Disco Sucks!…A Review of Freaks and Geeks: Discos and Dragons

“Greetings, Princess. It is I, Carlos the Dwarf. The dragon has been slain, and you’re free to rule your kingdom” -Daniel Desario

Any tv fan worth their salt knows at least two classic episodes revolving around the popular role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons. (Are there any others?) One is the finale of Freaks and Geeks and the other is Community’s recent “Advanced Dungeons and Dragons.” Oddly, both have characters named Neal. I’ll save the adventures of Pierce the Flatulent for another day, so let’s focus on the kids in the A/V club. (No, not that AV Club.) The entire run of Freaks and Geeks spins around the inclusion of Lindsey–a former Geek–fitting in with the so-called Freaks, so I find it interesting that Paul Feig & Co waited until the very end to show the exact opposite. Daniel, a Freak at heart, is forced to spend time with the Geeks due to pulling the fire alarm to get out of a test. And not only does he kinda-sorta-fit in, he also enjoys himself.

It’s understandable, though, because neither group has social prominence over the other. This isn’t Gossip Girl, where social status determines your every action. There’s a certain level of understanding between all outcast groups, even if the chosen methods of extrapolation vary.

Can I just say that I think Ken is right? Disco really is the worst, and this is coming from a girl whose ABBA Gold collection is one of her most frequently played albums. The dancing sucked, the beats sucked, and the outfits sucked royally. In short, disco sucks. Disco is also shiny and catchy, two things that caught Nick Andopolis’ eye because Nick’s like the stoner version of a magpie.  I did not live through that era and I thank the heavens above that I don’t have to.  (Also, we get more Lizzy Caplan in this subplot! She’s the coolest and needs to be in my life more often.)

Lindsey’s storyline is predictable from the start. Even if we do know that she’s going to sluff off Nerdstock, the prospect of those two glorious weeks is enough to make up for the schmaltz. There’s going to be more hippie dancing, too. (The scene of Lindsey dancing along to “Box of Rain” was a bold move–the tone is so gorgeous and free. It maybe one of my favorite moments in the series.) Lindsey still isn’t sure of who she is as a person, yet, but I like that she’s willing to explore. I think Hippie Lindsey fits her personality better than Freak Lindsey and I wish that that we had a second season to explore that side of Lindsey.

The end of a school year (and a tv show for that matter) follows certain traditions, but both are perfect times of transition. These beloved characters have changed vastly over the course of 18 episodes and still manage to stay beloved. Even secondary characters, like Kim Kelly, have become likeable and you’re really torn to see them go.

“Discos and Dragons” isn’t a great representation of a classic F&G episode, but by and large it is an excellent tv finale. It feels like a reward for the faithful few that have watched ’til the end. (The producers knew that it would be the last one to air.) The episode ends on the warm and fuzzy side, although there’s an unspoken acknowledgement that all hell would have broken loose at the beginning of a supposed Season Two. Daniel would have returned to Kim and Ken. Lindsey would still be suffering the repercussions of missing her academic summit to spend two weeks tooling around with Dead Heads. (Oh, to see the look on Harold Weir’s face when he found out.) And, well, Nick would probably still be trying to learn magic so he could win the next disco competition. The message that Feig & Co are trying to get across is loud and clear–be who you are and co-exist happily with those around you. For a bunch of misfits, I’d say they’re doing pretty well for themselves.

Moral of the Story: If you’re learning the Hustle, you should probably pick up a few magic tricks to go along with it.

Random Asides:

-For details on what might have happened in season two, Feig revealed details during a San Francisco Sketchfest a few years back. I would pay good money to see Kim doing musical theater.

-Also, they had a Paleyfest Panel this spring with more details from the cast. Even if your show does get cancelled, I think you can still feel like a success if you have a cast reunion ten years later that people still obsess over.

-Here’s Sepinwall’s review, because he says everything better.

-Watching Jason Segal dance is one of my greatest pleasures in life.

-Harris is resplendent as the dungeon master. I wish we could have had a Harris spin-off.

-Have any of you watched Undeclared? What did you think? I haven’t watched it yet.

Freaks and Geeks had an average of 7 million viewers watching every week. Today, NBC would be thrilled to have 7 million especially for a show like this. Funny how things change.

-Dear Freaks and Geeks, Let’s do this again in another couple of years. Sound good? Good. Love, Gretchen

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Comments
19 Responses to “Disco Sucks!…A Review of Freaks and Geeks: Discos and Dragons”
  1. Dan says:

    The history of television is littered with shows that were taken from us too soon. I truly think F&G should be at the top of that list. My memories of the exact era are (hey! palindrome!) hazy, at best, but the core of what makes both of these groups who they are is timeless.

    I’m also just a sucker for watching characters play Dungeons & Dragons (see Buffy’s “Chosen”).

    And Jason Segel should sing and dance 24/7. Not just for my amusement, but for the good of humanity.

    • Gretchen Alice says:

      Jason Segal could solve so many world issues just by dancing his way through them. (Confession: I haven’t actually finished Buffy yet. I got, like, five seasons into it before my mission and I haven’t gotten around to finishing it yet. I know what happens and everything and I think that’s why I don’t want it to end so I’ve been avoiding it. That and Dawn and Tara make me want to scratch my own eyeballs out.)

      • Dan says:

        We need to get the UN on this. Stat.

        Also, I know I’m probably in the minority (and totally willing to chalk this up to younger sibling solidarity), but Dawn kinda grew on me as the show went on.

      • Ashley says:

        I like Dawn and Tara. And I love season seven. I will defend it to the death. You need to get on that right away.

        P.S. Dan — that scene is the best. I die laughing every time.

        • Dan says:

          I’m a fan of seasons six and seven, which were vast improvements over four and five–both of which, despite having some awesome episodes, had pretty weak season-long arcs, as far as I’m concerned.

  2. Lisa says:

    Undeclared is okay… just okay. Worth it if you’re bored. The first few episodes have some GREAT Amy Poehler as an RA but otherwise probably best to avoid.

  3. I agree with Lisa’s assessment of Undeclared. It’s nowhere near as high-quality as Freaks & Geeks. I watched the whole series in a day, not because I was in love with it, but because I was kind of depressed that day and it gave me something to focus on that was not my depression. Undeclared: watch it when you’re depressed!

  4. Ashley says:

    Undeclared is good, but it has to grow on you. Jason Segel is the best part, and he’s not even in the main cast.

  5. kat says:

    I didn’t like Undeclared when it originally aired, and I still didn’t like it when I re-watched the full series a few months ago. F&G FTW.

  6. Jennie says:

    I tried to watch Undeclared right after watching F&G and just couldn’t get into it. I think it suffered because it’s just nowhere near as good as F&G. So, yes, watch it, but not right after F&G.

    Also, Jason Segel dancing is magical.

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