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DVD Review: Freaks and Geeks

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Freaks and Geeks is one of those shows that everybody kept telling me was so awesome but I never got around to watching. It just sounded like another dumb teen dramedy. However, when it finally came out on DVD and the raves just kept rolling in, I got curious. But I never got off my ass. Fortunately, a friend bought it for me as a gift, and now I’ve watched the entire series. And I’m glad I did.

The show is very much like an 80’s version of The Wonder Years without Daniel Stern and with a much richer supporting cast of characters. It follows Sam Weir (John Francis Daley) and his older sister Lindsey (a pre-Scooby Doo Linda Cardellini), both in high school, both charting different social paths. Sam is the freshman geek with his two dorky friends Bill (Martin Star) and Neal (Samm Levine), struggling to fit in. Lindsey is the good girl getting good grades until she falls in with the “freak” burn-out crowd populated by Daniel (a pre-Spider-Man James Franco), Nick (Jason Segel), Seth (Ken Miller), and Kim (Busy Phillips), with whom she struggles to fit out, as it were. Alienation and awkward growth lessons ensue.

What sets this apart, aside from peerless writing that sets a realistic, yet warm tone, and outstanding performances from all involved (especially Martin Star) is what this show discovered about halfway through its run. It’s similar to what The Simpsons discovered about four seasons in. It has a rich body of supporting characters whose stories are more interesting than the leads’. The show was already good. Once it discovered this, it became great.

So watch the first few discs to establish the characters, but keep going to see what really made this show stand out. Also, keep an eye open for fantastic cameos from MST3K’s Joel Hodgson (Best. 80’s Hair. Ever.), Jason Schwartzman, and a priceless guest turn from Ben Stiller in the next to last episode.

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About David Dylan Thomas

  • anon

    You have “Seth (Ken Miller)”
    That should be “Ken (Seth Rogen)”

  • Shannon

    Lol. ” Nick (Jason Segel), Seth (Ken Miller), and Kim (Busy Phillips),”

    Ken Miller is the character, Seth Rogan the actor. 🙂

  • frog

    I saw some of this show in Australia by chance on late night TV. It looked good and I have been following this up. I want the DVDs of this. I cant see why this isnt on in the UK ?

  • trian

    hola ke tal se ke mi idioma no es el ingles pero eso no me da motivo para decir ke es una serie estupenda todos

  • F&G was probably the most realistic growing-up series on television. It’s only fault was the television habit of bringing the heroes to the brink of disaster that in real life would have happened, only to pull back and rescue them. Other than that, it was great.

    And it’s the only television show where I still wonder what became of Our Heroine after she made that fateful decision in the last episode.

  • Eric Olsen

    good job explaining its appeal David, thanks, I think the title was always working against it

  • Tom

    This was one of my favorite shows of all time, even if it was only one short season. My wife and I watched in infuriated horror as NBC shuffled the show from night to night, timeslot to timeslot, never giving it a real chance to gain an audience. We were lucky to actually get to see the final episodes – NBC had cancelled the show and had all but shoved it off of their schedule. It’s taken years, but finally the DVD is out and it’s gratifying to see that others are tuning into its greatness. It’s too bad it couldn’t have happened during the show’s run . . .

  • good stuff dean. i saw the pilot episode of this the other day and it really is rather special. Looking forward to grabbin the whole lot on dvd