Freaks & Geeks, by episode:
Episode 1: Dad is a doofus. A well-meaning doofus perhaps, but a doofus nonetheless. If the series made clear that this was only the way his children perceived him (a sleight the series pulls off remarkably well with the guidance counselor), that would be one thing, but the Mom gets a full three dimensions, while Dad only gets one.
Episode 3: The series doesn’t seem to have much in the way of character development. No, that’s not it. It’s got character development, but the characters seem to “reboot” after each episode. You think that they arrive at some sort of self-awareness from the trauma (by high-school standards) they experience, but then the next episode starts, and they don’t seem to have learned anything.
Episode 4: Busy Phillips’ Kim Kelly is the most consistently authentic rendition of a teen slut I can recall seeing on television. Kinda dumb, kinda dumpy. A bit of a bitch. I swear I’ve known (or rather, known about) at least one girl exactly like her.
Episode 11: I’m so disappointed in Lindsay. It’s not just that she was bullied into borrowing the family car without permission. It’s not just that she wrecked it. It’s that after her parents unground her for a slumber party, she then abuses their trust so unabashedly by bailing on the slumber party to go hang out with the very people who keep getting her into trouble.
Okay, be honest: how many of you actually worked the problems from the mathlete competition. I did . . . eventually . . . with a calculator. Do mathletes really work trig problems in their heads?
Episode 12: Lindsay lies again, says she’s headed to the library, heads to hang out with the freaks.
The gang takes the garage door opener that Neal found in his Dad’s car and biked around the neighborhood to see what house it matched. The funny thing is the opener to my garage also activated the door to the house across the street from where the future Mrs. Phi was living. I had all kinds of fun freaking out the owners making them wonder why their garage door kept opening and closing.
Episode 13: Public school lunches where they actually ask you what you want to eat? In 1980? Gimme a break!
Episode 14: Cindy breaks up with Todd, decides that she wants to start dating “nice guys”, i.e., Sam. Sam actually shows some trepidation here.
Episode 15: Good gawd, what is it with this, “I’m going to trust you with my (or somebody else’s) most intimate secrets and you have to promise not to tell anyone ever.” They always tell. Maybe not in real life, but on teevee they always betray you. You’d think teevee characters would have figured out that in their fictional universe, if you don’t want everyone to know something, keep your mouth shut.
Nick’s dad gives away Nick’s drums on the grounds that they distract him from school. It has occurred to throughout the series how painful school must be for people on the bottom half of the bell curve. Parents tell them to do well in school, but they’re never going to be anything but below average.
And Lindsay’s back to her army jacket. And gets bullied into trying marijuana for the first time after holding out the entire series.
Episode 18: Question: what do you say to your child when he/she tells you that your spouse is cheating on you?
In this case, Mrs. Schweiber says almost exactly what I would have said: that’s grownup, husband-and-wife stuff. What matters is that we both love you. That’s not to say that hell’s not breaking loose two minutes from now, but to the extent possible, it won’t involve you.
Conclusion: Outstanding series. I think, though, that the show wisely quit while it was ahead. It would have been difficult to come up with another season’s worth of interesting things to say about high school, given the limitations of the format.