Guess he’s an X-Box and I’m more Atari…A Review of Freaks and Geeks: The Garage Door

“Why do people have affairs?” -Sam Weir

In a perfectly balanced episode of Freaks and Geeks, functional and dysfunctional relationships are brought to light, much like a laser show.

In my re-watch of the show, I could have easily written about any of the eleven previous episodes of the show, but I chose this one because it’s one of my favorites. (KIDDING. They are all my favorite.) F&G always makes me cringe, but every so often it makes me cry. This is one of those times.

In the functioning category, we have Jean and Harold Weir, Sam and his friends, and Ken and Amy. On the other side of the tracks, we have Nick and Lindsey, Daniel and Kim, and Neal and Dr. Schweiber. I’m skipping over Daniel and Kim because their subplot is all filler and only good for the makey-outy bits at the end. Nick and Lindsey spend the whole time ignoring the other person–Nick, so Lindsey will come running back to him and Lindsey, so Nick will get the hint that she’s over him. It pointedly illustrates the fact that “Look! Guys and girls are different from each other!” But Nick does bring us the most wonderful Pink Floyd impersonation with “If you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding! It’s FLOYD!” Somebody make me a GIF of that or a ringtone because I die every single time.

Let’s get the tough story out of the way first. Two episodes before, in “The Diary,” we found out that Dr. Schweiber would come home from work to change his shirt and would often stay late for emergency root canals. In sitcom parlance, that could only mean one thing–that emergency dentistry is a very sweaty activity…and so is sleeping around. Sam, shopping at Sears with his mom, runs into the doctor and a very pretty blond lady sharing a hug next the video games. I don’t know about you guys, but when I conduct my illicit business, I totally carry it out next to the large appliances. Rawr.

Sam’s not a dumb kid and Dr. Schweiber knows this, so a lot of over-compensating happens. Sam spills to Bill, who then tells Neal because the boys share everything, even stories about sharting in your pants. (Not quite the same, Bill.) This is a rough episode for our geeks. Sam has to deal with the weight of adult issues, Neal is forced to consider the fact that his dad is seeing another woman, and even Bill has this heart-wrenching moment where Neal accuses him of not having a father and Bill’s all, “I do! I spoke to him…three months ago.” I just want to give them a hug!

Super sleuth that he is, Neal finds a strange garage door opener. The only logical thing to do is to bike around their suburb until they find the matching garage. Sitting on the curb, the boys talk about why they would never cheat on their wives and I don’t believe any of them ever would. Sam McMurray is fantastically cast as a grown-up version of Neal (I nominate Allison Jones for Casting Goddess Of All Time), right down to the snappy dressing and impressions, except that he’s a total d-bag and his son is not. When Sam goes in for a “six-month check-up” (paging Dr. Orin Scrivello!), Neal’s dad attempts to justify away his infidelity by saying that he never dated, so when Neal’s mom came along, they got married and then he got bored. If I recall correctly, it all comes out in the party episode, which is another cry-fest for me.

I’m bringing myself majorly down here, so let’s focus on Ken and Amy! I love Ken Miller! I love Tuba Girl Amy! They are so adorable together! Ken firsts checks her out in the marching band, where she sports the tuba. (It’s a good thing she doesn’t play the trombone, because, oh, the jokes I could make.) They have a sarcasm-off in the diner and sooner than you can say mutton chops, Ken is smitten, which is pretty much the cutest thing ever. Somebody please tell Ken to never, ever, ever take relationship advice from Daniel Desario. In a small tease of will-they-won’t-they (they will), the two work through all the awkwardness of first dates and end up macking on each other at the laser show.  (Factoid alert! The song playing in the background when they decide to get food is The Pure Prairie League’s “Amie.”)  This episode is a beautiful set-up for where they take the Amy story–you know what I mean.

Right as the Freaks discover that they are attending Southern Rock night instead of Laser Floyd, Neal opens a garage door and Sam gets the Atari he’s always dreamed of. Neal’s discovery just rips your heart out. As if the red Corvette wasn’t enough proof, the douche-tastic license plate “I Flossem” gives it all away. Poor kid. I often imagine Neal Schweiber as being a young Chandler Bing. (For fun, I also pretend that Sam Weir grows up to really be Sweets from Bones, even if the timeline doesn’t quite work out.) When Sam gets home, Jean and Harold present him with the Atari because he is a good kid and truth be told, they also want to keep up with the Schweibers. No amount of Asteroids could compensate for the fact that Sam has two parents that love him and each other and he rushes into his dad’s arms. One of you get me a tissue, because Sam is not the only one weeping openly at this point.

Moral of the story: Forget you, Dr. Schweiber.

Random Asides:

  • Light shows are the worst. I went to a U2 laser show once and it sucked. (The lasers, not the music. Let’s get that straight.)
  • “Don’t be mean, just be a bitch.” -Kim Kelly summed up in one sentence
  • “So I wake up this morning, and guess what’s sitting on the foot of my bed?” “A turd?” “Yes, Bill. A turd.” “Ewwwww.”
  • Let The Good Times Roll” is SUCH a good song. Has any show since had a more inspired soundtrack?
  • I love the moment where Lindsey and Sam consider whether or not their dad has had an affair and then Harold walks up in his boxers and business socks. They laugh hysterically like, “Why would we EVEN bother thinking that?” My family is creepily similar to the Weirs, so I adore the bonding time between the kids because it’s very much like what it was like growing up with my little brother.
  • “You really like her, don’t you?” “I feel…odd.”
  • WHYYYYY did they have to cancel this show?
  • Here’s Alan Sepinwall’s review of the same episode during his F&G re-watch a few summers back.
13 Responses to “Guess he’s an X-Box and I’m more Atari…A Review of Freaks and Geeks: The Garage Door”
  1. I think this is the first time one of you has written about a show that I’ve seen. Hooray!

    I agree with everything that you have to say about Freaks & Geeks. Such an amazing show.

  2. srah says:

    This episode makes my tummy hurt! But then… so much of Freaks and Geeks has that lovely, complicated stomach-twisting awkwardness.

    • Gretchen Alice says:

      F&G is most awkward. When I watched it for the first time, I had to watch most of the episodes in halves because I couldn’t take it all at once.

  3. LFar says:

    F&G is pure art that teaches us what it means to be human. My favourite episode is when Bill’s mom dates the gym teacher (do a review of that one!) but this one really gets to me, too. Good recap!

    • Gretchen Alice says:

      “F&G is pure art that teaches us what it means to be human.”
      This is the plain and simple truth.

  4. Jennie says:

    I feel like I could use a rewatch of this show. Good thing I’ve got all this free time! Hee.

    • Gretchen Alice says:

      DO IT. (And then you can review it on Joe and Jennie in the Morning!)

    • Ashley says:

      I would like to register an official complaint that Joe and Jennie in the morning is not producing enough content to keep me happy. And yes, I am fully aware of the hypocrisy of this comment.

      • Jennie says:

        I’M SORRY. I honestly have just no excuse. None whatsoever. I have so much free time, it’s ridiculous. I blame Friday Night Lights, which is keeping me occupied at the moment.

  5. Ashley says:

    Firstly, John Francis Daley is my soul mate, and secondly, Bill Haverchuck is my other soul mate, but he’s fictional which is why he’s second place, because obviously I have more of a chance with a famous actor who’s on TV every week than I do with a lonely nerd who is not real. Plus JFD is ADORABLE and our children would be SO CUTE AND SMART.

    If we wanted to, we could pretend that everyone on this show grew up to be someone else. Kim Kelly grew up to be BFF with a bunch of weirdos in Florida. Nick grew up to be Marshall, and/or friends with the Muppets. Lindsey grew up to be Velma from Scooby Doo, or a nurse on ER, whichever you think is best. And Daniel Desario grew up to chop off his own arm, amongst other things. I could keep going.

    • Gretchen Alice says:

      Gah, JFD is the cutest! You guys HAVE to get married. Who do we know in Hollywood that could make that happen?

      Nick definitely grows up to be Marshall and Marshall is obviously already friends with the Muppets. And let’s not forget that Haverchuck grows up and goes into the party catering business.

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