Freaks and Geeks: Yearbook Edition
In which the geeks inherit the earth
Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., Dec. 5, 2008
Freaks and Geeks: Yearbook EditionShout! Factory, $169.98
My high school yearbooks collect dust in my bookcase, not far from my sole survivor from English majordom: The Riverside Shakespeare. Dramedies all. Originally, Freaks and Geeks, one of modern network TV's single-season anomalies (1999) – a cable series probably abandoned down the Nile in a reed basket – came bound as a limited-run Yearbook Edition, two DVDs of bonus geekery besting the six-disc commercial version. Those began running for $400 on eBay, so original label Shout! Factory finally reprinted its hardbound book of teenage spells, the only difference being texturing on the original's cover and the new edition's final credit: "Second printing." Collector dweebs breathe easy. Freaks rejoice. One pilot and 17 subsequent 45-minute episodes tattoo their pure heart onto the arm of television history like a ballpoint pen digging into the soft pulp of school-sponsored souvenirs. 1980 Michigan, McKinley High School breeds a typically hair-pulling melting pot of adolescent metamorphosis, only in the autobiographical wit, conscience, and generosity of creators/writers Paul Feig and Judd Apatow, not only do geeks inherit the earth, but one of them gets SCTV deity Joe Flaherty playing his dad. That lottery-winner, John Francis Daley, has lost none of his toothy endearment in service of Fox's ongoing Bones, while James Franco and Seth "Knocked Up" Rogen have standing reservations on Apatow's Pineapple Express. And therein beats Freaks and Geeks. With every episode featuring at least one giggling cast/creator audio commentary (as well as deleted scenes; don't miss the pilot's reveal), was it really marijuana caution "Chokin' and Tokin'" that Apatow inadvertently evoked parallel to a film that could be the series prequel: Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused? As everyone involved with the locally produced updating of George Lucas' American Graffiti agreed, veteran casting director Don Phillips should get 10% off the top of every Matthew McConaughey payday, and here the wizard behind the green screen appears to be talent magnet Allison Jones, who won an Emmy for Feig, Apatow, and company. Back to the Future's Biff (Tom Wilson) as all-too-human coach Fredricks is inspired, but as anyone who's seen the series will swear under pain of death, Martin Starr as Jesus geek Bill and, really, Busy Philipps as every hot, blond terror of high school define genius. Runner-up: Apatow's Who-powered installment "Dead Dogs and Gym Teachers."