Freaks and Geeks: The Documentary is playing at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival. Find screening information HERE.
By Chris Flanagan
It’s a special thing when a television show can transcend just being entertainment and instead be something that has a meaningful impact on your life. It’s something that finds you at just the right time and connects with you on a deeper level that causes you to ask and sometimes answer questions about yourself; who you are and who you want to become. Freaks and Geeks was that show not only myself but also many others.
Freaks and Geeks: The Documentary takes an incredibly deep look at the process it took for a show this unique to get made by interviewing not only the cast involved but its creators and the NBC Executives that were in charge with preserving and promoting it to the nation as well as their own network. The documentary does an excellent job of examining just how many pieces had to perfectly fall into place for this show to even make it to air and compete on a network that was boasting Friends, Fraiser, Just Shoot Me and The West Wing. It does a wonderful job tracking the journey of the initial idea being written, the pitch to NBC, the casting, actually shooting 13 episodes and then it’s untimely cancellation.
What makes this process even better within the documentary is that everyone collectively vilifies the top NBC TV Exec at the time for completely misunderstanding the show’s goal and being the sole reason it didn’t receive the support it deserved. You get this in an overwhelming fashion from all of the talking heads to then have the doc pull out the surprise of interviewing the former NBC Exec in question which is a fascinating counter-argument for why a show doing so poorly in ratings ultimately has to be cut.
The documentary is perfectly crafted in allowing the cast, creators, and writers to share their intimate experiences with the show which as a fan meshed perfectly with my own personal journey with the show. It is able to capture the right amount of sadness and nostalgia for what was and what could’ve been had it stayed on the air for several more seasons. But what I appreciated, even more, was the documentary’s ability to pose the question, “What if we had more Freaks and Geeks?” while also being able to provide a sense of closure and perspective on the product we were given. Truthfully, Freaks and Geeks only having 13 episodes is kind of what makes it so special and to ask for more would dilute its impact.
Freaks and Geeks: The Documentary is exactly the right type medium to delve into just how a show that had such a short life could make such a lasting impact on not only the viewers but those that were directly involved in its creation. It succeeds on so many levels to share a different story of the show’s journey to network TV while offering up just the right amount of nostalgia where you want to go back and re-binge the series. I cannot recommend this documentary enough to both those that are even remotely fans of Freaks and Geeks and those that might be interested in watching the series for the first time.
I give Freaks and Geeks: The Documentary an A+.