Retro Television Reviews: Hang Time 1.9 “Stranded” and 1.10 “The Sweat Shack”


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!

I’ll always remember, me and my friends at Hang Time!

It’s time to check in and see what’s happening at Deering High!

Episode 1.9 “Stranded”

(Directed by Howard Murray, originally aired on November 4th, 1995)

“Great!” Sam announces halfway through this episode, “we’re all stuck together and we hate each other!”

And yes, it is true.  After a terrible loss, Coach Fuller makes the team come in for a Saturday morning practice.  Only a few members of the team make it due to the fact that it’s snowing and those who do make it end up getting trapped in the gym by the blizzard!  Way to go, Coach!

This actually wasn’t a bad episode.  For one thing, memories of the 2021 Texas blizzard are still fresh on my mind so, for once, I could relate to what the characters on the show were going through.  I actually have been snowed in, with the power going on-and-off.  Fortunately, I wasn’t trapped in a gym.  I was in my house, with a book to read.

The majority of the episode was taken up with a group therapy session, in which Fuller tried to get the team to open up about both the loss and their feelings to each other.  And while I initially groaned when the scene started, it was actually handled fairly well.  We got to hear each character’s inner thoughts and it turned out that most of them were just as tired of Julie being the center of every storyline as the viewers undoubtedly were.  Add to that, a new member of the cast made an appearance when one brave boom mic made an appearance, hovering over the group.

While everyone tried to figure out how to survive being stuck in the gym overnight (did none of these high school students have parents trying to dig them out?), Julie and Chris debated whether they could both date and be teammates and Mary Beth, who was in the gym despite not being a member of the basketball team, tried to take care of the fake baby that she had been assigned for a class assignment.

As I said, this was not a bad episode.  Chris and Julie were still an amazingly boring couple but, with this episode, it felt as if the cast had finally come together as an ensemble.  Still, it’s strange that the episode ended with Michael saving everyone in the high school as opposed to say the parents who were undoubtedly wondering to where their children had disappeared during the worst blizzard in Indiana history.  Did the adults in town just not care about their high school basketball team?

Episode 1.10 “The Sweat Shack”

(Directed by Howard Murray, originally aired on November 11th, 1995)

This was a weird episode.  Mary Beth’s father demanded that she get a job so, somehow, she ended up as manager of the Sports Shack (which is the store in the mall where most of the characters work).  At first, Mary Beth is too lenient of a boss.  Then she become too strict of a boss.  All of her employee go on a strike but is there really a Sports Shack union?  Is the strike even legal?  Couldn’t everyone be arrested for disturbing the peace and, even more importantly, why can’t Mary Beth just fire all of them and hire cheap replacements?  That would definitely cut down on payroll.

Meanwhile, Coach Fuller is in charge of a new exchange programs where members of the basketball team pair up with girls from Russia and …. wait, WHAT!?  Earl gets a Russian who loves hanging out with him.  Michael gets a Russian who is overweight so, of course, the audience goes, “Whoa!”  “You are fresh prince,” the Russian tells Michael, on account of the fact that Michael appears to be the only black student at Deering High.  “Hah hah hah!” the audience responds.  Eventually, Michael learns an important lesson about not judging Russian mail order brides by their weight.  It’s all more than a little cringey but it is kind of sweet that Earl’s exchange student even follows him around while he’s working his security job at the mall.

Anyway, this one of those episode that kind of felt as if it was just a mix of scenes and storylines that had been cut from other episodes.  Perhaps it would have been better if everyone had been trapped at the mall by another blizzard.  Seriously, blizzards bring out the best of this show.

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