Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ten Year Alumni Reunion:: Freaks, Geeks, and Where Are They Now?

A decade ago, Judd Apatow produced an hour-long dramedy for NBC, Freaks and Geeks. Eighteen episodes were created, but only 12 aired. I recall it having a cult-following, but I never checked it out. The 1999-2000 season was the era of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Freaks and Geeks was 93 out of 94, nosing out 7th. Heaven and Suddenly Susan, which tied in the battle for last place. Currently, it's in syndication on G4, which can be a surreal experience for non-gamers, and I've been catching up on my TV viewing 10 years later, which sounds about right::

You may have noticed a few familiar faces in this clip. The fake ID salesman is Jason Schwartzman. I'm not the first to notice this, but like the films Diner and The Breakfast Club, many of the alumni of the short-lived Freaks and Geeks have gone on to have careers::

Judd Apatow {Producer}::
Went on to produce and direct
successful comedies, such as
40 Year-Old Virgin {D/P/W},
Knocked Up {D/P/W},
Anchorman {P}, Talladega
{P}, Superbad {P},
Forgetting Sarah Marshall {P},
and Pineapple Express {P/W}.

D=director, P=producer, W=writer.

James Franco::
Best known as Harry Osborn/
New Goblin
in Spiderman
franchise. Dissed by UCLA students.

Jason Segel::
Has been on How I Met Your Mother
in recent years. Emerging writer
and star with solid roles in
Forgetting SarahMarshall and
I Love You, Man.

Seth Rogen::
Leveraging the schlubby persona
to the max. Consistently working,
plus voiceover gigs in Kung-Fu Panda &
Horton Hears a Who!

Linda Cardellini::
Best known as Nurse Taggart on ER of
late. Given her film oeuvre, other than
Brokeback Mountain, fairly
unmemorable stuff, but there's
always Grandma's Boy {right}. Might
need to consider getting a new agent, if
post-ER gigs cause her career to need
cardiac paddles.

John Francis Daley::
Probably best known as Dr. Lance
Sweets in the TV series Bones.

I have my theories on why this show didn't make, despite having a cult following and critical acclaim. It was billed as a dramedy, which I feel is the kiss of death. I don't think networks know how to promote them and build audience for them. They tend to be quirky and lend themselves to cult followings. Fox's 3 episode airing of Wonderfalls in 2004 springs to mind {See pilot here}. Freaks was an hour long, which often lowers projected revenue streams, compared to 30-minute sitcoms, as its harder to syndicate hour-long shows. I think it would have fared much better in a 30-minute format and would have more programming time slots it could be placed in. It was aired in the wasteland on Saturday nights and then moved around, so its fans had to hunt for it. It was up against Early Edition, the Saturday ABC movie, and Cops in the 8-9 Saturday timeslot, which isn't exactly stiff competition. I don't think mainstream audiences were quite ready to latch on to 1980 in 1999-2000. Maybe it was a bit too close to That 70s Show. Finally, I think NBC felt that it wasn't worth it to try to nurture it along. It had expensive shows like Friends, ER, and Frasier, so I think the network cancelled it thinking they could do better with cheaper. They had enough hits to preclude experimentation, while rights for the Sydney Olympics most likely put a crimp on spending. The next 5 years after the Freaks and Geeks cancellation, NBC's ad revenues were flat and the network was heading towards its current dire straits.

The show's pretty tight, from what I've seen thus far. The writing is solid, the characters are relatable, the performances were more spot-on than off-the-mark, and it wasn't a dreary, realistic slab of teen life like ABC's 1994 cult fave, My So Called Life.

Twitterversion:: #newblogpost Where are they now? Alumni of #JuddApatow 's #Freaks&Geeks #NBCfail from #2000. @Prof_K


Bad Reputation by Joan Jett on Grooveshark

Video:: Freaks & Geeks Intro

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