Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past! On Thursdays, I will be reviewing City Guys, which ran on NBC from 1997 to 2001. The entire show is currently streaming on Tubi!
It’s Thursday and that means that it’s time to review two more episodes of City Guys! When last I reviewed this show, I was wondering whether the show would improve on its first two episodes. Actually, I wasn’t so much much wondering as I was hoping. (Maybe even praying….) But before we examine episodes 3 and 4 of City Guys, let’s get in the mood:
City-wide! We’re all the same …. you know the drill.
Episode 1.3 “Knicks Tickets”
(Directed by Frank Bonner, originally aired on September 20th, 1997)
At the end of the second episode of City Guys, Chris and Jamal were best friends and the principal, Ms. Noble, was acting as if she had known them and all the other students at Manhattan High for years.
However, the third episode finds Chris and Jamal still engaged in the adversarial relationship that they had during the first episode. They’re working together on the video yearbook but neither is happy about it. Chris is determined to date Cassidy Guiliani. (Yes, that’s her last name. Rudy was mayor of New York when this show aired but I have no idea if Cassidy is meant to be a relative or not.) Jamal is still referring to Chris as being “some rich white boy.” Neither one of them knows enough about Ms. Noble to understand that they’ll always get caught if they try to fool her.
My guess is that the third episode was originally meant to be the second episode but, when the show originally aired, the episodes were shown out of order. This is something that NBC was notorious for doing with its TNBC shows. (It also explains why Zach Morris’s age seemed to change so dramatically from one episode to another of Saved By The Bell.) Technically, showing a show like City Guys out of order is not the greatest outrage that’s ever occurred even in the history of television but it is an indication of how little NBC cared about things like maintaining continuity or, for that matter, respecting the ability of its audiences to realize that something strange was happening. It’s just one of those things that annoys me to no end.
As for the plot of this episode, Ms. Noble has arranged for the class to attend a performance of MacBeth in Central Park. Ms. Noble wants Chris and Jamal to film the performance for the video yearbook and she also wants them to get Patrick Stewart’s autograph. (Patrick Stewart, we’re told, is playing MacBeth and that sounds pretty badass, to be honest.) However, Chris, Jamal, and Cassidy skip school and go to a Knicks game instead. Naturally, Ms. Noble sees them on television and eventually, Jamal and Chris have to come clean and….
Wait a minute. Didn’t all this happen on Saved By The Bell? Zach pretended to be Jewish so he could skip school and go to a baseball game and he was caught on television. Of course, Zach still got away with skipping because Mr. Belding and Zach’s parents didn’t watch the game. Ms. Noble, however, is a far better principal than Mr. Belding. Instead of accusing Jamal, Chris, and Cassidy of skipping, she waits for their guilt to force them to confess.
But what if they hadn’t confessed? Well, I guess Ms. Noble would have looked pretty stupid.
Speaking of stupid, that’s what this episode was. Let’s move on.
Episode 1.4 “The Package”
(Directed by Frank Bonner, originally aired on September 27th, 1997)
Every TNBC show had to have an annoying sidekick and, on City Guys, that role was fulfilled by Al. Al rode a bicycle, worked as a messenger, had “connections,” and had an annoying habit of shouting, “Bam!” at random moments.
The fourth episode opens with Al telling Chris and Jamal that he has a new job. All he has to do is deliver one package a day for Tonio and Tonio shows his gratitude by paying Al an exorbitant amount of money. Chris and Jamal inform Al that Tonio is obviously a drug dealer. Al argues that Tonio is just an electronics salesman.
Tonio eventually shows up on a campus to discover why his latest package hasn’t been delivered. He’s wearing a gold medallion and he’s accompanied by two silent men who keep their hands in their jackets.
Yes, Tonio’s a drug dealer.
Fortunately, Chris, Jamal, and Ms. Noble are able to help Al get out of his bad situation. When Tonio tries to threaten Al, Ms. Noble orders him off campus and Tonio leaves …. once again proving that even drug dealers respect the authority of a caring principal. What was odd about City Guys is that apparently, all problems were resolved by whatever happened in front of the school or, occasionally, up on the roof. No one seems to be concerned that Tonio might just decide to wait outside of school until the bell rings and Al has to leave campus. Instead, Ms. Noble told everyone to go to class and …. hey, problem solved! (Admittedly, Ms. Noble does say that she’s going to call the police and let them know what’s going on but seriously, New York is a big city and there’s only so many cops.)
That’s just the way it was in the world of TNBC. There wasn’t a problem in the world that couldn’t be solved in just 20 minutes.
Anyway, The Package was well-intentioned but pretty dumb. How would Al not have known that Tonio was a drug dealer? To its credit, the show does feature Ms. Noble suggesting that Al was deliberately fooling himself because he wanted the money that Tonio was willing to pay him but still, the whole thing felt a bit contrived. “If you see something, say something!” this episode says, while giving little thought to what happens to snitches in real life. This isn’t Bayside and no one can magically stop time.
That’s it for this week’s City Guys! Next week, Chris and Jamal continue to heal America!