Retro Television Review: City Guys 2.1 “Men Behind Bars” and 2.2 “Shock Jock”


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 time for another school year at Manny High!  The second season of City Guys opened with the video yearbook in the past and the school radio station in the future.  It also featured Chris with the first of many unflattering haircuts.  (It’s fully on display in the cast picture above.)

So, without further ado, let’s do it….

Episode 2.1 “Men Behind Bars”

(Directed by Frank Bonner, originally aired on September 12th, 1998)

It’s time for a new school year at Manny High and it’s also time for City Guys to do a “fake ID” show!  Apparently, in the 90s, fake IDs were the number one social problem amongst teenagers and, as a result, every single TNBC show did an episode about all the terrible things that can happen when you use a fake ID.  The basketball players on Hang Time got suspended for using fake IDs.  Zach Morris got yelled at by his mother for using a fake ID.  I’m sure something terrible happened to the  California Dreams as well, though I can’t remember what it was off the top of my head.  Fortunately, I’m reviewing the show on Saturdays so I guess I’ll find out eventually.

On City Guys, Chris and Jamal end up going to jail.

Chris and Jamal just wanted to use the fake IDs to get into a fund-raiser with Tyra Banks.  But, when they got caught with them, they were thrown behind bars.  Not wanting to call their parents, Chris and Jamal called Al and El-Train to bail them out.  Of course, the show had already gone out of its way to establish that Al and El-Train were petty criminals so guess who got arrested when they show up at the jail? (El-Train pretended to be a lawyer, which was too stupid to be believed but at least it allowed for some Steve Daniel humor.) Needless to say, Chris’s new pageboy haircut made him very popular in jail.

Meanwhile, at a school auction, a tutoring session with Dawn and Cassidy is purchased by Bed-Stuy’s Vinnie and Rocco.  The show acts as if this is a fate worse than death but do you know who didn’t end up in jail because of their fake IDs?  Vinnie and Rocco, that’s who!

“Trying to meet Tyra Banks wasn’t worth all this!” Jamal declares in his prison cell, guaranteeing that he will never be invited to guest judge America’s Next Top Model.

Anyway, don’t touch the fake ID, kids.  They’re just not worth the trouble and, if you’ve got the right attitude and if you know how to turn on the charm, you can usually talk people into not checking your ID in the first place.  A friendly smile is worth a hundred fake IDs.

Episode 2.2 “Shock Jock”

(Directed by Frank Bonner, originally aired on September 19th, 1998)

Manny High Radio is back on the air!

That’s right, Manny High had its own radio station.  So did Bayside on Saved By The Bell.  So did the high school from California Dreams.  I bet Hang Time had its own radio station as well.  In the 90s, dusty high school radio stations were as familiar a sight on Sunday morning television as teens trying to get into a club with a fake ID.  Seriously, how do these students have time to run a radio station and go to class?

Anyway, Chris and Jamal become the station’s new DJs, presumably because last season’s video yearbook collaboration went so well.  However, Chris and Jamal do not bother to learn all of the broadcast regulations, which leads to them playing a forbidden rap song about how much school sucks.  The school board tries to shut the radio station down so, just as happened on Saved By The Bell and California Dreams, the students get dressed up, attend a school board meeting, and save the radio station!  Of course, before that, Chris and Jamal try to start a pirate radio station, broadcasting as “The Voice.”  Amazingly, no one realizes that Chris and Jamal are “The Voice,” despite the fact that they were the two DJs who caused Manny High Radio to get shut down in the first place.

The main problem with this episode is that it was hard to imagine anyone getting excited over Chris and Jamal’s radio program.  Maybe teenagers in 1998 really were as impressed with Good Morning Vietnam call-outs as Peter Engel seemed to believe.  Who knows?  But, to me, I think most people would change the station or turn down the volume as soon as they heard that, “Good moooooooooorning, Manny High!”

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