I’m like a brony, but for Facts of Life. My pal Ken Denmead calls me a Cohny, and I approve. I even own the appropriate t-shirt.
Seriously, though, I admit without the slightest hint of irony that I adore ’80s sitcom The Facts of Life. From its early days as a simple spin-off featuring Charlotte Rae (and her imprecise volume control) as matronly firebrand and de facto housemother Edna Garrett to its waning seasons with the great Cloris Leachman and, during the height of our nation’s love affair with all things Australian, singer Sherrié Austin as Pippa McKenna, I love it. Love. It.
Earlier this month the fine folks at Shout Factory helped me realize a life-long dream with the release of The Facts of Life: The Complete Series. Containing all 201 episodes of the NBC ratings juggernaut as well as bonus featurettes, the stealth pilot that also served as the final episode of Diff’rent Strokes‘ first season, both TV movies and the 2014 cast reunion, it’s a massive 26-disc DVD collection filled to the brim with all things FoL.
Now I can watch the one where Tootie and Natalie buy bongs or the one where the girls want to sing with El DeBarge or even season eight’s “Seven Little Indians” wherein the cast is systematically murdered–okay, I’ll admit those last couple of season kinda went off the rails–anytime I want!
Sure, the acting is pretty hammy and the show’s “after school special” brand of sermonizing about real-world topics as serious as drunk driving and sexual assault translates almost as poorly into a modern context as the girls’ laughable wardrobe and hair, but Shout Factory’s gone to great lengths to once again bring it, warts and all, into your living room in its entirety. Though presented in the traditional standard definition, this set is hard to resist, with its big, bold storage box and all nine seasons handsomely tucked into five decorative clamshell cases.
Where else can you see a pre-teen Molly Ringwald cast as a burgeoning feminist? A mulleted George Clooney as the contractor who helps convert a ruined Edna’s Edibles into the hip new Over Our Heads? A newly dynamic Lisa Whelchel plead with a young Juliette Lewis to stay in school?
Only at Eastland School for Girls in scenic Peekskill, NY. Which is, at long last, a whole lot closer.
Review materials provided by: Shout Factory