My next “Freaks and Geeks” subject moves to the “Freaks” group: Daniel Desario as portrayed by James Franco.
Daniel was another character that was more than he first appeared to be. While he’s definitely a part of the “stoner” crowd, he never goes completely to the point of being a good-for-nothing punk (although he did flirt with becoming a punk rocker in one episode). I always felt as if Daniel could have been a successful and welcomed member of the school if he had just had a few more people encouraging and helping him along the way.
One of the immediate things that becomes apparent about Daniel is that he’s a pretty nice guy. When some of the others are mean, he’s quick to lighten the mood and try to make the person feel accepted. This is most obviously true in his friendship with Lindsay.
Well, I don’t want to delve too deeply into character development or interpersonal history – especially for anyone who is reading this and hasn’t watched the show. I think the best way to summarize Daniel’s character is this scene from the final episode of the series. As a punishment, Daniel has been put into the AV class with the geeks. This intimidating, “cool” kid is now spending time with the outcasts on the other side of the spectrum (and they’re not too keen about it). Just when it seems that the geeks safe haven couldn’t be compromised any further, Daniel is invited to play Dungeons and Dragons… and he accepts!
This is such an awesome episode in that it breaks down the artificial walls that so often separate groups of people. Just as the film “The Breakfast Club” demonstrated that stereotypes don’t have to keep people from becoming friends, this ep provides hope for both the geeks and Daniel – no one has to remain segregated forever. Bonus points for showing that D&D wasn’t the satanic game it’s too often made out to be (although I’m sure a flashback view of my friends and I playing in high school might have looked similarly geeky).
So here’s my caricature of Daniel Desario
Another classic episode of “Freaks and Geeks” is “Weirs and Beers” in which Sam and Lindsay’s parents leave them alone for the weekend… and Lindsay gets talked into hosting a kegger. Sam, Neal and Bill want to keep things from getting out of control and they come up with the plan to switch the keg with a keg of non-alcoholic beer, but they need to sneak it past Lindsay to make the switch. That’s where Neil comes in to distract Lindsay in the following scene http://youtu.be/hYM8IL_0tXk
Samm Levine, who plays Neal, is so much like some of the kids I grew up with
: short, funny, Jewish… He’s the perfect representation of the kid who just isn’t popular no matter how much he tries to fit it. Of course, when you think that a ventriloquist act is going to make you popular, you’re probably doomed to the category of “geek”.
So here’s my caricature of Neal
One of my favorite TV series of all time is the tragicly short-lived series from 1999-2000, “Freaks and Geeks”. In fact, it was cancelled after 12 episodes and it was only a fan-driven campaign that pursuaded NBC to air 3 additional ones. That left 3 more episodes that never aired on NBC. While network executives never got behind the show or gave it a consistent time slot, I’m not alone in recognizing it’s brilliance. TIME magazine listed it as 3rd best TV show of the 2000’s, TV Guide ranked it as the 27th greatest cult hit of all time, and Entertainment Weekly listed it as the 13th-best series of the last 25 years.
The series was created by Paul Feig and executive produced by Judd Apatow. It was set in a suburban high school in Michigan in 1980 and, unlike most TV shows and movies, it focused on the outcasts/unpopular kids – specifically the “freeks” (burn-outs, stoners) and the “geeks” (nerds). The anchors of the show are brother and sister Sam (John Francis Daley) and Lindsay (Linda Cardellini) Weir.
It was a drama/comedy (dramady) and realistically portrayed the real-life experiences and interactions of normal kids. The writing is real, funny, and full of heart. But mostly it makes you love the characters. They are so real and fleshed out that I have no problem imagining that I went to high school with them – of course it helps that the clothing and music is lifted from the exact time when I was a high school Sr.
The cast included future film stars including James Franco, Seth Rogan, Jason Segel, and Busy Phllipps. And Apatow has gone on to great success with his involvement in feature films such as :The 40-Year-Old Virgin”, “Knocked Up” and a number of other comedies – most of them aren’t my taste, and none of them compare to “Freeks and Geeks” as far as I’m concerned.
So my next celebrity caricatures focus on the beloved characters from this beloved show, starting with Sam.
Well, it seemed like only a matter of time that I’d be selecting an athlete as my next target for caricature and, after the playoff game on Sunday afternoon I can’t imagine an athlete more in the spotlight!
Perhaps you saw the Pittsburgh Steelers play the Denver Broncos in the opening round of the AFC playoffs. It ended up being the only close game of the four that took place this past weekend, and was it ever close!
Now, let me come clean right off the bat: I’m not a fan of either the Steelers or the Broncos. My team is the Seattle Seahawks. For years, the Seahawks battled the Broncos in the AFC West and developed a pretty heated rivalry over those years (usually losing out to John Elway, which didn’t make me like Denver any more!). Then, after realignment moved Seattle to the NFC West, they finally made it all the way to Superbowl XL against the Steelers. I don’t know how neutral you were in watching that game, but it’s pretty well excepted that there were a number of very questionable calls by the referees which influenced the outcome of the game — some of them REALLY bad. The Steelers came out with more points and added another Lombardi Trophy to their display case. However, no Seahawk fan will ever concede being clearly beaten by the Steelers and over 60% of the respondents to an ESPN poll felt that the poor officiating had impacted the outcome of the game. In the words of then-coach Mike Holmgren, “We knew it was going to be tough going against the Pittsburgh Steelers. I didn’t know we were going to have to play the guys in the striped shirts as well.” Yea, I’m still holding a grudge and will probably never root for the Steelers….
But now comes a player who has tipped my cheering in favor of one of these teams: Tim Tebow
This game was another chapter in Tebow’s remarkable story. Although he led the Florida Gators to two National Championships and was awarded the Heisman Trophy, he’s never been taken seriously as a pro quarterback. His passing skills are not in line with the typical expectation of an elite NFL QB and, although he’s big, physical, and competitive, most sports reporters have turned up their noses at him. But along came the 2011 season and Tim Tebow’s wining record which brought the Broncos from a 1-4 start to a Wild Card playoff bid. It included a number of come-from-behind wins and the combination of “lucky” plays by Tebow and his team mates. These things have been given all the more attention because of Tebow’s outspoken Christian faith. He regularly prays on the sidelines and gives credit “first and foremost to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ” at the beginning of every interview.
Well, the overtime win (with an 80-yard touchdown catch and run pass on the first play) was remarkable on it’s own. But then the game stats for Tebow became a bit eerie. The following is from a Yahoo Sports story by By Chris Chase | Shutdown Corner – Mon, Jan 9, 2012 12:21 PM EST:
“The fact that Tebow had 316 yards passing and averaged 31.6 yards per pass in the game didn’t escape notice on Sunday night. Tebow wore “John 3:16” on his eye black in the 2009 BCS Championship game and has since become identified with the famous Bible message. The coincidental stats caused millions of fans to perform Google searches on the Bible passage in the past 24 hours. Here’s one more unbelievable stat: John Ourand of Sports Business Journal reports that the final quarter-hour television rating for the Broncos-Steelers game was, you guessed it, 31.6.”
It’s interesting that Tim has become so polarizing a character. People seem to either love him or hate him. Aside from the evaluation of his athletic skills, a lot of his detractors seem to hate him because of his outspoken faith. The coincidental 316’s in this game only throws gasoline on the fire of their hatred! I wonder if they would be so anti-Tim had he been a devout Buddhist or Muslim…
As I considered who my next celeb caricature subject should be I came across the following item: http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/Comedian-Bill-Maher-creates-firestorm-with-profane-tweet-about-Denver-Broncos-QB-Tim-Tebow-122711/?ocid=ansfox11
The tweet-length summary is that comedian and professional provocateur, Bill Maher, took a profane shot at Tim Tebow when the Broncos lost a blowout to the Buffalo Bills.
I’ve had an on-again/off-again enjoyment of Maher since his late 90’s late-night rant-fest, “Politically Incorrect”. I liked the fact that he said what he thought and invited guests with other viewpoints to join the conversation. Of course, he usually dominated said conversation and came across as what I think he is: an arrogant know-it-all. His most vehement criticism was always directed at Christianity (he was raised as a Roman Catholic, although his mother is Jewish). Now Maher has taken his show to HBO (“Real Time With Bill Maher”) and it appears to be much of the same kind of stuff.
My main problem with Bill is his holier-than-thou attitude about everything (irony intended). He knows the truth and anyone who disagrees with him is ignorant, stupid, uninformed, brainwashed, etc. But that very attitude reveals his foundational problem. His insistence on being the sole source of truth is putting himself in the place of God – the very one he criticizes Tim Tebow for honoring. Maybe he’s just jealous.
Interesting that the word “mar” means:
1. to damage or spoil to a certain extent; render less perfect, attractive, useful, etc.; impair or spoil: That billboard mars the view. The holiday was marred by bad weather.