Hopefully Fox's That '70s Show will be remembered as more than just the show that launched the career of the guy who hosted Punk'd.
Not that Ashton Kutcher's contributions to the cultural lexicon aren't important. But the pot-fueled antics that went on in Eric Forman's basement deserve more staying power.
Underneath the Farrah Fawcett wings, the bowl cuts and the decade-specific stereotypes was a darn funny sitcom and a handful of memorable characters who are going to be partying like it's 1979 Thursday night during the show's hour-long 200th and final episode, which has the characters saying goodbye on New Year's Eve at the turn of the decade.
Luckily the minds behind the series have decided to cash in their chips while the show is still tolerable. Although the eighth season suffered from the absence of Donna's waify love slave, Eric (Topher Grace), and himbo Michael Kelso (Kutcher), it still managed to pull in more than 6 million viewers each week. Grace left at the end of season seven and Kutcher appeared in only four episodes this season.
Kutcher and Grace make guest appearances Thursday to tie up loose ends, or in '70s terms, to hang out, accomplish little and look cute in the process. But presumably Grace's return means that Eric and Donna (Laura Prepon) will get back together. And Kutcher's return? like we said, look cute in the process.
Technically, Grace's return is meant to be a surprise, but although his absence in the finale wouldn't have been Angel-not-ending-up-with-Buffy-tragic, it definitely would have put a damper on the festivities. (Hey, even though Ross and Rachel had zero chemistry by the time Friends signed off, we still rooted for their permanent togetherness.) When asked whether Grace would show up, executive producer Mark Hudis told Zap2It.com: "Oh my God, I absolutely cannot talk about that."
Which is more promising than, "He had a scheduling conflict."
"We didn't want specific answers for everyone, but we at least wanted them to have hopeful futures," Hunis said when asked about the fate of his loopy characters. "You'll see certain things happen to the characters that open up the possibility for a future, but that future is up to you to imagine. I feel like it would be a gigantic mistake to show you that future 10 years from now."
The action this past season has been forgettable for the most part, except for the burgeoning romance between deliciously self-absorbed Jackie (Mila Kunis) and sexually frustrated Fez (Wilmer Valderrama, whose off-screen romances are the stuff of young-Hollywood legend).
The series ender also finds Eric's parents, Red and Kitty Forman (Kurtwood Smith and Debra Jo Rupp), having second thoughts about escaping the Wisconsin winters for sunny Florida. Besides, packing up the family home in preparation for a big move is an excellent excuse to flash back on all the good times, i.e. have a clipfest.
But even though Eric, Donna, Kelso, Jackie, Fez and Hyde (Danny Masterson) were never much for serious reflection, the cast and crew of That '70s Show will have plenty to look back on after making the last few years of the 1970s last for eight seasons.
Prepon told Arizona's National Ledger that filming the last episode was one of the hardest things she's ever been through.
"At the table read of the last show we were all just crying," she said. "I'm probably going to watch it just by myself, not in front of a lot of people because it's really special, and I'm probably going to be crying like a little baby? I liken it to people who had really amazing college years, met great people, experienced a lot of life and were shaped by the whole experience. I was 17 when I started the show [in 1998]. It was a huge growth period for all of us. Now we're graduating."
"There were people losing it while we were working on the last episode, of course," Masterson told Zap2It.
In case you're suffering from separation anxiety already, you can check out an eBay charity auction and bid on the Forman's living room couch, on which Kelso proposed to Jackie. All proceeds go to The Young Storytellers Foundation, which works to build children's literary skills and self-esteem to ensure that they don't end up hanging out in their parents' basement for years after high school ends. Oh, wait?
When the clock on TV strikes midnight Thursday and the '70s are no more, it's up to you to follow the gang as they go their separate ways:
Grace is filming the comedy Coxblocker (presumably a tale of thwarted romance) costarring Seann William Scott. Kutcher married someone named Demi Moore and continues to screw with his celebrity pals on MTV's Punk'd. He also stars in The Guardian with Kevin Costner playing a cocky swim champ whom Costner's veteran Coast Guard officer is trying to turn into a rescue swimmer. The film is due for a September release. Prepon filmed a pilot for ABC called October Road, but there was no sign of the hour-long drama when ABC announced its 2006-07 schedule earlier this week at the network upfronts. She also appeared in the indie romance Come Early Morning, directed by Joey Lauren Adams and starring Ashley Judd and Diane Ladd. Kunis will continue to be heard and not seen as ugly-duckling Meg on Family Guy and she'll be on the big screen in the indie comedy Moving McAllister with Napoleon Dynamite, Jon Heder. Masterson hosts a radio show on Indie 103.1 in Los Angeles and is set to star in the goofy comedy Smiley Face, about a girl's misadventures with marijuana-filled brownies, with Anna Faris and Adam Brody. And, if you're not currently dating Valderrama, you can seem him in Richard Linklater's adaptation of Fast Food Nation, which is premiering at the Cannes Film Festival, and as Ponch Poncherello in an upcoming big-screen version of CHiPs.