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!
Believe it or not, there’s a “lost” episode of City Guys.
According to Wikipedia, an episode called “The Movie” aired on November 1st, 1997. Here’s the plot description: Jamal and Chris decide to make a film using the school’s video camera. Things gets hairy when Ms. Noble wants to see their progress on the yearbook video.
Sound like fun, right? Unfortunately, it appears that “The Movie” was not included in City Guys‘s syndication package and, as a result, it’s also not available to stream on Tubi or anywhere else online. So, we’ll just have to accept that “The Movie” is lost to us. That said, it is nice to see that the show apparently attempted to return to the video yearbook storyline. For something that was supposed to be a big, year-long project, it certainly doesn’t appear that Chris and Jamal spent much time working on it.
For instance, in the two episodes that are reviewed below, they both manage to develop a gambling addiction and Jamal faces his own mortality. But no one says a damn thing about the video yearbook.
Anyway, roll with the city guys!
City Guys 1.9 “Future Shock”
(Directed by Frank Bonner, originally aired on November 8th, 1997)
“Meet Charlie Gresham,” Ms. Noble tells Jamal after he runs into Charlie (Corey Parker) in Noble’s office, “your class president.”
But wait a minute? Didn’t they elect a new class president in the previous episode? As you may remember, Cassidy, Dawn, and El-Train were all running for the office. Who the Hell is this Charlie Gresham guy? I’ve already pointed out that, even in its first season, City Guys struggled with continuity but this has got to be one of the show’s most glaring examples of just not keeping track of stuff. Did no one involved in the production care? I mean, even Saved By The Bell managed to remember that Jessie was class president.
Charlie is a lovable and charismatic class clown who is also a straight A student. He’s even got a scholarship to Harvard! He and Jamal meet and become best friends the same day! But then, the next morning, Ms. Noble announces that Charlie has been killed by a drunk driver. Bye, Charlie!
Jamal is so upset over the death of someone who he’s known for less than 24 hours that he decides that there’s no point of studying to do well on his PSATs. Character actor Clyde Kusatsu shows up as the therapist who is brought in to help everyone come to the terms with the death of a universally loved classmate whom none of them had ever mentioned before. Kusatsu is always good.
Actually, the entire cast does a good job in this one. It perhaps would have been more powerful if Charlie had actually been seen (or even referred to) prior to this episode but, given the show’s lack of concern with continuity, I wouldn’t be surprised if Charlie turns up alive in a future episode. That said, Ms. Noble asking Jamal to deliver the eulogy at Charlie’s memorial service felt a bit weird. They’d know each other for about 8 hours before Charlie died. “I don’t know what to say!” Jamal says. Yeah, I wouldn’t know what to say at a complete stranger’s funeral either.
Anyway, Charlie’s ghost comes back and encourages Jamal to keep on studying. That was nice of him. This episode ends with a totally unironic performance of Kumbaya. That takes guts.
City Guys 1.10 “Easy Money”
(Directed by Frank Bonner, originally aired on November 15th, 1997)
Chris and Jamal start making bets on football games! They make a ton of money and they’re even able to go out and buy totally happening portable televisions!
Unfortunately, when they try to become bookies themselves (don’t ask), they end up owing $400 to El-Train and his cousin. Yes, El-Train returns in the episode. When we last saw him, he was running for class president and determined to turn his life around. In this episode, he’s back to being the much feared school bully. He’s so intimidating that Chris and Jamal steal $400 from the school raffle. These city guys may be smart and streetwise but are they really the neat guys? I’m having my doubts.
Anyway, everyone confesses in the end and Ms. Noble punishes them by forcing them to clean the school furnace for free. Unfortunately, Chris and Jamal also had to give back their portable televisions. What a shame.
The message is don’t gamble but the subtext is that Jamal didn’t learn a damn thing from Charlie Gresham’s death. Hopefully, next week’s episodes will find him behaving in a way that would have made Charlie proud.