Cancellations and Cult Followings of Freaks and Geeks

I hope that everyone had a restful weekend. I spent the majority of mine binge watching “Freaks and Geeks”, the acclaimed short-lived teen drama which ran for just one season between 1999 and 2000, and was produced by Judd Apatow, best known for his “frat pack” comedies. Set in Michigan in 1980, this show focuses on two disparate groups of high school students at William McKinley High School, the “Freaks and Geeks” of the title.

Lindsay Weir (Linda Cardellini), a former star mathlete, is a recent addition to the Freaks, a posse of rebellious junior students consisting of charismatic Daniel Desario (James Franco), sensitive Nick Andopolis  (Jason Segel),Daniel’s fiery girlfriend Kim Kelly (Busy Phillips), and the deadpan Ken Miller (Seth Rogen). Meanwhile, her younger brother Sam (John Francis Daley) navigates his freshman year of high school with his best friends Neil Schweiber (Samm Levine) and Bill Haverchuck (Martin Starr). Along the way, he must contend with trying to get close to his crush, cheerleader Cindy Saunders (Natasha Melnick), as well as tolerating class bully Alan White (Chauncey Leopardi).

Lindsay’s decision to abandon the Mathletes and become a Freak is met with contempt by her classmates, particularly by her former best friend and fellow Mathlete, Millie (Sarah Hagan), who tries to bring Lindsay back to where she belongs, with limited success . Lindsay’s struggle to find herself forms the basis of the series, and about teenagers trying to figure out where they fit in. She confesses to Sam that she stopped caring about her grades when their grandmother died. She had been a decent person her entire life, and informed Lindsay that there was “nothing” waiting for her before she died. This led to Lindsay to yearn for a more meaningful way of life.

The series also covers topics such as bulling,underage drinking, insecurity, infidelity, body image and other issues which come with being a teenager. Sam and Lindsay’s parents, Harold and Jean (John Flaherty and Becky Ann Baker) are always there to offer support to their kids when they need it.

The most amazing part of the show is how realistic and relatable it is. Following its cancellation in 2000, the show gained itself a loyal fanbase. It’s considered to be one of the top high school shows of the last few years- not a  bad feat for a show which only lasted a total of 18 episodes. Some of the main stars of “Freaks and Geeks” (namely Franco, Rogen, Phillips, Daley and Segel) have become more famous, in part because of the acclaim of “Freaks and Geeks”.

I give “Freaks and Geeks” a total of 5 out of five stars. It didn’t get the second season or the reception it deserved, but I feel that teens aged 14 and upwards would benefit from watching the show, and how it depicts teen life while sympathising with their various plights. Very highly recommended!

The Goldbergs make for great 80’s Laughs!

I’ve decided to turn the spotlight on a show that is currently airing its entire first season in my country, “The Goldbergs”. It takes place in the perpetual time of “nineteen-eighty something”, and loosely depicts the life of the show’s creator, Adam F Goldberg(Sean Giambrone), as he documents his life in suburban Pennsylvania with his surly but caring father Murray (Jeff Garlin), loving “smother” Beverly (Wendi McLendon-Covey), his dim brother Barry (Troy Gentile), his formerly nerdy turned popular sister Erica (Hayley Orrantia), and his maternal grandfather Pops(George Segal), who occasionally dispenses advice to each of the family members.

The show has been likened to “The Wonder Years”, and with Patton Oswalt narrating as the voice of older Adam from the future in very much the same way as Daniel Stern did on the earlier show, it’s not hard to see the comparisons. But unlike “The Wonder Years”, each family member is based on a member of Adam’s real-life family of his parents and older brothers, each sharing the same quirk as their counterparts (Adam’s oldest brother, Eric, has been changed to a girl in order to add a more feminine approach to the series).

Part of what got me intrigued in watching this sitcom were the array of 80’s pop-culture references sprinkled throughout. Due to the ambiguous timeline of the show, the pop culture sometimes feels all over the place.  This is to enable the writers to get as many references from the 1980’s as they can, without worrying that they’re not accurately depicting the timeframe before it. For instance, one episode has Adam and Barry  preform Twisted Sister’s 1984 hit, “We’re not Gonna Take it”. Later on, Erica and her best friend Lainey (AJ Michalka) duel against the boys with The Bangle’s “Eternal Flame”, which wasn’t officially released as a single until 1989. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the subplot of the same episode sees Beverly and Murray renew their wedding vows in order to correspond with the upcoming nuptials of Prince of Wales, Charles, and Lady Diana Spencer. Only trouble is, that event occurred in 1981!

Despite my many nitpicks of the show’s references, I must admit that I greatly enjoy this show. The entire ensemble cast manages to play off each other quite well. Although some might call the ending montages with with corresponding hit songs from the 80’s a tad corny, for me they’re the best part of the show. and really adds to its overall feel good nature.

In conclusion, I’d recommend this show to anyone who loves nostalgic shows like “That 70’s Show”, or “The Wonder Years”, or simply loves family-orientated sitcoms. Be warned, however,as some jokes contain slight inneundos which might not be appropriate for kids under the age of 13. I award “The Goldbergs” 4 and a half stars out of five.

Please let me know your opinion of “The Goldbergs” in the comments below!

A wish that causes Tom Hanks to be “Big”…

“Have you ever had a Really Big Secret?”- Tagline for “Big”(1988) Everyone has a favourite film starring a particular actor. For me, Tom Hanks’ best film is Penny Marshall’s 1988 hit film, “Big”. Although not one of Hank’s first roles, it is the one which he received the most recognition for, receiving both a Oscar and Golden Globe nomination in the process.

The premise of “Big” is straightforward enough- 12 year old Josh Baskin (David Moscow) makes a wish on a fortune teller machine called “Zoltar Speaks” after being told that he’s too short to go on a carnival ride. His wish? To be “big”. Of course, things never run smoothly in these type of situations, and he wakes up the next morning to discover that the machine has taken his request literally- he is now in the body of a 30 year old man (Tom Hanks).

After trying (and failing) to convince his mother of this mishap, Josh seeks the help of his best friend Billy (Jared Rushton), who helps him run away to New York City,where he gets a job in the toy company FAO Schwartz due to his childlike nature and knowledge of toys. Along the way, he has to reassure his mother, who believes that he has been kidnapped, as well as experience a mature relationship with his attractive co-worker Susan (Elizabeth Perkins). But when the opportunity arises to turn back into a child, will Josh take it, or will he choose to remain in his successful adult life?

“Big” was the movie that defined my childhood, mostly because of Hank’s conviction and earnestness in the main role. He was completely convincing to me as a naive youngster trapped in a world that baffles him initially, but seeing him adapt to his new situation always made me root for him to succeed even more. My favourite scene is probably the best known one, where Josh and his new boss, Macmillan (Robert Loggia) perform “Chopsticks” and “Heart and Soul” on a giant walking piano. It became one of my short-lived dreams to play the piano just like in that scene.

In conclusion, I would rate “Big” a total of five out of five stars, and would recommend it to kids aged 8 and up, although there are some references that would fly over their heads. All in all, this is ultimately a movie for the whole family to enjoy.

I’m looking for a John Hughes movie moment in my life…

“Whatever happened to chivalry? Does it only exist in 80’s movies? I want John Cusack holding a boombox outside my window. I wanna ride off on a lawnmower with Patrick Dempsey. I want Jake from Sixteen Candles waiting outside the church for me. I want Judd Nelson thrusting his fist into the air because he knows he got me. Just once I want my life to be like an 80’s movie,preferably one with a really awesome musical number for no apparent reason. But no, John Hughes did not direct my life”- Olive Penderghast, Easy A

Haven’t we all felt that way at least once in our lives? That things would be complete if it came directly from the screen of an 80’s teen movie? Well, Olive, “Easy A”‘s spunky, sarcastic, yet ultimately lovable heroine states what we’ve all thought about these movies, particularly the ones penned or directed (sometimes both!) by the late, great John Hughes. Despite his passing in 2009, his films were the voices of many a teenager in the 80’s, and are still relevant and  to many today. Thanks to contemporary movies such as “Easy A” and “Pitch Perfect”, who namedrop classic movies like “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, “The Breakfast Club” or “Sixteen Candles”. These inclusions of these titles just add to my enjoyment of both “Easy A” and “Pitch Perfect”.

John Hughes seemed to grant almost every adolescent kid’s wishes with his true to life moments in his movies. I mean, who hasn’t wanted to eat a delicious looking birthday cake with the school hunk after a particularly disastrous birthday? Who hasn’t thought about bonding with a group of fellow misfits from separate cliques during a Saturday detention? Who has  dreamed of skipping school and singing “Twist and Shout” on a parade float?

John Hughes paved the way of many inspirations of similarly themed teen films over the last few years, but as usual, nothing beats the original. We won’t forget about you, John Hughes.

So, what do you think? What’s your favourite 80’s movie, and which one do you think I should review next? Please write your replies in the comments, I would love to hear from all of you!

Brand New Year, Brand New Blog!

Hello Everyone, and Happy New Year!

What’s a New Year without a new blog, especially one that fills you in on various movies and books that I hold dear to my childhood!

I am a major bookworm and cinephile, so, with the help of WordPress’s Blogging 101 course, I aspire to talk with others regarding young adult novels, movies, and all things 80’s!

So if you love John Hughes movies, or simply love the eighties or books in general, then “The Blog’s the Thing”! offers a little something for everyone!

If you have any suggestions about what I should review, please comment!I look forward to hearing from you!