Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past! On Mondays, I will be reviewing Hang Time, which ran on NBC from 1995 to 2000. The entire show is currently streaming on YouTube!
Hang Time! I’ll always remember my friends at Hang Time!
Imagine California Dreams if it took place in Indiana and if, instead of music, everyone was obsessed with basketball. That’s Hang Time!
Produced by Peter Engel, Hang Time followed the adventures of the Deering High School basketball team. Somewhat notoriously, the cast regularly changed from season to season, with only two members of the cast sticking with the show for every season. The first season featured:
David Hanson as Chris Atwater, the star of Deering High’s basketball team,
Daniella Deutscher as Julie Connor, the newest member of the team,
Chad Gabriel as Danny Mellon, the quirky member of the team who had a crush on Julie,
Megan Parlen as Mary Beth Pepperton, the materialistic head cheerleader who was dating Chris,
Robert Michael Ryan as Earl Hatfield, the dumb country boy who loved basketball and worked as a mall security guard,
Christian Belanvis as Michael Maxwell, who had a lot of talent and an ego to match,
Hillary Tuck as Samantha Morton, the hyper organized team manager,
Reggie Theus as Bill Fuller, a former pro player who returned to his old high school to coach the team.
Season one of Hang Time also had an absolutely horrid theme song, one that was luckily abandoned after the season ended.
Episode 1.1 “The Pilot”
(Directed by Howard Murray, Originally aired on September 9th, 1995)
Oh my God, this was bad….
I mean, pilots are usually bad because the characters aren’t as nuanced as they will later be and the initial storyline usually tries to hard to establish everyone’s role in the show’s hierarchy. Veteran retro television viewers know better than to expect anything good from an episode with the dreaded title of “The Pilot.”
That said, the pilot of Hang Time was really, really bad. The show itself was never exactly good but it did eventually develop an oft-kilter charm. But none of that charm is present in the first episode of the show.
Julie Connor (Daniella Deutscher) transfers to Deering High and tries out for the school’s basketball team. A girl playing basketball!? GASP! Anyway, Julie turns out to be a slightly above average basketball player and wins a place on the team and …. well, that’s about it. It would probably seem like more of an accomplishment if it appeared that there was any real competition when it came to getting on the team. Instead, only a handful of people seem to be interested in playing basketball and at least a few of them seem to be …. well, kind of short.
I understand that Reggie Theus was a former basketball player-turned-actor. Judging from this pilot, as an actor, he was a very good athlete.
Episode 1.2 “Trouble in Paradise”
(Directed by Howard Murray, Originally aired on September 16th, 1995)
“You should be home, baking a Cake!” a drunk basketball fan yells at Julie when she and Chris attend a pro basketball game. Julie challenges the jerk to a game. Chris tries to maintain calm. Unfortunately, it gets both Julie and Chris on TV, which leads to Mary Beth and Danny getting jealous.
Bleh. This was a dumb episode. Mary Beth, who doesn’t care about basketball, was the only character to whom I could relate.
The first two episodes of Hang Time felt like California Dreams, without the music. Hang Time would eventually develop a style of its own, with Megan Parlen especially proving herself to be a capable comedic actress. But that style really isn’t present in much of the first season.
Next week: The Deering Tornadoes finally play a game!