It’s crazy that I am old enough (well I’m only 28) to say things like “I remember the days when DVD was new on the scene… and I couldn’t wait for *insert TV show/film here* to be released”. Twin Peaks season 1 (and then the horribly long wait for season 2), Lone Wolf and Cub, John Waters films, one by one they got released and I added them to my collection. But two releases that never seemed to get a release were Freaks and Geeks and the ’60s Batman TV series. Now there’s a six-disc Region 4 release thanks to Madman, and finally the amazing news that finally the ’60s Batman series will see a release it so badly needs and deserves.
Freaks and Geeks is centered around a group of dorks and a group of dropouts at McKinley High School, in Nowhereseville Michigan in 1980. The main characters are the Weir siblings, Lindsay (Linda Cardellini) a former Mathlete turned rebel and her brother Sam (John Francis Daley) a geek with a crush on a cheerleader. Lindsay winds up entering the world of the slacker/stoner kids and distances herself from her Mathelete past and her best friend/Christian do-gooder Millie, while Sam and his two dorky sidekicks (one of whom is Martin Starr) navigate their way through boyhood, girls, and constant bullying.
Although it came after That 70s Show and only ran for one season I think it’s a better quality show and it deals with a lot stronger and interesting themes such as substance abuse, gender, bullies, fitting in, religion, identity and infidelity. Freaks totally shatters typical high-school tropes. It has such an authenticity about it and this is probably due to the fact that most of the things that happen in the show really happened. The producers made the writers answer questions such as “what was the best/worst/most humiliating thing to happen to you during high-school”. There is one fairly obvious sub-plot inspired by the Howard Stern Show but I won’t spoil it.
It’s been 14 years since I had seen the show and I was in for a total shock, that cute stoner guy I thought was hot is JAMES FRANCO. Bleughh. Starring a cast of then little known upcoming comedy actors you could turn it into a drinking game “Spot the Gawky Celebrity”. Without using IMDb I spotted Martin Starr (Party Down, Silicon Valley), Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jason Segel (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Jeff Who Lives at Home), Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex, Mean Girls), Rashida Jones (The Office, Parks and Recreation), Jason Schwartzman (Bored to Death) and Ben Foster (The Messenger).
For me re-watching Freaks and Geeks was so nostalgic, it took me back to a time where I was fearless and innocent, it reminded me of how I idolized the bad kids and of my intense hatred of school, authority and rules. It also kinda freaked me out that I could possibly be dealing with a teenager like one of these in characters in 13 years or so. Freaks reminds one of a time before cellphones, the internet and digital cameras, a time I am bummed out my two-year-old will never know. We had fun and social lives but actually lived them in the real world and not on a computer or cellphone. Did I really just type that? I sound like a total nana.
If you haven’t seen this show it’s worth checking out. I’m going to show this to my 13 year old sister-in-law the next time she stays as we’ve watched teen/high-school shows like Awkward and Suburgatory together so am interested to see how well it holds up to the cellphone addled/YOLO/ #swagfag/I watch films and shows on my Ipod generation.
Madman’s release comes loaded with lots of extras from behind the scenes, commentaries (29 of them!), bloopers and more so there’s lots of stuff here for the hardcore fans. An excellent release that is long overdue and definitely a must own. Madman you rule, now please release a region 4 set of Batman.
- 29 Commentary Tracks
- Audition Footage
- Deleted Scenes
- Outtakes, Bloopers and Alternate Takes
- Behind the Scenes Footage
- Original Promotional Footage
Freaks and Geeks: The Complete Series is available on DVD from Viavision & Madman Entertainment