Thursday, August 09, 2007

Freaks and Geeks Rewind: Dead Dogs and Gym Teachers

Spoilers for the "Freaks and Geeks" episode "Dead Dogs and Gym Teachers" coming up just as soon as I find my coat with the big pockets...

Two Bill and Millie episodes in a row? What great and glorious bounty is this?

I wrote a bit in my "Chokin' and Tokin'" review about the obvious parallels between these two characters: how they're generally the nicest, most sincere, least self-conscious kids on the show. "Dead Dogs and Gym Teachers" offers up another parallel -- though not necessarily a planned one, as the Millie subplot was a last-minute addition when something else didn't work -- as we see slightly darker sides to each of them when they're faced with lousy personal circumstances. For Bill, it's the horror of discovering that his mom is dating the dreaded (to the geeks, if not to us) Coach Fredricks. For Millie, it's the hit-and-run death of her beloved (albeit very old) dog Goliath. And for one episode, we get to see Bill and Millie behaving in very un-Bill and Millie-like ways. (Bill moreso than Millie; she's congenitally incapable of being that bad.)

After a humiliating gym class basketball game -- which has more to do with Bill's lack of grace and skill than anything Fredricks does -- Bill comes home to his latchkey kid routine: grilled cheese on the pan, a hunk of chocolate cake, a tall glass of milk and his best friend, the TV set. On the basketball court, Bill's miserable; watching Garry Shandling tell jokes on "The Dinah Shore Show," he's in bliss. Martin Starr's laughter is so genuine that it's a wonder to see, but he had help, as Judd Apatow and co-writer Bob Nickman were telling him dirty jokes off-camera until they got the right response. The sequence -- scored, as the entire episode is, to a Who song, in this case, "I'm One" -- is taken directly from Judd Apatow's own childhood, and you can tell; even by this show's amazing standards, it feels personal and intimate.

Bill's mom Gloria comes home from her waitress job (her stripping days are long behind her) and tells Bill that a male friend will be joining them for dinner. You can tell by the way Bill asks "Another new friend?" that this isn't a new phenomenon, just as you can tell it's something he's not crazy about. In a great little moment, Gloria says Bill knows this man, Bill guesses that it's Neal's dad, and Gloria briefly turns back into a 16-year-old, snorting, laughing and saying, "Vic Schweiber? No! Gross!" Instead, the man in question is Coach Fredricks, news of which sends Bill into a tizzy. "He's a jerk!" he tells her. "He's a dumb jock!... You gotta, you gotta, you gotta dump him."

Fredricks (whose first name turns out to be Ben) awkwardly makes small talk with Bill at dinner, and if there was any doubt that they live on two different planes of reality, their discussion of movies erases it. Fredricks declares "Rocky II" -- not "Rocky," "Rocky II" -- the greatest movie of all time, largely because of how great Carl Weathers' abs looked in it. (I suspect he also prefers the ending where Rocky wins to the original's nobility-in-defeat resolution.) Bill speaks up for "Stripes," which Fredricks immediately dismisses: "Bill Murray's a wise-ass. Somebody better smack some respect into that guy." When Bill praises Murray some more, Fredricks realizes it might be time to change the subject and tries to suck up to Bill and Gloria by suggesting that Bill (who's tall but completely uncoordinated) might have a future with the school basketball team if he applied himself and got some private lessons. Gloria excuses herself for a moment, and Bill gives the visitor the silent treatment.

It's such an awkward and yet real sequence. As happens throughout the episode, Fredricks is doing his best to reach out to Bill, but he keeps getting hamstrung, both by Bill's complete refusal to go along and by his own lack of understanding for what makes a geek tick. If he was dating Alan's mom, or Todd Schellenger's, no problem, but Fredricks and Bill are from two different species.

Fredricks keeps trying and failing to suck up to him at school, first by stopping him (in full view of the geeks, from whom Bill is trying to keep this a secret) to praise Gloria's cooking, then by attempting to turn the next gym class into a lesson in basic fundamentals, entirely for Bill's benefit. Bill, aware both of what Fredricks is trying to do and the fact that he suddenly has power over the guy, loudly refuses to participate, suggesting that comic book reading, nose-picking and going to the bathroom are all more worthwhile activites than gym class. It's incredibly harsh, but (as Bill well knows) Fredricks can't lash back at him or risk alienating Gloria the MILF, so instead he winds up venting his frustration at Alan. ("I've had it with the constant comments and the incessant cackling!") Bill walks out of gym, and when Fredricks threatens to punish him, Bill asks, mocking, "What are you gonna do: call my mom?" (Alan: "I never thought I'd say this, but Haverchuck's the king.") Not that he intends it this way, of course, but Fredricks gets his revenge when Bill looks up from the breakfast table a few mornings later and sees "Ben" emerge from his mother's bedroom in his undershirt and boxers (adding insult to injury, Fredricks drinks OJ out of Bill's personalized mug).

While Gloria tries to make peace by suggesting Fredricks take Bill to a local go-kart track, the geeks give Bill conflicting advice on what to do. Neal the snob says there's no upward mobility to being a gym teacher, while Sam (who had his own bonding moment with Fredricks back in "Tests and Breasts") suggests he may not be such a bad guy, and even invokes the Bizarro softball game from "The Diary." Bill's not having it, and he's even madder when Neal accepts Fredricks' go-kart invitation on all their behalfs. (Not that Fredricks is that happy about having to take two extra kids, either.)

On the go-kart expedition, it's constantly two steps back, one step forward with Fredricks. He bores the hell out of the geeks by monologuing about Wilt Chamberlain vs. Bill Russell but also buys them fake poo and other gag gifts from the joke shop. Bill continues his sulk, but even he can't stay mad for long surrounded by all these awesome driving machines. Fredricks isthisclose to making things okay with Bill by challenging the geeks to a race -- really, all he has to do is lose and everyone will be happy -- but he can't let go of his competitive instincts, and he not only beats Bill, he runs him off the track and into a hay bale. Bill unloads on him, says all Fredricks cares about is winning, not other people's feelings, and he storms off.

In a scene that's just so perfect I want to go watch it again (... and I'm back), Fredricks squeezes his large frame into the back seat of his car so he can apologize to Bill. He admits that Bill's probably right that he's just a dumb jock, but he's also someone who loves Gloria, who recognizes what a difficult time she's had since the divorce, and he thinks he can make her happy. Bill doesn't respond, but after Fredricks gets out of the car, Bill breaks down in tears, overcome by about 12 feelings at once: pain at being a child of divorce, bitterness that he's going to have Fredricks in his life, guilt at wanting to deny his mom happiness, more guilt at the realization that Fredricks really isn't that bad, etc. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Martin Starr, genius.

In a sweet button to the story -- especially in light of the knowledge that we'd never see this dynamic again -- Bill finally decides to reach out to Fredricks by teaching him about "Dallas." It takes a minute for Fredricks to figure out the implications of this, but then the lightbulb clicks on, he leans forward in his seat and tries to frame the show in terms he gets: "So, what, Bobby's the good guy?" Bill nods and says he'll explain more at the commercial, and Thomas Wilson gives this glorious half-smile. (He's so perfect in this part. As a treat, go watch him on YouTube singing Biff's Question Song. Go ahead; I'll wait.)

While Bill is busy stewing in his own juices, the freaks are all excited about the prospect of going to see The Who on their "farewell" tour. Harold doesn't want Lindsay going to the concert, and Lindsay's attempts to get him to listen to some Who songs to understand this genius backfires when the first cut he plays is "Squeeze Box." (In maybe my favorite bit of non-Martin Starr-related physical comedy in the series, just look at Becky Ann Baker as Jean -- who's too sweet and naive to realize what the song's really about -- miming someone working an actual squeeze box on the "in and out and in and out..." lyrics.) Lindsay finally manages to get permission, though, by noting that she just wants to look out for Millie, who'll be attending.

And why, you ask, is Millie going to a rock concert? (Okay, so you're probably not asking, but I'm not going in straight chronological order this time, so forgive the stupid rhetorical flourishes. Really, they're all I have.) Well, as mentioned above, her dog Goliath gets run over -- unbeknownst to her, by Kim in her Gremlin. (Not sure which is the funnier Ken reaction to the news that Kim killed a dog: "With your bare hands?" or "I always say 'girl plus car equals dead animal.'")

Lindsay, who was in the car at the time Kim unknowingly killed Goliath, wants to tell Millie the truth, but Kim -- half sincerely, half to avoid a hassle -- thinks this will just make Millie feel worse. Instead, she bonds with Millie over the story of her own dead dog Bobo (whose epileptic seizures she describes in far too graphic detail). Millie, touched, invites Kim and Lindsay to her funeral for Goliath. (Lindsay, guilty about her role in the death and the cover-up and also not sure what the hell you say at a dog funeral, tells the story of how Goliath used to hump Jean when she wore her furry boots, "And then you got spayed and you didn't do it anymore.")

Before Lindsay can even realize what's happening, Kim and Millie have quickly become BFFs, with Kim encouraging Millie to blow off studying to shop for records at the mall, just so long as she wears her big coat with all the pockets. (Millie may be in mourning, but she's still Millie, and has no idea what Kim's up to; she thinks it's the awesomest thing in the world that Kim likes that coat so much.) Lindsay's worried for Millie, but Millie says she finally understands why Lindsay joined the freaks: "You were just exploring, and now I'm exploring, too." Lindsay tries to get Kim to leave Millie alone -- "I don't think we should interfere with her life" -- and Kim offers us a hint of the person she was in the first few episodes. She asks why Lindsay can hang with them and Millie can't, suggests that Lindsay treats Millie as her safety valve for whenever her bad new friends get too scary (she still hasn't let go of the events of "Looks and Books") and threatens to beat up Lindsay if she tells.

It's interesting comparing Millie's assimilation into the freaks with Lindsay's, and not just because both were prompted by the deaths of loved ones. Lindsay and Millie were best friends and fellow Mathletes, but if the Lindsay of "Looks and Books" was the real face of the pre-freak Lindsay, she was never as sweet and naive and easily damaged as Millie. And she went into freakdom with her eyes open, fought to stick with the group even as Kim was fighting bitterly to chase her away, while Kim is extending an open invite to Millie.

The big difference is illustrated in the climactic scene in the hours leading up to the concert. Daniel's borrowed his cousin's "magic bus" and is grilling up dogs and serving beers and Millie's wearing ripped jeans and playing frisbie with Stroker (the guy whose party led to the car crash in "Looks and Books") when her mother drives up and illustrates exactly where the difference between Lindsay and Millie began. Harold and Jean are strict, moral parents, but they have some give and kindness to them that's completely non-evident from Millie's mom, a buttoned-down, controlling woman who says that "they" (meaning "I") agreed that Millie wouldn't go to the concert. Millie -- who, really, hasn't been doing anything all that bad during this episode, aside from the change in friends and wardrobe -- argues that she's a straight A student who never gets in trouble. "I can't believe you don't trust me! It's not like I'm going to drop acid or have sex in the parking lot!" Her mom doesn't know how to deal with having her authority challenged thusly and drives off in a huff.

Millie, her mind slightly blown by standing up to her mom for the first time ever, takes up Daniel's offer of a beer, and as the bottle moves to her lips, Kim -- finally comprehending Lindsay's message -- blurts out, "I killed your dog!" Millie feels betrayed (especially at learning that Lindsay was involved) and runs off. After thanking Kim for standing up, Lindsay gives chase, and she and Millie bond by listening to "Summer Breeze" (the only non-Who song in the episode, and a callback to the Seals & Crofts mention in "Chokin' and Tokin'") and reminiscing about Goliath, complete with a picture Lindsay saved of them as little girls hugging the aptly-named pooch. It's a sweet moment, even if I enjoy the Lindsay/Millie bonding in "Chokin' and Tokin'" more.

Some other thoughts on "Dead Dogs and Gym Teachers":
  • I would be remiss in discussing the freak half of the episode if I didn't bring up the matter of "Lady L." Nick, inspired by the self-taught Pete Townshend, has been learning guitar and pens a none-too-subtle ode to Lindsay, the lyrics of which are so awful that I simply refuse to quote them all. (One excerpt: "As I pulled the reins of the horse, she pulled the reins of her soul... I'm out of control!") Ken has to suffer through this falsetto-infused mess -- yet another in the long list of brave Jason Segel moments -- and tells him, "I thought I would hate it, but I kind of liked it." Nick asks if he's being honest. "No! That was terrible!" While the freaks are hanging out at the magic bus, Nick prepares to play the song for Lindsay, but Ken knows how badly this will go and smashes Nick's guitar, Pete Townshend-style. When Nick tries to yell at him, Ken tells him, quite rightly, "This is the biggest favor I ever did for you." (Rogen's not in very much of this episode, but every line out of his mouth is gold.)
  • So, all The Who songs on the soundtrack: "I'm Free" in the gym basketball game, "I'm One" for Bill's afternoon snack, "Boris the Spider" as Kim and Lindsay run over Goliath, "Love, Reign O'er Me" as Fredricks emerges in his undies, "Squeeze Box" in the obvious place and "Going Mobile" at the go-kart race. (Wikipedia also lists "Drowned," which I missed but was probably playing during the magic bus sequence).
  • A rare bit of Weir sibling squabbling in the opening scene, as Sam tries to fan the flames of Harold's paranoia about the Who concert, largely because he's bitter he can't ever see "Kentucky Fried Movie." (The scene also gives John Daley an opportunity to do his Rich Little-as-Johnny Carson impression.)
  • Again, I have to ask: "Rocky II"? Really?
  • I like how, when Lindsay tells her parents about Millie going to the concert, she's both sincere in her concern for Millie and brilliant in the knowledge that this will get them to give her what she wants. She's definitely picking stuff up from Kim about manipulating others.
Up next: "Noshing and Moshing," in which Daniel tries a new hairstyle, Neal tries a new career and David Krumholtz is awesome.

What did everybody else think?


Unknown said...

I don't know whether it was an oversight or a deliberate sight gag, but it always kills me when they show a picture of Goliath at the end of the episode. He's the size of a small pony! How could anyone ever hit that and think they ran over a squirrel? Great ep, great recap. "Haverchuck is the king."

Anonymous said...

In the commentary on this episode, someone (Apatow?) says the size of the dog and the fact that Kim and Lindsay couldn't have not noticed him was meant to be a subtle joke.
This might have just been rationalizing a mistake as they then theorise that maybe Goliath had just shrunken with age.

Anonymous said...

This is completely off topic, but I didn't know where else to post this: Alan, I love your columns and blogs and so look forward to reading your take on my favorite shows. I get sad when you get disgusted with a show that I like and quit posting on it! For example, Rescue Me or Grey's Anatomy, and maybe Damages.... Just wanted to let you know that.
Thanks for your good work.

Abbie said...

What was the intended subplot, if Millie-goes-bad wasn't it?

AC said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't TPTB actually make Jason Segel write "Lady L?" I think he gets credited in the DVD booklet. I always crack up when he gets to line, "Is your green army jacket the only thing keeping you warm..."

My love of this episode is enhanced by the Who soundtrack, and I'm so glad that they were able to get all of the songs onto the DVD. The "breakfast at the Haverchuks" scene, scored to "Love, Reign..." is absolute perfection. Embarassment, disgust, and a dozen other emotions in a very short amount of time.

Alan, I can't wait to read your recap of "Noshing and Moshing," which is probably one of my top 3 favorite episodes.

Alan Sepinwall said...

What was the intended subplot, if Millie-goes-bad wasn't it?

In the commentary, neither Apatow nor Nickman can remember, just that something else fell through, and the idea of Millie joining the freaks after her dog dies was one of a few hundred story ideas they had generated at the start of the season for a rainy day just such as this.

Also, I've discovered that there are a lot more clips of the series up on YouTube than when I did the initial post that inspired this whole series. So any of you poor bastards who don't have your DVDs handy and want to experience the majesty and horror that is "Lady L," enjoy.

Anonymous said...

I always thought the joke was that Kim and Lindsay probably ran over a squirrel, not Goliath, and that it is just misplaced guilt that drives the plot.

I also think Kim has a good argument in this episode. There is something a little condescending about Lindsay's attitude towards Millie in this episode. Millie's just repeating Lindsay's experiences in episodes one and two: dead loved one, change of clothes (denim-oriented), and getting drunk. Yes, the Mathlete episode suggests Lindsay was perhaps ready for a change, but I don't think that's completely obvious from watching those first two episodes.

Moreover, as you've already noted in your recap of "Chokin' and Tokin'", Millie is one of the most centered characters on the show. Sure, she probably doesn't appreciate what that first drink will be like, but that's what Lindsay's there for -- compare that to Lindsay's party drunkeness, which lead to being groped by Nick (and she wasn't even drunk!). Why can't Lindsay do for Millie in this episode what Millie did for Lindsay last episode?

Also, I sensed some possibilities with Millie and pot-dealer Mark ("I love it when you good girls cross over"). The Freaks never developed the ancillary crew the Geeks did, but I feel Mark could really have broken out in season two.

I had forgotten that Coach Fredericks declares his love for Bill's mom in this episode. It's especially touching that he can admit that to Bill but not his competitive streak ("I don't know what happened. The track is really slick today.").

I had also forgotten how easily Claudia Christian establishes Gloria's character in her response to Bill's guess at who's coming to dinner: "Vic Schweiber? Ew. Ick." Her giggly line reading communicates volumes about how young she is relative to the other parents, how young she must have been when she had Bill, and how her life experience ("You're not going back to dancing, are you?") may have left her a little jaded about married men.

All this plus "Lady L" (The YouTube poster is right: Rogen's face when Nick breaks out the falsetto is priceless.) What a great "hour" of TV.


Alan Sepinwall said...

This is completely off topic, but I didn't know where else to post this: Alan, I love your columns and blogs and so look forward to reading your take on my favorite shows. I get sad when you get disgusted with a show that I like and quit posting on it! For example, Rescue Me or Grey's Anatomy, and maybe Damages.... Just wanted to let you know that.

Thanks, Stacie. My time is limited -- especially since this blog is technically a hobby -- and much as I'd like to really rip into shows I hate week after week, I can't justify it when I can barely find room in the schedule for shows I actually enjoy.

chiefbroad said...

Great recap, as usual!

When I first saw this episode, the sequence of Bill making his after school snack and watching Garry Shandling's stand-up (the most content and peaceful moments in his day, I imagine) broke my heart, seriously made me cry my eyes out (as much, if not more, than the scene in which Bill himself cries). Brilliance all around.

Tosy And Cosh said...

Alan - your "hobby" comment brings up a question I've always had. How much reaction, good or bad, do you get from your Ledger bosses to the blog, given how much time obviously goes into it? Is there ever any intimations that too much time goes into it, or do they see it as a good thing, giving you exposure that may circle back to the paper proper in some ways?

NYOne said...

Thanks for the link to Biff's Question song - that really was hilarous.
I agree with Tobey that the montage of Bill eating and laughing was maybe one of most heartbreaking things on this show - both funny and incredibly sad at the same time.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Turns out Bill's snack is on YouTube, too.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Oh, and so are Bill seeing Fredricks in his boxers and Fredricks extolling the virtues of "Rocky II." Practically the whole episode at this point.

Unknown said...

possibly my favorite episode.. though how can one choose?? every bill scene is simultaneously hilarious and heart-wrenching.. and harold's reaction while listening to "squeeze box" is one of my favorite laugh-out-loud scenes in the series.. "in and out and in and OFF!". i love how this show let's you see the weaknesses of all our favorite characers- i will forever love lindsey to pieces but she can be quite a lil brat when other people don't act in the way she thinks is best. and 'lady L' is an amazing song, no doubt. you can't just accidently write a song that delightfully awkward and cliched- nick's definitely got talent as a songwriter if this is his first go, subtlety just has never been his thing. it's amazing how much the supporting cast develop as multi-dimensional characters with so little time- gloria and "who's ben?" fredericks in this episode. and the music choices are perfect, as always.. i'm not aware of any other shows ever that would use so many songs from one band to create a continual uniting theme throughout an episode.
keep up the posts, alan.. they're the highlight of my lunch break!!

Anonymous said...

Another great recap and wonderful posts from everyone. I agree that Bill's snack, Love Reign O'er Breakfast, and the Back of the Car are perfect, perfect scenes. Interesting that two of them are music-only.

My favorite part of the back of the car scene is brilliant Martin Starr giving in to tears--for all the dozen reason Alan mentions. But my heart also breaks when Fredricks says, “Your mother’s had a rough time of it these past couple years,” and Bill’s immediate, defensive response is, “What do you know about us?” Us, he says, not it (meaning her situation), and not even her. In Bill’s role as his mom’s “Little Man” he probably sees himself as Bobby to her Pamela; it’s his job to protect her and make her happy; he hasn’t; he can’t.

Tobey, the snack scene makes me cry too! I figure everybody here cares about TV, so I’ll say it without embarrassment: What a lovely evocation of what television can do--lift us out of our lives and connect us to others. The lift is temporary and the connections, imaginary, but the emotions we experience are real. (Which is why we cry when we watch this, right?) What really kills me is that writers here get what Paul McCartney doesn’t: all the lonely people don’t wait forlornly at the window; lots of them, like Bill, are resilient and get on with embracing the joy that’s available to them. It reminds me of what Vicki Appleby will say in a few episodes: “Whenever I see you, you seem to be having a pretty good time.”

Anonymous said...

I always thought the joke was that Kim and Lindsay probably ran over a squirrel, not Goliath, and that it is just misplaced guilt that drives the plot.

I like this idea, Anon. When I saw that picture, like Raul, I thought "there's no way they could run over Goliath without major damage to that tiny car!" The thought that Lindsay and Kim weren't even responsible is a great ironic twist to the plot.

The sweet yet appropriately odd ending of this episode always kills me. I love that Bill finds the generosity to get along with his nemesis because he wants his mom to be happy, and I love that Ben will watch "Dallas" in order to bond with his girlfriend's kid.

Ken's smashing of the guitar is the purest act of friendship I've ever seen on a TV show and one of my favorite moments of the series.

Anonymous said...

This is my favorite F&G episode, mostly for the morning at the Haverchuck household. Bill's greatest fear (the fear all children of divorced parents have) is being replaced by his Mom's new love. This scene just plays that fear out - especially when Mr. Fredricks starts drinking out of Bill's cup. The expression on Bill's face just kills me.

Cassie said...

The story of Bill and Mr. Fredericks is my favorite of the series — particularly for the much lauded scene where Bill watches television by himself and also for the lovely, subtle reconcilliation bit at the end. I'm less keen on the Millie plotline, and generally pick "Noshing and Moshing" as my favorite ep overall.

This episode also features what must be the most uncomfortable commentary track on the DVD set. Claudia Christian and Thomas Wilson get into an increasingly heated arguement (for the record, I'm on his side) and she storms off in a huff. Very awkward moment enshrined for posterity.

Anywho, loving your look back at my favorite show of all time.

Alan Sepinwall said...

This episode also features what must be the most uncomfortable commentary track on the DVD set. Claudia Christian and Thomas Wilson get into an increasingly heated arguement (for the record, I'm on his side) and she storms off in a huff. Very awkward moment enshrined for posterity.

Really? What about? I had the commentary on the other day, but I was in and out of the room for a lot of it while I did some cleaning, so all I caught was Judd announcing that Claudia had left.

Anonymous said...

Oh god. This episode always kills me, especially the scene where Ken smashes the guitar. It cracks me up that Ken, who we've always associated with being totally unconcerned with other people's lives, has a note of absolute panic in his voice as he quickly thinks of a way to stop Nick from playing the song. Daniel, meanwhile, has never heard the horror of "Lady L" and is still totally thrilled with the turn of events. But what tops the scene off for me is Mark; "Yeah, Ken! Smash me a piece of that!", referencing the similar call he gave to Nick in Girlfriends and Boyfriends. Too funny.

Bix said...

I'm curious about the argument, too, and also would like to know how far into the commentary it is.


Anonymous said...

Probably my favorite episode of the series (though it really is hard to make that choice). That we'll never get to see the further evolution of the Coach Fredricks/Bill relationship is one of the most painful consequences of this show being cancelled.

And now I gotta go listen to that commentary track just to find out what Claudia Christian and Thomas Wilson get into it about.

Cassie said...

It's been awhile since I heard the commentary, but I think the gist was that she kept making cracks about how Fredericks just wanted to get in Bill's mom's pants, and Wilson got increasingly offended on his character's behalf.

I believe she leaves about midway.

Anonymous said...

Another funny thing about Goliath is that he was supposed to have been really old (in his teens), which leads you to think he's a small dog. Then you see the photo and just have to laugh.

Anonymous said...

I think a big reason why Bill felt so angry at the gym teacher was his own sense of displacement and jealousy. Here he'd been his mom's only man for years, and all the scenes where he was alone are contrasted with the scenes of the gym teacher getting attention from his mom, even drinking out of his coffee cup. It's obvious he thinks the teacher pleases his mom more than he did.
But l love how the teacher is a fully developed character. He's really is a jock, but also an insightful man trying to forge a connection with Bill.

bakija said...

So I'm looking for a place to post this, and this seems as appropriate a place as any.

So I went to go see the film Adventureland yesterday, which I totally loved (maybe it is just 'cause I am the exact right age and have the exact right record collection), although while it is being sold as a wacky comedy (like Superbad II: Electric Boogaloo or something, which it totally is not) it is not actually that funny; it is a college kid angst romance with some good jokes.

In any case, the reason I'm posting here is 'cause it has Martin Starr playing, essentially Bill Haverchuck at 21. Imagine if you will Bill grows up, graduates, goes off to college, becomes kind of jaded (much like all the kids I knew who were just like Bill in the early 80'S), and comes home for the summer to work a cruddy job till he can get out of town again. It is kind of awesome. He even has a good joke about going into anaphylactic shock from some cookies with nuts.

So if you loved the Freaks and Geeks (and Bill in particular), Adventureland is totally worth checking out. I mean, it is really good otherwise (although, again, not a total laff-riot or anything). It really made me want to watch F+G again.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the middle part of "Drowned" was playing at the intro of the Magic Bus scene.

Rudyjax said...

Sorry so late to the party here, I picked to watch Freaks and Geeks becaue of this blog...

Anyway, how is it possible the Weirs didn't know anything about The Who?

The band is over 15 year old at this time.

I have teenagers, and when my kid wanted to see Weezer, I know who Weezer is, and I'm a musical idiot.

Rudyjax said...

I change my mind. A friend of mine that is in his late 40's, with kids in college said he didn't know who Stone Temple Pilots were.

Not that they are comparable to The Who.

Marty said...

What makes Millie such a great character IMO is that she plays the role of a goody-two-shoes without being totally exaggerated or one-dimensional. In fact, even before this episode, she was dropping subtle hints of her more fun/wild side, such as the way she was interacting with her Mathlete friends in Looks And Books. This episode just showed Millie finally cracking open and beginning the kind of "self-discovery" a lot of "good kids" go through when they're 14 or 15.

Having myself been a bit of a goody-two-shoes in grade school, I could actually relate to Millie's subplot in this episode, as it mirrors what many "wimpy kids" do once they're in high school or junior high: start rebelling and trying to dispel their whole "good kid" image.

So I wouldn't really say this episode showed her acting totally un-Millie as there were actually a lot of subtle hints in prior episodes suggesting that she was going to start moving away from her "goody two-shoes" image eventually. It would've been interesting to see how her character would've continued to develop if F&G had a second season.

Michael said...

Watching the version on Sundance Channel has me wondering why they took out The Who's "Boris the Spider" and "Going Mobile" (as well as Seals & Croft's "Summer Breeze") but left in "Squeezebox", "Love Reign O'er Me", "I'm Free", and "I'm One". The closed captioning shows the lyrics to the deleted songs, though.

Finally, nobody mentioned that The Who did not tour at all in the US in 1981 when this episode is set. They played Detroit in December 1979 and then not again until September 1982.

Anonymous said...

One thing that dates this episode (by virtue of the time period in which it takes place) is Lindsay's parents being horrified by the idea of her going to a rock concert. Those of us who had baby boomer parents never had to deal with that kind of conflict in the way Lindsay and, according to the commentary for this episode, Mr. Apatow dealt with it. Because our parents were teens during the 60's, when that whole culture took off.

It's one of many reasons why Apatow made a wise decision setting the show in 1980/1981. He avoided the pitfall many "modern-day" 90's teen shows had of playing into parent-kid conflicts that were obsolete (or, at least, far less common) by then.

Anonymous said...

Claudia Christian and Thomas Wilson get into an increasingly heated arguement (for the record, I'm on his side) and she storms off in a huff. Very awkward moment enshrined for posterity. Just to save anyone the time - I watched this ep with commentary today to hear this, it's not like that, AT ALL. There is a playful discussion, Wilson is trying to cover the subtlety of his character, Christian is saying he just wanted to get into her pants, they laugh. Ten or fifteen minutes later Christian has to leave "to do a job" and says goodbye to everyone. That's it.