tommy Chong each are interviewed for “A 70s Show Flashback” to talk about their characters. Series creator David Trainer gives a tour of the set in one featurette, and there’s a general retrospective on the whole show throughout its eight years.
That 70s Show became as defining of a series as the shows that it spoofs and references in its scripts. The series had a presence that spans four decades: set in the 70s, enters the 80s for just a few seconds in the series finale, debuted as a show in the 90s and ran through the bulk of the 2000s.
It’s sad to see them go, but they had a good run. And now FOX is freed up to finally release the doomed That 80s Show on DVD.
THE UPSIDE: Mila Kunis has a chance to do something with her character in this season.
THE DOWNSIDE: Randy sucked as a Foreman replacement. I miss Topher Grace. Damn you, Sam Raimi!
ON THE SIDE: After disastrous fan response to Charlie (an Eric Foreman replacement) at the end of Season Seven, the show had him killed when he fell off the water tower. That was awesome!