Retro Television Review: Hang Time 2.1 “Winning Isn’t Everything” and 2.2 “Just One Of The Guys”

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!

Welcome to Season 2 of Hang Time!  Because NBC wasn’t happy with the first season, the 2nd season served as a bit of a reboot for the season.  Half the cast left and the show became a bit more broad in its comedy.  That’s a polite way of saying that things got a little bit more cartoonish.

The show also got a brand new theme song!

Episode 2.1 “Winning Isn’t Everything”

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on September 7th, 1996)

The first episode of the 2nd season starts in the school hallway.  “They’re coming!” one kid yells before leading all of his classmates in a chant of “Tornadoes!  Tornadoes!”

Yes, the students at Deering High love their basketball team.  But where is everyone?  We see Julie, Danny, and Mary Beth walking down the hallway.  Where’s Chris?  Where’s Earl?  Where are Michael Maxell and Sam!?  Danny orders the students to chase down the one kid wasn’t cheering and then, as if he can hear our thoughts, he says, “I’m really going to miss Earl, Michael, and Chris.”

It turns out that things have changed!  Julie broke up with Chris over the summer and then he went off to college.  Earl is also at college.  And so is Sam.  All those people were seniors last year?  Why were they so worried about dating a bunch of underclassmen?  Mary Beth mentions that she’s no longer a cheerleader and now she’s equipment manager because her Dad thinks it will teach her responsibility.  Amy (Paige Peterson) is the new head cheerleader.  Everyone acts as if Amy was around last year even though she wasn’t in any of the episodes.

At practice, we meet the new players.  Vince D’Amata (Michael Sullivan) is cocky and determined to be a star.  Everyone makes fun of Vince for being short but he’s still taller than Danny so I’m not really sure that joke is as effective as the rest of the team thinks it is.  Fuller announces that the team has gotten lazy so it’s a good thing that his godson, Teddy Brodis, has transferred to the school.  Fuller used to play with Teddy’s father so Teddy is “probably great.”  On cue, Teddy enters the gym and …. OH MY GOD, IT’S ANTHONY ANDERSON!  Proving that everyone had to start somewhere, future Departed, Law & Order, and Black-Ish star Anthony Anderson did a two season tour as a part of the Hang Time cast.  Anderson was in his mid-20s at the time, making him considerably older than the rest of the cast.  Coach Fuller is upset to see that Teddy is not particularly tall and a little heavy-set.  Hey, Coach, that’s a future Emmy winner you’re talking to!  (And, even though he doesn’t got to do much in his first few episodes, it is obvious from the start that Anderson instinctively knew how to play to the camera.)

“Could we possibly be off to a rockier start?” Fuller says and in comes  Mary Beth with a box of new uniforms, all of which are the wrong color.  Mary Beth explains that they may be wrong but at least they’re “pretty.”

Anyway, the team is looking weak.  Can the team recruit Josh Sanders (Kevin Bell) to play for them!?  Josh is athletic but he refuses to play team sports because he doesn’t like the competitive aspect of the game.  We know that Josh is good and cute because the audience goes, “Woooooo!” whenever he shows up onscreen.  The team tries to recruit him by showing him that they don’t believe that winning is everything.  Honestly, though, if Josh isn’t into competing, why would you want him on your team?  Team sports are about winning!

Josh agrees to try out for the team but then walks out of a practice because of the team arguing with each other.  But then he comes to a game and see Fuller bench Vince because Vince wasn’t playing as a part of the team.  Josh immediately joins the Tornadoes.  I’m getting the feeling that Josh might have issues with impulse control.

Finally, Mary Beth accidentally washes all of the autographs off of one of Fuller’s basketball.  Fuller nearly fires her but then Mary Beth brings in some tall guy to re-sign the ball.  Judging by the way the audience went crazy and the fact that the guy was like 7’3, I’m going to guess he was a basketball player.

Episode 2.2 “Just One Of The Guys”

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on September 14th, 1996)

Julie doesn’t understand why Josh doesn’t seem to be attracted to her.  Mary Beth and Amy tells her that she should try to be more feminine.  Later, during practice, Julie gets upset when Vince gives her a high five and says, “Way to go, man!”  “I’m a girl,” Julie replies.  Josh, her crush, says, “Don’t take it personally, you’re just like one of the guys.”

OH MY GOD!  If I was Julie, I would move to a different state at this point.

Anyway, Mary Beth and Amy give Julie a makeover, which basically amounts to Julie wearing high heels, not wearing a bra, and tossing her hair back while talking to Josh.

However, Josh just wants to talk about basketball practice.

Pictures alone cannot communicate how awkward this scene was.

After spending all of last season determined to prove that she can play with the guys, Julie quits the team in order to prove that she’s not one of the guys.  Mary Beth is shocked.  “When I’m upset,” Mary Beth says, “I don’t get a new life.  I get new shoes!”  “Shoes aren’t a substitute,” Julie says and the only person more horrified by that statement than Mary Beth is me.  Mary Beth suggests that Julie try a new look.  “How about Janet Jackson?” Mary Beth says.  Uhmmm …. this is going somewhere dangerous….

Fortunately, Fuller is friends with an Olympic gold medalist, who just happens to drop by the office and gives Julie a pep talk.  Julie rejoins the team and decides to be confident in herself.  Is there nothing that an Olympic gold medalist can’t do?

In the B-plot, Vince, Teddy, and Danny make fun of the cheerleaders so the cheerleaders stop talking to them.  So, Vince, Teddy, and Danny dress up as cheerleaders.  

Anyway, the important thing about this episode is that Daniella Deutscher had more chemistry with Kevin Bell than she with David Hanson and, as such, the Julie/Josh relationship is a lot more entertaining than the Julie/Chris relationship.  Here’s hoping everything works out for them!

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