Welcome to a new Sitcom Tuesday! Malcolm In The Middle will commence in September, so during the month of August, I’m excited to set the figurative table by resurrecting entries from this blog’s decade-long run. Here’s how it works: I’ll provide a link to a piece that I first published many seasons back, and then I’ll offer a bit of updated commentary. But, as I always caution, please be gentle; this early article is from a long time ago, and my standards have changed as I’ve changed — I’ve improved as a thinker, a communicator, and a television-watcher.
So, let’s revisit… The Ten Best THAT ’70S SHOW Episodes of Season Three: https://jacksonupperco.com/2019/10/01/the-ten-best-that-70s-show-episodes-of-season-three/
As we prepare to examine sitcoms that premiered in the 21st century, I want to briefly recall some of the best seasons from late ’90s shows that had good or even great years during the early ’00s. We’ve already revisited Will & Grace, which was originally at its finest in its second season (1999-2000) but also had a quality showing the following year as well (2000-2001). Similarly, I tend to call Seasons Two and Three the best for FOX’s That ’70s Show — with, specifically, the period between February 2000 and February 2001 the actual peak. That means this, its third season from 2000-2001, is a particular delight — it capably explores the leads and their relationships with support from the high-concept nostalgia of the 1970s setting, which is a part of the premise that’s still invokable without too much strain. After this, the novelty dwindles to the point where it seems like it’s difficult to meaningfully keep the 1970s relevant to the characters — who also become less well-written as a result of the rom-com maneuverings typical of this era and this type of sitcom (with a major hangout component). The current revival — That ’90s Show — proves that this original series has remained popular to this day, and, based on where the sitcom was headed in the 2000s, I think it makes sense. That is, so many comedies, even those that are essentially low-concept like this one, nevertheless have a gaudier or higher-concept hook on which to attach some premised aspect of the “situation” and, especially, its commercial appeal. It’s not always an era/setting, but sometimes a style (like the “mockumentary”) or some kind of element that can also be parodied/spoofed/homaged. Accordingly, while That ’70s Show very much arose out of the late ’90s and its spate of multi-cam rom-coms, it also is forward-thinking, providing us a window into what would be trendy in the 2000s. And as the century opened, That ’70s Show was at its best.
Come back next week for another rerun! And stay tuned tomorrow for a new Wildcard!