The Facts of Life The Complete Third Season
Charlotte Rae, Nancy McKeon, Kim Fields
Lisa Welchel, Mindy Cohn
Originally aired NBC 1979 ? 1988
3 DVDs 24 Episodes
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment 2006

The Facts of Life, which originally aired on NBC for some nine years, was a nice little situation comedy about four different girls at a private school. This spin-off from Diff’rent Strokes (Charlotte Rae played Mrs. Garrett on both shows) was a harmless, usually pretty good show that was mainly for a teenage girl audience. The Facts of Life The Complete Third Season features the 24 episodes of that season.

The 24 episodes of The Facts of Life The Complete Third Season are a good sample of the series. Gone are many of the secondary characters (one of them played by Molly Ringwald) and the stories focus on Blair (Lisa Welchel), Joe, the cool character from New Yawk (played by Nancy McKeon) Natalie (Mindy Cohn) and Tootie (Kim Fields). The four characters are under Mrs. Garrett’s supervision and doing kitchen duty after damaging the school van.

The series opens with a conflict between Tootie and the three other girls when they treat her like a child instead of a teenager. There is alcohol involved and this allows the girls to be punished by Mrs. Garrett and keep their kitchen duties.  Many of the episodes of The Facts of Life more or less dealt with an issue such as when, in episode 2, Natalie is attacked and now afraid to go out (no mention of the punishment the girls received in the first show) or when, later in the series, Natalie is the first to lose her virginity. This second show is also an excuse to present some basic self-defense moves to the girls hence the teenage girls in the audience. It is done very smoothly without hitting people on the head with the message. This is a little less true about the third episode when the girls have to take care of a former student’s baby for a while.

Not that The Facts of Life was always original. Episode 5 of The Complete Third Season features the old student writes a story for the school newspaper without checking facts first plot. Still, the show could get serious sometimes and stay funny without being overdramatic. This is true of the episode where Blair learns her mother may have breast cancer. In a rare moment of reality, the girls finally get out of their punishment in the third season but, for the show’s sake, quickly get back into trouble and back on kitchen duty.

Still, not every episode in this TV sitcom box set is great. Legacy, where Blair learns of a terrible family secret is rather superficial and has one of those all is well that ends well closers popular on American television. The episode The Affair more than makes up for any less than stellar episodes. Natalie catches her father having an affair and confronts him. This allows the writers to cover all the issues around divorce and the children of divorced parents. Whether or not you think Mindy Cohn was not particularly talented a child actress, she really does a great job in this episode.

In the whatever happened to category, Lisa Welchel recorded a record that was nominated for an inspirational music Grammy and wrote a book. Mindy Cohn does a lot of voice-over work (especially as Velma in Scooby-Doo). Nancy McKeon was the in the early episodes of star The Division and still shows up in a TV show here and there. Kim Fields (who really grew, if you know what I mean) appeared in Living Single and is also on various shows from time to time.

The Facts of Life is not going to go down television history as a classic but it was, in its first few years, including the shows of The Complete Third Season, a pretty good little situation comedy you could just sit back, watch, and relax.

If you are a parent looking for some entertaining television for your kids, you do not go wrong with The Facts of Life The Complete Third Season. This is nice, fun, harmless, and sometimes educational (sort of) television comedy that is easy to watch.


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