It wasn’t until the 1990s that I truly realized a TV series, a good TV series, could be canceled in its infancy. There is, I like to believe, a veritable pantheon of such shows up in Television Heaven, a confederacy of programs that, though snuffed out prematurely, are still held in the highest of regard by us, the faithful.
In those hallowed halls I am sure you’ll find My So-Called Life and, of course, your much geek-beloved Firefly, and most certainly–possibly in its highest station– you’ll find Freaks and Geeks. This most esteemed of American teen-dramadies had a paltry lifespan on NBC–September of 1999 to July of 2000–but it created ripples in the very fabric of entertainment and popular culture that still resonate today.
Created by Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Ghostbusters) with executive producer Judd Apatow (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Superbad), Freaks and Geeks‘ stellar behind-the-camera pedigree was only rivaled by the star power of its young cast. With Linda Cardellini (Gravity Falls, Avengers: Age of Ultron) as teenager Lindsay Weir and the likes of James Franco (Oz the Great and Powerful, The Interview), Seth Rogen (Pineapple Express, This Is the End), and Jason Segel (How I Met your Mother, The Muppets) rounding out her circle of friends, this early-’80s high school slacker period piece helped cement the careers of many contemporary Hollywood movers and shakers.
But more importantly, the show was really, really good. Painting a genuinely authentic portrait of high school life complete with believable family dynamics and sentimental but never sappy storylines, Freaks and Geeks, though only 18 episodes long, reminded us that solid storytelling is truly timeless.
At long last you can experience the series on Blu-ray from the fine folks at Shout! Factory. This is great on its own, but this collector’s edition offers so much more!
Extras include an exclusive conversation with Feig and Apatow about the show, its legacy, and their professional relationship; a special features disc containing all of the previous bonus materials from The Complete Series DVD collection and the later Yearbook Edition; 29 commentaries from producers, cast, crew, studio execs, and even fans; deleted scenes, alternate takes, outtakes, and bloopers from each episode; promotional, behind-the-scenes, and cast audition footage; and even a booklet full of essays, Q&As, and memorabilia.
Obviously, this is the definitive edition of Freaks and Geeks, and its wealth of bonus content must be seen to be believed. Still, even that’s not the best part.
Though broadcast in a standard aspect ratio (1.33:1), the show was actually filmed in widescreen, and Freaks and Geeks: The Complete Series Blu-ray Collector’s Edition includes both versions. Yes, this release is essentially two separate collections: one featuring 4K scans of the show as it originally aired and the other a similarly remastered set in an all-new widescreen (1.78:1) format.
Shout! Factory has, as per usual, done a wonderful job putting this thing together. The widescreen and broadcast collections are presented in two different clamshells, which, along with the “Load O’ Extra Stuff” bonus material and booklet, reside in a sturdy slipcase. So, you know, when you’re not watching little brother Sam invite tough guy Daniel Desarioto to play D&D in “Discos and Dragons” or Segel’s Nick Andopolis not playing the drums like Neil Peart in “I’m with the Band,” your discs have somewhere safe and comfy to hang out.
All this is to say that Freaks and Geeks has never looked (or sounded) better. Whether you were a geek or a stoner in the ’80s or the ’90s or any other decade, this series is a wonderful way to relive all the energy and angst or high school without the acne… or the questionable hairstyles.
Review materials provided by: Shout! Factory