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Monday, May 14, 2012

Amazon Spotlights Awesome Apatow

Member of the online universe's lords and masters is providing a great chance to buy two of the best shows on television. Its "TV Deal of the Week" for the week of May 14, 2012, is separate DVD sets of comic genius Judd Apatow's "Freaks and Geeks" and "Undeclared." (Of course, my link is to my Shout Factory buddies who saved these hilarious shows from oblivion.)

Shout Factory did its usual great job with these sets, and I am glad that they are available for such a good price. My limited DVD budget required simply drooling over these sets until I found them for a bargain.

The lack of recognition that Apatow, for whom I would do virtually anything for the privilege of meeting, received for these  unfairly short-lived series should make Rodney Dangerfield turn over in his grave for claiming that he does not get any respect. I remember the 18-episode "Freaks and Geeks" making me feel alright about being a geek for staying home to watch this show on Saturday nights and "Undeclared" showing me that I was not alone in not having a stellar college experience.

"Freaks and Geeks" was an indescribably incredible hour-long 1999-2000 NBC dramedy that was set in 1980 and focused on the frequent downs and rare ups of geek Sam Weir, played by "Bones'" John Francis Daley, and his older freak sister Lindsay, played by "ER's" Linda Cardellini. 

"Freaks and Geeks" also launched the careers of James Franco, Jason Segel, and Seth Rogen in their roles as Lindsay's fellow geeks. Segel walking around in bikini underwear long before showing off his Dirk Diggler quality attributes in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" was one of the numerous unforgettable hilarious moments in "Freaks and Geeks."

Aside from movie-quality writing and acting, "Freaks and Geeks" is incredible because it is does such a great job depicting the torment of high school. 

Like Lindsay, I was an intelligent and good kid who got tired during my senior year of high school of being told what to do. Unlike her, I did not not start hanging out with a group of kids who were outwardly teenage dirt bags. I did engage in symbolic rebellion that occurred before 4:20 on the day of my high school graduation.

My geek moments were more numerous. Unlike Sam, I never bought a pale blue leisure suit thinking that it made me look cool. However, I am sure that some items in my wardrobe ensured that I would never get a spread in GQ. I was also never thrown naked out of a locker room but witnessed a few of my cross country teammates, one of whom reveled in it, sustain that fate.

My "geek" confessions are that I enjoyed the same lame geeky humor as Sam and his friends and experienced a lesser form of the obsession that one such geek felt toward prime time soap "Dallas."

Judd Apatow went on to the equally hilarious and unfortunately short-lived Fox failedcom "Undeclared," which depicted the frequent ups and downs of college freshmen who shared a dorm suite. For the record, I am also a HUGE fan of the truly terrific fellow Fox failedcoms "Action" and "Kitchen Confidential" from the same general era.

The geeks definitely take center stage in "Undeclared," which also featured Seth Rogen and Jason Segel. Steven Karp and his three buddies suffer the same humiliations and stress as the rest of us did during college.

The excitement about big parties and celebrity visits brought back memories of my own college days. In my case, the freshman party was a fix your roommate up soiree which was an enormous disaster that had me retreat to my dorm room to watch "Dallas." Sex expert Dr. Ruth was the big celebrity guest that year.

I can also relate to Steven's British cutie roommate regularly kicking him out their room so that the roommate could enjoy the company of his girlfriend du jour. Steven joining a group of similarly displaced students, ultimately getting wonderful revenge, and Sir Cutie experiencing his own setbacks in later episodes was extraordinary television.

Seth Rogen's character realizing that he and his roommate pleasured themselves at the same time after the lights went out was another classic Judd Apatow moment. This reminded me of a college dorm mate whose private moment was very publicly interrupted when someone opened his door without knocking to tell him that he had a telephone call. Virtually everyone who lived on that floor witnessed that event and the rest of us knew about it within minutes.

Any man who could not understand the concept that something is comic when it happens to someone else and tragic when the same thing happens to you should be able to grasp that idea now.

Anyone who wants to share their high school or college memories or can help me explain why "Freaks and Geeks" and "Undeclared" failed is encouraged to email me.