Retro Television Review: City Guys 3.5 “The Players” and 3.6 “Raise the Roofies”


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!

Let’s see what’s happening at Manny High!  But first, let’s check out the theme song and watch as Chris and Jamal have way too much fun while wandering around New York City together….

Episode 3.5 “The Players”

(Dir by Frank Bonner, originally aired on October 2nd, 1999)

Remember, way back during season one, when Ms. Nobel ordered Chris and Jamal to work together on the video yearbook?  That was kind of set up as being the season’s big storyline and then it was just abandoned.  Instead, Chris and Jamal got their radio show and people like me were left to wonder whatever happened with the video yearbook.

Well, in this episode, City Guys finally addressed the issue of the video yearbook.  When Chris and Jamal decide to make a movie and enter it into a film festival, Cassidy asks them what they know about making movies.  Chris and Jamal immediately mention the video yearbook.  Cassidy replies that they never finished the video yearbook.  

Later, Chris and Jamal ask Ms. Nobel, “When have we ever let you down?”

“Well, there was the video yearbook,” Ms. Nobel replies.

I have to admit that I actually laughed at that joke.  It’s not often the City Guys makes me smile but this episode succeeded.  Not only did I discover that I was right in my suspicion that Chris and Jamal just gave up on the video yearbook but there was also a funny B-plot in which L-Train, Al, and Dawn agreed to be tested for ESP.  They were asked to guess what a researcher was looking at on a card.  If they gave the wrong answer, they would get an electric shock.  Al and L-Train always got the answers right.  Dawn got shocked over and over again until the researcher finally revealed that the test was actually a social experiment to see how many time someone could be shocked without getting mad.  Again, I laughed, I’ll admit it.  Steven Daniel, Caitlin Mowery, and Dion Basco all really sold the story.

As for the main plot, Chris and Jamal try to make a movie together but Jamal wants to make a Spike Lee-style social drama while Chris wants to do an Austin Powers-style spoof.  Eventually, they realize that they need to work together so they splice their two films together.  Everyone loves the film, of course!  And you know what?  This plotline also worked far better than I was expecting, with Scott Whyte and Wesley Jonathan really selling both their fight and their eventual collaboration.  Jamal’s movie actually felt like a movie that the politically-minded Jamal would make while it’s very easy to imagine that Chris would probably be a huge fan of Austin Powers.  For once, the plot and its developments actually felt like an organic result of who the characters were.  This was a surprisingly good episode.  

Episode 3.6 “Raise the Roofies”

(Dir by Frank Bonner, originally aired on October 2nd, 1999)

This episode opens with Al, Jamal, and L-Train giving Chris a hard time about his efforts to date Cassidy.  They mention that Cassidy is mad at Chris for dating that Greek girl behind his back.  Oh my God — continuity on City Guys!

Anyway, Cassidy has a new boyfriend and his name is Trent.  We know that he’s evil because his name is Trent and he’s a student at NYU.  No one named Trent is ever a good guy and, in the Engelverse, frat boys are always dating high school students and revealing themselves to be jerks with wandering eyes.

Trent has a roommate named Tom who compliments Trent on his girlfriend.  Trent reveals that Cassidy is in high school and she’s a “goody-goody.”

“I guess you’ll be sleeping alone this Friday night,” Tom says.

“Not necessarily,” Trent says with an evil laugh, “I’ll just need a little help from old friend, Mr. Roofie! …. And the best part is that she won’t remember a thing Saturday morning.”

Trent invites Cassidy to a frat party, which makes sense.  He also invites all of her high school friends, which makes far less sense.  Chris, in an effort to make Cassidy jealous, allows Al to set him up with an old woman, who turned out to be a taxi driver named Cookie.  Dawn meanwhile drinks a glass of punch that Trent was about to hand to Cassidy.  Dawn ends up passing out and while she’s being taken to the student health center, Trent takes Cassidy back to his room and attempts to drug her a second time.  When Cassidy refuses the drink, Trent tries to force himself on her.  Fortunately, Chris overheard some other frat boys talking about Trent’s plans and he breaks into the room.  Cassidy escapes and, upon learning what happened to Dawn, agrees to go to the police.

Wow, this was a heavy episode!  But again, the cast deserves a lot of credit for playing their roles with enough sincerity to make it work and the episode’s message was a good one.  

Wow, two good episodes of City Guys in a row!  I wonder what next week will bring!

One response to “Retro Television Review: City Guys 3.5 “The Players” and 3.6 “Raise the Roofies”

  1. Pingback: Lisa Marie’s Week In Review: 12/12/22 — 12/18/22 | Through the Shattered Lens

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