This week, Sports On TV looks at the greatest sports moments from one of the greatest shows ever made — Paul Feig and Judd Apatow’s classic 1999 series ‘Freaks and Geeks,’ about a group of kids trying to navigate high school in 1980s Michigan.
The show only aired for 12 episodes and only 18 were made, but anyone who has seen it can attest to its greatness. It features an incredible cast full of people you love from SOMEWHERE (be it Martin Starr and Lizzy Caplan for their killer turns on ‘Party Down,’ Linda Cardellini for being Velma in the Scooby-Doo movies or a doctor on ‘ER,’ Jason Segel for reviving the Muppets and forgetting Sarah Marshall, and on and on), some of the best music of all time, beautiful photography, writing that stays with you 14 years later … everything you could ask for in a television show. Also, sports.
So please enjoy the 10 greatest sports moments from ‘Freaks and Geeks.’ In a better world, we’d have enough episodes to do 25.
More Sports On TV: Saved By The Bell | Full House | King Of The Hill | The Wire | The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air | Parks And Recreation | Married… With Children | 30 Rock | The Brady Bunch | The Three Stooges | The Simpsons | Glee | Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers | South Park | Boy Meets World | Buffy The Vampire Slayer | It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia | Arthur | Community | Arrested Development
Episode: “Pilot” (episode 1)
What Happens: Freshman and not-necessariliy-physically-developed-yet Sam Weir wants to ask cheerleader Cindy Sanders to the homecoming dance, but he’s too busy dealing with Alan, a tough guy wannabe who has mastered the finer arts of being a TV show bully (“you’re dead” and “you’re lucky your SISTER was here/you let a girl fight your battles” among them). Eventually Sam and Alan square off in a game of dodgeball, which is one of television’s greatest metaphors for the barbaric ridiculousness of high school. Sam tries to avoid elimination (and, we assume, certain death) by scuttling around and hiding behind people, but eventually Alan catches him in the open and hurls a ball … which Sam catches, to his surprise. Alan is eliminated and things are going great until Sam realizes Alan’s team still has EVERYBODY ELSE ON THE TEAM, and he goes down in a blaze of dodgeball glory.
Key line: “Dodgeball’s kind of a stupid game, isn’t it.”
One of the most important things to note about ‘Freaks and Geeks’ is that while it only got a run of 18 episodes, it didn’t need time to “get good” like a lot of shows … it arrived fully-formed, one of the best shows of its time from minute one. Most shows, even the good ones, need a season or two of character development to make a Styx song at a school dance and a three-on-one bully fight have emotional resonance, but nope, ‘Freaks and Geeks’ nails it in the first episode.