Retro Television Reviews: Hang Time 3.25 “The Curfew” and 3.26 “Fuller’s Big Offer”

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!

Season 3 comes to an end as the Tornadoes play in the state championship and Coach Fuller is faced with a big decision about his future.  It’s hang time!

Episode 3.25 “The Curfew”

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on December 6th, 1997)

The Deering Tornadoes are in the championship tournament!  After they arrive at Indiana University or the University of Indiana or Gary Community College or wherever it is that they’re playing, Coach Fuller tells them that they’re under curfew.  However, Teddy sneaks out to a sorority party and then the rest of the team sneaks out to bring him back.  Then Fuller shows up at the party, looking for his team.  Since no one on this show can just do the simple thing and admit to having screwed up, the boys dress up like sorority girls and Julie dresses up like a frat boy and they attempt to sneak back to the dorms.  Everyone but Teddy shows up before curfew.  When Fuller finds out what happened, he benches Teddy.  Even when a player gets injured, Fuller sends in some guy we’ve never seen before and keeps Teddy on the bench.  What’s funny is that the player Fuller does send in pauses to dramatically glare at Teddy as he heads out to the court.  I wonder if he’s related to the guy from the Fake ID episode, the one who snapped, “I don’t want to let the team down!” when Fuller asked him if he could play despite being injured.

Even though he’s not on the court, Teddy still helps the team by joining the cheerleaders and cheering them on to victory.

This is stupid and the next episode is a lot more interesting.  Let’s move on.

Episode 3.26 “Fuller’s Big Offer”

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on December 6th, 1997)

The Deering High Tornadoes have a chance to win the state championship but they’re struggling.  “The Tornadoes are self-destructing!” the in-game announcer says.  Their heads are not in the game!

Well, who can blame them?  Coach Fuller has been offered a chance to become the head coach at Southern Florida University.  The team is convinced that Fuller is going to leave them after the season ends but, in a rousing locker room speech, he tells them that they can’t worry about what’s going to happen in the future.  They have to concentrate on the here and now.  Inspired by his words, the Tornadoes take the court and win the championship!  Of course, Julie scores the winning point because Julie was the greatest player in the history of basketball.  And, of course, the Tornadoes only win by a point because the Tornadoes almost always only won by one point.  It just seems like a truly great time wouldn’t always have to come from behind and win by a point.

At the dinner to celebrate the championship, I can’t help but notice that Fuller and all of the starters are there but the rest of the team is nowhere to be seen.  It’s hard not to feel bad for the members of the team who never got names or storylines.  Not only do they have to spend all of the games sitting on the bench but they also aren’t allowed to attend the championship dinner.  Fuller toasts his starters and announces that “All good things must come to an end.”  Awww, he’s leaving.  Then, Fuller says that he can’t wait to win another championship with the Tornadoes!  Yay!  He’s not leaving!  The season ends with a jubilant team surrounding their coach.

Except, of course, Fuller did leave.  Season 4 opened with Fuller in Florida and a new coach in Indiana.  We’ll get to that next week.

So, what happened with the finale?  Apparently, Reggie Theus left the show because he was offered a real-life coaching job but the offer wasn’t made until after this episode had been filmed.  Here’s what I think happened.  I can’t prove this but my theory is that the ski lodge and basketball camp episodes were meant to be the final episodes of the season.  I think the championship episode was probably supposed to happen before all of that.  (The ski lodge episode was taking place during everyone’s vacation, which indicates to me that it was supposed to be happening during the summer break.  The whole basketball camp also seems like something that would happen during the summer as opposed to the middle of the school year.)  But, when Theus announced he was taking a coaching job, the episodes were rearranged so the season now ended with Fuller getting offered a coaching job.  Though the video on YouTube ends with Fuller announcing that he’s going to stay, several commenters say that they can remember that, when the show was originally aired, it ended with Fuller saying, “All good things must come to an end.”  That indicates to me that the episode was hastily edited to try to create a cliffhanger, just in case Reggie Theus decided that coaching wasn’t for him.

Regardless of what may or may not have happened behind-the-scenes, this was a strong season ender.  In fact, it would have been a perfect way to end the series.  After three seasons, it would make sense that most of the characters would be graduating from Deering.  (And indeed, Reggie Theus was not the only cast member to depart after season 3.)  The show would have ended with everyone together one last time before moving on to even better things.  It would have been poignant and sad and it would have have brought tears from even this cynical reviewer.

However, that was not to be.  Instead, the show would continue with Julie and Mary Beth somehow still students at Deering High and a new coach stepping into Coach Fuller’s shoes.  Next week, we start season 4!

One response to “Retro Television Reviews: Hang Time 3.25 “The Curfew” and 3.26 “Fuller’s Big Offer”

  1. Pingback: Lisa Marie’s Week In Review: 3/6/23 — 3/12/23 | Through the Shattered Lens

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