Pick of the Week:
Freaks and Geeks: The Complete Series (Shout! Factory)
Freaks and Geeks has had an unexpected afterlife since not quite lasting a full season on NBC in 1999 and 2000. Once the go-to example of a canceled-too-soon classic, it’s since revealed itself as ground zero for 21st century comedy talent. Created by Paul Feig and executive produced by Judd Apatow, its stars include James Franco, Linda Cardellini, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, Martin Starr and others.
But even if everyone involved faded into obscurity after its last episode, Freaks and Geeks would still stand as a major accomplishment. It’s a flawless rendering of what it was like to come of age in a particular time and place — inspired by Feig’s early ’80s Michigan upbringing — but also of what it’s like to be a teenager at any time, with all the accompanying identity crises, triumphs, and humiliations. In its low-key style and willingness to let character development drive the show, it was a bit ahead of its time. And while it’s a shame that we didn’t get more episodes, the 18 warm, unflinching episodes we did get are infinitely rewatchable.
Freaks and Geeks has been on home video a couple of times before, once as a standard box set with a generous selection of extras and once in a deluxe “Yearbook Edition” with even more. This new Blu-ray set combines all of the previous features and presents all the episodes in remastered form, and in both their original aspect ratios and in a widescreen cut. It’s as essential as TV viewing gets, as good as you remember it being. Maybe even better. (And if you haven’t seen this show, here’s a good chance to correct that oversight.)