The Pitch: 17 years after the Formans closed their basement doors forever, a new era of revelers, reefers, and joyrides is unfolding in Point Place, Wisconsin — this time on Netflix, rather than Fox. That ’90s Show follows Eric Forman (Topher Grace) and Donna Pinciotti’s (Laura Prepon) daughter, Leia Forman (Callie Haverda), as she spends the summer crashing with her grandparents, the inimitable Red and Kitty Forman (played by Kurtwood Smith and Debra Jo Rupp, respectively).
Today in an age of grunge-influenced fashion, Alanis Morrissette, warehouse raves, and disposable cameras, That ’90s Show introduces a new era of fun looking basement dwellers: Ashton Kutcher’s Michael Kelso and Mila Kunis’s Jackie Burkhart are mostly out of the picture, but their son Jay Kelso (Mace Coronel) appears as one central member.
Meanwhile, The Formans have some new neighbors – Riot grrrl-tinged rebel Gwen Runck (Ashley Aufderheide) and himbo-esque jock Nate Runck (Maxwell Acee Donovan) are half-siblings who live with their haphazard mother , Sherri (Andrea Anders). Rounding out the sextet are the sassy-but-hilarious Ozzie (Reyn Doi) and the fashionable and mature Nikki (Sam Morelos), and the group is always looking for new adventures before Leia returns to her birthplace Chicago.
Throughout the series of 10 episodes the major cameos from That ’70s Showof main cast: Topher Grace and Laura Prepon make some memorable appearances, Kutcher and Kunis reunite briefly, Wilder Valderrama guest as a hair guru and Sherri’s love interest, and Tommy Chong returns as the spacey stoner Leo for one couple of episodes. (Especially without Danny Masterson as Steven Hyde, who is currently in the midst of a criminal trial for sexual assault.)
Time may be different than That ’70s Shownor in previous offerings, but the reliable multi-camera sitcom style is back and in full swing. 360-degree camera pans of a basement smoke sesh return, familiar locations such as a water tower and a video store are shown. And, like the show’s predecessor, there are plenty of season-specific needle drops.
The New Gen X: One of the wiser choices That ’90s Show not just focusing on a new set of cast members, but giving the new group room to grow. Each member of the core group is around 15 or 16 years old, and Leia Forman in particular is a bit green when it comes to the usual adventures of small-town teenagers. Keeping the cast members young (and all of them behold like they’re 15, which doesn’t often happen in Netflix “high school” shows) cement that the series will take on the same silly tone of That ’70s Showand follows the group as they grow out of adolescence and into the challenges and maturity of adulthood.