Freaks and Geeks

Season 1 Episode 1

Pilot

9
Aired Saturday 8:00 PM Sep 25, 1999 on NBC
9.3
out of 10
User Rating
212 votes
9

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

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Pilot
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Lindsay's family and her academically minded friends begin to fear the worst when she quits the academic decathlon team (a.k.a. the "mathletes") and begins hanging around with a new crowd. Her depression grows after her attempt to stop the teasing of a special education student goes terribly wrong and ends in him being injured. A new friend tries to help her find her way. Sam ponders asking cheerleader Cindy Sanders to the homecoming dance, while struggling to cope with persistent teasing and torture at the hands of a bully.moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • One of the best pilots I've seen in a long time

    9.3
    Every now and then, certain shows arrive that reel in a core fan base and then fizzle out due to low ratings or not enough critical acclaim. The last show I could think of that suffered from this is "Arrested Development," but at least that show had the good fortune of having at least three seasons to establish a plot. Judd Apatow and Paul Feig's show "Freaks and Geeks" was given only an eighteen episode order due to low-ish ratings, and I must say, after viewing the pilot, I'm wondering how the show would've done in the current climate. Look at the cast the show had, at how superb the writing is, how realistic the show is without being too real or how it's willing to have ridiuclous things in it without going too far in that direction. It's disappointing that the show had to be cancelled, but it gives me an even better chance to look at the show as a whole and see how well it did considering it's short lifespan.



    The pilot was one of those episodes that made you feel like you got thrown directly into the middle of the action, as if you already know these characters. As a result, we get sucked into a lush world of high school society, where there are the freaks and the geeks. The way the show bounces back and forth between the two groups, sometimes focusing on individual characters in between it all, makes the show feel so rich with detail. The pilot tends to focus mainly on the Weir family, with brother and sister Lindsey and Sam as they trudge their way through high school, trying to figure out what they want out of their time here and how to deal with bullies. The Weir family is at the center of the show (in a way) and it's fascinating to be sucked into their world, where the father says very fatherly things such as "Jimi Hendrix cut class and you know what happened to him? He died!"



    But the Weir family isn't necessarily the core part of the show, despite the characters being the lead characters in their respective groups. There's the freaks, which consists of young versions of James Franco as Daniel, Jason Segel as Nick and Seth Rogen as a deadpan Ken. If you want to see all these actors before they became the huge names in Hollywood that they are now, watch this show for sure, but also watch it because you can see where Jason Segal's future characters are born out of; you can see where James Franco might get influence for his role in Pineapple Express.. and honestly, Seth Rogen is perhaps the one character who plays against type. He's a deadpan guy who spews some pretty great lines throughout the first few episodes. We follow the freaks through the eyes of Lindsey and how they come to tentively accept her into the group. There's also Busy Phillips who plays a girl named Kim Kelly. If you thought she was ridiculous in Cougar Town, wait until you see her here: she's vindictive and completely crazy in a much more realistic way than in Cougar Town.



    Then there's the geeks. The freshmen of the group are played by Samm Levine, John Francis Daly and Martin Starr, and throughout the first three episodes, they become the highlights of the show. They're all fairly awkward, with Sam (played by Daly) getting the brunt of the bullying in the school, while Neil (Levine) is the nerd of the group, sounding like a fifty year old accountant and Martin Starr plays the types of roles he's come to domninate in Adventure Land and Party Down, except a little less tame and just as hilarious. It's difficult to decide which group is funner to follow, since they have different styles of humor. I'm inclined to say the geeks, only because I'm not comparing the actors against their future roles.. Franco and Rogen are great here, but they sort of fade into the background next to Jason Segel, Linda Cardenelli and other actors.



    That being said, the pilot is written extremely well. Everything flows perfectly and Paul Feig has a certain way of introducing us to dozens of supporting characters right at the beginning and making us understand who they are, what makes them that way and where they may go in the future. If there's ever a show that's established a plot right off the bat, it's definitely this show.



    I've watched a few more episodes, so I know the show stays good, but the Pilot is just fantastic, a great bit of television that finds a good blend of drama and comedy and also somehow avoids a lot of the high school cliche's found in TV and movies these days. You can definitely see where Judd Apatow's raunchy humor would come from.moreless
  • This is gonna be familiar and different and the same...

    8.9
    The series feels like it's picking up from somewhere, unlike many pilot episodes. They nail the 80s feel perfectly, and the cast is a great fit. The Dodgeball game and the unexpected twist of hurting the handicapped kid made a great point on what kind of show Freaks and Geeks would be. It would be easy to say that Lindsay is the more relatable character, but really I think we can all identify with both her and Sam; there's a little freak and a little geek in all of us and that's why the show works. This is a good formula.moreless
  • I can't believe how good it is.

    10
    I absolutely loved this episode. We are introduced to some truly amazing characters: Bill, Neil, and Sam the geeks, Daniel, Ken, Kim, and Nick the freaks; Lindsey the ex-mathlete trying to become part of the freaks. We meet Lindsey and Sam's parents Mr. and Mrs. Weir, who have to be the most realistic parents ever shown on TV. In this episode Sam and Lindsey don't want to go to the homecoming dance. Their parents insist they do, with the reason that high school is about socializing. How they end up going is classic. When the geeks beat up the school bully was also great too. I love the all the supporting characters too. There is Lindsey's old friend Millie and so many more. In the end this is a great start to an amazing, albeit short lived series.moreless
  • Amazing and true-to-life.

    9.8
    Unfortunately, I did not watch Freaks and Geeks during it's original airing, but I did buy the series on DVD, having found out about it through an online quiz (I thought that I was going to find out whether my personality was that of a freak or a geek, not that I would be finding out which character from the series I was most like), and otherwise, I had no idea how brilliant this show would be.



    In an age where all of the high school-focused dramas and dramedies are blowing the problems that adolescents face everyday out of proportion and showing only the extremes, Freaks and Geeks found a much subtler and gentler way of touching on such subjects as bullying, dating, peer pressure (as in the pilot episode), and others later in the series. The interactions between the characters are natural and believable, and remind you of people that you know/knew in high school.



    I referred to this episode during a discussion about bullying with a ninth grade class that I was peer-tutoring. None of them had ever heard of the show before, but they connected to it and to the characters right away (and I think that most of them got hooked).



    The pilot was likely the most amazingly written of any I have ever seen.moreless
  • An absolutely fantastic pilot for a great series.

    9.6
    Shows like "Freaks and Geeks" are rare. Not often does a show this good come along, one in which nearly EVERYONE can relate to, whether or not they admit it, and when they do come along, it's almost always safe to bet your life's savings that it won't make it to a second season.



    The pilot for "Freaks and Geeks" introduces us to the freaks and geeks of a high school. Our main characters are brother and sister, and we follow their lives with their friends. Lindsay's friends are the "freaks", while her brother Sam is in the "geeks". In the pilot, Lindsay starts hanging out with the freaks, but encounters trouble with Kim Kelly, who doesn't like her. She also skips school and gets in trouble. Sam, meanwhile, is being picked on by a bully and is trying to work up the nerve to ask a cheerleader out on a date.



    There were many things to love about the pilot. Lindsay tried to do the right thing by defending a retarded classmate but ends up making things worse for him. She is also blackmailed, in a way, by her counselor to join the mathletes. The fight between the geeks and the bully was very fun to watch, as was Sam's interactions with the cheerleader.



    The show manages to avoid many cliches that usually populate teen dramas, yet occasionally is predictable. However, that doesn't mean it's any less enjoyable. I would say that this is the best pilot for a teen drama I've ever seen.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (1)

    • Why is Kim at the homecoming dance? In the final scene, she is shown observing Lindsay and Eli dancing. The freaks had no interest in homecoming, and Kim was not really friends with Lindsay yet, resenting her starting to hang out with them. Nick can also be scene in the background, but his attendance could perhaps be explained by his attraction to Lindsay.

  • QUOTES (9)

    • Harold: I used to have a friend who cut class, you know what happened to him? He died!

    • Lindsay: Man, I hate highschool.

    • Mr. Rosso: You're our best mathlete.
      Lindsay: Please don't say that.

    • Neal: (to Sam) The dance is tomorrow. She's a cheerleader. You've seen "Star Wars" 27 times. Do the math.

    • Ken: That's exactly why I don't carry a purse.

    • Kim: Why don't you blow your nose in some bread and make me a sandwich?

    • Harold: I had a friend who used to smoke. Know what he's doing now? He's dead. You think smoking looks cool, let's go dig him up and see how cool he looks now.
      (Later at Dinner)
      Harold: You know, there was a girl in our school... and she had premarital sex. Know what she did on her graduation day? Died! Of a heroin overdose!
      Sam: Dad? Are any of your friends alive?
      Harold: The smart ones

    • Alan: Watch out! She might be high on pot!

    • Daniel: You guys know Lindsay?
      Nick: Yeah, you were in my English class last year. You were the chick that got an A, right?
      Lindsay: Yeah, well, what are you gonna do?
      Ken: I don't know. What are you gonna do?
      Lindsay: Are you guys going to the homecoming dance?
      Ken: Excuse me?
      Daniel: (to Lindsay) That's funny. It's a joke, right?
      Lindsay: My dad's kinda makin' me go.
      Nick: Your dad's makin' you go to the dance? What's that all about?
      Ken: Who's your dad? Hitler?

  • NOTES (7)

    • It's highly unlikely that the 14 year old "Geeks" would have seen the Rated R "Caddyshack" when it was originally released during the summer of 1980. "Caddyshack" didn't become the huge quotable comedy classic for Gen X kids until it was on HBO in 1982 and later on when it was available on VHS.

    • Anachronism Alert: There's a plastic Heinz ketchup bottle on the Weir's dinner table. This is impossible because Heinz Ketchup was only sold in glass bottles in 1980. The plastic Heinz Ketchup bottle wasn't introduced until 1983.

    • Harris was originally supposed to accompany Bill and Neil to the fight against Alan in the script, but there was trouble getting the actor (and Canada native) Stephen Lea Sheppard through customs so the character was replaced.

    • Music:
      "Runnin' With the Devil" by Van Halen;
      "I'm Alright" by Kenny Loggins;
      "Renegade" by Styx
      "Come Sail Away" by Styx

    • The theme song is "Bad Reputation" by Joan Jett.

    • For his work in this episode, Paul Feig received a 2000 Emmy nomination for Best Writing in a Comedy.

    • The series is set in suburban Detroit in the fall of 1980.

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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