TV Series - That 70s Show
Ashton Kutcher may be trying to land more "serious" movie roles, but this great TV series shows that he really can shine when playing "the stupid one".
The cast (you may well have heard of some of the others too, most of these guys have appeared in at least one film)
Don Stark plays Bob Pinciotti (pronounced "Pin-see-oddie")
Tanya Roberts - Midge Pinciotti
Mila Kunis - Jackie (aka "the annoying one")
Wilmer Valderrama - Fez (aka "the foreign kid")
Ashton Kutcher - Michael Kelso (aka "the dumbass")
Danny Masterson - Steven Hyde (aka "the stoner")
Topher Grace - Eric Forman (aka "foreplay")
Laura Prepon - Donna Pinciotti (aka "the lumberjack")
Debra Joe Rupp - Kitty Forman
Kurtwood Smith - Red Forman
In some ways, it's a typical comedy series about a group of friends and their families. But in other ways, it's not - it's consistently laugh-out-loud funny. There are several "musical" episodes per season (but get this, they actually work. It probably helps that at no point do they take themselves seriously, and the cast always seem to be having fun). It features almost-gratuitous scenes of potsmoking (this IS set in the 70s, remember =+)
There's the token grumpy father - Red Forman, but played so well by Kurtwood you can't help but wonder just how much of it is an act. Kitty is Eric's loving, emotional and slightly alcoholic mother, with a nervous laugh. Again, the part's played very well. Most of the family-related stuff centres on the Formans because the group of friends that make up the main characters (Fez, Kelso, Eric, Donna, Jackie, and Hyde) regularly hang out in Forman's basement. However throughout the seasons we have seen a little of Kelso's family and Fez's family, a little more of Jackie's family and Hyde's family, and quite alot of Donna's (all will be revealed if you watch it from season 1 up to the current episode). You've got the token on-off "will they/won't they" romance between Eric and Donna, except here it's done funnier than in, for example, Friends. Again like Friends, each of the main 6 have quite different personalities, but here it's somehow easier to relate to them. Probably because I'm not yet out of university, so I still have similar money worries and a penchant for partying. There's still more that makes this series great; the moments of wisdom are almost always random, unexpected and waaaay more fleeting than in lesser series. The potsmoking bits are handled very well. There's quite a few such moments, but you never actually see the stuff and, for the first season or so, it's rather more implicit than explicit (eventually the series gets bolder however, such as when the group paint a marijuana leaf on the water tower). There are some catchphrases that are truly catchy, which you may well pick up if you watch it too much (and don't already use them; I admit I am ignorant as to whether they are in common use in the US). An example is "burn". Fair enough, you may well use this already a little, but the usage in That 70s Show is often. I find when used in real life, it tends to lighten the mood.
I haven't mentioned Laurie, Eric's slutty sister, in the cast because the actress who plays her has changed. And the first actress was rather good at playing the part.
Oh yeah, perhaps even more amazing is that this show features a coloured actor in a main part (i know how there seems to be a disproportionate number of white actors/actresses in main parts in TV series even in this day and age). Actually, that's not really amazing - what IS amazing is that you never really feel he's there just for the show to try and be a little PC - he gets great lines, a number of songs, and the character is one of the funniest (and yes, he plays it very well).
It must be said that this show probably will appeal more to teenagers/young adults than e.g. middle-aged+ people, although if you were a teenager in the '70s you might still find alot here to laugh at. The show does have enough references to '70s culture, and naturally a great '70s soundtrack, that it would be difficult to simply transplant the entire thing into e.g. the current decade.
Rather stupidly, it appears that none of the series have been released on DVD, or even video, officially. The only related media is two soundtrack CDs. of course, you can download every episode, albeit mostly in not-very-high-quality format, but i'd rather be able to get DVDs with good quality video and extras. However I haven't got sky or cable at the moment so for now, I must make do with ~60meg an episode.
Also, it beats me why, in every single interview of Ashton Kutcher I've seen, he never seems to mention That 70s Show, because whilst he may be trying to leave behind the image he gained from playing "idiot" parts, his idiot in That 70s Show is truly genius.
Anyway, here's hoping they keep up the quality. So far things are lookin' good.
You can find the official site here.