The '70s and the '90s have a lot in common. They were fun eras with diverse music and Democratic White Houses (at least part of the time).
That '70s Show aired on Fox from 1998-2006 for a grand total of 200 episodes. Several members of the young cast - Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, Topher Grace - went onto to become movie stars. Stoner icon Tommy Chong was written into the show as Leo, the wacky older hippie dude.
They're all back in That '90s Show on Netflix, to a certain degree.
It's a new decade and a new cast of young actors has replaced the aged-out '70s basement dwellers.
The 10-episode series (available for binging) revolves around Leia (Callie Haverda), the 14-year-old daughter of Eric (Grace) and Donna (Laura Prepon), who spends the summer of 1995 in Point Place, WI with her grandparents, Kitty (Debra Jo Rupp) and Red (Kurtwood Smith).
She quickly finds a group of friends that resembles the '70s gang who hung out in the famous basement where smoke-filled hilarity once again ensues. There's the couple Nate (Maxwell Acee Donovan) and Nikki (Sam Morelos), riot grrl Gwen (Ashley Aufderheide) and gay Asian Ozzie (Reya Dol). Nate and Gwen are next-door neighbors, who's divorced mom Sherri (Andrea Anders) is dating Fez (Wilder Valderrama). A few other old faces pop up for cameos like Bob (Don Stark) and Fenton (Jim Rash).
About to turn 15, Leia has a crush on Jay Kelso (Mace Colonel), son of Michael (Kutcher) and Jackie (Kunis), who also make a few appearances (Kunis notably wearing bangs). It's pretty much kid stuff with Leia first wanting to be kissed and then maybe a little more. But her awkwardness turns Jay off, at least for awhile.
They all congregate in the basement where weed sessions appear to occur because you see the smoke and everyone is giggling. At the end of the first episode, Red gives them a crumpled brown bag that presuably has some pot in it - from the '70s! Which they proceed to smoke in the next episode after Leia notes the irony of her wearing a D.A.R.E. shirt and Gwen gets off the zinger, "Yeah, they're daring us to do it." However, like in That '70s Show, you never see a joint or bong. It's all left unsaid. But, two decades later with cannabis legal in 21 U.S. states (not Wisconsin), why all the subterfuge?
"Leia quickly finds a group of friends that resembles the '70s gang who hung out in the famous basement where smoke-filled hilarity once again ensues."
Chong shows up in Episodes 2 and 9. In the former, Leia schedules a Movie Night and decides to show Clerks. However, the video store doesn't have it because Leo does. Leia tracks Leo down and tricks him into gving her the video, but ultimately the joke's on her. In the latter, Leo's on a hike when he runs into Leia and Jay who ask for directions. Leo's answer, of course, is convoluted, man.
If anyone, it's the grandparents who eat up the most scenery. Smith and Rupp apparently couldn't wait to dive back into their meaty roles of an All in the Family type marriage between a blowhard and a sweetheart. They may have softened a bit around the edges, but the kitchen talk is lively and sharp and now slightly R-rated, thanks to Netflix.
But ultimately That '90s Show is much ado about not a whole hell of a lot. It's just great to see everyone (excepting Danny Masterson) back together again.