That ’90s Show — S1 Review: It Has its Moments

by KJ Proulx

Promotional Artwork for ‘That ’90s Show’ [Credit: Netflix]

Growing up watching reruns of That ‘70s Show and having watched the series all the way through a couple of times, I have to say I was at least a little excited to hear that most of the cast was returning for this sequel show, That ‘90s Show. I was pretty turned off after seeing the first promotional material for it. Nothing about it felt funny and I was worried the new teenagers wouldn’t click nearly as well as the original cast did. After finishing season one of this new series, I’ll say that’s about half true. This season was all over the place for me in terms of humour. Here’s why I believe this series is only worth a shot if you love That ‘70s Show.

Picking up in 1995 after Eric (Topher Grace) and Donna (Laura Prepon) have moved out of town and had kids, they visit Red (Kurtwood Smith) and Kitty (Debra Jo Rupp) (Eric’s parents) and their daughter (with the permission of her parents) decides to stay at her grandparent's house for the summer. This leads her to make new friends after being a loner her whole life and the classic scenarios of this show’s predecessor begin to ensue. I will say that Callie Haverda as Leia (who is pretty much the main character) does a very good job playing Eric and Donna’s daughter, but the huge standout to me was Ashley Aufderheide as Gwen. Her charismatic performance livened every scene she was in. Just to throw in another, Maxwell Acee Donovan as Nate had quite a few funny moments too, as he plays an airhead very well.

The chemistry between these teenagers only worked for me about half of the time and most of their humour fell flat as well. It was very hard for me to attach myself to any of these characters when they were trying to be so funny all the time, but that’s more of an issue I had with the script. The bigger head-scratcher though is that Red and Kitty probably have the most screen time out of anyone and they felt like they were pulled right out of an episode of That ’70s Show. Their performances and dialogue to go along with it were pretty enjoyable all the way through. Their presence definitely kept this show afloat for me. By the end of the season, the main cast was able to grow on me a little more and as long as Red and Kitty remain main characters, I’ll probably continue watching.

What I will say was the biggest disappointment is that this show hypes up the fact that the original cast is back, but in reality, for the most part, they’re really just in episode one. Yes, there are appearances here and there afterwards that made me smile, but they were so good in the short screen time they had that I just wanted more. Fez (Wilmer Valderrama) has some great moments (probably the most out of the original cast), but who stood out to me the most was Leo (Tommy Chong). His character hasn’t changed a bit and he cracked me up with the few lines he was given. Overall, the cast is okay, but the material could’ve been a little better. I do see a lot of room for improvement here, I just hope it’s taken.

Overall, I had extremely low expectations for this show, I’ll even admit I was willing to hate-watch it just to see the original cast, but I got slightly more out of it than that. Yes, most of the humour is unfunny with the new cast and I’m still not 100% sold on all of their chemistry, but there was enough in there for me to get through the ten episodes. I feel kind of generous to give this one three stars and a pass, but I think I liked it just slightly more than I disliked it. I will give this cast one more shot. All episodes are now streaming on Netflix, but if you’re not familiar with the previous cast members, I really don’t think you’ll enjoy it that much.

Rating: 3/5

Check out the trailer below:



Film Lover First. Critic Second.

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