That '70s Show is an American television sitcom that centered on the lives of a group of teenagers living in the fictional town of Point Place, Wisconsin, from May 17, 1976 to December 31, 1979. It debuted on August 23, 1998 and its final episode aired May 18, 2006. That '70s Show was a launching pad for the film careers of some of its stars, who were mostly unknown at the time they were hired.
The show remains in syndication around the world.Series overview
That '70s Show is the brainchild of 3rd Rock From the Sun creators Bonnie and Terry Turner and writer Mark Brazill. The working title for the series was Teenage Wasteland; other names considered were The Kids Are Alright, Feelin' All Right, and Reeling in the Years, all of which are lyrics from popular songs of the period.
The series was commissioned by the Fox Network, and the first season premiered on August 23, 1998, with an initial order of 22 episodes (extended to 25 on January 12, 1999). The series did well, rating highly among several target demographics, including adults aged 18-49, as well as teenage viewers. In February 1999, Fox ordered a second season, and as ratings rose the following September, the network opted to renew the series for two more seasons, bringing the total to four. Continuing success saw changing time slots (Sundays to Mondays to Tuesdays to Wednesdays to Thursdays), as well as four additional seasons.
The eighth season was announced to be the final season of the show on January 17, 2006, and the final episode was filmed a month later, on February 17, 2006. "That '70s Finale" originally aired on May 18, 2006.Characters
Set in Point Place, Wisconsin, That '70s Show depicts the life of teenager Eric Forman (Topher Grace) and his five teenage friends: Donna Pinciotti (Laura Prepon), his girlfriend and next-door neighbor; Steven Hyde (Danny Masterson), a rebellious stoner who eventually moved in with the Formans; Michael Kelso (Ashton Kutcher), a dim-witted narcissistic ladies' man; Jackie Burkhart (Mila Kunis), a self-involved high school cheerleader overly preoccupied with wealth and status; and Fez (an acronym that stands for Foreign Exchange Student played by Wilmer Valderrama), an exchange student from a (presumably Indian or Latin American) country that is never identified.
Relationships among the teens are explored, the primary focus being between Eric and Donna, who are the responsible ones, as evidenced in episodes such as "Dine and Dash." Their relationship sharply contrasts with the on-again, off-again relationship between Kelso and Jackie, who were usually portrayed as mutually obsessed despite their arguments and denials of love to spite one another. In both relationships, the couples have harsh disagreements, but come to terms with their differences. Jackie subsequently moved on to Hyde and later Fez as the series progressed.
Other main characters include Eric's overbearing Korean war veteran father, Red (Kurtwood Smith), his nice, yet overbearing mother Kitty (Debra Jo Rupp), who is struggling to be a caring mom and housewife while working as a nurse in a local hospital, and his older sister Laurie (Lisa Robin Kelly, 1998-2003 and Christina Moore, 2003-2004), whose promiscuity is the brunt of many jokes by the teenagers but does not deter Kelso from making moves on her. The show also depicts the relationship of Midge and Bob Pinciotti (Tanya Roberts and Don Stark), Donna's dim-witted parents, both of whom are easily influenced by the 1970s movements and fads, which places occasional stress on their marriage. Tommy Chong appeared as a frequently recurring character, Leo, the aging hippie owner of the Fotohut.Eighth season changes
Eric Forman and Michael Kelso were written out of the series after the seventh season, as actors Topher Grace and Ashton Kutcher were to star in movies to be filmed during that season (Grace in Spider-Man 3 and Kutcher in The Guardian). Longtime character Leo returned with a more prominent role to help fill the gap. A new character named Randy Pearson, played by Josh Meyers, was introduced to take Eric Forman's place. Another new character, Samantha, played by Judy Tylor, was added to the cast as Hyde's wife for nine episodes, but both she and Meyers had their roles minimalized following a negative response from the fans over the season's new characters.
Kelso appears in the first four episodes of the eighth season (with Kutcher credited as a special guest star) before moving to Chicago; both he and Eric returned for the series' final episode. The location of the show's introduction was also changed from Eric's 1969 Vista Cruiser to the "Circle."Elements of the showThe Seventies
The show gained recognition for providing a bold retrospective of a decade full of political events and technological milestones that have dramatically shaped today's world. The show tackled significant social issues of the times, such as feminism, progressive sexual attitudes (although in some episodes more traditional values would carry the day, such as when Red ended his friendship with a fellow veteran who invited Kitty and him to a key party and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, co-starring as Eric Forman's possible gay love interest, was rebuffed), the economic hardships of recession, mistrust in the American government among blue-collar workers, political figures such as Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter (though both presidents are very rarely referenced throughout the series), teenage drug use, and developments in entertainment technology, from the television remote ("the clicker") to the video game Pong. The first season of the show focused extensively on current events and cultural trends, with each successive season focusing less and less on the socio-political aspects of the story, to the point that the decade simply became a backdrop against which the storylines unfolded. Likewise, the first season of the show also featured a recurring, non-comedic storyline in which the Forman family was in constant danger of losing their home due to Red's hours being cut back at the auto parts plant where he worked. Recurring storylines in later seasons, even when they carried dramatic elements, were always presented as primarily comedic.
The series is something of a homage to the hit 1970s series Happy Days, which itself looked back twenty years to the Wisconsin of the 1950s.Dream sequences
Signature elements of That '70s Show include surreal, sometimes elaborate, dream sequences to depict various characters' vivid imaginations or dreams, some of which include references to or parodies of fads and films of the time, such as Star Wars, Rocky, and Grease.
In early dream sequences, the characters who were dreamt of were talking with voices of those who were imagining the scene. In That '70s Pilot, for instance, as the boys imagine the party scene, the partying adults speak with their voices. This was soon phased out.
Sometimes, those who imagine scenes are heard narrating them, but even if they don't, the other characters perceive them (which means those who imagine tell them what they are dreaming about while we get to see the scene). In the episode "Stone Cold Crazy", Jackie even mentioned she liked the song which was playing in Fez's dream sequence. Such scenes are usually introduced by the wabbling screen transition. Sometimes, the transition is absent when the characters imagining the scene believe those scenes are real (for example, Eric's dream about Donna in "Eric's Birthday" or Jackie's dream about Hyde proposing in "It's All Over Now").
In the 100th episode "That '70s Musical", all singing scenes were Fez's dream sequences.The Circle
Another signature element is frequent use of the 360-degree scenes, also known as "The Circle". It is presented as some characters (usually three or four, sometimes five, in the season 7 episode "Take It Or Leave It" there was a circle with only two characters, and in the season 6 episode "5:15" there is a unique circle with only one person sitting against a TV) sitting in a circle, usually around a table, with the camera panning from one character to another as he or she is speaking. Sometimes, for comic effect, the last sitting person in the circle is someone unexpected or absurd, like the gym teacher, Jackie's stuffed unicorn, Eric's dog, Fez's music teacher or a ceramic clown.
The "circle" is essentially used to illustrate the teens' marijuana use, typically occurring in Eric's basement and later in Hyde's record store. All of these segments combine nonsensical dialog with deadpan humor. No actual smoking is depicted in these scenes (although it is noted that you can see Hyde "toasting" a swisher in an episode) smoke is visible only in the background and foreground. The only time the characters were actually shown smoking, was when Kelso was Celebrating the birth of his daughter, although they were smoking cigars. The circle is sometimes used for other purposes. Early episodes often used the "circle" during dinners at Formans' when Laurie came home. Sometimes, the "circle" takes place at the Formans' dining room when characters eat dessert or drink cocktails. In the last season, the "circle" is used in a sauna with Hyde, Red and Red's old friends. In one episode the "circle" was used during the ending credits at the local radio station by Donna's (future) boss, the DJ "Johny Thunder", and Alice Cooper playing Dungeons and Dragons. As shown in flashbacks, Eric, Kelso, and Hyde were the original basement "circle" members, and Fez joined them prior to the pilot. Donna first joined them in the episode "Hyde Moves In" and Jackie joined them in the episode "Cat Fight Club".Timeline
Due to the show's long run, the timeline was noticeably slowed. The show was set in May 1976 upon its August 23, 1998 premiere. After twelve episodes of the first season (as well as episode 23, "Grandma's Dead", due to it being aired out of production order), the series transitioned to 1977, where it remained until late in the third season, then the time setting was 1978 until early in the sixth season. The remaining episodes took place in 1979. Hyde had an 18th birthday in 1978, despite dialogue suggesting that he is older than Eric, who turned 17 in episode 2, "Eric's Birthday" (set in 1976). Eric then turned 18 in episode 131, "Magic Bus" in 1978, two years after turning 17. Furthermore, all of the teenage characters are juniors in high school at the beginning of the series (except for Jackie, who is a year younger) and they don't become seniors until Season 5, which they also graduate in the season finale. This, combined with the fact that there were holiday-themed episodes almost every season, indicated a sense of time on That '70s Show that was loose at best.
Season seven uses Hyde's record store for in-jokes aimed at the timeline. In the episode "You Can't Always Get What You Want" the record store opens on Thanksgiving. One of the Led Zeppelin posters on its wall has a famous photograph taken to promote the band's August 1979 concerts at Knebworth. This means that this Thanksgiving has to be in 1979 and so most of the subsequent episodes must take place in 1980. In "It's All Over Now" the record store has a signing for Tom Jones. The fans have copies of the album Close-up, which was released in 1972. In the season finale, Hyde has some records in his hand. The top one is Blondie's Warchild: this was released in 1982.
The year is determined in the last scene of the opening credits, which reveals a close-up of a Wisconsin license plate that reads the names of the creators and the sticker with the two-digit year in this case, either "76," "77," "78,"or "79," and, in the final episode, "80." The year stickers for Wisconsin plates are issued for the upcoming twelve months (e.g., a sticker for "80" would be issued in 1979). The plate also appears at the end as the production logo for Carsey-Werner, also showing the year.
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