Retro Television Reviews: Hang Time 3.15 “Teen Mom” and 3.16 “Midnight Basketball”

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 saga of Indiana’s greatest basketball team continues.  I’ll always remember me and my friends at Hang Time….

Episode 3.15 “Teen Mom”

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on November 1st, 1997)

Danny’s latest girlfriend, Sarah, is a teen mom!  Danny decides that, since he loves Sarah and he loves her son Max, he wants to marry her.  Sarah turns him down and Danny says that if she ever needs a babysitter, she knows who to call.  Then he leaves her house, alone.

Wow, what a depressing episode!  Give some credit to Chad Gabriel, who gives a good performance and who proves that he deserved to headline more episodes of this series than he did but still, this was definitely not a cheery episode.

Fortunately, there is a comedic B-plot, in which Kristy gets addicted to playing a video game called Killer Klown.  It  causes her to miss a photo shoot but … oh well!  KILLER KLOWN!

Episode 3.16 “Midnight Basketball”

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on November 1st, 1997)

In a storyline that was used in not just one but three different episodes of Saved By The Bell, the school starts a teen line!

Coach Fuller takes charge of the teen line and, of course, the operators are the members of the basketball team.  Despite the fact that they went out on a date just two episodes ago, Michael is not sure that Julie likes him and Julie isn’t sure that Michael likes her.  They each call the teen line for advice.  Mary Beth tells Julie to throw herself at Michael.  Danny tells Michael to ignore Julie and “play hard to get.”  It’s terrible advice and it leads to a lot of confusion.  Eventually, Julie figures out why Michael has been ignoring her and they end up kissing while the audience goes wild.  Doesn’t anyone remember how badly all of Julie’s relationships tend to end?

Meanwhile, Teddy befriends a caller named Eric.  Eric keeps getting into fights because there’s nothing for him and his friends to do at night.  Breaking the rules of Teen Line (much as Zach Morris once did), Teddy meets with Eric.  Taking sympathy on Eric, Teddy arranges for a midnight basketball game at Deering High.  Eric and his friends are defeated and thoroughly humiliated by the Tornadoes.  Needless to say, Eric is not happy about that and he trashes the team’s locker room.  To be honest, I don’t blame Eric.  How are you going to invite people to your gym and then humiliate them in the middle of the night?

That said, after a heart-to-heart with Teddy, Eric returns to Deering to help clean up the locker room.  Teddy promises to mentor Eric.  We will probably never see Eric again.

I have to say that, even on a show like Hang Time, Anthony Anderson was already a good actor.  There’s a lot of heart and sincerity in his performance here and it makes the episode work even when it shouldn’t.

Film Review: You People (dir by Kenya Barris)

Ezra Cohen (Jonah Hill) and Amirah Mohammed (Lauren London) have been dating for six months.  Ezra is a Jewish atheist who works at a brokerage firm but who says his lifelong dream has been to be a podcaster.  Lauren is Black and a devout Muslim.  A graduate of Howard University, she is pursuing a career as a designer.  Despite coming from very different backgrounds, Ezra and Amirah are deeply in love and want to get married.  However, becoming engaged also means …. MEETING THE PARENTS!

Shelley and Arnold Cohen (played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus and David Duchovny) are self-styled progressives who immediately embarrass Ezra by going out of their way to trying to show how liberal and non-racist they are.  Shelley, in particular, goes out of her way to bond with Amirah but it’s immediately obvious that Shelley views Amirah as being more someone to show off than as an actual human being.  Meanwhile, Akbar Mohammed and Fatima Mohammed (played by Eddie Murphy and Nia Long) are members of the Nation of Islam who admire Louis Farrakhan and who claim that the Jews were behind the slave trade.

Just from that plot description, you can see a huge part of the problem with the new film, You People.  Whereas Shelley’s problem is that she’s too quick to brag about how much she loves the idea of having a black daughter-in-law, Akbar’s problem is that he’s an anti-Semite.  His main objections to Ezra are that 1) Ezra isn’t black and 2) Ezra’s Jewish.  While Shelley takes Amirah shopping, Akbar tries to get Ezra killed by tricking him into wearing “the wrong colors” to a barbershop.  While Shelley shows off Amirah to all of her liberal friends, Akbar shoves Ezra onto a basketball court.  While Shelley is awkwardly trying to prove that she’s an ally, Akbar is inviting himself to Ezra’s wild Las Vegas bachelor party.  (Akbar is disturbed to discover that Ezra has a “coke guy.”  If this film had been made ten years ago, Ezra would have had a weed guy and it would have been easier to buy the film’s contention that Akbar is being unreasonable.)  Shelley is certainly obnoxious and she fully deserves to get called out for her behavior.  But Akbar is an anti-Semite who peddles the type of conspiracy theories that have been at the center of the alarming rise in recent hate crimes.  Whereas Shelley is clueless, Akbar is actually malicious.  And while that’s a story that one certainly could try to tell, it also makes it a bit difficult to buy the film’s fanciful ending.  The movie ultimately can’t decide if it wants to be a fearless satire of race relations or a feel-good romcom.  The tone of the film switches from scene to scene and Kenya Barris’s direction is so inconsistent that he makes Judd Apatow look like a disciplined filmmaker by comparison.

The cast is full of talent but the characters are largely one-dimensional.  Jonah Hill is undoubtedly a good actor but he’s also nearly 40 years old and, with his full beard, he looks about ten years older, which makes it a bit hard to believe that he would be that concerned with getting the approval of his future in-laws.  At first, a role of Akbar would seem ideal for Eddie Murphy but, with the exception of a scene where Akbar quizzes Ezra on his favorite Jay-Z song in an attempt to trick Ezra into saying the “n-word,” Murphy doesn’t really get to do much other than stand around with a pained expression on his face.  Probably the most interesting performance in the film comes from Mike Epps, who plays Akbar’s brother and who is one of the few characters willing to call everyone out on their hypocrisy.  But, unfortunately, Epps is only in a handful of scenes and the film uses him as more of a dramatic device than a fully rounded character.

As I watched You People, I couldn’t help but think about another film about an interracial wedding, Rachel Getting Married.  That film provided a believable and multi-layered look at two different cultures coming together.  You People, however, can’t quite make up its mind what it believes or what it wants to say and, unfortunately, what it does say is often said with a surprising lack of self-awareness.  At times, it’s so proud of itself that it feels like it almost could have been written by Shelley Cohen.

You People is streaming on Netflix.

Retro Television Reviews: Hang Time 3.13 “The Perfect Game” and 3.14 “Blood Drive”

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!

Having lost the tournament in California, the Tornadoes are back in Indiana!

Episode 3.13 “The Perfect Girl”

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on October 25th, 1997)

Coach Fuller finds himself subbing as the teacher of the school’s cooking class.  Thinking that the class will be an easy A, Michael, Teddy, Danny, and Julie all enroll in the class …. which, doesn’t really make any sense as they’re high school students and there are few high schools that will let you randomly enroll in a class halfway through a semester.  Add to that, they’re specifically enrolling in the class because Fuller is teaching it but what are they going to do when the regular teacher comes back?

It turns out that Fuller expects them to take his cooking class seriously and, when they screw around and even try to pass off a Stadium-bought pie as their own work, Fuller threatens to give them all Fs.  Seeing as how they randomly entered the class, couldn’t they just as randomly drop out before getting their final grade?  I’m really not sure how this high school works.  Eventually, the four of them get serious and make a real pie.  Of course, Teddy trips and accidentally smashes it into Fuller’s face.  Strangely enough, Danny did the exact same thing to a rival coach in the previous episode.

Meanwhile, Mary Beth enters a modeling contest and makes it to the finals.  When she doesn’t win, she considers getting plastic surgery.  As someone who was once told that the only thing keeping me from potentially becoming a star was a nose job, I could relate.  And, much like Mary Beth, I did consider getting that nose job.  Ultimately, I didn’t because I actually like my imperfect nose.  It’s a physical feature that I shared with my mom and just about everyone else in my family.  Mary Beth, thankfully, also declines to get plastic surgery, largely due to overhearing Vince talking about how beautiful she is.  Awwwwww!

Episode 3.14 “Blood Drive”

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on October 25th, 1997)

Kristy is tying to organize the school blood drive.

Mary Beth is trying to organize the school dance.

Danny helps Kristy because he likes her.  That’s not a surprise since Kristy bears a strong resemblance to Sam, the former team manager who broke Danny’s heart at the start of the second season.  Unfortunately, Danny gets jealous when he meets the handsome doctor who will be helping to draw the blood.  Danny almost ruins everything with his jealousy but then, he somehow convinces an actual NBA star to show up and give some blood.  The audience goes crazy.  Kristy, however, informs Danny that she’s not ready to date anyone.  (Seriously, Kristy, you’re only in high school for a limited amount of time.  You might as well try to have some fun.)

Meanwhile, Vince nearly ruins Mary Beth’s dance because of his inability to find a good band.  Finally, he finds a really cool old guy who plays an accordion.  Woo hoo!  The dance is saved.

Finally, I guess Julie broke up with that Jason guy because now she wants Michael to ask her to the dance.  However, Michael is insecure because he can’t dance.  Teddy tries to teach Michael how to dance and, even though it’s a really silly scene, Anthony Anderson gets so much into it that you can’t help but be charmed.  Anyway. Julie fakes an ankle sprain so that Michael, seeing that she won’t be able to dance, will ask her to be his date and it works.  Yay!  I just hope this relationship works out better than every other relationship Julie has had.  Chris cheated on her.  Josh and Jason both mysteriously vanished.  Michael seems to be a good guy, though.

This was a sweet episode.  Hang Time was at its best when it just let the teens be teens.

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.

Retro Television Reviews: Hang Time 3.9 “Not a D’Amata” and 3.10 “Kristy’s Other Mother”

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 Tornadoes go to California!  But first, we have to sit through some crap about Vince and his brother….

Episode 3.9 “Not a D’Amata”

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on October 11th, 1997)

It turns out that Vince has a bother named Nick (played by Michael Sullivan’s real-life brother, Billy).  Where has Nick been over the past season and a half?  He has been in Paris, at music school.  When he returns from France, Vince is shocked to discover that Nick has gone from being just like Vince to being someone who wears a beret, speaks fluent French, and writes poetry!  Vince is so upset that Nick has switched from being one stereotype to another, he rejects his brother.  Fortunately, Michael points out that not everyone is a three-point shooter and not everyone is a …. well, he uses a lot of basketball terms.  The important thing is that Vince accepts the new Nick.

(If this episode were made today, it would be about Nick coming out and Vince struggling to accept it.  But, since this episode is from 1997, it’s instead about Vince freaking out over Nick wearing a beret.)

While this is going on, Mary Beth and Kristy throw a fund raiser for the library.  Apparently, they’re going to raise money by having Coach Fuller throw balls through a basket.  Unfortunately, Fuller keeps missing his shots.  It looks the library is going to be closed!  Fortunately, a real basketball player named Gary Payton shows up and goads Fuller into regaining his confidence.  Not being a fan of the game, this whole storyline was weird to me.  I just know the audience went crazy whenever anyone threw a basketball.

Episode 3.10 “Kristy’s Other Mother”

(Directed by Don Barnhart, originally aired on October 11th, 1997)

This episode opens with a shot of the Beverly Hills Hotel….

Wait a minute?  Isn’t this show set in Indiana?

Well, it turns out that the Tornadoes have been invited to compete in a tournament in Los Angeles and, for some reason, they’re saying at a luxury hotel in Beverly Hills.  (Remember when Mary Beth spent a thousand dollars on sports bags and was told that she had spent all the money the team had in its annual budget?  I imagine flying to California and getting rooms for the entire team at a luxury hotel costs a bit more than a thousand dollars.)  Strangely, Kristy accompanies the team to Los Angeles but none of the other cheerleaders come with her.  If you’re already wasting all that money on a hotel in Beverly Hills, why not bring the entire school?  Seriously, if you’re going to get fired for fiscal incompetence, you might as well go all out.

(How much school are the Tornadoes skipping to go to this tournament?)

It turns out that Kristy has a reason beyond cheerleading to go to California.  She wants to meet her birth mother, who turns to be a fabulously wealthy actress who is starring in a movie with Harrison Ford.  (No, Harrison Ford does not make an appearance.)  Kristy’s mom is like, “Move to California!” but Kristy ultimately decides that she prefers Indiana.  Considering what lay head for California, Kristy made the right decision.  That said, Kristy’s decision still doesn’t make much sense.  What teenager is going to choose small town Indiana over a chance to live with a movie star in Beverly Hills?

Meanwhile, Vince, Danny, and Michael appear on a dating game show that’s being filmed at the hotel.  Vince wins a date with a girl other than Mary Beth.  Needless to say, Mary Beth is not amused.  Wisely, Vince gives her a lot of presents.

This was a pretty silly and fairly mawkish episode but at least the hotel looked nice.  This episode was directed by Don Barnhart, who directed several episodes of Saved By The Bell and California Dreams.  It also ends with the Tornadoes still in California so I’m guessing this L.A. tournament thing is going to last for a few more episodes.  We’ll find out if I’m right next week!

Retro Television Reviews: Hang Time 3.7 “Julie’s Guy” and 3.8 “Playing With Pain”

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!

I’ll always remember….

Episode 3.7 “Julie’s Guy”

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on October 4th, 1997)

Because Julie is incapable of doing anything that doesn’t somehow involve basketball, she is dating yet another basketball player.  You would think that she would have learned her lesson after Chris cheated on her and then Josh mysterious disappeared after the end of Season 2.  Of course, Chris and Josh were both teammates of Julie’s.  This time, Julie is dating Jason Redman, who plays for another team!

Needless to say, the other Tornadoes are not happy about this.  They’re not sure if they can trust Julie to put aside her feelings and play as a member of the team.  This is a pretty stupid concern.  Julie has been the show’s main character for two and a half seasons and we still don’t know a thing about her beyond the fact that she plays basketball and she brags nonstop about winning.

Once again, the Tornadoes play terribly for the first half of the game.  Fortunately, Fuller takes the time to yell at them in the locker room.  Everyone realizes they can trust Julie.  The Tornadoes go on to win by one point.  For all the bragging this team does, continually winning by only one point really isn’t that impressive.  Most good teams can actually win by several points.

Anyway, this one was pretty forgettable.  I have a feeling that we’ll probably never hear another word about Julie dating Jason.

Episode 3.8 “Playing with Pain”

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on October 4th, 1997)

Coach Fuller is gone again and Assistant Coach Keelor (Todd Fraser) is in charge of the team.  The last time that Fuller was absent from the show, during the Fighting Words episode, it was explained that it was because he had the mumps.  This time, no explanation is given for Fuller’s absence.  I’m going to guess that Fighting Words and Playing With Pain were envisioned as airing back-to-back but that NBC showed them out-of-order.  This is something that NBC frequently did with its TNBC shows and, as a result, the continuity of these shows were always out-of-whack.  Its almost as if NBC just didn’t care.

Anyway, at the start of this episode, Keelor announces that a scout is coming from the University of Arizona to watch Michael play.  The scout turns out to be someone named David Stoudemire.  By the way the audience goes crazy whenever he shows up in a scene, I’m guessing he was a basketball player.  Like most of the real-life basketball players who showed up on Hang Time, Stoudemire was hopefully better at playing basketball than acting.

Anyway, Michael really wants to impress the scout but, while practicing with Julie, he seriously sprains his ankle.  (Even though it looks like it was Michael’s fault because of the way he landed, I’m still going to blame Julie.  Julie was so upset over not being the center of attention that she goaded Michael into practicing too hard, knowing that he would end up spraining his ankle.)  Worried that he’ll be benched if he tells anyone that he’s injured, Michael tries to play through the pain.  This is something many pro athletes have done.  From personal experience, I can tell you that this is also something that many dancers have done.  I hurt my ankle so many times when I was younger that it was probably more of a surprise when I didn’t injure it than when I did.  You take a bunch of pain killers and then you do the best you can before passing out in the dressing room afterwards.  However, since this is a TNBC show, Michael dramatically reinjures himself while playing basketball and ends up screaming in pain while everyone watches.  In the locker room, both Assistant Coach Keelor and David Stoudemire tell him that he’s a dumbass.

Bye bye, Arizona!

Retro Television Reviews: Hang Time 3.5 “No Smoking” and 3.6 “Coach Fuller’s Car”

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!

Are you feeling lost?  Fear not!  The Deering Tornadoes are here with some important life lessons!

Episode 3.5 “No Smoking”

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on September 27th, 1997)

Oh no, Teddy’s smoking!

Yes, it’s yet another TNBC anti-smoking episode.  It seems like every TNBC show was required to do at least one episode where someone smokes one cigarette and suddenly becomes so addicted that they can’t function without that sweet, sweet nicotine.  Everyone tells them that smokers aren’t cool.  No one wants to hang out with a smoker.  Smokers smell like smoke.  Smokers taste bad when you kiss them.  Smokers can’t play basketball.  Blah blah blah.  It’s like a 30-minute version of those dumbass Truth dot com commercials where they’re like, “Big Tobacco is ravaging Struggling America.”

Anyway, Teddy is smoking and, when Coach Fuller finds out, he forbids Teddy from playing basketball.  Everyone tries to help Teddy quit.  Hypnosis doesn’t work.  Meditation doesn’t work.  “The nicotine has control of you,” Coach Fuller explains, making nicotine sound a lot cooler than it actually is.  Eventually, Fuller lets Teddy play, even though Teddy still hasn’t totally given up cigarettes because Fuller apparently had a total personality transplant between seasons 2 and 3.  (Remember how, during season 2, Fuller decided he’d rather the team lose than allow his best players on the court, all due to some fake IDs?  That doesn’t seem like the actions of a guy who would just sort of shrug and let Teddy play.)  Teddy agrees to enter an “anti-smoking” program and the other non-smokers on the team agree to attend with him.  What good is that going to do for them? They’re already anti-smoking.  No, this is a path that Teddy must walk alone.

Ugh, this episode was so heavy-handed.  I don’t even smoke and I got annoyed with it.  Let’s move on.

Episode 3.6 “Coach Fuller’s Car”

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on September 27th, 1997)

Coach Fuller has a conference to attend but the cab that was supposed to take him to the airport never showed up!  Because Fuller apparently has no friends or family outside of his team, he asks if they can give him a ride to the airport.  When they reveal that Vince’s car isn’t working, Fuller asks them to drive him to the airport in his prized Range Rover.

So, already, this episode has a huge credibility program.  First off, is there seriously no one else who can drive Fuller to the airport?  What about the assistant principal, the one who happens to be in love with him?  How about the assistant coach who showed up when Fuller had the mumps?  How about one of the many adult basketball players who are willing to drop everything and come to Deering High whenever a member of the Tornadoes needs a pep talk?

Secondly, even if we do accept that Fuller needs a high school student to drive his car to the airport, why does the entire team go to the airport with them?  Julie ends up driving, while Teddy, Vince, and Danny pile in the back seat.  Since it’s already been established that Fuller is extremely protective of his car, why would he allow the three most irresponsible characters on the show to ride with him and Julie to the airport?

Anyway, once they reach the airport, Fuller tells Julie to take the car straight home.  Instead, Julie, Teddy, Vince, and Danny drive the car to a frat party in Indianapolis, where Michael’s band is performing.  (Michael has a band?  And Kristy and Mary Beth are his backup singers?)  Unfortunately, the punch at the frat has been spiked and soon, everyone but Michael and his singers are drunk!  In a rare example of good judgment, Julie decides not to drive Coach’s car while drunk.  Instead, they leave the car at the frat house while Michael takes everyone home.

The next morning, Michael and Julie go back to the frat house and …. THE CAR’S GONE!

You saw that coming, right?

When Fuller comes home early, he is informed by the police that his car was found on the roof of the university library.  (The police say is was a rush week prank.  I’m wondering how a bunch of frat boys got a range rover on the roof of a library.)  The car is fine but Fuller still plays a prank on his team by having some biker dude tell them that the car is no more.  It turns out that Fuller is proud of his team for not driving drunk but he still orders them to run 20 miles to teach them a lesson about responsibility.

This episode …. actually, it wasn’t that bad.  Yes, Fuller made a huge mistake trusting the team with his car but, for once, his reaction to the team screwing up seemed realistic and reasonable.  He praised his team for not driving drunk.  That’s a good message.  Despite the fact that most of this episode’s drama could have been avoided by the characters not being idiots, the overall episode actually work pretty well.

What lessons will be learned next week?  We’ll find out soon!

Retro Television Reviews: Hang Time 3.3 “First Game Of The Season” and 3.4 “Fighting Words”

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!

We’re part of the team, never alone….

Episode 3.3 “First Game of the Season”

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on September 20th, 1997)

I hope this episode isn’t stupid, I thought as First Game of the Season began.

My hopes were dashed immediately as the episode opened with Teddy begging his teammates to sign his underwear for luck.  This was followed by Coach Fuller discovering that the new assistant principal was his ex-fiancée.  (“Whoooooo!” the audience said.)  Then Michael went crazy because the first game of the season was going to be against his former team, Lynwood High.  Michael started pressuring everyone during practice and even encouraged them to skip study hall so that they could practice some more.  That led to the team getting detention.  (Seriously?  It’s freaking study hall.  Everyone skipped study hall when I was in high school.)  The team nearly lost to Lynwood until Michael set his ego aside and blah blah blah,  Anyway, the final score was Deering 57 and Lynwood 56.  Yay!

(As usual, the actors playing the Lynwood team were convincingly athletic, even if they looked more like football players than basketball players.  Why did this show never realize that casting athletic actors as the rival players only highlighted how much the main cast struggled when it came to convincing the viewer that they were basketball stars?)

While all of this was going on, the Lynwood cheerleaders launched a prank war on the Deering cheerleaders.  Mary Beth immediately pressured Kristy into retaliating.  This is why I like Mary Beth.  She is a force of chaos who continually encourages other people to escalate their behavior without ever running the risk of getting in trouble herself.  Anyway, in this case, it leads to Kristy stealing the principal’s dog.  And technically, that’s a crime and it never makes sense that Kristy is allowed to keep the dog a the school but you know what?  The little bulldog was cute and he got to wear a lot of Wishbone-style costumes.  That was fun,

Episode 3.4 “Fighting Words”

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on September 20th, 1997)

This episode begins with the Tornadoes playing yet another game.  Danny is struggling on the court and, from the stands, a bully taunts him.  Normally, we would look to Coach Fuller to kick the guy out of his gym but …. OH MY GOD, COACH FULLER’S NOT THERE!  Instead, there’s some short white guy that we’ve never seen before and he’s coaching the Tornadoes!  It turns out that Coach Fuller has the mumps and will not be in this episode.  I assume that means Reggie Theus had better things to do than show up for filming.  I don’t blame him.

Anyway, realizing that he has a bully after him, Danny learns karate.  However, his sensei tells him that karate is not used for fighting.  Karate is used for discipline.  When the bully dares Danny to a fight, Danny refuses to fight and proves that he’s the bigger man.  All the students applaud him.  Yay, Danny!  Of course, in real life, backing down from a fight is a humiliation that would have followed Danny for the rest of his life.

While that’s going on, Kristy dates a cute but dumb boy named Joey.  Joey is played by …. OH MY GOD, IT’S SCOTT WHYTE FROM CITY GUYS!  This episode aired during the first season of City Guys, back when Scott Whyte still had good hair.  There’s not really much to the Kristy/Joey storyline.  Kristy pretends to be dumb to get Joey to like her.  Eventually, she realized she would rather be smart so she dumps Joey.  Joey doesn’t care because he’s cute.  That’s pretty much it.

This was an oddly pointless episode, one that almost felt like it was written by a TNBC AI program of some sort.  Coach Fuller would never have allowed this type of nonsense.

Retro Television Review: Hang Time 3.1 “Team Captain” and 3.2 “Sexual Harassment”

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 3 of Hang Time!  Two cast members leave and two join.  The theme song remains the same.

Episode 3.1 “Team Captain”

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on September 13th, 1997)

A new school year begins at Deering High and …. wait a minute?  Where’s Josh!?  Where’s Amy!?  Two members of the cast have vanished without warning.  The new head cheerleader is Kristy Ford (Amber Barretto), who apparently is good friends with everyone on the show even though the viewers have never seen her before.  And replacing Josh as the new player who is obviously destined to become Julie’s boyfriend is Michael Manning (Adam Frost).  Michael has transferred to Deering and, unlike Josh, he can’t wait to play on the team!

Mary Beth spent her summer at space camp (even though there’s never been anything about Mary Beth that has suggested she would have any interest in space camp) and, while there, she met and kissed Saved By The Bell‘s Ryan Parker!  When the guilt-stricken Mary Beth tells Vince about what happened, Vince dumps her.  But then Vince decides to take Mary Beth back on the condition that Mary Beth basically do a bunch of things to prove her love for him.  This sounds like the set-up of a 70s porn flick but, since this is a TNBC show, Vince just asks Mary Beth to wait in line to buy tickets to the new Jim Carrey film.  Seriously, Mary Beth, don’t take that from him!  I would have picked Ryan over Vince too!

At the movies, Vince is approached by a girl with whom he cheated on Mary Beth over the summer.  Mary Beth responds by dumping a bunch of nachos on his crotch, once again proving herself to be the coolest girl in Indiana.

Meanwhile, Julie is angry because everyone on the team loves Michael and wants him to be team captain.  Julie gets upset that no one wants her to be team captain, despite the fact that she never bothered to tell anyone that she wanted the position and she expected that they would just give it to her.  This was a typical Julie storyline, in that Julie was totally self-centered but it was okay because she’s Julie.  Eventually, everyone on the team told Julie that they couldn’t possibly win without her and Julie got over being angry.

Episode 3.2 “Sexual Harassment” 

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on September 13th, 1997)

In a sure sign that this episode was from the 90s, the men on the team agree to get tattoos but all of the guys get scared and change their minds.  Naturally, Julie takes this is an opportunity to make everyone else feel like crap by getting a fake tattoo and then scolding the guys for once again not making her feel like a part of the team.  Of course, as the last two seasons have shown, Julie is the only good player on the team and all of her teammates literally worship the ground that she walks on so I’m starting to feel that Julie just likes to complain about stuff.

Fortunately, that was only the B-plot.  In the main plot, Mary Beth accidentally spent the team’s entire budget in just one weekend.  In order to pay the team back, she got a job as a waitress at The Warehouse.  Her boss was the Warehouse’s assistant manager, Tom (Jeremy Vincent Garrett), a former Deering basketball star who apparently used to play for Coach Fuller even though we’ve never seen the character before and the show literally started with Fuller showing up the first day of his coaching job.  Tom turns out to be a total creep who is always giving Mary Beth unwanted back rubs and pressuring her to stay late with him.  The storyline was handled in a surprisingly mature fashion, considering that this was a TNBC show.  A lot of credit for that goes to Megan Parlen and Jeremy Vincent Garrett, who both gave believable performances even when the show itself threatened to get a bit cartoonish.  At the end of the episode, Fuller ordered Tom to leave his gym and, for once, the audience’s applause felt earned.

Retro Television Reviews: Hang Time 2.13 “The Best Game of the Season”

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 2 comes to an end with …. The Best Game of the Season!

Episode 2.13 “The Best Game of the Season”

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on November 30th, 1996)

The final episode of season 2 begins with Mary Beth screaming, “9-11!  Girl in trouble!”

It turns out that Mary Beth was trying to clean the backboard in the gym when the ladder fell over.  Now, she’s caught in the net!  The team runs into the gym.  They’re impressed by Mary Beth’s dedication but then they remember that she just wants to get a car that she’ll apparently receive if the team makes the playoffs.  “I thought she had Tornado Fever!” Josh says and the entire team laughs about how the whole school has Tornado Fever.  Julie agrees that there is no way that the Tornadoes aren’t going to make it to the playoffs.  Fuller yells at everyone for getting cocky and forgetting that they still have to win one more game.  Uh, guys …. SOMEONE RESCUE MARY BETH!  Eventually, Vince sets up the ladder and climbs up to the backboard to save Mary Beth.  But then ladder falls over again and …. ha! …. Vince is trapped as well.

Fuller tells Julie to come talk to him in the locker room after practice.  It turns out that there’s a man with a fake Italian accent waiting for the two of them.  Coach Fuller explains that the man coaches “the Women’s International Basketball Team in Milan.”

“Really!?” Julie exclaims, “Milan, Italy!?”


Anyway, Coach Mario wants Julie to come play for him in Europe.  Fuller thinks that Julie needs to focus on high school and college before going pro.  Fuller explains that graduating from high school and college will make Julie a more mature and better player.  Somewhere, LeBron James is laughing.  (And that, quite frankly, is the extent of my LeBron James knowledge.)  In a rather creepy moment, Mario says that he knows all about Julie, including that Chris cheated on her before going to college.  WHAT!?  Julie finds nothing strange about this.

“I-a know it-a is-a big decision,” the actor playing Mario says.

Later, in the school hallway, Josh tells Julie that she should take the opportunity but that he would really miss her if she goes.  Julie kisses him.  “Wooooooo!’ the audience says.  Amy suggests that Julie should just go to the tryouts and see what it’s like before making a final decision.  Julie says that’s not a bad idea.  Danny says, “Plus, you probably won’t make the team anyways.”  Julie glares at him but Danny’s only saying what we’re all thinking.

At the mall, everyone listens as Mary Beth and Vince debate whether or not it’s better to get a BMW or an old mustang convertible.  But then Julie shows up and tells everyone that she went to the try-outs and she played the best ball of her life.  Then Fuller shows up and tells Julie that she made it.  Everyone gets excited.

“I made it!” Julie says.

“There’s something else you have to make,” Fuller says, somberly.  “A decision …. by this Monday.”

But what about the car!?

The next day, Fuller is frustrated because the team is more interested in talking about Julie’s decision about going to Italy than practicing.  Julie announces that she’s going to Italy.  The team freaks out.  Fortunately, Mary Beth ends the fight by announcing that she washed the scoreboard with soapy water.  Sparks fly across the gym.  Everyone’s upset about the scoreboard but I’m just happy that Mary Beth didn’t get electrocuted.

At the mall, everyone gathers at The Stadium (I just remembered that’s the name of the crappy restaurant where they all hang out) to say goodbye to Julie.  Everyone except for Mary Beth and Vince!  Those two try to run a buffer over the gym floor but they accidentally grab a sander instead.  The gym floor is destroyed.  “Oops!” Vince says.

The next morning, Josh approaches Julie in school and gives her two tickets to a lecture from someone who I assume is a basketball player.  I assume this not because I recognized the name but because every guest star on Hang Time was a basketball player.  Unfortunately, Julie has just learned that she had to leave for training camp right away.  No lecture.  No going away party.  And no playing in the final game.  The Tornadoes are doomed!

Coach Fuller steps into the gym and freaks out when he discover Vince and Mary Beth repairing the floor.  Accompanying Fuller is an 10-foot tall woman who I assume is a basketball player.  While Fuller yells at Vince and Mary Beth in his office, Julie steps in to the gym and talks to the basketball player.  The player and Julie dribble the ball around and Julie is so thoroughly humiliated that she realizes that she’s been way too cocky about going to Italy.  The player orders Julie to stay in school and go to college.

At the big game, Julie shows up and announces that she’s not going to Italy and she’s ready to lead the team to the playoffs!  Except …. The Tornadoes lose by one point!  YOU SHOULD HAVE GONE TO ITALY, JULIE!  Julie assures everyone that they just played “the best game of the season.”  No, you lost, Julie!  Maybe if you had gone to practice instead of spending your time packing for Italy, the team would have gone to the championship!  Still, no one is upset at Julie because no one on this show is ever allowed to call out Julie being more than a bit self-absorbed.

And so season 2 ends.  Next week, season 3 begins!  Will Julie and Josh be able to lead the Tornadoes to another championship?  Julie might but Josh won’t because his character didn’t return for season 3.  Who will replace him?  Tune in next week to find out!