That ’90s Show Review – A Forgettable Trip Back To The Basement
That '90s Show fails to give audiences the classic series's laughter, drama, and relationships, as 10 episodes are not enough to work with in showcasing the new gang of kids.
That ’90s Show is finally here on Netflix, and the new series brings with it some obvious jokes and a much different group of kids that seem to be left behind a bit too much. Often times when shows or movies are rebooted after too long, the magic of those properties seems to float away. That is exactly what happened with That ’90s Show, as it is meant to be a sequel series, but it would have been better as a standalone spiritual successor.
For those who have not seen That ’90s Show, look away, as the rest of this review will contain heavy spoilers.
The issue with That ’90s Show is that the new group of kids doesn’t have the same pizazz as the original cast did. Also, the series seems to forget that the show is about Eric and Donna’s daughter too many times. Granted, we all want to see the older characters show up, but their cameos are wonky at best.
Take the pilot episode, for instance. We get to see Eric (Topher Grace) and Donna (Laura Prepon), which is fantastic. They bring Leia over to spend time with her grandparents, Red and Kitty. Again, this is a fantastic setting, as we get to see arguably the best characters from the series come back.
However, there is an instance when Michael Kelso (Ashton Kutcher) and Jackie Burkhart (Mila Kunis) come in during the pilot of That ’90s Show. Their appearances are just shoehorned in a way that made them seem unnecessary. Granted, Michael’s son, Jay Kelso, is one of the main kids in the group, but that does not mean that his parents needed to be thrown into the show in such a sloppy manner.
Kelso and Jackie could have appeared for a more important reason than just being there because fans want to see them. More impactful cameos were certainly necessary, like Fez, for instance. More on his role in That ’90s Show later.
Although we got the same type of formula with the storylines between Kitty and Red blending in with the new kids, I got the feeling that the new kids’ lives were a bit less important. Leia meets her new next-door neighbor, Gwen Runck. They immediately hit it off, as Gwen is a pseudo-rebel who dazzles Leia with her rule-breaking ways.
Leia then meets her new best friends which are Ozzie, Jay Kelso, Nate Runck, and Nikki. The group has the makings of what made the group in That ’70s Show so special, but they seem to get pushed aside by the legacy characters in That ’90s Show.
One of the better-used cameos in That ’90s show happens to be from Leo (Tommy Chong) but doesn’t take away too much from the new gang of kids. He is back to his pot-smoking hippie ways, as Leia and Kitty head to his house to grab a copy of Clerks so that Leia can impress her friends. Naturally, the result is Leo taping over the movie with a send-in dating video, which is fantastic.
Another well-used cameo is when Bob Pinciotti shows up for Leia’s birthday, and mistakingly sings Boyz 2 Men’s “I’ll Make Love to You” to her. It is a hilarious moment that is certainly on par with Bob’s personality, and it works well. However, the rest of the That ’70s Show original characters showing up were just messy.
That ’90s Show also focuses a bit too much on Fez, though he is a better cameo used than the other characters. He is one of the focal legacy characters, as he is attempting to date Nate and Gwen’s mother, Sherri. Sherri is sort of the mixture of Laurie and Midge, which comes off as kind of awkward, and the issue with that is we don’t need to see new characters trying to be classic characters.
Fez gets a lot of screen time in That ’90s Show, which isn’t necessarily bad, as he owns a chain of salons called Chez Fez. It makes sense, as he seems to be the only one who has not left Point Place. But his stories take a bit too much away from the kids, who should have been the main part of the series.
The biggest issue with That ’90s Show is that Netflix only gave it 10 episodes to work with. I understand that our attention spans have dwindled since the 1990s, but sitcoms only work if there are more episodes to establish drama and relationships. The magic of That ’70s Show was we got to see the gang establish their ever-growing selves within 25-episode seasons.
That ’90s Show would have been far better if it were given the same treatment. Leia falls in love with Jay and discovers her new self far too quickly. The hijinks of the crew are what we should have been given as they become closer, but the relationships in the series are over too fast.
Leia is worried she’ll never kiss a boy, Jay is worried he’ll be seen as nothing but a player, and Nate is worried he can’t get into college, which are all plotlines that mimic the same from the original kids in That ’70s Show. However, That ’90s Show doesn’t give us time to truly see how these deeper wants evolve throughout the series.
That ’90s Show isn’t terrible per se, but it fails to live up to the hype because 10 episodes are just not enough. The new kids are all quirky in their own ways, but they don’t get to showcase their personalities enough. I love Kitty and Red, but they should have been the afterthought, instead of the new gang of kids.