No one's trying to reinvent the wheel in this reboot, and what worked before surprisingly still works at times, though this throwback's not for everyone. On the surface, That ‘90s Show should be much worse: A relaunch of a popular old sitcom that self-consciously gathers a new group of teens for hijinks while members of the old cast reprise their roles and pop in for guest spots? Yikes. And yet, there are some things to love about That ‘90s Show, and Debra Jo Rupp is chief amongst them. Once again playing the matriarch upstairs to a motley group of teens growing up mostly downstairs (yes, in the same basement with the same furniture as in the original), Rupp is once again a solid hoot, landing every joke she gets (and she gets plenty).
But anyone who's seen That ‘70s Show knows that Rupp was one of its secret weapons, how's the new gang of young'uns? Not half bad, due to the actors' charm, despite the fact that the show clearly tried to recreate some of the original's cast dynamics: Jay is a mini Kelso (and is also Kelso and Jackie's son, as we find out when Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher show up to tell us so), Gwen is meant to be the Donna of the group, and so on. Their interplay is sweet, even if it raises only mild chuckles. The show is more interesting when it tackles meta issues, such as Donna and Eric's surprise that they're now on the other side of teen battles. "Enjoying yourself, kids? You're upstairs people now," needles Red as the couple sits with Red and Kitty while their daughter does god knows what in the basement downstairs with her new friends. For viewers who grew up with the original, it's piquant humor that really hits home, which may be enough of a reason to give this reboot a look.