Retro Television Review: Hang Time 1.13 “Game Day”

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!

It’s time for championship so let’s get to it!

Episode 1.13 “Game Day”

(Directed by Howard Murray, originally aired on December 2nd, 1995)

The final episode of Hang Time‘s first season opens not with the team practicing or Coach Fuller coaching.  Instead, it opens with the Deering High gym dark and deserted, with the exception of Samantha.  Samantha sits in the bleachers, writing in her diary.  As I watched this scene, it occurred to me that, after 12 episodes, we know next to nothing about Sam beyond the fact that she works at the Sports Shack, she’s the equipment manager, and she’s dating Danny.  Does she have a family?  Does she have parents who wonder why she’s hanging out at the gym in the middle of the night?  Why can’t she write in her journal at home?  I get the feeling that Sam’s home life must have been some sort of Dickensian nightmare.

Anyway, this episode revolves around Sam remembering the days leading up the championship game and the game itself.  She writes that she had never seen Coach Fuller “so pumped,” which means that we get a flashback of Fuller talking to the team in the locker room and yes, he does seem pretty excited.  Fuller tells the team that “I know the Huskies are undefeated …. but I know we’re going to win tonight because we’re a family!”

(Here’s my thing, though.  The Huskies are undefeated but the Tornadoes are not.  So why is the championship being played at Deering High instead of wherever it is that the Huskies are from?)

Fuller leaves the locker room and everyone starts fighting!  Oh no!  There’s trouble in basketball world!  Michael thinks he’s jinxed!  Danny and Sam are arguing!  Chris and Julie aren’t even talking!

“But I’m getting ahead of myself,” Sam writes, “This all started Monday morning.”

And so, we go even further into the flashback machine.  Julie gives Chris a massage outside the school but gets upset when Chris accidentally calls her “Mary Beth.”  “It just slipped out!” Chris replies, something that he probably says to Julie a lot.  Julie gets upset.

Meanwhile, while having a picnic in the gym (again, with the gym), Sam tells Danny that she loves him.  Danny panics and replies, “I like you a lot.”  AGCK!  Bad move, Danny.  It’s bad enough that Sam is apparently not allowed to leave the gym.  She’s also got a coward for a boyfriend.

At practice, Coach Fuller tells everyone that they have to play as a team.  Fuller says that Chris’s playing has sucked over the past few weeks.  What could Chris be doing differently than before?  Let’s see.  When Chris was playing well, he was dating Mary Beth.  Now, he’s dating …. uh oh.  Mary Beth overhears and mentions that she used to always kiss Chris before every game.  Now, of course, Chris is dating Julie and Julie apparently doesn’t believe in showing affection so it sucks to be Chris.

At lunch, Julie tells Sam that she grew up with four brothers and they can play “every Led Zeppelin song through use of their armpits.”  I don’t know if I believe that.  Some of those songs are pretty long.  Stairway to Heaven is like a 50-minute song if I remember correctly.  Julie is worried Chris isn’t over Mary Beth.  Sam says that she has nothing to worry about and then writes, “Sometimes, you have to lie through your teeth.”

Danny tries to apologize to Sam, explaining the he thinks people are too quick to use the “L-word.”  Sam says she understands but then Danny casually mentions that he “loves” tuna fish.  Meanwhile, Earl freaks out because Michael walks under a ladder.  Everyone’s getting a storyline in this episode!

Chris also gives into his superstition, sharing a kiss with Mary Beth before the game.  Actually, he shares several.  He’s so busy kissing her that he doesn’t notice Julie coming out of the locker room until the last minute!  Uh-oh.

The game begins with everyone angry at each other.  Myself, I’m more concerned that the other team is being played by people who obviously were basketball players and, as a result, they tower over the Deering Tornadoes.

(Incidentally, I spell Tornadoes with an E.  Judging by the banners hanging in the Deering High gym, this show does not.  However, I’m the one writing the review.)

Before the game begins, Julie tells Chris that she’s not going to be a runner-up to anyone.  (But seriously, Mary Beth is so cool that if you were going to be runner up to someone….)  Julie then kisses Earl to show that she can have any guy she wants.  Earl does the chef’s kiss motion while Chris stares on horrified.

Despite their problems, the Deering High Tornadoes still take the lead.  However, Coach Fuller is angry because the score is still too close in his opinion.  Hey, Coach, they’re winning!  A win is a win.  Fuller does praise Chris for playing a great game.  We all know who deserves the credit for that.  Mary Beth better get the game ball.

In a subplot that is so stupid that I’ve been tying to avoid mentioning it, Michael has been trying to play the game without stepping on any cracks on the gym floor.  (He doesn’t want to break his mother’s back.  I told you it was stupid.)  Fuller yanks him out of the game and sends in a previously unseen player as a replacement.  The new player’s name is Bryan Kuta, which feels like such a random name that I’m assuming that was either the actor’s real name or the name of someone on the show’s crew.  Later, when Fuller tries to send Michael back into the game, Michael refuses because there’s only 13 seconds left in the quarter.  I would make fun of Michael but, to be honest, I refuse to use odd numbers.  If you’ve ever wondered why I always use four periods for an ellipsis instead of the standard three …. well, now you know.  Anyway, Fuller gives Michael a piece of tape and tells him to use it as a good luck charm.

Danny gets knocked to the ground.  Samantha runs out on court to make sure that he’s okay.  Michael interrupts the game by grabbing a microphone and announcing, “Samantha Morgan, I love you.”  Awwwwwww!  Yes, it’s cringey but Sam and Danny are a cute couple so it works.

With only 30 seconds left in the game, Coach Fuller pulls Chris and Julie off the court and replaces them with the second-string players.  Of course, the Tornados are up by ten.  Let’s see if Fuller would be so nice if it was a one point game!  Chris tells Julie that all of the luck came from Julie and not Mary Beth.  Personally, I think we all know that Mary Beth deserves all the credit.

The Tornadoes win the championship 84-75.  “Well, congratulations,” Fuller tells the players, “You’re the champs.”  That wasn’t much of a speech but …. Yay, I guess.

And so, the first season comes to an end.  Chris and Julie are a couple!  Danny and Sam are in love!  Michael is going to be a star!  Earl already is a star!  I can’t wait to see what happens to all of them next season….

Oh, alright.  I’ll tell you what happens next season.  Chris, Sam, Michael, and Earl are written out of the show and all of tonight’s storylines are forgotten about.  Join us next week for …. THE NEW HANG TIME!

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