Retro Television Reviews: Hang Time 3.11 “The Hustlers” and 3.12 “Fuller’s Rival”


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!

The trip to California continues!

Episode 3.11 “The Hustlers”

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on October 18th, 1997)

This episode reminds us that it originally aired in 1997 by featuring an entire subplot that revolves around how much the members of the Tornadoes love Mel Gibson.

The Tornadoes are still in California, preparing for their big tournament.  (Coach Fuller mentions that they’ve been at the hotel for a week, which sounds like a really long time to be out of school but whatever.  Maybe they’re on Spring Break.)  When Vince comes across a wallet in the hotel lobby, everyone is excited to discover that it belongs to Mel Gibson.  They’re so excited that they don’t even notice Dustin Diamond standing behind them, providing a painfully unfunny cameo as Saved By The Bell‘s Screech Powers.

(Speaking of Saved By The Bell, remember when Mary Beth made out with a character from that show over the summer, while they were both at Space Camp?  It’s odd that no one brings Ryan up while they’re all in California and apparently close to Bayside High.  It’s almost as if the show’s writers didn’t really pay much attention to what they were writing.)

Danny, Michael, Mary Beth, and Kristy pretend to be members of the cleaning staff and they break into Mel Gibson’s room.  When they step into the room, Mary Beth calls out in an exaggerated Spanish accent to see if Mel’s around because she’s pretending to be a maid.  Those who have been reading my reviews for a while know that I rarely get offended but I have to say that, speaking as both someone who is a fourth Spanish and whose mother took the occasional cleaning job in order to provide a good life for her four daughters, that actually did offend me a little.

Anyway, the group never does find Mel, though they do crash an exclusive Hollywood party that just happens to be taking place at the exact same hotel where they’re staying.  Hopefully, someone did eventually get Mel’s wallet back to him.

The majority of show dealt with Teddy and Julie getting conned by some basketball hustlers.  I didn’t even know that basketball hustlers were a thing but apparently, they were a huge problem in 1997.  After Teddy and Julie get conned out of a hundred dollars, Michael plays with Teddy and Julie to help them win back their money.  Unfortunately, Michael sprains his wrist (what is the deal with Michael constantly spraining stuff?) so Coach Fuller offers to play in Michael’s place.  When the hustlers say that they’ll only play against teenagers, Kobe Bryant suddenly enters the gym.  (According to Wikipedia, Kobe was 19 when he appeared in this episode.)  Being a teenager (assuming that you accept 19 as being a teen as opposed to a young adult), Kobe helps Julie and Teddy defeat the hustlers.  Julie and Teddy get their money back.  But, to be honest, if they really needed money, they could have just borrowed some from Mel Gibson’s wallet and saved everyone a lot of trouble.

Eh.  Between the racist humor and the Screech cameo, I don’t want to talk about this episode anymore.  Let’s move on.

Episode 3.12 “Fuller’s Rival”

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on October 18th, 1997)

Finally, it’s time for the tournament!  Deering makes it to the final game against New York.  (New York High School?  I’m not sure how these tournaments work.  Are they representing a state or a school?)  New York is coached by Fuller’s former rival, B.B. Byrnes (Barry Wiggins).  B.B. taunts Fuller to such an extent that Fuller loses his cool and gets kicked out of the game.  Then Michael gets upset and also gets kicked out of the game.  And then the Tornadoes lose!

Fuller apologizes to the team and tells them that good sportsmanship is important.  Then, at the award banquet, Danny smashes a cake in B.B.’s face so I guess the lesson wasn’t learned.  Oh well.

This episode, especially compared to the previous one, was actually pretty good.  Reggie Theus, who could be a bit of a stiff actor, really gets into tearing up the gym when he loses his temper and, for that matter, Adam Frost (who played Michael) finally gets to show a little emotion as well.  Plus, this show often tended to portray the Tornadoes as being unstoppable.  I always appreciate the episodes where they learn a lesson from losing a game as opposed to the ones where they magically pulling off a last-minute victory.

The California story arc may have been uneven but it ended on a good note.  Next week, I assume we’ll be back in Indiana.

One response to “Retro Television Reviews: Hang Time 3.11 “The Hustlers” and 3.12 “Fuller’s Rival”

  1. Pingback: Lisa Marie’s Week In Review: 1/16/23 — 1/22/23 | Through the Shattered Lens

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