High school. We’ve all seen it, and some TV series have effectively captured the pure pressure that comes from attending it, both from a teacher’s and student’s perspective. But no series was probably more fitting to capture this ambience than Freaks and Geeks, which ran for only one season, but managed to do so much within that time frame with many involved, from the stars (James Franco, Seth Rogen) to the creators (Paul Feig, Judd Apatow).
What really makes the series stand out is its ensemble cast. They make the so-called “freaks” and “geeks” really stand out, between the Weir family and the many outcasts that weave in and out of each episode. The focus on characters, rather than the usual sitcom tropes, also makes a huge difference. You can see the early influence on the screenwriting with Feig and Apatow being involved, and that the actors really love the roles that they get into here.
It’s worth reliving again, mainly due to Shout! Factory’s treatment of the series on Blu-Ray. We’ve gotten a box set previously, but this one goes the extra mile, with the introduction of the original broadcast ratio in one set, but also a new set that goes a new 1:78:1 approach, which has been painstakingly recreated, frame by frame, as part of the recreation process.
No matter which way you view, you’ll find that the content has been well preserved, as each episode looks absolutely fantastic. However, fans may want to give the new widescreen format a go, if only because it provides a great new perspective on the series. That’s not to say you’ll catch all-new details and never watch it the old way again, because, really, you will. But it’s a neat approach to a project that got its start as a one-season TV series. If only all recreations of classic shows could get this sort of treatment.
It’s not the best looking TV series around – I still consider the Archer Blu-Ray sets to be a notch above in quality – but as far as the Freaks and Geeks are concerned, this is something that’s certainly on their level. Fans will love it either which way.
The audio is top-notch quality as well, between DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 and 5.1 tracks that you can switch to. There are hardly any differences between each of them, but, regardless, you’ll be able to hear what everyone’s saying with ease, and that counts for something.
Now, let’s talk about extras. A few of the episodes have audio commentaries with the creators and stars, but not all. That’s not a bad thing, as these folks provide some great background on the series, as well as certain aspects of particular episodes, such as “Kim Kelly Is My Friend.” Fans will find them to be a definitive listen.
In addition, there’s also Deleted Scenes to root through (decent quality, with commentary), as well as a bonus disc with interviews, table reads, cast auditions, and other little bits and pieces that pay tribute to the show. The Paley Center Q&A is your best bet, if only because it has various members of the cast talking about the show in its prime. And it’s really something.
Yes, I get nostalgic about Freaks and Geeks because it’s a damn good show that should’ve gotten better due in terms of exposure. But at least it remains a cult favorite, and Shout! Factory has given it the proper treatment it deserves, no matter which way you want to watch it.