That 90’s Show
Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

That 90’s Show is a hit and miss sequel

The beloved nineties sitcom That 70s Show receives a sequel series from Netflix in That ’90s Show. The series is the brainchild of original series creators Bonnie and Terry Turner, who bring along their daughter Lindsey Turner while another alum Gregg Mettler serves as showrunner.

It’s 1995, and Eric Foreman (Topher Grace) and his wife Donna (Laura Prepon) have returned to Point Place to visit Red (Kurtwood Smith) & Kitty (Debra Jo Rupp) for the July 4th weekend. 

Their only child, daughter Leia Forman (Calie Haverda), is desperate for adventure in her life or at least a best friend who isn’t her dad. Deciding she wants to stay in Point Place for the remainder of the summer, Leia finds what she’s looking for right next door when she meets the dynamic and rebellious Gwen (Ashley Aufderheide).

Leia quickly blends in with Gwen’s friends. The crew includes Gwen’s loveable brother Nate (Maxwell Acee Donovan), his intelligent, laser-focused girlfriend Nikki, the sarcastically insightful Ozzie (Reyn Doi), and the charming Jay Kelso (Mace Coronel). Leia realizes adventure could happen there just like it did for her parents all those years ago. As they say, history repeats itself, and the Foreman basement full of teens again! While Kitty is happy, the Forman house is now a home for a new generation; Red isn’t keen on the idea.

While I was never an uber fan of That 70s Show, I’ve seen enough show episodes to give the sequel a series look. But hesitation sets in when I think about FOX’s failed early 2000s non-connected That 80s Show. The pilot for the series starts strong enough, and it was great to see the OG characters make a return. Eric, Donna, Kelso (Ashton Kutcher), and Jackie (Mila Kunis) show up in the pilot with a passing-the-torch vibe to their offspring.

 

I also liked the expansion of Red & Kitty’s characters, as Kurtwood Smith and Deborah Jo Rupp both still have that sharp comedic timing. Kudos to the creative team for integrating the two into the storyline. Additionally, fan favorites Fez (Wilmer Valderrama) and Leo (Tommy Chong) return for a few extended cameos. Regretfully though, the positives stop there, as a big issue with the show is the scripting.

I did chuckle throughout the ten episodes, but many jokes fell flat regarding the teen characters. One of the worst jokes occurs when Leia dabbles in marijuana for the first time, which results in her seeing Kitty and Red as video game characters. Another joke that fails involves Raisin Bran. Calie Haverda, Reyn Doi, and Ashley Aufderheide show decent comic timing though. The other characters are just half-hearted attempts at characters from the original show. 

In watching the show, it felt like the bulk of the writer’s room wasn’t teens in the nineties. I was around the same age as the characters in the nineties, so I expected stronger time-period jokes or references. The results would be better if the show focused on Red & Kitty enjoying retirement and traveling cross country, as the writers could focus on Rupp and Smith’s chemistry.

The show is partially successful since there are some decent moments with the veteran cast members. While fans of the original show may find something to enjoy with the series, newer fans may not. Hopefully, the writing will improve if there’s a second season.

 

Final Grade: C-

That ‘90’s Show is streaming on Netflix now.

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