Attempting to fill in the gap between January’s run of great TV shows and the annual fall onslaught, I’ve been working our way through some shows I’ve missed over the years and have only now found the time to catch up on. We’ve already waxed lyrical over Judd Apatow’s second foray into TV on Undeclared so now’s the time to go back to his roots…
Executive producing for creator Paul Feig, Freak And Geeks was the first sign of Apatow’s real talent for comedy, as well as introducing a number of now hugely successful actors. Set in high school, the show follows two groups of friends, the ‘freaks’ and the ‘geeks’, and in particular the lives of brother and sister Lindsay and Sam Weir. Lindsay (Cardellini) is top of her class, a star member of the mathletes and plays life by the rules, but she wants a change. Befriending ‘freak’ Daniel (Franco), she swiftly integrates into the bunch of slackers and away from the mainstream. Sam, however, wants to move the other way. Friends with a-typical ‘geeks’ Bill (Starr) and Neil (Levine), the trio are desperate to mix into the popular crowd and would do anything to be socially accepted.
With the likes of Jason Segel and Seth Rogen playing ‘freaks’ and the aforementioned Martin Starr, Sam Levine and James Franco, Freaks And Geeks is awash with comedic talent, despite the relative inexperience of the entire cast. Snappily written with situations primed for hilarious dialogue, the whole ensemble really come into their own in the grounded and harsh high school setting to create a wholly relateable show.
The casting team rightly won an Emmy for the remarkable collection of actors brought together although it’s the many cameos and early side roles for further future stars that will have you sneak and extra grin. Shia Labeouf, Ben Stiller, David Koechner, Kevin Corrigan, Jason Schwartzman, Samaire Armstrong, Lizzy Caplan, David Krumholtz, Rashida Jones and Ben Foster all appear at some point along the way, evidently building relationships with Apatow and the show’s leads that has seen them contribute to each other’s recent projects.
Cancelled by NBC after only 12 episodes of the 18 episode run, in a similar vein to Apatow’s follow-up project Undeclared, Freaks And Geeks built up a big cult fanbase following it’s home entertainment release and is now widely regarded as one of the very best TV shows of all time, never mind launching the careers of some of Hollywood’s finest current crop. A must see for all fans of Apatow’s films, both produced and directed and a wholly realistic, and laugh out loud funny, take on finding your place on the social ladder during high school.