Summer TV Club: Freaks and Geeks: "I'm With the Band"
Before we start, we wanted to remind you that all the shows we have been watching and will watch are available for free streaming on Netflix. Now I just stole the excuse you were using to not watch Magnum P.I.
This week Pete, Jef and myself tackled the cult classic, Paul Feig/Judd Apatow masterpiece, Freaks and Geeks. The show is about the cruel world that was high school in the early 1980s. The series, despite only lasting 18 episodes in total, has grown in popularity over the years somewhat due to the success of much of its cast and crew. I admittedly did not watch the show until after its sad and abrupt cancellation but I love it no less. It's often perfect, which is hard to say about many other television series (Beverly Hills 90210 aside).
The episode we watched this week was "I'm With the Band," one of the best of the entire season. Lindsay Weir (Linda Cardellini), who is a regular brain, has been hanging out with the bad/"freak" crowd in her suburban high school. Much of the series is about the transition she goes through in finding herself as she moves away from her old "nerdy" friends and attempts acceptance from the cool burnouts.
In this episode, she sits in on her new dudes' band rehearsal, which is god-awful. Nick (Jason Segel), the guy who adores her that she doesn't want anything to do with physically, is probably the worst drummer of all time, despite seeing himself as the lord of rock. The other side of the episode finds Lindsay's little brother Sam (John Francis Daley), a "geek," having major issues with the fact that he will be required to shower after gym and everyone will see that he has no hair under his pits.
ABBY: Of the band names presented in this episode, which should the gang use in your humble opinion? Mission Control, Anarchy's Child or Creation? My vote is for Creation; it sounds so epic. Anarchy's Child sounds like Destiny's Child but much more disorganized.
JEF: As a journalist that spends his time in Google searching for band names, something like Creation would piss me the hell off. I vote Anarchy's Child because Anarchy's Child would most likely be responsible and straight laced just to fuck with Anarchy.
PETE: "Anarchy's Child" is almost as dumb as a band name as "Sons of Anarchy" is for a biker gang. And "Creation" is too close to "Kreator," who are legitimately bad ass.
JEF: It was a Genesis joke, lepton.
ABBY: I didn't get that joke either. But here's what I'm wondering, why is Nick's dad such a dick? Is it because he is really can't stand the fact that his son is bad in school, a terrible drummer and a huge pothead or is it because he is really Jack's father from Lost and is dead?
JEF: I'm going to quote a Meat Loaf song, "He was dangerous and drunk and defeated and corroded by failure and envy and hate."
PETE: Here's where I'm showing my age/parental status, but HOW THE HELL CAN THAT KID NOT MAINTAIN A C+ AVERAGE? C+? My dad would've had me sleeping in the back of my car -- which he would've made me park at the bus terminal -- if I was pulling D's and spending all my spare time pantomiming Rush solos.
ABBY: Lindsay makes some comment to Nick about "practicing more" and that the band will never win battle of the bands. Is Lindsay a bitch for being honest? Or is she Yoko? She's just trying to help; she's just very annoying about it.
JEF: It's not a real good idea to bring your girlfriend to band practice, and it's really not a good idea to tell the band that she thinks the band needs a change. If you value her opinion on music, by all means solicit that opinion, but you wouldn't walk into work and tell your boss that your girlfriend thinks a new stapler policy is in order. It's your job to make it happen if you act on her advice. I think Nick was in the wrong here. He was just using Lindsay as a crutch.
PETE: Lindsay isn't a bitch, but she's naïve, and dead wrong: lots of people *can't* do anything they want, even if they "believe in themselves." Daniel, as obnoxious a character as he often is, was right. I feel bad for Nick, I really do, but I have to believe if F&G got a second season, Jason Segel's absence would have been explained away by Nick being in basic training. A la Happy Days.
ABBY: How old were you guys when you got chest hair? I was 12.
JEF: You must have gotten mine. I don't have any. Just three hairs around each tiny, dime-sized nipple.
PETE: You know, you sure ask a lot of body hair questions, Abby. First it was Magnum's mustache, now you're inquiring about our chest pelts. I honestly don't remember when the chest hair came in, but I could sport a sweet Harris Trinsky style mustache my freshman year.
ABBY: Hair is worth contemplating, Pete. Especially hair I am unfamiliar with. Did you guys experience the type of locker room apprehension and/or abuse when you were freshman in high school as Sam does? Do guys really berate each other in locker rooms? In the girls' locker room we just talked about periods and braided each other's hair. No, really.
JEF: No. I never showered in school, and no one ever bothered me about it. I got the crap kicked out of me a bit until I started professing my desire to serve Satan and all his fiendish will. After that, it was pretty normal.
PETE: I didn't have to take gym in high school because the administration rightfully recognized marching band practice in Texas heat was a million times worse than dodge ball. In junior high, which was the last time I had to take P.E., our coach kept the bullshit to a minimum. Come to think of it, we didn't even have towels to snap each other with, just these big sheets of butcher paper. It was barbaric.
JEF: Pete was in marching band... so many riddles have been unraveled. ABBY: It's great that Seth Rogen is so harsh and intimidating in this show and the rest of his career he plays the schlubby good guy. Not really a question, just an observation about how much I enjoy watching Seth Rogen and would date him if he offered to date me and my husband at the same time.
JEF: What are you, some sort of Green Hornet apologist?
PETE: "This is Mission Control, requesting permission to rock out!" Ken is hilarious. He's my favorite character by far. If I was most like Sam Weir freshman and sophomore year, Ken was my spiritual doppelganger when I was an upperclassman.
ABBY: My favorite line in this episode is when the Weir's parents try and get Lindsay to tell her brother what a beautiful body he has. Scenes like that make this show near perfection for me. You guys?
JEF: See, I never felt the dialogue ever really rose above awkward and stilted for me. I mean, I know it's high school and all, and awkward is the point, but I sort of expected better from the show after all the hype. I'd rather watch classic Degrassi myself.
ABBY: Jef, you'd rather watch Dagrassi than Freaks and Geeks? So many riddles have been unraveled.
PETE: Jef's got a thing for girls who say, "Aboot."
ABBY: Why is Nick so awkward when he plays drums? And in life?
JEF: He's. A. Drummer. Abby. Do you know what they call a drummer without a girlfriend? Homeless. You've got to divide them between the people that aspire to be Phil Collins and those who don't, then take the Phil Collins folks through therapy until they learn to be people.
PETE: I think Abby is referring to Nick's obvious lack of formal instruction, which came through pretty heavily in the Dimension audition. That scene is so painful in my memory that I fast forwarded it on rewatch. Poor dumb bastard.
ABBY: Lindsay does the one thing that all women do when they have no idea what else to do to make guys feel better, they give them some loving and then they deeply regret it for the rest of their lives. Is that so wrong?
JEF: Why would you regret making someone feel better? Sex is, ironically, like the word "fuck." It's got a lot of different meanings and interpretations. I don't think a girl should regret comforting someone physically. Or a guy either for that matter.
PETE: You know what the Butthole Surfers say about regret. Kidding aside, I think there's a valid point to be made about not wanting to deal with the aftermath of giving physical comfort to high school-aged boys, who usually still have the emotional maturity of howler monkeys.
Not that I'd know, of course. My high school was woefully lacking in "charitable" females.
Join us next week where we will watch a real classic The Twilight Zone, "And When the Sky Was Opened" (S1, Ep11). Remember, you can watch along with us as it is on Netflix and then make nasty comments about our obvious lack of attention to the plot.
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