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287 out of 295 people found the following review useful:

Perfect Television (only a network executive couldn't love it)

Author: liquidcelluloid-1 from www.liquidcelluloid.blog.com
17 April 2004

Network: NBC; Genre: Drama/Comedy; Content Rating: TV-PG (for language, drug use and adult content); Available: on DVD; Perspective: Modern Classic (star range: 1 - 5);

Season Reviewed: Completed Series (1 season)

There are few shows, currently on the air or in the entire pantheon of television, that are so obviously crafted with as much love as 'Freaks and Geeks'. Created by Paul Feig and produced by Judd Apatow, 'Freaks' crackles with an honest writing and flawless chemistry and creates it's own wonderful universe. To watch the show is to be awash in details and obvious care that was taken to make it.The high school series has never been so real.

'Freaks' follows a group of geeks and a group of burnouts at McKinley High School in 1980, both of which centering around the Weir siblings. Lindsay Weir (Linda Cardellini) is our heroine whose rebellion from the Mathlete life and into the world of the burn-outs (with the terrific James Franco, Jason Segel, Seth Rogen & Busy Philipps) creates a domino effect that the entire series spins on. Sam Weir (John Francis Daley) is an underdeveloped geek whose unrequited love of cheerleader Cindy Sanders (Natasha Melnick, perfectly cast) drives much of the geek story lines. Sam faces the torment and humiliation of daily life in high school with friends Neil and Bill (wildly underrated, star-making Samm Levine and Martin Starr, respectively). The show is a badge of honor for all involved.

The school is populated with a fully realized universe of supporting characters from Lindsey's church-going friend Millie to Dungeon master Harris to Mr. Rosso (David "Gruber" Alan, hilariously stealing any scenery not bolted down) - the school guidance counselor without any boundary for the inappropriate. . No more accurate depiction of the look and feel of high school (or the hell that was high school depending on your perspective) TV has ever seen.

Becky Ann Baker and Joe Flaherty make the perfect '50s era parents. Flaherty comes off the most over-the-top, but even that fits the vision. The dinner table scenes between the Weir family are so uncharacteristically happy and intentionally corny that it will surely be off-putting to the average cynical viewer. Years before "The Office" made embarrassment and viewer discomfort into a science, "Freaks and Geeks" was doing a similar thing, effectively making us really feel Sam and Lindsey's embarrassment over their parent's behavior. I particularly like the set design of the Weir house, and the show in general. "Freaks" is set in 1980 but designed with 50s, 60s and 70s paraphernalia. Unlike the many fast food period pieces now, - "That 70s Show", "The Wedding Singer", "American Dreams" - where the decade is treated like a "Saturday Night Live" sketch, the decade doesn't turn over to 1980 and suddenly everyone runs out and buys parachute pants and the Thriller album.

The self-professed anti-'Dawson's Creek', the series is almost as distinctive for what it isn't than for what it is. It isn't a flashy show with 20-something preps playing high school kids set to blaring Top 40 pop songs where the biggest problems among the characters include juggling two hot dates on the same night. In other shows - most overly concerned with what the consuming public thinks of them, the geeks and the burnouts are fringe groups usually given as much thought as the potted plant in the corner, or used as 1-joke stereotypes. 'Freaks and Geeks' is the first show to acknowledge that they may be more interesting. They don't participate in the high school caste system and they muse about never being able to get girls.

I love the way the show's camera lingers on faces and soaks up Cardellini's incredible expressions. It rests on the kids as they sit and talk about their favorite drummer or the TV show they watched last night just like everyone does. At an hour the show allows for those quite moments. Just as it takes time out to do elaborate mid-show set pieces like an action movie-like dodge ball sequence or a violent spat between Kim Kelly (Philips) and her parents. The series is packed with these unforgettable little moments - heart-breaking and screaming funny, sometimes all at once. In 18 episodes it says more than most shows ever do: the geeks watching their first porno, the freaks getting their first fake IDs, the family catastrophes in Niel and Bill's homes and the painfully real crush Sam has on Cindy. Their world doesn't always a happy ending and awkwardness and embarrassment rule the day.

The fact that 'Freaks and Geeks' wasn't given a chance to make it by NBC is a sad testament to how network executives box in their viewers to find a ratings silver bullet. No matter, these 18 episodes are self-containing and fully satisfying enough to get over the sting of the network apathy. I'll break a rule and do a little necessary promotion here. All this is captured in a DVD set this show deserves, with as much attention and love put into the extras (29 commentary tracks!) that was put into the show. It is the single best DVD I've ever seen.

Who knows if the show would have been able to keep it up as the kids grew up and the show had to be written around it. As it stands, this is like lightening captured in a bottle. That perfect mix of all the elements coming together to make a truly classic series. No matter what the future holds, "Freaks" has a reserved place in my heart. This is really one for the ages, people. No list of modern classics is complete without "Freaks and Geeks".

* * * * * / 5

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202 out of 215 people found the following review useful:

The best shows are always cancelled...

Author: Andy (snot_pe2012) from Maine
20 July 2002

"Freaks & Geeks" was a show that I thought would be on for years. It was so perfect and all the actors/actresses were great in it. It first aired the same fall that I started high school, so I found a lot to relate to in it. This is probably the best drama NBC ever had, but they dropped it. Why? They keep crap like Providence and Ed (yuck) on, but instead bail out on REALLY good stuff like this? The critics loved it, the fans loved it, it had a future. Each episode was an hour long, and focused around two social groups: The stoner crowd (Freaks) and the underclassmen/nerds (Geeks) and their experiences throughout the year. I was really looking forward to see what direction this show would take in it's oncoming years, but sadly, we will never see another new episode. I just pray for re-runs.

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166 out of 175 people found the following review useful:

Best show about young people in a long time.

Author: Jonathan Perez (elevenball_99@yahoo.com) from Bellingham, Washington
21 March 2000

"Freaks and Geeks" is about as good of a television show as tv can be. I'm only two years out of high school, and although the show is set in 1980, it effectively captures the life of high schoolers. Nowadays, with this huge surge in teen movies and television, I feel that young people are misrepresented by television shows like Dawson's Creek and movies like "Varsity Blues." Simply put, beautiful people were rare at my high school. Nobody I ever knew engaged in sexual relations with a teacher as a freshman, and I was never approached by women wearing only whipped cream (and I was a three-year varsity athlete). My high school life exactly resembles what the kids in "Freaks and Geeks" do: talk about sci-fi movies, get high, feel alienated by my parents, had confusing talks with guidance counselors, etc. And these kids look like teens, with big glasses, young faces, and zits. From watching "Dawson's" or all the other teen movies out there (although some of those films are admitteldly entertaining I liked "She's All That" and "10 Things I Hate About You) one would glean that all teenagers are young Adonises. "Freaks and Geeks" thankfully corrects that error.

Most importantly though, "F&G" is a great show. Hopefully NBC finds an audience for this show. It is definitely different, slower paced, and doesn't play the latest hit music at full volume, but it IS clever, funny, and warm. It also deftfully balances comedy and drama, without ever being cloying, manipulative, or condescending to its audience. I hope this show stays around for a long time. If NBC drops it, please, some other network, give "Freaks and Geeks" it's very well-earned chance.

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158 out of 173 people found the following review useful:

Excellent acting, great music and good storylines.

Author: (llihilloh)
15 July 2000

Why is it that all the best teen shows get cancelled way before their time? Maybe because the show is set in the 80's (where teenagers won't relate to some of the stuff back then). Or maybe because people don't look for smart acting anymore. Even if you were born after all that hippie - disco stuff, you should still be able to enjoy the show.

Personally, I don't think the show stood a chance. First, it was hardly advertised by NBC. Second, it was placed on a Saturday night. And third, it was taken off the air for a month or so and then brought back. You couldn't have any worse luck. Then when it came back on the air, they only showed a couple of episodes and decided to cancel it for good.

To sum it up - it was a good little show with terrific acting, excellent music, good clothes, great storylines, and a hell of a good try to stay on the air. Unfortunately, it didn't even survive one season. All I know is that I loved it and thank goodness I recorded most of the episodes.

Anybody who missed this show, you lost a chance to see what real television is about.

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92 out of 99 people found the following review useful:

One of the few gems in network TV

Author: dark_phoenix_fire_13 from Indiana
13 March 2005

Of all the shows I have ever seen, none have stuck with me quite like Freaks and Geeks has. To put it simply, the show was brilliant. Too bad it had to be canceled. The writing and acting was superb, I don't think anyone can say that they didn't fall in love with the characters. I mean come on, Bill? The stories each were well made and I found myself already anticipating the next episode. Kudos to Paul Feig. The story is centered around the two children of a middle class family as they grow and evolve in high school. There is the older daughter, Lindsey, a book smart, goody-goody, looking for approval and acceptance from the stoners AKA the freaks. Then there is the younger son, Sam, who is the stereotypical nerd of the early 80's. He is constantly in conflict between the popularity aspect versus his friends, the geeks. Over the 18 episode first and only season, the characters undergo many changes that almost any person can relate to somewhat in their high school years. The entire series is all about the self discovery of these two kids and their friends as they venture through high school and in my mind was too good for TV. If only HBO had gotten to it... Oh well... I do highly recommend buying the DVD because this show was beyond words in the excellence it displayed, thank you for one of the best years of television Paul Feig!

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80 out of 89 people found the following review useful:

A Classic (In my mind anyway)

Author: Jdc102 from Southern California
2 September 2000

This show was without a doubt the BEST new show on Television. It actually gave a new meaning to television and introduced wonderful and funny characters. The cast is perfect and the writing and acting is so great, there was nothing wrong with the show, in fact it was about 10 times better than some stupid sitcoms still on TV (some not all). Bill Haverchuck, played by Martin Starr is probably my favorite character because he was a interesting and funny character. The only problem was that NBC didn't give Freaks and Geeks a decent time slot. It was so unfair.

Get the DVDs, you'll LOVE them!

Thank You

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83 out of 95 people found the following review useful:

Long live William McKinley High School, 1980! (minor spoilers)

8/10
Author: Pepper Anne from Orlando, Florida
3 April 2005

I have just finished watching the Complete Series DVD collection of "Freaks and Geeks," one of the best high school television series on televisions that, thanks to idiotic network executives who continue to make the decisions that make network television more and more unbearable to watch, have truly missed out on a gem. And, thanks to a healthy fan network, I was able to enjoy every bit of the series (as short as it was) on DVD.

Freaks and Geeks was one of the most honest portrayals of high school life, pleasantly departing from the overrated attention given to other television series and films who consistently focus on the "untouchable" classes of the dreaded high school social caste system that we are all likely too familiar with. The assorted teen dramas, and the difficulty of just subsisting in the often passively rigid classes within the high school social scene. This television series presented things from two perspectives: a group of freshman friends marked as "The Geeks" and a group of older friends, underachievers known as "The Freaks." The Geeks often provided the comical element to the show, while the Freaks often explore more dramatic story lines such as problems with parents (a constant subplot), self-esteem, drugs, and more. Although the Geeks confronted their own share of problems, their youth and easygoing attitude often made the situation more light-hearted.

Other commentators have often posited the question (on the "Freaks and Geeks" board along with other short-lived television series) why shows like these never last long on television. While "Saved by the Bell" might have been the only show to be quite successful with it (though only after significant retooling of the original series, "Good Morning Mrs. Bliss would NBC even agree to pick up the show), my guess is that this show may have initially had a difficult time finding a loyal audience in the crucial early days of the show. There were issues of drug use and teenage sex which some might not have found ideal for the younger viewers of this show (people in their very early teens as this show tended to sometimes celebrate drug use...even though there was one episode that was clearly anti-drug). Five years ago was a different time, however. And shows like "The O.C." (on Fox) seems to get away with stories surrounding its "young" characters and attitudes towards casual sex. Sadly, however, the network, too, is to blame, as it shifted the show into unrecognizable time slots, airing a show that was ideal for young audiences at a time when they would least likely be watching television--Friday and Sunday evenings. I cannot say that this would be why other television series surrounding high school would also be canceled.

It might also be that the show was never given a fair chance. Some might have quickly judged it as a rip-off of "The Wonder Years" (John Daly and the Geek Gang--especially Neil and Harris--did look like characters you might find on that show, not to mention the high school looking just like that in The Wonder Years).

My other guess for the reason that shows like these are often short-lived is that they are too expensive to produce. "Freaks and Geeks," like "My So-Called Life" filled a lengthy time slot of fifty minutes or so. Filmed partially on location and partially on a set (like "Sqaure Pegs" and "My So-Called Life"), a show like this becomes very expensive to produce and, may unfortunately force some hasty decisions about how long a network would ride out slack ratings.

I still think NBC passed up a good thing, and possibly other networks if it was pitched to them once being canceled. It was a great show that tried to produce a very dynamic set of characters and stories and did well.

I would also like to say while I adored nearly every character on the show (except for Nick who's obsession with Lindsay transformed him into not only a bizarre, but a boring character), I thought Martin Starr was the best as the witty Bill Haverchuck (I love his Bionic Woman bit when he is getting his costume ready in the Halloween episode). Though I thought him to be needlessly bizarre in the beginning (particularly due to his gawky appearance), he turned out to be one of the best characters. He always tried his best to be a good friend to everyone and, he always had some of the funniest lines in th show (Joe Flaherty, as Sam's dad, also had a bunch of good one-liners). And, while he was not in the show but sporadically, I also loved 'Harris,' the Geek mentor who always seemed so confident about everything.

Long live Freaks and Geeks! May the television show's creators reconsider trying this one again (even if you have to start over with a new cast, since everyone has aged six years--as of this writing).

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67 out of 77 people found the following review useful:

It's a shame they took this off the air...

Author: Joshua Bozeman from Evansville, Indiana
3 October 2000

I just started watching this show lately now that it's on Fox Family Channel. I saw one episode before, where the kid is the mascot for the basketball games and all. I love this show! I think it's one of the funniest shows I have ever seen in my life. The characters are the best of almost any series I have ever seen as well. I especially love Haverchuck...he cracks me up. The show deals with kids who are sort of outcasts in high school in 1980, and what outcasts they are. You have the rebel sister and the dorky brother in the main family in the show, and they both will make you laugh. I think the biggest laughs come from Sam and his friends. They are sort of geeky, but they try their hardest to be cool, and they talk constantly about getting chicks and how hard it will be. In one of the episodes, they think Neal's father is having an affair, and Haverchuck says," I don't even know how you get one chick, let alone two." or something to that effect. This is a great show, and it saddens me to see that NBC screwed it up with it's horrible scheduling and promotion. The show deserved much more of a chance than it had, because it's one of the best shows to come along in years, but leave it to the networks to screw up a great thing.

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61 out of 66 people found the following review useful:

Great little show!

Author: INFOFREAKO from Perth, Australia
27 June 2001

Freaks and Geeks, like too many shows with a lot of potential, was shown here in Australia in a ridiculous time-slot and never had the chance to build an audience of any size. Pity, cos it was one of the best shows to come along in years. In 1980 (when the show is set) I was around the same age as a lot of these characters, and to me it caught the flavour of the era authentically. Was I freak or was I a geek? What do you think? Across the board great writing, casting and acting. I think there's a few future stars on show here. Also cool use of appropriate music. Not just the predictable (Styx, Rush), also the unexpected (a track from XTC's "Black Sea"!). Shows someone knows what they're talking about! And any show that featured Kevin Corrigan AND Rushmore's Jason Schwartzman in the same episode HAS to be cool, right? Hope this re-runs one day...

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61 out of 89 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant

Author: AllisonLVenezio from Jersey shore, USA
13 January 2003

The teen years are already hard to swallow without all the other consistent pressure of growing up. However, most shows don't represent this properly--or they portray "beautiful people" as the troubled group. "Freaks and Geeks" blows that completely out of the water, and depicts the lives in two unique fringe groups--square geeks and lowly freaks, and their trials and tribulations, as they work to gain acceptance from their unfair peers in an unfair environment--high school.

In 1980 suburban Michigan, Lindsay Weir (Linda Cardellini) is a perfect student--a Mathlete, brilliant, promising. Her grandmother death floors her, and sends Lindsay into a tailspin. She drops the Mathletes and ditches her bookish ways to become a freak--though she is still a smart one. Meanwhile, her brother, Sam (John Francis Daley) is beginning his freshman year with his friends, Bill Haverchuck (Martin Starr) and Neal Schweiber (Samm Levine), and the boys are immediately thrown into the geek group.

I am a 20-year old college sophomore, and when this show premired in September 1999, I was a junior in high school. I was also unfortunate never to see this show during its initial run, because I was not home when it aired. I remember "Freak and Geeks" being placed in death knell time slots on Saturday and Monday nights, and saying to myself "NBC isn't giving this show a chance." It didnt--"Freaks and Geeks" was cancelled after only 4 months, and several episodes did not make it to air. I was largely disappointed, because I had good intentions on watching this show, and was never home to do so. Much to my luck, ABC Family began airing the reruns, so I taped one to watch. The first episode I saw, "Looks and Books," was hysterical. Recently, I saw the episode with the tuba girl, and this past weekend I saw "Chokin' and Tokin'," where Lindsay smokes potent marijuana that Nick gave her, and Bill accidentally eats a peanut that was jokingly put on his sandwich during lunch. That was the best of the three I've seen.

I attended high school between September 1997 and June 2001, and the school was majority (99%) white, and centrally located in suburban southern New Jersey. My high school had several distinct groups in its structured hiarchy: the jocks, the smart kids, the preps, the in-betweeners, the geeks, and the freaks.

Our freaks were goths--they wore black, clamped dog chains around their necks, wore fishnet shirts underneath t-shirts, dyed their hair weird colors, and were controversial figures--they often wore black trenchcoats and hated everyone who wasn't them. They were burnouts who took classes in the D-Wing, which was where all the woodshop, graphic arts, and special education classes were. In other words, if you were a D-Winger, you weren't the best of students, and were placed there because you were not a productive member of the student body.

Meanwhile, our geeks enrolled in computer science classes, and played role-playing card games in lunch. The geeks were impatient with everyone who didn't understand them, and they always worked as tutors. Basically, I refused to get tutoring for math because of them.

I, on the other hand, was not a geek nor a freak. I was an in-betweener--I got good grades but couldn't compete with the smart kids, well-dressed but not cool enough to be a prep, definitely not of geek appeal, and frightened of anything the freaks did (seriously, they used to stare at anyone who wasn't them). I could relate to Lindsay--I was constantly looking for acceptance, but I got by (I've been better off since I started college). This show portrayed teen angst the way it was mean to be portrayed--among the groups that feel the wrath of high school. Too many times have movies and television shows depicted the angst among the beautiful, smart, rich kids--what do they have to be angry about? It's the rest of us that fought for acceptance. The in-betweeners worked just as hard as everyone else, but our individuality kept us out of the respectible groups.

When I first saw this show, I saw distinctions right away, and similarities to my own school years. I also saw something in Lindsay--I knew she's grow out of the funk she was in once she grew up, and I knew she would do ok with herself. I liked the geeks because they always had something funny to say, especially Sam, who was reduced to stammering "Oh, hi Cindy" every time he saw her. Neal was the one who tried to be cool, but his geekiness held him back. Bill, thankfully, didn't look like anybody I went to school with, although that would have been funny. I also love the time period it takes place in--1980. What's not to love about the '80s???

This is a brilliant that was never recognized. Thankfully, the reruns were resurrected, so those of us who missed it the first time can see it now. I'm really liking this show, and I tape it every time its on (again, I miss the reruns because "Saturday Night Live" is on, and nothing comes between me and "Saturday Night Live"). If you get the chance, and have ABC Family. check this show out--it's 60 minutes of something we can all relate to.

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