Ottawa Citizen

Freaks and Geeks re­turns to Much More

- MELISSA HANK

Judd Apa­tow is the king of the freaks. No, that’s not a com­ment on a se­cret al­liance with Frank Zappa or the glit­tery disco band Chic. Rather, the writer, pro­ducer and di­rec­tor has built his ca­reer on telling sto­ries of the un­der­dog. He favours the shlubby guy, the guy whose hair­style doesn’t quite suit his face, the guy who’s largely un­no­ticed by the cute girl who lives down the street. Un­til the fi­nal, glo­ri­ous scenes of come­up­pance, that is.

In Apa­tow’s movies, it’s epit­o­mized in films like Su­per­bad, Knocked Up or The 40-YearOld Vir­gin. On TV, there’s no bet­ter ex­am­ple than Freaks and Geeks. Cre­ated by Paul Feig and ex­ec­u­tive-pro­duced by him and Apa­tow, the one­sea­son won­der still en­joys a small but passionate fol­low­ing, de­spite NBC can­celling it in 2000. And to­day, Much­More airs a six-hour marathon of it.

A pe­riod piece set in 1980, the hour-long dram­edy fol­lowed two groups of sub­ur­ban Michi­gan teens whose mid­dle-rung sta­tus on the so­cial lad­der led to all man­ner of angst. The freaks were so­called for ditch­ing school, smok­ing pot and per­pe­trat­ing acts of mi­nor hooli­ganry. The geeks, mean­while, sang the comedic praises of Steve Martin, at­tended sci-fi con­ven­tions and spent many a night play­ing Dun­geons & Dragons.

The show was a breed­ing ground for fu­ture stars, in­clud­ing head­lin­ers James Franco, Seth Ro­gen, Ja­son Segel and Busy Philipps. The guest stars were equally im­pres­sive, boast­ing Ja­son Schwartz­man, David Krumholtz, Rashida Jones and Shia LaBeouf, among oth­ers.

While many young adult shows of the time ped­dled cutesy di­a­logue, overly groomed teens and high­waisted pants not un­like mod­ern-day mom jeans, Freaks and Geeks was dif­fer­ent.

Although it com­prised a mere 18 episodes (the fi­nal three aired only af­ter NBC heeded fans’ pleas), Freaks and Geeks was nom­i­nated for three Emmy Awards and spawned two DVD box sets and two books. The Jan­uary is­sue of Van­ity Fair boasts a rare re­u­nion photo spread, and, on the mag­a­zine’s web­site this month, there’s an ex­ten­sive oral his­tory and Feig’s ideas for a sec­ond sea­son. Apa­tow is the guest ed­i­tor of the is­sue (his new movie This is 40, the Knocked Up se­quel, is in the­atres now). If ever there were a time to Freak out, this is it. (Noon, Much­More)

With 2012 reach­ing its end, ABC goes Back to the Be­gin­ning With Chris­tiane Aman­pour. In the two-hour spe­cial, the CNN cor­re­spon­dent vis­its his­tor­i­cal sites of im­por­tance to Ju­daism, Chris­tian­ity and Is­lam. (9 p.m., ABC)

Matthew Perry’s quirky new en­sem­ble com­edy, Go On, airs back-to-back re­peat episodes Fri­day. Bask­ing in its first fullsea­son or­der, it may be Perry’s best chance to front a show post-Friends that lasts more than a year. (8 p.m., NBC)

The Mob Doc­tor may be on its way out, but Mob Wives is still in the game. The Staten Is­land-based re­al­ity se­ries airs its Sea­son 2 re­u­nion episode, in which Re­nee dis­cusses Ju­nior’s in­for­mant sta­tus, and Ra­mona and Drita’s an­i­mos­ity comes to a head. (10 p.m., Slice)

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