Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Freaks and Geeks Factor

Shows lasting for one season can sometimes be a great thing.

Let's take Freaks and Geeks for example.

It was only on for one season.
Some say this is a tragedy.

But let's be honest, they were able to end on a high note.
If Freaks and Geeks continued, it would've become sitcom spit-shined and lost all the glorious rough edges it had.

How do I know I can hold this as a truth?

Let's look at the careers the producer's, writer's, and stars went on to do:

Paul Feig - Creator, Writer/Co-Executive Producer all 18 episodes
Where He'd Be Now If Freaks and Geeks Stayed On: He'd run into burn out by 3rd season and need to bring in new blood. Though I'd trust his decision, my guess is network brass and heirarchy B.S. would get in the way and someone would be brought in that would try to sex it up for the masses. Though it was his creative brain child, and the network trusts him, he's original vision that was so great, will be lost in brightly lite laugh predictable laugh tracks.
Where He Is Now: He directed "Shoot", the best episode in terms of direction on Mad Men in the first season. Also some amazing episodes of the American Office. I mean, check out his IMDB director's list*. Stellar television direction. He's really grown to be one of the best there is.

Judd Apatow - Executive Producer (all 18), Writer, Director
Where He'd Be Now If Freaks and Geeks Stayed On: He'd probably stick through and possibly get to 1 or 2 movies in between.
Where He Is Now: He's behind your favorite movies -either by pen, camera or producing he's done something you've seen in the past 7 years. Titles such as 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Anchor Man, Walk Hard

Allison Jones - Casting
Where She'd Be Now If Freaks and Geeks Stayed On: She did a great job she'd be used again regardless.
Where She Is Now: She is "aces" at what she does. Her resume is virtual lists of comedy dream teams… the two best that come to mind, oh just a little TV sitcom known as Arrested Development, and a film called Super Bad.

Linda Cardellini - Linda Weir
Where She'd Be Now If Freaks and Geeks Stayed On: Probably made into a sitcom starlit in the same vein of a Jennifer Aniston. While it would be great for the actress, the character would be capitalized upon by the network, she'd be made into the sex symbol more than the growingly independent female character that the actress played so well.
Where She Is Now: She's been in a decent films, most notable though was Grandma's Boy. She's also on ER, but starting in the older seasons that most original ER fans stopped watching. Even though it's still well written, let's face it- when Noah Wiley left they should've just named it "Thursday Night Doctor Drama".

John Francis Daley - Sam Weir
Where He'd Be Now If Freaks and Geeks Stayed On: Would've grown into and out of the role by the third season. It would stay on longer. He could've faced the dreaded teen sitcom star fate, or just rode into complete obscurity after the series.
Where She Is Now: He's done some film work, Waiting, and he's also been working on Bones.

James Franco - Daniel Desario
Where He'd Be Now If Freaks and Geeks Stayed On: He probably would've been the first Ashton Kutcher. Um, James, are you happy or sad about missing out on that? I'm not even sure.
Where He Is NowSpider-Man trilogy for starters, and more recently (to this post) Pineapple Express

Samm Levine - Neal Schweiber
Where He'd Be Now If Freaks and Geeks Stayed On: Ride the show as far is would go. They'd want to keep him and probably lock him in for as long as possible.
Where He Is Now: He's all over television. Every season at least three shows a season he's cameoing. He's a very talented baby face actor. I'm surprised no one's cast him as a regular on a sitcom yet.

Jason Segal - Nick Andopolis
Where He'd Be Now If Freaks and Geeks Stayed On: Continue to showcase talent in this character, perhaps done a movie.
Where He Is Now: He's starring in How I Met Your Mother, and just did Forgetting Sarah Marshall which he wrote and Judd Apatow Produced…are we seeing the trend?

Martin Starr - Bill Haverchuck
Where He'd Be Now If Freaks and Geeks Stayed On: Probably never as valued by networks as he should've been. Martin Starr killed this role, and would've continued to be awesome.
Where He Is Now: He's done some guest spots and had minor roles in films (Judd Apatow's produced 3). I wouldn't be shocked if he starred in a film soon. He's very good.

Seth Rogan - Ken Miller
Where He'd Be Now If Freaks and Geeks Stayed On: Kept up with wise cracks, most likely grow obese, perhaps get to one or two films
Where He Is Now: He's Hollywood's sweet heart and has been in pretty much every Apatow film since Freaks and Geeks. He's written, produced and starred. If Freaks and Geeks stayed on the air, no way we would've seen the entire potential he's grown to.

I'm not saying Freaks and Geeks didn't deserve another season. It could've gone on to do great things. But, let's not remember this as the-show-that-got-away. Freaks and Geeks is an amazing show, with eighteen really wonderful episodes.

The only way it could've survived is if it was a half hour instead of an hour long dramady. It could've been cut down, but there would've been a little less focus on each individual's story. This may have lost it's original intention, but it would've meant a long running show. The American public can't take a full hour of humorous reality. They like their hour long funny in the form of America's Funniest Home Videos.

What made it successful to fans is because it has a lovely way of portraying the realistic teen years. The changing relationships with friends, parents and the self are all captured with smart dialogue and actors.

If you haven't seen Freaks and Geeks, I highly recommend checking it out. It's too good for Hulu as of now. So go treat yourself to the box set. You'll be pleasantly surprised with the 1980's version of Wonder Years minus the voice over, which is a refreshing change of pace in coming of television.

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