A flawed show, but reasonably enjoyable for the time period.
Fast Times was a pretty poor sitcom spin off of Fast Times at Ridgemont High, which has kept a pretty solid reputation in the decades since it was released.
It's easy to focus on the problems caused by re-casting most of the characters. In truth, those differences do matter, but they aren't the root of the problem. The core of the problem is that this show doesn't understand what made the movie special.
The movie has a fair share of laughs. But it has a certain sentimental angle to most of the stories. We feel terrible when Brad is fired because of an abusive customer. Sympathy for Mark's pursuit of Stacy. Sadness in how poorly Damone treats Stacy. Even Spicoli's relationship with Mr. Hand is interesting.
Underneath the fun of the movie is a story about the desperation most teenagers feel to grow up faster than they need to. This is really missing in this show.
This episode in particular, is better than the Pilot episode, but it still has some problems.
The core stories involve Damone dating Stacy in an effort to collect information for Mark. Spicoli decides that he wants to see Mr. Hand laugh. Linda and Stacy have some tension because no one wants her to date Damone.
First, it's hard to get past the issue of Stacy dating Damone. Does this show exist after the events of the movie? Concurrently? Prior? In every case, it's wrong.
Second, Mark Ratner is no longer being played the same way. In the movie, he's a kind-hearted guy, insecure, but not at all creepy. In this, he seems more like a serial killer than an insecure nice guy.
Third, Mr. Hand is being developed into a more complete character. This is interesting, but it doesn't keep with the perspective that students have during high school. He does some strange things. He's kind of a jerk to his colleagues. He's still overly strict in the classroom. But we also see him flirting with another teacher, which is pretty nice.
To be fair, I actually liked the Spicoli/Hand storyline. Even if Spicoli is being played in a way that I don't quite understand.
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