Becky Ann Baker, Ben Foster, Busy Philipps, comedy, Dave Allen, drama, entertainment, Freaks and Geeks, Geek, high school, James Franco, Jason Segel, Joe Flaherty, John Francis Daley, Judd Apatow, Linda Cardellini, Lizzy Caplan, Martin Starr, Michael Beardsley, Natasha Melnick, Paul Feig, Ron Lester, Samaire Armstrong, Samm Levine, Sarah Hagan, Seth Rogan, Steve Bannos, Television, Thomas F. Wilson, TV series
Well this was it. What started the Judd Apatow universe and introduced us to many of the characters we see pop in throughout several (if not all, it sometimes seems) comedies nowadays. Creator Paul Feig (Mr. Pool from Sabrina the Teenage Witch) came up with the concept after being tired of the perceived “fantasy fulfillment” that otherwise was considered the norm in everyday television. Wanting to see real situations played out that reminded him of growing up with his friends and similar situations that they may have been in. Showing that as bad as times cold get, one could always look back at those same memories in a different light down the road.
For those who have yet to know the greatness that is the show I would recommend holding off until able to obtain the ultimate Freaks and Geeks collection, in the form of a High School Yearbook. Only if feeling a kindred spirit (it’ll simply mean more). The book is a detailed and well thought out edition sure to fulfill your every inner nerd dreams. Besides endless amounts of pictures from the set there are hidden secrets, a Q&A section and several behind the scenes from the Creator and Producers throughout, detailing everything down to the nitty-gritty. What’s more is that each episode has notes on when they aired, words from Paul Feig, Judd Fun Facts as well as music played and the commentary tracks listed. And if unable to fathom why a cancelled show would possibly have so many features, there are two extra discs loaded with even more behind the scenes.
Though only 18 episodes and cancelled due to a series of unfortunate events, it seems as though it gained more of a reputation after the fact. Ever followed by a loyal fan base, it’s a shame this show didn’t get to finish out their years in high school. Though if being completely honest, I’ve found that even with the series long gone that in a sense, most movies done by the cast have simply been a continuation of the time they spent together. Of course because they’re all grown up and sexy now means that we get to see them without restraints and mostly in a better light.
Linda Cardellini (Lindsay Weir): While the Weir’s are the family the show primarily focuses on, it veers more towards Lindsay’s perception intertwined with her brother’s. Having been on the Mathlettes previously and otherwise known as The Brain, Lindsay would rather see what the freaks out in the patio have planned. Deciding to tag along for all the misadventures sure to engage in./From being sandwiched between James Franco and Jason Segel to having an affair with Don Draper (Mad Men); never thought I’d be so jealous of Velma.
John Francis Daley (Sam Weir): While outgoing (in his own ways) and the smallest between the cast, it never seemed to get him completely distraught. Best friends Bill and Neal are used to getting picked on already but when he catches sight of the new group his sister’s been hanging out with, he becomes worried for Lindsay’s future. Unsure of what she could possibly get out of hanging out with a couple of burnouts, struggling to find his own version of cool.
Martin Starr (Bill Haverchuck): Between his sever allergies and embarrassing knowledge of the show Dallas, Bill’s taunts never seem to relent. Good thing Sam and Neal don’t seem to mind the questionable material he chooses to go about. Having dressed as the bionic woman and suggesting drinking a small amount of any liquid for 10 bucks, there is not much he’s not willing to do at least try once. Though tagging along is more often what happens, Bill sticks around for the ride regardless.
Samm Levine (Neal Schweiber): The most outspoken of the geek crew. Always willing to do him impersonation of William Shatner or show Sam the real meaning of school spirit. Neal’s always known for having the cool dad out of the bunch which all changes the day one of his friends witnesses suspicious behavior while at his place of work.
James Franco (Daniel Desario): As head of the freaks, it wasn’t difficult to figure out why. Attractive, total lack of direction in life and one of the lowest GPA’s in the school. It just resonates coolness, don’t cha think? While surly a main reason for Lindsay wanting to join the cool kids, it seemed any idea Daniel came up with was what the bunch would along with, whether liking it or not. Flirting with anyone needing to help him get along while enjoying the pleasures of doing nothing whenever possible./While many may know Franco for his serious roles, this was the first thing I knew and adored him for. So I knew all along he had a film such as Pineapple Express in him.
Seth Rogen (Ken Miller): It was Judd Apatow that discovered him and though Ken doesn’t get too much play in the series, he’s able to get his own episode slightly focusing on him and a love interest. He’s that guy in the group that not only puts down everything but finds his witty remarks funnier than most of the other group.
Jason Segel (Nick Andopolis): Okay, I know I’m a little sweet on the guy so saying that his character was great to watch throughout may be bias. But he is so hilarious and I loved how sweet in a stalker sense with Lindsay. But only because I’d be stalked by Segel any day. His character experiences a bit of turmoil with his father who can’t seem to understand his son’s passion. Except Nick doesn’t seem to realize he lacks the work ethic.
Busy Philipps (Kim Kelly): Daniel’s girlfriend, who isn’t afraid to share her feelings with anyone silly enough to get in her way. Not only unsatisfied with where The Brain has decided to spend her time but usually the one that ends up drags weighing them down. Presumed to it always being that time of the month as Kim’s volume only knows loud and louder. Though her antics stream from a bad upbringing with barely there discipline and a mother whose own attitude has seem to rubbed off./Busy was always a fun character to watch if simply to see how much more of a bitch she could be; she worked it though!
Pilot: “Okay, the dance is tomrrow. She’s a cheerleader, you’ve seen Star Wars 27 times; do the math.” A great misdirection as we lead into the cast with quick introductions all around. The overall tone is set and we begin the series with the homecoming dance approaching. Sam and Lindsay having mixed emotions on attending as their parents insist regardless so as to socialize. Meanwhile Sam tries to adjust as school bully Alan (Chauncey Leopardi) can’t seem to find better things to do with his time. An attempt to fight it out ends in the gym with a game of dodge ball. Ben Foster guest stars.
Beers and Weirs: “My cousin’s friend was at a freak party once and someone put angel dust in her drink.” The Weir’s are leaving for Chicago and decide to put Lindsay in charge. Inadvertently inviting the freaks over for a kegger just as the school decides to preach the safety of not driving while intoxicated. Sam, Neal and Bill get the idea to switch out the kegs with non-alcoholic beer. The best part in the episode was watching Bill get drunk (having hidden the real beer in the bedroom) as he watched Dallas solo.
Tricks and Treats: “Hmm…looking for Chaplin, only seeing Hitler.” Anytime there is a Halloween episode it’s sure to be a favorite! While the Weir kids are growing up it seems Halloween is so last year and decide to opt out. Though Lindsay agrees to go on a double date with Daniel and Kim out vandalizing the neighborhood with fifth wheel Ken, as Nick apologizes for such having to happen. When they accidentally egg her brother and friends, (who decide to dress up after all as Chaplin, the Bionic woman and a Robot) Lindsay’s conscience turns around and decides to give out candy with her mother; a tradition otherwise having followed each year.
Kim Kelly is my Friend: “She shouldn’t ruin everything for everybody just because she’s always on her period.” We center more around Kim and her background as we’ve already noticed her and Lindsay being unable to get along. After Nick has a talk with her she decides to invite her over and show her exactly why we don’t see much of her family. While not the richest of folks Kim can’t seem to do anything but fight with them when after screening Lindsay, decide she was just another loser friend and try to take her car away. Meanwhile Kim’s usual bestie Karen (Rashida Jones) chooses to make and example out of Sam, soon rectified after caught “kissing” Daniel and having the tables turned on herself.
Tests and Breasts: “Hey Dr. Love, I can’t find my girlfriend’s cervix, can you help me out?” While admittedly not the brightest in his class, Daniel asks Lindsay for help in Algebra. Deciding to help him cheat after trying to speak with their teacher and receiving a negative response. Confronted about the good grade otherwise thought to be impossible, the two end up getting away with it when finding out the teacher simply assumed the worst without any evidence. However in Health class Sam and friends learn of the opposite gender’s body and obtain a porno that Sam ends up discussing with their Gym coach (Thomas F. Wilson), discovering what the birds and bees were really about.
I’m with the Band: “You and Yoko here turn music into school.” While the freaks have a band together, Nick (drums) seems to be the only one taking it seriously, wanting them to actually practice for the battle of the bands coming up. But it only turns them away as Daniel and Ken decide they didn’t get the point of just wanting to rock out and leave them behind. Tempting Nick to try out for a drummer position with a real band and otherwise laughed at when simply not getting the hang of things. Letting the two get closer and experience their first kiss with one another. While there’s always a story for both Sam and his sister, his involved struggling to shower in gym and hey, I liked that it mainly featured Jason Segel.
Carded and Discarded: “Oh my God, she’s running to get to us.” A new girl in school doesn’t mind paying the geeks some attention while everyone else is busy trying to figure out what she sees in them. Meanwhile the freaks are able to obtain some fake ID’s with help from Lindsay’s money and Millie’s (Sarah Hagan) cousin (Kevin Corrigan). Excited to go see a local band play, the freaks recognize their guidance counselor (Dave Allen) who outs them on being minors just as they were served their beers. Jason Swartzman also cameos as the first faulty ID guy.
Girlfriends and Boyfriends: “Hey, no need to explain anything to me, I got it on in a van at Woodstock.” Seems everyone is hooking up at school and making a big deal about Nick and Lindsay “dating.” Sam and Bill otherwise fight for Cindy’s (Natasha Melnick) attention and each take advice on what they could do to win her over as Sam eventually joins Yearbook to get closer. However she ends up treating him like a gay best friend when only talking about the most popular guy in school and how cute he was. Cutest moment in the episode is when Lindsay and Nick spend some alone time together and he serenades Lady by Styx to her.
We’ve Got Spirit: “I couldn’t stop thinking about you, just wanted to see your face.” With Nick and Lindsay dating now, it seems she can’t take all the extra attention. Especially since he seems to have perfected his creeper skills and thoroughly freaks her out at a recent encounter at her home. The only thing opening up to her mother does is harbor an opportunity for her to break up with Nick later in the episode after assuming Lindsay had already done such. Sam on the other hand tries out for Mascot after the former one, Herbert (Shia LaBeouf) breaks his arm. Except that Neil ends up taking over and gets in trouble for the terrible job during their rival play in Basketball against Lincoln.
The Diary: “Are you calling me irrational? Cause I’ll tear your head off!” Lindsay and Kim get in trouble for hitchhiking as Bill is chosen last in gym class, prompting him to prank call the gym teacher. Resulting in Coach Ben having everyone sit down and repeat the lines so as to pick out the culprit and lash out a punishment. The Weir’s otherwise decide to invite the Kelly’s over for dinner to better know their daughter’s friend. Deciding that it’d best if not to associate with Kim anymore and read Lindsay’s diary at Kim’s parent’s suggestion. Not liking what they find and having to re-look at their own marriage.
Looks and Books: “Don’t kid about first block.” A reality check hits Lindsay after a car crash makes her re-evaluate her friendship with the freaks and she tells them off after getting on her case. Choosing to go back to the Mathlette’s but not without a little competition against Shelly (Alexandra Breckenridge); the new it girl in the club. Clinching under the pressure as Lindsay earns her block back when performing exceptionally well at their next match. Deciding to regroup with the freaks after they showed up and cheered her on unexpectedly. Sam gets advice on how to feel cool while buying a garment most considered ridicules… because it was.
The Garage Door: “Oh, well, the welfare lines are full of those video game players.” After establishing the coolness level of Neil’s father, Sam later finds him hugging up on some other woman while out shopping with his mother. Then when Neil finds a garage door opener he decides to search the ends of the neighborhood until he found the door it opened. Eventually finding the location and forever changing his outlook on the man who could so easily lie to him and his mother. Though Ken gets a little action when he crushes on the tuba girl and sets up a date for laser dome, believing it to be Pink Floyd night. Only to hear the disappointment of it actually being Southern rock night though everyone attending ends up having a good time either way.
Chokin’ and Tokin’: “What do people do when they’re not stoned?” After this episode aired was when the show got word of it’s cancellation. No doubt due to it mainly discussing Nick without his weed, unsure of what else to do when not high, handing it to Lindsay to show he didn’t need it throughout his day. Having never tried the stuff before, Lindsay lights one up before realizing she would have to babysit later that day and asks for Millie’s help. School bully Alan pushes his luck when planting nuts in Bill’s sandwich, causing him to be rushed to the hospital as he’s put in a mini coma bu table to recover. Comforted by cameo Leslie Mann as their teacher with a soft spot for Bill.
Dead Dogs and Gym Teachers: “Bill Murray is the funniest man in the planet.” This episode features Bill’s life a little as we see him spend the majority of his day at home alone. Matters becoming worse when finding out that his mother had started dating Coach Ben and that he ultimately spends the night; not settling well. Millie soon discovering that the maniacs that ran over her dog were closer than expected as Lindsay and Kim try and make up for the act by loosening up Millie and letting her see how the other half lives. Soon coming forth and holding a ceremony for Goliath.
Noshin and Moshin: “This school turns people into idiots!” This was another tie for favorite as I loved the “transformation” that Daniel undergoes when trying to impress a punk girl that used to go to their school. Figuring out that the lifestyle was more work than thought and that the girl of his dreams had a boyfriend, so why bother? While Neil’s knowledge of his father still stings, older brother Barry (David Krumholtz) comes into town, noticing how pretty the Weir girl has become. During as party held later that night, Neil uses his puppet to relieve some tension for the party and finds Barry and Lindsay kissing, killing the slight crush he felt for her.
Smooching and Mooching: “Maybe I should take a lesson, huh!” Nick temporarily moves in with Lindsay and her family when his drums get taken away and he no longer sees a point in staying with his father. Getting the only motivation from an elder as her parents help set up lessons and get him doing things around the house, fitting right in. Meanwhile Cindy lets Bill know her “feelings” for Sam, being through with guys who were only attractive. Such a nice way to state that. Inviting the geeks over for a game of spin the bottle with Bill landing 7 minutes in heaven with the head of the cheerleaders and getting a kiss in the end.
The Little Things: “Give me a break, the secret service is coming.” All is hectic as the Vice President is coming to McKinley with cameo Ben Stiller as the secret service. Having Lindsay chosen as the student who would ask a question but after having her original one denied, decides to go ahead and ask why such would even occur. While things with Ken and Amy (Jessica Campbell) hit a speed bump in their relationship, it turns out she holds a secret most boyfriends wouldn’t be accepting of. More of the possibility that could have been…think about it. Sam finds that popularity doesn’t come with as many perks and that Cindy was rather boring after getting to know her. Trying to break up with her and finding that she wouldn’t let him off that easy.
Discos and Dragons: “Welcome to the one percent club. I was one back in 1956, look what it did for me!” The freaks turn their back on Nick when he decides to join a Disco dance contest with fellow student Sara (Lizzy Caplan) who he eventually ends up dating, hoping that Lindsay wouldn’t take the news too hard. Though Nick gives the competition his all and almost wins if not for the magician that oddly decided to compete. Closing in on the season as Daniel learns to play Dungeons and Dragons with the geeks and Lindsay heads on her way for summer vacation. Which has her going on the road with Kim and friends to travel and enjoy her last summer of freedom.
Well that was quite a long run through. Apologies if finding that half way you could no longer continue. On the other hand, if such was the case then you can’t see this, so who needed ya anyways! The simple reason this series didn’t take off or get the right audience was a combination of factors. While their episodes were not able to air on any kind of real schedule, the simple fact was the show covered some pretty serious topics for the time. Any of the episodes surly would have been acceptable (to most extents) and could have gone on for another season if not further if made 14 years later. HOWEVER, it would not have been the same if having a different cast and in that aspect, am glad that while short lived that it existed at all.