Monday, June 06, 2005

Director's Cut of Got my freak on, got my geek on

After a decent amount of sleep and no longer sore gluteus maximi, I can give a more complete and rational recollection of my Saturday-into-Sunday activities.

Several weeks ago, JenK alerted me and a number of our friends that the Alamo Drafthouse would be hosting a Freaks and Geeks marathon with cast members in attendance. The Alamo has done things similar to this before and I'd always passed on going. After a successful garage sale, JenK, John, Tina, and I were flush with cash and dreams of meeting Bill. Tickets were bought and anticipation grew.

Starting at noon Saturday and going till 5 AM Sunday, we were awash in that rare substance, television goodness. And I got thrill every time "Bad Reputation" kicked in.

Watching hours of a really good show does something to me. I care more deeply about the characters than I did when I only saw them once a week. Combine that with sleep deprivation and I got practically weepy by the end of it all. Damn but it's a good show and anyone who scoffs at the idea that a television show can be art is dumb and mean and I don't like them.

After eight or so hours, we broke off watching episodes for the Q&A. In attendance were Martin Starr (Bill Haverchuck), Sarah Hagan (Millie), Steve Bannos (Mr. Kowchevski), Stephen Lea Sheppard (Harris), and Dave 'Gruber' Allen (Mr. Rosso). Messrs. Bannos and Allen were the most effusive and excited which I chalk up to them being older and more appreciative. Bannos was also a writer on the show so he had more insight. Only two questions in and we were heard the terrible news of how the show was cancelled soon after creator Paul Feig's mother died. What a double gut punch that must have been.

It was an odd Q&A in that the answers were a mixture of interesting stories, professional struggles, wistfulness, and honesty. These are not actors that have been coached by handlers and there were consequent uncomfortable moments that, now that I think about it, perfectly complement a show full of such moments. Just a few totally obsessive tidbits that aren't in the extensive DVD features:

- If an actor made a mistake like bumping into something or dropping a prop, that's the take that inevitably was used

- Lea Sheppard (Harris) went to an audition just to accompany a friend and after being encouraged to audition, Paul Feig wrote a new part just for him

- Sarah Hagan (Millie) actually learned how to play "Jesus Is Just Alright With Me" on the piano for the "Beers and Weirs" episode, but for the filming they muted the piano and had a professional playing it off-camera

- Martin Starr (Bill Haverchuck) aspires to being a poet and treated us to a pretty decent flow

After the Q&A they signed autographs and chatted with the fans, which was nice. I was wearing my Devo t-shirt and it turns out that Steve Bannos is an acquaintance of Mark Mothersbaugh. Cool. Also, Martin Starr didn't know who Devo was and so wrote a note to himself which read "Listen to DEVO". Double cool. Then, weirdly, Sarah Hagan told me that she'd just played a character on Grey's Anatomy named Devo Friedman. Huh.

After the Q&A, the audience shrank somewhat and we watched on. We'd break every three or hours and by the end, only a quarter of the audience was left and I was sad that it was over and happy that even existed. My butt was sore, I had consumed the meat of three kinds of animal, and had spent much hard-earned money on food and drink, but I was elated as Tina, John, and I walked out into the still-dark morning. Sure, aside from the actors, I could have hosted a marathon at my house, but there was something special about watching it in a theater with an audience of fellow freaks and geeks.


Here's a review of sorts printed in The Austin Chronicle.


  1. Harris was there!! He's my favorite! Damn, I'm so, so jealous. Sounds like it was fun.


  2. Lea Sheppard *is* Harris, minus the geek bravado and barely-there moustache. Really nice guy. Oh and his on-screen kiss with Judith was fake.