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DID YOU READ

Revived and Derived: “Freaks and Geeks” Ep. 2, “Beers and Weirs”

Revived and Derived: “Freaks and Geeks” Ep. 2, “Beers and Weirs” (photo)

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“Freaks and Geeks” is now airing on IFC, and we thought we’d take this opportunity to revisit the show that launched a thousand bromance movies. Every week, Matt Singer and Alison Willmore will be offering their thoughts on that night’s episode.

Episode 2: Beers and Weirs
Directed by Jake Kasdan
Written by J. Elvis Weinstein & Judd Apatow
Originally aired October 2, 1999

“I prefer to get high on life.” –Millie

Matt: Geeks love to world-build. They love stories with complicated mythologies and intricate continuity like Tolkien novels or X-Men comics. And they — oh fine, we — treasure that stuff because those are the kinds of narratives that reward the sort of intelligence and advanced reading skills that help make a geek a geek. “Beers and Weirs,” the second episode of “Freaks and Geeks,” is the one where we begin to see that this isn’t just a show about geeks, it’s a show by geeks as well.

Seconds into this second episode, the continuity begins to pile up. In the very first scene of the pilot, big drum kit aficionado Nick (Jason Segel) declares his belief in a divine power: that of John Bonham, the drummer of hard rock gods Led Zeppelin. But that pilot is set in the fall of 1980; John Bonham died on September 25, 1980. So what happens as Lindsay (Linda Cardellini) walks into school as “Beers and Weirs” begins? She bumps into Nick, stumbling, forlorn. “What’s the matter?” she asks. “John Bonham died.” he replies. Then she asks the really bad question: “Why don’t [Led Zeppelin] just get a new drummer?” At this, Nick just stares.

07092010_fandg_2_2.jpgNow, you certainly don’t need to have seen the pilot to understand this scene. Taken on entirely on its own it still works as an effective exchange between the two characters, establishing the friendship between the Lindsay and Nick, her concern for him and his passion for something she doesn’t understand.

But if you’ve seen the pilot, you know how important Bonham (not to mention extravagant drumming in general) is to Nick. Plus, if you’re a real hardcore Led Zeppelin fan like Nick, you know that Bonham died in September of 1980, and you knew while you were watching the pilot what that bomb was going to do when it exploded in Nick’s face and you were just waiting for it to happen. And all of that makes the payoff here even sweeter.

Careful observers of these first two “Freaks and Geeks” episodes will also notice a few minor characters from the pilot reappearing here. Sean (Shaun Weiss), the heavyset kid who sparked the argument between Eli and Lindsay, and Mark (Mark Allan Staubach), the freak with Sideshow Bob hair who was seen under the bleachers with Daniel, Nick, and Ken, and avoiding Sam during the dodgeball game, both appear in the kegger thrown by Lindsay while her parents are out of town enjoying a Paul Anka concert.

07092010_fandg_2_8.jpg“Beers and Weirs” also introduces us to Stroker (Shawn Soong) a often seen but rarely heard background character with a distinctive brown mane, after Daniel invites him to the Weirs’ party.

These details are make for continuity geek fun. But they also speak to “Freaks and Geeks” creator Paul Feig and executive producer Judd Apatow’s commitment to verisimilitude and their attention to detail. We all had those people in high school we didn’t really know but we saw in the same hallway every day between classes, or the guy a friend used to be on a softball team with. Everyone has them; for “Freaks and Geeks,” those people are Sean and Mark. They’re important because when you’re building a world, it has to be complete.

Alison: One more thing about that Nick/Lindsay exchange — it’s the first in a row of social missteps and misreadings Lindsay makes in this episode as she struggles to absorb freakdom like it’s a foreign language. Not only does she seriously underestimate Bonham’s importance to Nick, she then tells a story about her dad catching a shoplifter when it’s the shoplifter her audience is more likely to identify with.

07092010_fandg_2_3.jpgShe also takes at (frightened) face value the “family emergency” excuse Nick uses to get her out of class (and speaking of continuity, that’s Lizzy Caplan as Sara, the girl who delivered the message, who’ll play a larger role later in the series). She painstakingly party-readies her house with trays of snacks and black light posters when everyone’s just looking for a parent-free place to get wasted. And worst of all, she fails to understand that her crush Daniel’s (James Franco) break-up with Kim (Busy Philipps) isn’t actually a break-up, just the latest chapter in the pair’s own pint-sized Sid and Nancy saga.

While this episode marks Lindsay’s low point, it gives the geeks a chance to shine as they attempt, several times, to come to the rescue, and find out, after they swap out the keg with one filled with near-beer, that people don’t actually need alcohol to act like drunken idiots. Sam (John Francis Daley) and Neal’s (Samm Levine) wanderings through the party offer some nice moments of social worlds colliding, with Sam shooing Nick off the coffee table and hiding the house’s more fragile valuables away and Neal insisting the beer tastes funny because it’s imported and giving an offhand punch to the stomach of Daniel’s cousin Jimmy, who’s trying to show off the strength of his abs.

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Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…