Freaks and Geeks – TV review

Freaks and Geeks is a 1999 show telling the story of the titular groups in a 1980’s American high school.

Fans and creators of the show often discuss the misfortune of the characters as a stand out feature. Arrested Development or Peep Show heap unrelenting failure upon their protagonists, yet the more variable fortunes of the characters in this show are not only more realistic, but also creates characters that you care more about as people, rather than fictional punching bags. It isn’t joke a minute for sure, but consequently the laughs come in a way that resembles how you would laugh at something in real life.

Multitudes of future famous people show up and it is fun how subtle their parts often are. For example, Seth Rogan’s character is very subdued and sarcastic where you get the sense that today he might put more intensity into the performance. Not all the performances are amazing. Jason Segel mumbles his way through, though this is probably the point due to his character being high all the time and Sam Weir occasionally says thing with an unnatural cadence.

44e048fd-ea68-40ae-a859-594093336a1dThe direction, while never mind blowing, is consistently good and never distracting. The music, on the other had, often steals the show. Perhaps songs that are current are harder to put in TV, or perhaps crappy unknown stuff has producers who are willing to pay more, because shows including Smallville and Pretty Little Liars always have garbage unknown music. For whatever reason, the 80’s setting allows the editors to pull from diverse music from throughout the decade and I don’t recognise half of it, but it all sounds good.

Freaks and Geeks has been called ahead of its time and sure enough I keep struggling to remember that I was 5 or 6 when this show came out and the child actors are all adults now. Perhaps part of it, as well as the edgy writing, is the 80’s setting. The 4:3 aspect ratio and slight low definition fuzz look a bit dated, but the whole aesthetic was always meant to be dated and being a 90’s show it also had the budget and freedom to not actually feel like an 80’s show (perhaps more like an 80’s movie). It literally has a sort of timelessness that still serves it.

It doesn’t feel like too great a tragedy that there are no more seasons of Freaks and Geeks. I have the sense that future seasons could have been consistently enjoyable, but, as with Firefly, being cut short likely contributed to its fame and renown. During the first half of the season, I thought the idea of a follow up film would be terrible, but after reading an interview with Paul Feig where he says: “it was going to become much more of a story of a small town and who gets out and who doesn’t,” a high school reunion movie could be a very good way of doing that and hopefully it would be able to stand alone too.

Connor Cochrane

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