Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Freaks and Geeks Rewind: Pilot

So after sifting through all of your summer suggestions (and, as feared, dismissing most of them) and getting great pleasure out of writing a blog post and a column about Judd Apatow, not to mention two different posts about canceled shows I watched on Netflix, I've come up with a more concrete summer plan for this blog. I'll still be writing about HBO's Sunday shows, and "Rescue Me" and the other usual suspects as they pop up, but rather than try to analyze shows I don't feel much passion for (i.e., "Big Love"), I'm going to revisit some old favorites starting on DVD, starting with "Freaks and Geeks."

Why "Freaks and Geeks"? Several reasons: 1)It's awesome; 2)It had a relatively short run, meaning I can knock out all 18 episodes before the summer's over (especially if I do them in chunks); 3)It's the exact kind of show I would have blogged about had I been doing this back in 1999; 4)It's awesome; 5)Maybe this will inspire some people (whether fans of the show or people who never saw it) to rent or buy the DVDs; 6)I was enough of a fanboy about this show that I'll have the occasional amusing anecdote (like how I helped write episode two, but not really at all); 7)Did I mention the awesomeness?

I had briefly toyed with the idea of writing the reviews as if it was the fall of '99 and I didn't know what was to come -- the way Edward Copeland is blogging about "Twin Peaks" season two -- but I didn't want to be prevented from discussing stuff down the line, however obliquely. (And if you've never seen the show before, I'll do my best not to spoil too much for you, but know that with this show, plot is basically besides the point.)

Anyway, I've watched the first three episodes in the last 48 hours and will hopefully have time to review at least "Beers and Weirs" before the weekend. (I won't have a lot of blogging time during press tour next month, so if I want to finish this project before Labor Day, I have to do an odd schedule.)

Discussion of the pilot to one of the best TV shows ever made coming up just as soon as I complain about my smushed Twinkie...

High school. My God. What a baffling, painful, hilarious, life-altering period in anyone's life -- and what a funny, sad, dead-on accurate job that Team "Freaks and Geeks" (headed by creator/writer Paul Feig, director Jake Kasdan and producer Judd Apatow) does of capturing it all. Even if your teenage years weren't exactly like one of the characters on this show (and confession time: I was probably a cross between Bill and Neal), even if you went to high school decades and hundreds of miles away from the Detroit suburbs, 1980, you're going to recognize people, incidents and behavior as you watch this show, and the laugh-to-cringe ratio is going to be informed entirely by whether you were a participant or an observer in each scene.

We start off with the show's "Touch of Evil" moment, a tracking shot acrosss the McKinley High athletic field, up into the bleachers for some overwrought relationship dialogue between a golden boy football player and his beautiful cheerleader girlfriend ("I love you so much, it scares me"), then down below the bleachers (as the soundtrack features a needle scratch and an abrupt shift into Van Halen's "Running with the Devil"), where we get our first glimpse of the male Freaks: Daniel Desario (James Franco), handsome, squinty, always with a story to tell (in this case about getting in trouble for wearing a Molly Hatchet t-shirt); Ken Miller (Seth Rogen), deadpan commenter on the misadventures of the other Freaks (in this case, he's annoyed because it was his shirt Daniel was wearing); and Nick Andopolis, pothead drummer constantly veering between mania and narcolepsy.

The soundtrack shifts to Kenny Loggins' "I'm Alright" -- which nerds everywhere know as the theme to "Caddyshack" -- as we pan over to a series of interlocking Bill Murray impressions being performed by our three Geeks: Sam Weir (John Francis Daley), smart, but way too small and sweet for the punishment he's going to suffer in high school; Neal Schweiber (Samm Levine), master impressionist, even if most of his references are old even for 1980; and Bill Haverchuck, tall, gawky, spacey, and the butt of everyone's jokes -- including his two best friends. The boys are threatened by the arrival of Sam-hating freshman bully Alan White (Chauncey Leopardi), only to be saved by Sam's sister Lindsay (Linda Cardellini), a former geek herself who's been edging into freak territory since the death of her grandmother. Alan runs from this glowering older girl in her faded Army jacket, but rather than be grateful for his sister's help, Sam complains about the humiliation of being saved by her. As the Geeks run off, Lindsay mutters, "I hate high school."

And there you have it. Less than five minutes, mostly one shot (or the careful illusion of one shot), and you've met most of the important characters, understand their worldview, their place in the high school pecking order, and you know for sure this won't be like any high school show ever made before. (With the possible exception of "Square Pegs," but I would argue that "Freaks and Geeks" is the show that the uneven and badly-dated "Square Pegs" wishes it could have been.)

I've been watching a lot of pilots lately, and what strikes me is how so many of them feel like rough sketches, at best, for what might be coming, where nearly everything in the "Freaks and Geeks" pilot comes fully-formed. It's been nearly a decade (sigh...), but I remember the experience of watching this episode the first time well enough to know that most of the changes between the version I saw in June and the one that aired in September were minor (some music changes) or actually took away from the clear establishment of a character (they had to cut a scene between Sam and Kim Kelly that I'll get back to in a moment).

By the end of the hour, we've met (with the exception of some of the parents) virtually every character of note from the lifetime of the series: Sam and Lindsay's old-fashioned parents Harold (Joe Flaherty) and Jean (Becky Ann Baker); Daniel's on-again, off-again bitch on wheels girlfriend Kim (Busy Philipps); aging hippie guidance counselor Jeff Rosso (Dave "Gruber" Allen); Sam's cheerleader crush Cindy Sanders (Natasha Melnick); Lindsay's pious ex-best friend Millie (Sarah Hagan); Harris (Lea Sheppard), a slightly older geek who tries to mentor Sam and friends; unhelpful teachers Mr. Kowchevsky (Steve Bannos) and Coach Fredricks (Thomas Wilson); and"special" student Eli (Ben Foster). (IMDb even lists Lizzy Caplan's Sara having been in the pilot, but either I didn't spot her or didn't remember what she looked like at the time.) Even some characters who don't appear at all are established, like a reference to Bill's mom being hot.

That's a lot of characters to introduce, let alone define, in less than 45 minutes, and yet Feig, Kasdan, Apatow and company do it. As soon as Eli popped up, for instance, I recognized not only him, but the different ways the other kids would treat him. (There's a great scene midway through where some kids are having fun by engaging him in a discussion of President Carter, but the line between laughing at and laughing with is so blurry that when Lindsay tries to clue Eli into what's really going on, it's clear she's made a bad choice even before she uses the word "retarded" and enrages poor Eli into running off and breaking his arm.) Obviously, I'm projecting somewhat based on what I know of the rest of the series -- that, say, Kim or Mr. Weir or even Coach Fredricks will be given more depth in later episodes -- but from the start all the characters felt like familiar types but not stereotypes.

Feig was, like me, a geek, and so the pilot's sensibilities tilt ever so slightly towards Sam and his pals instead of Lindsay's budding friendship with Daniel and company. There's a brilliant scene where Cindy brings Sam the jacket he left in another room -- having no doubt put no thought into the deed beyond, "Hey, isn't that Sam's jacket? I should probably get it for him." -- and Neal and Bill contort themselves into a logic that interprets this as proof that Cindy's in love with Sam. And the episode's centerpiece is the dodgeball game (pictured above), shot like the Normandy sequence from "Saving Private Ryan," with nearly as much carnage. (Neal takes a shot in the jewels twice.)

Still, there are some righteous scenes with the Freaks. The Kim/Sam scene, in which she humiliates him for the sin of making eye contact by pushing him against a locker and asking if he wants to kiss her, was deleted both for time and because NBC executives found it too mortifying even by the cringe-inducing standards of the rest of the pilot, but Busy Philipps is so damn scary in it that I wanted to run and hide, and I was on my couch. And Jason Segel got to give the first taste of his gangly overexuberance in the scene where Nick tries to cheer up Lindsay by introducing her to his ginormous, Neil Peart-inspired drum kit.

But "Freaks and Geeks" was always more than a collection of humiliations, prog rock tributes and dodgeballs to the groin. It was, at heart, a show about identity, how the hellfire of high school forges one for everybody, and how hard some people try to craft a new one for themselves. Late in the episode, Lindsay gets fed up with all of her father's "And you know what happened to him? He DIED!" speeches and storms off to her room. Sam follows to make sure she's okay -- and to get some advice on his impending fight with Alan -- and Lindsay explains the source of her newfound bitterness. She was the only person in the room when their grandmother died. As Grandma was going, Lindsay asked if she saw the light that everyone always talks about. Grandma, terrified, told her she saw nothing. "She was a good person all her life, and that's what she got," Lindsay -- who, by all accounts, was the dictionary definition of a goody two-shoes -- tells Sam. He's either too afraid of the implications or not quite mature enough to understand Lindsay's point, and he changes the subject back to the fight with Alan (which he'll miss thanks to Cindy Sanders, while Bill, Neal and Harris' sidekick Colin have a clumsy three-on-one brawl in his place).

The main plot of the episode, if it can be said to have one, centers on whether Sam and/or Lindsay will attend the Homecoming Dance. In the end, both do, Sam for the promise of a dance with Cindy, Lindsay because Mr. Rosso forces her as punishment for cutting class. In a rare moment of triumph and uplift for the series, we see Sam enter the dance to the slower opening bars of Styx's "Come Sail Away," looking nerdy but adorable in his blue blazer and grey slacks. He makes a beeline towards Cindy (as John Daley slays me with the way he plays Sam's terror and anticipation), gets her out onto the dance floor, then panics when the song shifts into the electric portion, since he doesn't know how to fast dance. After the previous 40+ minutes, we're cued to assume this will end in tears, but instead Cindy gets Sam to relax and do his own version of the White Man's Overbite. Lindsay, struck both by Sam's minor victory and a rare moment of wisdom from Mr. Rosso (who suggests that if being forced to attend a dance is the worst thing in her life, her life's pretty good), apologizes to Eli for the "retarded" incident, brings him to the center of the dance floor and is soon so overcome with joy that she even throws off the Army jacket for a few moments.

The original cut of the episode ended not on the shot of the Weir siblings dancing, but on a cut back to Mr. Rosso, who flashes that goofy grin and says to himself, painfully in earnest, "Some days, I've got the best job in the world." NBC wanted a less ironic note to end on, and for once, they were right. As I said in my column on Apatow's success in movies versus his failure in television, one of the key differences between his movies and his TV work is that his movie heroes get the girl in the end. "Freaks and Geeks" wouldn't have worked with Sam and Cindy as a happy couple (though they do date near the end of the series), but for this one shining moment, they're together on the dance floor, and they're happy -- and so, however briefly, is Lindsay. Without that moment of uplift -- which feels totally earned -- and the promise of similar moments down the line (say, the Freaks showing up to watch the Mathletes, or Bill's seven minutes in heaven with the cheerleader from the pilot's opening scene), I don't know that even the small handful of masochists like me who loved this show would have stuck around for long.

Damn. Now I want to go and watch the dance scene again. Back in a few.

Okay, I'm back. Still gets me, every time.

Some other thoughts on the pilot:
  • It's funny how much certain characters' appearances changed over the course of 18 episodes. Nick and Ken in particular are far more clean-cut than they'd become, while Alan the bully has a period-appropriate hairstyle here, but ironically will come back in a few episodes sporting a buzz cut. (Presumably, the actor had to cut it for another role, and the writers have to hand-wave it away as the result of Alan getting head lice.)
  • In an early scene on the smoking patio, Nick says he doesn't want to go to the Homecoming Dance because "You know they're going to play disco. Disco sucks! I hate disco!" Now, do you think Feig knew at the time that he'd be writing Nick into "Discos and Dragons" (based, as with so much of this show, on his own life experience), or was this just accidental ironic foreshadowing?
  • Nick's drum kit, by the way, has ten cowbells. Is that enough to satisfy Bruce Dickinson, or would he need more?
  • One more Nick note, and something I only just noticed when I was rewatching the dance scene a few minutes ago (no, the above was not a joke): Nick actually goes to the dance. You can see him sitting on the stage, wearing a sportscoat and smiling like he burned a few on the way over. Given that the episode had already set up Nick's thing for Lindsay, I'm surprised there's not some kind of deleted scene about her running into him there.
  • Though the show overall did a great job at period accuracy, there would be occasional glitches, like the Nick/John Bonham stuff I'll get into when I discuss "Beers and Weirs," and Neal telling Sam to avoid Alan like Han Solo avoided Jabba the Hut. One problem: this takes place in the fall of 1980, months after die-hard nerds like Sam and Neal would have seen "Empire Strikes Back" and learned the futility of Han's avoidance strategy.
That's it for now. I'm likely going to be tied up for most of Wednesday, so talk amongst yourselves and I'll try to hit "Beers and Weirs" before the weekend.


mo pie said...

I'm totally excited for these posts. I discovered this show on DVD also, and I absolutely love it. And your blog!

Anonymous said...

I re-watched the series myself not too long ago and I remember feeling incredibly sad that the show didn't last long enough to get Joe Flaherty an Emmy. I really feel if the series had been a hit, that would have been inevitable.

Elroy said...

I had to laugh when I read reason #3 (It's the exact kind of show I would have blogged about had I been doing this back in 1999).

You were doing this back in 1999. As I recall you were hot and heavy into your NYPD Blue reviews during that period.

Alan Sepinwall said...

No, by then I had passed off reviewing duties to Amanda Wilson. My last regular review of the Blue was the season five finale, back in spring '98. Between then and when I founded this blog a year and a half ago, my online presence was limited to occasional Usenet postings and the odd pinch-hit review for Amanda.

Elroy said...

Oh, that's right. I forgot about Amanda. She did a great job keeping the reviews going.

I hope she's not reading this!

Edward Copeland said...

I was already falling in love with the show early on in the pilot, but that dance finale to Styx clinched it for me. Linda Cardellini...sigh...she shouldn't be a blonde! I remember reading an interview with her at the time the show was on and she said one of her hobbies was "watching Twin Peaks." Damn you Jason Segel! Linda should be mine!

Alan Sepinwall said...

Segel and Cardellini broke up a few years ago (sometime pre-HIMYM). I don't know if she's available for you, but at least you won't have 6 feet, 4 inches of dancing machine in your way.

Anonymous said...

Just reading about this show puts a smile on my face. I love that you're blogging about the episodes, Alan. I can't wait for your review of Beers & Weirs, it has so many great moments.

Anonymous said...

Re: Nick and Disco in the pilot

Given how much of Freaks and Geeks is derived from Feig's life -- Kick Me and Superstud are two damn depressing memoirs -- I have to believe Feig planned on a disco episode somewhere down the line.

And now I have to go watch the pilot again.


Anonymous said...

Just for reference, Lizzy Caplan is pretty much an extra in the pilot. I'm not even sure she's credited as Sara since her appearance is so brief. But she's one of the two girls who is laughing at Eli before Lindsay comes over.

Man do I love this show.

Anonymous said...

I love that all of the "freaks" show up at the Homecoming Dance...high and sitting on the bleachers making fun of everyone and I love when they show Uber Mean Girl, Kim Kelly (in her always present sky blue ski jacket) watching Lindsey and Eli dance with an actual smile on her face. I'm so glad you are blogging about this show...it was and still is great.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I have to believe Feig planned on a disco episode somewhere down the line.

I do, too, but did he plan it for Nick specifically?

Kim Kelly (in her always present sky blue ski jacket) watching Lindsey and Eli dance with an actual smile on her face.

You think that's a smile? I always read it as her being jealous of Lindsay's ability to enjoy herself.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Alan, thanks for this! It'll make up for having nearly nothing to watch over the summer.

I was a latecomer to F&G, but when I fell, I fell hard. I remember watching the pilot and being so happy that even though Sam was a freshman, TPTB decided to set the pilot a month or so into the school year, thus sparing us all of the typical "first day of high school" cliches and hijinx. Just one more thing that set F&G apart.

Unknown said...

Oh, that's right. I forgot about Amanda. She did a great job keeping the reviews going.

How could you! I was a regular reader (and intermittent poster) on the old a.t.nypdblue and Amanda was the man! (well... the woman)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for inspiring me to revisit this series with your breakdowns, man. I discovered F&G my junior year of college... about 4 years after the show aired, and even then it really resonated. I was definitely a former geek verging on freak, with all the oddness that comes in trying to find an identity and balance in the awkwardness of high school. In fact it scares me sometimes how much I find Lindsay's character hitting home, despite the gender difference. This show is so incredibly well developed in its portrayal of attitudes and high-school realities that it is almost more than a TV show in its best moments... its a reflection on society.

I definitely enjoyed watching the pilot episode again... I rarely get into re-runs and usually dont revisit shows, but I'm in for the ride this summer. This show is really something else...

Anonymous said...

It took them a long time to come out with this DVD set, but it was worth the wait--I remember the struggle of trying to watch the show when it was first run, with it jumping all over the schedule. They really made us devoted fans work for it.

It's interesting watching the show over again when you know what's to come. It's amazing how much character development they managed to squeeze into such a short run! Especially Kim and Ken. But even minor characters, like Alan (remember the sci fi convention/peanut ep?). Also, you notice those moments of foreshadowing (or not), like the "I hate disco" scene you mentioned.

The worst part is, as much as I enjoy watching the series on DVD, when I get to the end, it makes me angry all over again that this amazing show was cancelled way, way too soon.

~Kstie V.

Anonymous said...

I graduated high school in 1995. Even though this show takes place 15 years before my formative years, I still find it completely relatable -- it really felt like I was watching various aspects of my life unfold all over again.

(I had the body type of Sam, the geek comedy/sci-fi references, a bully tormentor who secretly wanted to be my friend, a painful crush on a cheerleader, a friend who looked exactly like the geek mentor, I was on the academic decathalon and debate team, had perfectly awesome out-of-touch parents who were ultimately always there for me, then I had a breakdown after my grandmother died, discovered The Ramones and The Clash, started hanging out with freaks, had friends from broken homes crash at my place for uncomfortably extended periods of time, worried my parents to death, had several dozen awful and uncomfortable moments trying to negotiate relationships with the opposite sex, freaked out the first time I smoked pot and eventually went to college, and became a responsible adult who has come to not feel out-of-place but a sense of pride as an individual. The one thing I never did was date a hemaphrodite.)

The difference between this show and something like That 70's Show is clear in how the characters have traits and differences but aren't stereotypes at all. They're completely realized as people, well-drawn and amazingly acted.

I watched my DVD's of these the week before Knocked Up came out because I'm a huge Apatow fanboy. Everytime I watch this show, it just sinks in more and more what an amazing series this was. I know how The Wire is the most important and remarkable show of its era, and how The Sopranos took television storytelling to a new level of artistry... but F&G is an absolutely perfect show, particularly if you grew up middle-class and wondered exactly who the hell you were going to be one day, if you could only make it through gym class first.

Anonymous said...

Reading that Alan was going to do this commentary was the kick I needed to finally drop the $50 for the DVD set and see what everyone’s been raving about for all these years.

Six episodes in, and I'm Charmed and Disarmed. This was pretty close to my own era, so the universal emotional identification triggered by characters as well-drawn as these (and well cast! where did they FIND John Francis Daley and Martin Starr?) is sharpened with nostalgia. I look at them and see my babysitters; my friends’ older siblings -- the ones my parents wisely didn’t trust to drive us to the skating rink; and the neighborhood “big kids” who wrote SMOKE DOPE! in the fresh concrete at our bus stop, then drew pupils in each of the O’s and added a nose, and a mouth sporting a really impressive smoldering joint. If, somewhere in this series, the 10-year-old tomboy next door develops a crush on Sam, that character is me.

Anonymous said...

Alan said:

I do, too, but did he plan it for Nick specifically?

Oh, I see what you mean. I always thought that the disco storyline sat better with a freak than a geek. The freaks were much more into their music, and the notion that one of them would turn to disco for a girl seems much more plausible than one of the geeks doing it -- because the geeks couldn't get girls. Disco where you actually dance with a girl = identity crisis for a freak. Disco where you just put on a leisure suit = attempt to be cool by a geek.

And of the freaks, I thought Nick's neediness was set up early. I also get the sense that Jason Segel's pretty willing to make a fool of himself if necessary, based on HIMYM and Knocked Up.

Are you watching the episodes with commentary, too? Now I wonder if Feig has something to say about this. Clearly I'm going to need to try to carve out some DVD time this weekend.


Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you decided to do these recaps, Alan! I love Freaks and Geeks. And although its cancellation still stings, it's nice to know that a near-perfect season of TV exists in the world. I think I was probably a mix of Ken and Lindsay in high school - I always had a sarcastic comment or six but I was often a lot like Lindsay in the grandmother scene you mentioned. I'm looking forward to the next one.

Ted Frank said...

I dated a woman named Amanda Wilson as a college freshman in 1987, but it's probably a different one.

Anonymous said...

"but Busy Philipps is so damn scary in it that I wanted to run and hide"

I'm still afraid of her!

Jason said...

Great Call, Alan. Just broke out my DVD set for the first time. I do think that Kim Kelly is giving some begrudging respect to Lindsay in that final dance scene, even if logically it might not fit.

Agreed 100% about Rosso's last line being a bit too far to go. Yes, we're trained to want that nice, artful conclusion that makes us feel warm and fuzzy, and yes, the original line subverted that. But it was too much, too soon, and while I appreciate irony, in the context of "Sail Away" it would've absolutely killed the emotion of the scene and basically told us that this wasn't a show to emotionally invest in because, in the end, it would be too removed and ironic to be worthy of that investment. A very bad idea for the last shot of a pilot!

Susan said...

Hi Alan,

I'm not sure if you'll get this comment so long after the post, but I wanted to let you know that your F&G summer rewind series inspired me to finally watch the series! We got the first three episodes on Netflix and watched them all last night. I wasn't sure if it would live up to the hype (here, from my friends, elsewhere), but I absolutely loved it. I thought it captured high school - in any era - better than nearly every other show on tv, except maybe My So-Called Life (which also interestingly focused on a woman trying to move from her old goody two shoes personality and old friends into the freak group).

I'll keep following the posts as I watch the episodes - thanks for doing this!

Anonymous said...

Chalk me up as another who's trying out the show based on this series you're doing (and who isn't sure you'll ever see this post). I just watched the first three eps thanks to Netflix.

Though for me, it's a bit odd since now I know all the stars from elsewhere -- ER, HIMYM, Spider-Man... It's so strange to see Jason Segal going after someone who's not Lily. But now I totally want to know how Lily and Lindsay would interact.

Skytalon said...

I am finally watching the Freaks and Geeks. About time if you ask me :)

I was waiting for Blockbuster Online to send me the dvds, but the first disc was on loooooong wait. Fortunately, I am in Fla visiting my mother, and her video store had the dvd available! :)

Brings back alot of uh, nice memories of *MY* high school. I am enjoying your review!

dark tyler said...

One more pointless comment (in the sense that probably Alan is the only one to read it), but I have to report that I'm another viewer that decided to watch this show because of Alan's recaps. Not that I didn't want to see it anyway, but this series of posts gave me one more reason to.

I just love it. And it answers a long time question of mine. You know how every decade there is a movie that recaptures the feel of the creator's generation while in high school? They usually flash back about 15 years in the past, feature a large cast of unknowns who go on to be stars, and are created by people who turn out ot be some of the most important film-makers of their respective generations; defining, even.

American Graffiti, any John Hughes movie (or maybe Fast Times), Dazed & Confused... every decade had one such movie, except for the '00s. Well, now I find out they do have it, only it's a TV show.

Olli Sulopuisto said...

Alan, just wanted to let you know that your fiendish plan worked. I picked up the dvd set some time ago and have been working my way through it with great pleasure. What a great find.

Anonymous said...

This is the best show I can say I have ever watched in my life

Anonymous said...

I'm an eighteen year old geek still in the freak transition. Kind of a mix between Ken and Neal, with some tendencies towards loving boy wizards and old stand-up comedy. And Scrabble, also Scrabble.
This show, removed some 25 years from my own high school experience, still resonates with every episode I watch. I just bought the DVDs a couple days ago. This after ignoring a lot of homework during my first quarter of college to watch the crappy YouTube episodes in my dorm room (also an Undeclared fan.)
I love this show. Everything about it is achingly familiar, just put the names of different bands or movies or presidents in the mouths of the characters (though, sometimes the same.)
I think they must have been doing something right for the spirit of the geek/freak for their show to translate just as clearly for a girl like myself, who grew up in an entirely different era. I still wish that Bill was my friend and Nick was my poorly-spelling boyfriend, against all of my best judgement.
I really loved reading this blog while I was watching the series at first, it was a nice little guide to some of the extras. I appreciated it's presence on the F&G journey.

Johnny Rico said...

Well im glad a website like IMDB exists otherwise i doubt i would have watched this great show. Im a fan of the judd aptow movies and i wanted to see what the gang would be like on a show. Boy i was not disappionted. I have just finished watching the last episode and it ends on such a cool note. And this is coming from a guy who NEVER watches tv shows this series is truly the exception.

schmitty said...

I realize that this comment is far from relevant, given that the blog was posted two years ago, but I wanted to put in my two cents nonetheless.

In all honesty, seeing this blog made me go all warm and fuzzy inside - as I always do whenever I'm reminded of Freaks and Geeks. I so tragically and desperately wished that F&G wasn't cancelled when I watched the last episode (confession #1: I cried a little when it ended!). As much as I hate sounding cliche, I found this series to be truly beautiful. From the casting, to the awkward timing, to the Led Zeppelin references, this show is sooo far beyond anything I've ever seen on television. While I could rave for ages about the comedic genius and the rarity of a show with characters that actually posessed humanity, what really got me about Freaks and Geeks was it's heart(confession #2: I felt so badly for poor, genuine-but-oblivious Nick!). Discovering the series during a transition in high school sincerely touched me (again with the cliches). As I'm typing this right now, I'm struggling to find the words to explain how much I care about this show. Watching it for the first time was such a treat - I greatly enjoyed following Lindsay through her experiences, and in many ways identified with her and her friends/classmates/family.

Anyone who's watched Freaks and Geeks knows the real reason it ended so soon - it was just too good for television! Thank you Alan for reinforcing this show back into my mind :)

One last thing: I'm pretty sure the heart-wrenching image of Samm Levine riding his bicycle for hours and hours, searching for the matching garage - and then finding it, will forever be engrained into my memory.

Marty said...

I think everybody here has already said most of what can be said about this fantastic pilot. But I'd like to chime in with one more thing: I like how, unlike a lot of other teen shows, the fight the geeks have with Alan is actually played out like a real schoolyard fight. It isn't some kind of "epic showdown" (except in the geeks' minds), where the winner gains the adoration of the entire school and the loser gets shamed for life. It doesn't make any news headlines or become the talk of the entire high school. It's just a clumsy schoolyard brawl that ends with no real winner or loser. And hardly anybody knows or even cares about it once it's over.