Retro Television Reviews: City Guys 4.26 “Blast From The Past”

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 YouTube!

Today, we say goodbye to season 4!

Episode 4.26 “Blast From The Past”

(Dir by Frank Bonner, originally aired on February 24th, 2001)

The final episode of season 4 opens with the City Guys still at the Hamptons.  (Wow, I guess this must be a really long weekend or something.)  Chris is trying to plan “this one month anniversary surprise for Cassidy” and, for some reason, he thinks that it’s a good idea to ask Jamal and L-Train for advice.  “Come on, dawg,” the very white Chris says, “a brother needs some advice here.”

“First piece of advice,” Jamal says, “don’t talk like that.”

Jamal tries to argue that anniversaries aren’t a big deal.  Cassidy then enters the living room and announces that today is the 17-day anniversary of the first time that she and Chris said the same word at the same time and jinxed each other.  She got Chris a card and everything.  Anniversaries are very important and not just on this show.  I have an entire calendar full of anniversaries and if you want to be a part of my life, you better be prepared to memorize it.

Meanwhile, on the beach, Al and Dawn are hanging out with Ms. Noble and Billy, which makes absolutely no sense.  Al and Dawn make fun of Ms. Noble and Billy for being old.  “Anything you and Dawn can do, Billy and I can do better!” Ms. Noble indignantly declares.

“Is that a challenge?” Dawn asks.

“Oh, it is on!” Ms. Noble replies.

Uhmm….I’ve said this before but MS. NOBLE IS THE PRINCIPAL!  She shouldn’t even be hanging out with her students on the weekend, let alone challenging them on the beach!

Meanwhile, back at the vacation home, Chris has finally decided that he and Dawn will have a romantic dinner on the beach for their anniversary.  (There’s nothing more romantic than sand and sea crabs!)  The doorbell rings and, when Chris answer it, he’s surprised to see a girl named Nicole.  They hug and Nicole announces, “When I heard you were in town, I had to come see you and say hi!”

“When you’re done saying hi,” Jamal announces, “Maybe you can introduce a brother.”

Chris explains that Nicole is his ex-girlfriend.  Cassidy then enters the room and is a little less than happy to discover that Nicole is Chris’s ex-girlfriend and that Nicole lives in the Hamptons.  Cassidy says she’s from the city.  “I always wondered what it’s like to live in the city,” Nicole says, as if this episode is taken place in Appalachia as opposed to the Hamptons.

Somehow, Jamal and L-Train get roped into judging a dumb competition to determine whether Ms. Noble and Billy are a better couple than Dawn and Al.  Let’s just ignore the whole principal thing.  Billy and Ms. Noble are in their late 40s.  They are challenging two seventeen year-olds.

Back at the vacation home, Nicole and Cassidy return from shopping.  They’re getting along great until Cassidy asks why Nicole and Chris broke up.  “Chris was a cheater,” Nicole says.  Cassidy thinks that Nicole is referring to cheating at school.  Nicole explains that Chris also cheats on his girlfriends.  He’s a double cheater!

(But if Chris was such a cheater, why was Nicole so happy to hear that he was back in the Hamptons?)

Nicole reveals that when she confronted about Chris about being a cheater, Chris called her “the c-word.”

Cassidy gasps and I’ll admit that I gasped a little too.

“Yes,” Nicole says, “Clingy.”

(Interestingly, there’s no laughter or anything of that sort when Nicole says “clingy” so who knows?  Maybe that’s what the C-word referred to back in 2000.)

You can probably guess what happens next.  Chris is trying to set up the dinner without Cassidy finding out and Cassidy is convinced that Chris is cheating.  Jamal and L-Train attempt to help Chris out by announcing that the three of them just want to hang out as guys but, when Cassidy doesn’t get the message, Chris tells her, “This week will go a lot better if you try not to be so …. so …. so …. CLINGY!”


While Cassidy worries about whether or not Chris is cheating on her, the dumbass Best Couple Competition continues.  Ms. Noble and Billy come over to Chris’s vacation home and they play a game where they try to guess what movie their partner is referring to.  Ms. Noble and Billy easily win so I guess it’s time for Al to transfer to another school.

Later, Cassidy tells Dawn that Chris used “the c-word.”

“Oh my God,” Dawn replies, “Clingy!?”

And again, there’s no laughter.  Either the joke went over the heads of the studio audience or it wasn’t a joke to begin with.

A deliveryman stops by and drops off some flowers.  He explains that Chris paid him money to deliver flowers for “a secret rendezvous on the beach.”  Cassidy, who is anniversary-obsessed, does not link this to their upcoming anniversary.  Jamal, however, tells Dawn (but for some reason, not Cassidy) that Chris is planning on a diner for Cassidy.

Cassidy confronts Chris about the flowers and breaks up with hi,.  Knowing that their friend is in pain, Jamal and L-Train promptly leave so that they can judge a tug-of-war competition between Ms. Noble and Billy and Dawn and Al.  Fortunately, Dawn takes a break from pulling on the rope to let Cassidy know about the surprise dinner.

(For the record, Billy and Ms. Noble win the tug-of-war and the title of best couple.  I’m not sure what pulling on a rope has to do with being the best couple but whatever.  It’s a dumb plot anyway.)

Cassidy meets Chris on the beach and they forgive each other.  And season 4 ends.  Yay!

The first half of season 4 was fairly weak but the show kind of improved once Chris got his hair cut.  Certainly, City Guys was not the best of Peter Engel-produced NBC shows but it wasn’t One World either.  The biggest flaws remains the unrealistic depiction of Ms. Noble.  The show’s biggest strength, at the end of season 4, is that the actors have finally stopped looking straight at the camera while delivering their lines.

Next week, we begin the final season of City Guys.

Retro Television Reviews: City Guys 4.24 “El-Brain” and 4.25 “Pier Pressure”

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 YouTube!

This week, the city guys finally leave the city for a while.  Drama follows.

Episode 4.24 “El-Brain”

(Dir by Frank Bonner, originally aired on December 16th, 2000)

On Wikipedia, this episode’s plot is described as follows: “El-Train enters the Science Fair to prove that he’s smarter than everyone, including Jamal, who thinks he isn’t.”  Unfortunately, this is one of the episodes that is not streaming anywhere online so I haven’t been able to watch it.  Interestingly. the title of this episode would seem to indicated that I’ve been referring to L-Train by the wrong name all this time.

Well, he’ll always be L-Train to me.  And I hope he did well at the science fair.  I’m also going to assume that Jamal learned a lesson about judging people.

Episode 4.25 “Pier Pressure”

(Dir by Frank Bonner, originally aired on December 16th, 2000)

Chris has got access to his father’s vacation home for the weekend so the kids are going to the Hamptons!

Everyone is super excited about the idea of going out on Chris’s father’s yacht.  The only problem is that the yacht’s captain has called in sick.  Fortunately, Chris knows how to sail.  He, Cassidy, Dawn, and Al take the yacht out for a spin.  As you can probably guess, this leads to one disaster after another.  First off, Al forgets to pack the food because he’s tired of Dawn trying to micromanage his life.  Secondly, Chris and Al turn out to be not quite the expert fishermen that they claimed to be.  Third, after turning off the engine, Chris can’t figure out how to drop the anchor.  Fourth, the boat floats until it hits a sandbar.  Fifth, the boat runs out of gas.  Sixth, the boat runs out of power.  Seventh, Al announces that everyone is going to starve to death.  That does seem like a distinct possibility but at least they’ll get to experience a little bit of the yacht life before they die.  Plus, if they die, the show will be over and I can start watching something better.

Meanwhile, Jamal and L-Train invite two women up to the house, which they now claim to own.  The women make themselves comfortable in the living room.  Suddenly, Ms. Noble and Billy show up!  What are they doing there!?  It turns out that they’re spending the weekend at the Hamptons as well and they just decided to stop by.  Seriously, school’s out.  It’s the weekend!  No one wants to see their principal on the weekend!  And really, I am kind of suspicious of any principal who would decide to just drop in on their students during they’re own vacation.  That’s weird.

Fortunately, it all works out in the end.  Jamal suddenly notices that Chris, Al, Dawn, and Cassidy haven’t come home.  The coast guard is called.  Everyone lives!  Yay!  This is the type of episode that I can’t stand, where every problem is the result of people just being unbelievably stupid.  But at least it only lasted 30 minutes or so.

Next week, season 4 ends!

Retro Television Reviews: City Guys 4.22 “Dating Games” and 4.23 “Wager Money Go”

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 YouTube!

This week, Cassidy develops a crush on Chris while Jamal deals with a gambling problem!  Didn’t we already do all of this?

Episode 4.22 “Dating Games”

(Dir by Frank Bonner, originally aired on December 9th, 2000)

It’s time for the Valentine’s Day dance!  Why did the Valentine’s Day episode air in December?

Cassidy is upset because she doesn’t have a boyfriend.  Dawn asks Cassidy why she doesn’t just hook up with Chris since they do things together all the time and Chris is totally in love with her.  In fact …. hey, remember last week when everyone got drunk and Cassidy announced on national television that she liked Chris?  I guess Cassidy doesn’t because she tells Dawn that she and Chris are just good friends.  “I need a boyfriend!” Cassidy announces.  Dawn tells Cassidy that she’s too much into image and what other people will think.  Cassidy doesn’t hear her because she’s too busy checking out Jordan, the hottest guy at the school.  Dawn says that Jordan only dates girls who are on the rebound so Cassidy decides that she needs to pretend to date someone and fake break up with them so that she can go out with the guy she really likes.

Paging Chris!

After pretending to date Chris and then staging their breakup, Cassidy hooks up with Jordan and Chris hooks up with a girl named Linda.  However, Cassidy realizes that she actually likes Chris more than Jordan so she breaks up with Jordan.  At the dance, Dawn tells Chris that Cassidy likes him so Chris heads over to Cassidy’s penthouse and finally — FINALLY! — the two of them declare their love for each other.  Awwwwww!

Despite a silly B-plot involving Ms. Noble teaching a meditation class and an A-plot that involved everyone being kind of stupid, this was actually a pretty good episode by City Guys standards.  Maybe I’m just a sucker for romance.  Chris and Cassidy are a cute couple.

Episode 4.23 “Wager Money Go”

(Dir by Frank Bonner, originally aired on December 9th, 2000)

“Yo, Jamal,” Al says, “this gambling is making you whack!”

And indeed it is!  Jamal has developed a gambling problem.  He’s spending all of his time at a “backroom gambling joint,” where he plays craps while a local gangster watches.  Jamal swears to everyone that he has a system and he can’t lose.  However, he spends almost the entire episode losing.  It’s amazing that Jamal got addicted that quickly without actually being any good at the thing to which he got addicted.  After his friends get tired of him borrowing money from them, he steals it from the register at work.  Unfortunately, L-Train has just started working at the diner and he gets blamed for the missing money.  L-Train is out of a job and Jamal loses all of his friends.  Fortunately, Jamal comes clean, learns an important lesson, and that’s that.

While this is going on, Cassidy and Dawn make a documentary about Ms. Noble.  It turns out that Ms. Noble is kind of boring so Dawn and Cassidy try to create a crisis so they can get Ms. Noble doing something exciting on film.  There is a funny moment in which Ms. Noble refers to her husband as being “Bobby” before quickly correcting herself as saying, “I mean, Billy.”  I’m going to guess this was unscripted.  By the time this episode was shot, not even the cast could be bothered to remember the name of Ms. Noble’s husband.  Otherwise, this was yet another B-plot that revolved around how creepily obsesses all of the students were with Ms. Noble.

This was another one of those episodes where a well-established character, Jamail in this case, was required to start acting in a way that was totally out-of-character just so an important lesson could be learned.  It wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t particularly memorable either.  Do gambling joints, even illegal ones, regularly allow high school students in to play craps?  That would seem like more trouble than its worth.

Retro Television Reviews: City Guys 4.20 “Unhappy Hour” and 4.21 “Compromising Principal”

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.  Nearly the entire show is currently streaming on YouTube!

This week, everyone has too much to drink and Ms. Noble tries to win a contest!

Episode 4.20 “Unhappy Hour”

(Dir by Frank Bonner, originally aired on December 2nd, 2000)

Ms. Noble’s best friend, Kiki, hosts her town talk show because of course she does.  (How does a high school principal have all of these connections?)  Kiki wants to do a show featuring the students of Manny High discussing the importance of friendship.  To be honest, that sounds like the most boring show in the world but whatever.  Chris, Jamal, Dawn, Cassidy, Al, and L-Train all agree to be on it.

Cassidy’s parents are out of town so everyone ends up at her penthouse to discuss what they’re going to say on the show.  But before the discussion even begins, Al has brought over four pizzas and L-Train has discovered a bottle of Tequila!  Before you know it, everyone’s drunk.  (Apparently, no one learned a lesson from any of the other episodes of this show that featured everyone getting drunk and suffering as a result.)  Al and L-Train throws eggs off the balcony.  Chris tries to work up the courage to tell Cassidy how he feels about her, which is interesting since Chris and Cassidy dated during the second season so it’s not as if Cassidy doesn’t know that Chris has feelings for her.  Cassidy is so drunk that she kisses Jamal instead.  Chris gets mad and kiss Dawn.  Al gets mad and has no one to kiss.  Meanwhile, L-Train calls Ms. Noble at school and tells her that he loves her.

Big mistake.

Ms. Noble and her husband, Billy, break into Cassidy’s penthouse and yell at the students for drinking too much.  Apparently, it’s not bad enough that Ms. Noble’s entire life revolves around spying on her students.  Now, Billy has had to sacrifice his freedom as well.  The next morning, the kids are hungover and angry but they still have to go on Kiki’s show.

“Why did you drink so much?” Kiki asks.

Dawn confesses that they were all stupid and now they’re all suffering from the worst hangover ever while appearing on live television.  Chris apologizes for kissing Dawn.  Cassidy confessed to like Chris.  Al says that he can’t forgive Chris for kissing his girlfriend.  “How could you do such a stupid thing!?”  Jamal suddenly gets angry and says that Al was just as stupid for throwing eggs off the balcony.  Personally, I kind of think that kissing your best friend’s significant other is considerably worse than tossing eggs off of a balcony but maybe that’s just me.

“I guess you guys realize that drinking isn’t all it was made out to be,” Kiki says.

“Don’t let one drunken night ruin your friendships,” Ms. Noble says, as if this doesn’t happen at least once every season.

Actually, if they didn’t realize it after all the other episodes this show has done about drinking and doing drugs, they’re never going to realize it.  Face it, the City Guys are doomed!

Episode 4.21 “Compromising Principal”

(Dir by Frank Bonner, originally aired on December 9th, 2000)

This is what happens, according to plot description at Wikipedia: “When Ms. Noble decides to loosen up and be more cool in order to win a most popular principal contest, the school turns into an undisciplined zoo. In the midst of the chaos, the gang try their hand at after school elective classes.”

Wow, sounds exciting!  Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), this is one of the missing episodes of City Guys.  As far as I can tell, it’s not streaming anywhere as of this writing.  So, let’s just assume that everyone learned an important lesson and that the students once again spent way too much time worrying about their principal.

Seriously, a most popular principal contest?

Retro Television Review: City Guys 4.18 “Who Da Man” and 4.19 “Get To Preppin”

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 YouTube!

This week, the kids have another subway adventure and it’s time for midterms!

Episode 4.18 “Who Da Man”

(Dir by Frank Bonner, originally aired on November 18th, 2000)

This is a weird episode.

I guess because the producers didn’t want to waste their subway set, Al, Dawn, and Cassidy had yet another adventure on a train.  This time, the three of them were approached by two muggers who demanded Al’s jacket.  Despite all of his brave talk, Al meekly surrendered his jacket.  Fortunately, Dawn remembered her self-defense training and somehow managed to flip the main mugger to the ground.  Dawn saved Al’s life but, in his eyes, she also robbed him of his dignity.  Of course, those of us who have been watching this show from the beginning know that Al never had any dignity to begin with.

After Cassidy tells the editor of the school newspaper about what happened, everyone at the school knows that Al needed Dawn to save his jacket.  Al demands that Dawn start acting more “like a girl.”  Dawn reacts by acting so girly that Al has a mental breakdown and says he wishes that thing could go back to the way they were, with Dawn dressing like a Portland antique store owner and Al presumably getting mugged every time he rode the subway.

Meanwhile, Ms. Noble asks L-Train, Jamal, and Chris to hold a ladder steady while she attempts to hang a picture of her husband in her classroom.  Unfortunately, because she stupidly asked the three most easily distracted people in the school for help, she falls off the ladder.  The next time we see Ms. Noble, she’s in a wheelchair and L-Train is pushing her around New York.  (How this became L-Train’s job is never really explained.)  L-Train, however, suspects that Ms. Noble can really walk and, as such, he keeps trying to put her into situations designed to get her out of the chair.  He even rolls her up to the roof of the school so that she can watch a limbo contest.  To L-Train’s shock, she doesn’t take part in the contest.  L-Train leaves the roof to try to figure out how his life has come to center around pushing around Ms. Noble.  When he returns to the roof, he is shocked to discover that Ms. Noble can walk and is doing the limbo, albeit by herself.  Ms. Noble taunts L-Train with the fact that she can walk but, when Chris and Jamal step out on the roof, she sits back down.

Seriously, what the heck?  I mean, let’s ignore the fact that Dawn is suddenly a kick ass martial artist.  What’s going on with Ms. Noble!?  This episode actually proves my theory that Ms. Noble is essentially a cult leader who enjoys manipulating her followers.  After three years of her offering encouragement to L-Train, this episode finds her not only manipulating him but also going out of her way to make him look like a liar.  What a terrible principal!  That said, Ms. Noble’s action were just weird enough to make this episode entertaining.

Let’s move on!

Episode 4.19 “Get to Preppin'”

(Dir by Frank Bonner, originally aired on November 25th, 2000)

It’s mid-term time again!

When Chris gets a less than impressive grade on his first test, his father sends him back to prep school.  When Chris realizes that he doesn’t have to work hard in his classes because of his father’s influence, he gets upset because it makes him feel like a spoiled brat and apparently, that’s a bad thing.  Chris demands to go back to Manny High, where he’s actually held responsible for actions.

Ha!  Like that would happen.

Seriously, if I was told that I didn’t have to work at anything when I was 17, crying about it is the last thing I would ever do.

Anyway, Chris’s father returns him to Manny High because, if he didn’t, the name of the show would be changed to City Guy and Jamal would have to host the radio show alone.  As always, the important thing is maintaining the status quo.

Retro Television Reviews: City Guys 4.16 “Jamal X” and 4.17 “Subway Confessions”

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 YouTube!

Let’s check in with the neat guys.

Episode 4.16 “Jamal X”

(Dir by Frank Bonner, Originally aired on November 11th, 2000)

In this episode, we learn that Jamal has an uncle who is a fairly prominent academic and activist.  This seems like something that would have come up in the past but this is the first time that he’s ever been seen or even mentioned on City Guys.  When Ms. Noble invites him to give a guest lecture at Manny High, he stops by the diner to visit with his favorite nephew and to meet Jamal’s “best friend, Chris.”  After initially assuming that L-Train is Chris, Jamal’s uncle is shocked to discover that Jamal’s best friend is a rich white kid.

After listening to his uncle speak on systemic racism and realizing how little his three white friends understand about what it’s like to have to deal with racism on an everyday basis, Jamal goes militant.  He wears his hair in an afro.  He refers to Ms. Noble as being “my Nubian queen.”  And he tries to start a school club only for black students.  After Ms. Noble tells him that she won’t allow a blacks-only club at the school, Jamal instead holds his meeting at the New York Diner.  When Chris attempts to attend the meeting, Chris explains that he’s only there because he wants to understand what the black students are having to deal with.  Despite this, Chris is kicked out by the other club members.  A guilt-stricken Jamal realizes that he’s been going about things the wrong way.  He apologizes to Chris and they become friends again.

This seems to be the episode of City Guys that everyone remembers from when it first aired and it’s not badly done.  Wesley Jonathan, in particular, gives a good performance as Jamal.  Though the episode ends with Jamal reaffirming his friendship with Chris, it also doesn’t deny the everyday realities of racism.  (An early scene in the episode features a cop spotting L-Train’s new watch and baselessly accusing him of having stolen it.)  If nothing else, this episode is a bit more honest about prejudice than Saved By The Bell’s infamous Running Zack episode.  That said, I get the feeling that, if this episode aired today, it would be criticized for taking an All Lives Matter approach to the issue.  In the end, this episode is most noteworthy as a reminder that the issues of today are many of the same issues of the 90s and all the decades before.

Episode 4.17 “Subway Confessions”

(Dir by Frank Bonner, Originally aired on November 18th, 2000)

Chris, Jamal, Al, L-Train, Cassidy, and Dawn are preparing to enter the school when they hear that Funkyfest tickets are going on sale.  Convinced that they’ll be able to get the tickets and get back to school in time for Ms. Noble’s class, they leave school grounds and head for the subway.  When they return 3 hours later, Ms. Noble is so angry that she sentences them to three weeks of detention.  Ms. Noble also confiscates the Funkyfest tickets, which is another way of saying that Ms. Noble steals them.  Seriously, just because the tickets were bought while skipping school, that doesn’t change the fact that those tickets were not Noble’s to take.

Everyone has a different story about what happened on the train to make them late.  Dawn and Cassidy claim that they were giving a homeless woman a makeover.  L-Train and Al claim that they were fighting Russian spies.  Chris and Jamal claim that a woman in clown makeup went into labor and they had to deliver the baby.  Ms. Noble doesn’t believe a word of it, even after the homeless woman shows up, introduces herself as an undercover cop, and reveals that a clown really did go into labor.  (That said, she also reveals that Chis and Jamal did not deliver the baby.)  Everyone still has detention for skipping school because Ms. Noble is a harsh taskmaster.

This was a funny episode, though it’s hard not to notice that it’s also an episode that’s totally dependent on every character being an idiot.  Still, I’m not ashamed to admit that Al and L-Train fighting the spies made me laugh.  I’ve learned not to expect too much from City Guys and, with that in mind, this episode delivered.

Retro Television Reviews: City Guys 4.14 “Shock Treatment” and 4.15 “Frisky Business”

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 YouTube!

Hello, Manny High!

Episode 4.14 “Shock Treatment”

(Dir by Frank Bonner, originally aired on November 4th, 2000)

Oh, thank God.  Chris finally got a haircut.  I’m not sure how I feel about the sideburns but Chris still definitely looks so much better without all of that hair dragging his face down.

Mean Dean, New York’s top radio DJ, is scheduled to do his show from Manny High but, when he calls in sick, it appears that the show might have to be cancelled.  However, Ms. Noble approaches Dean’s producer and tells him that she knows two students who can fill in, Chris and Jamal!  Apparently, Ms. Noble has forgotten about all of the times that she’s suspended Chris and Jamal from doing their show as a result of their history of rampant stupidity.  The producer agrees to let Chris and Jamal fill in and loves listening to Chris and Jamal make jokes about their teachers.  Since Dean is going to be out for a week, Chris and Jamal are hired to serve as his replacements….

I’m starting to suspect this show is not a realistic portrayal of the radio world.

Though Chris and Jamal try to keep the show light with a really bad Regis Philbin impersonation, their producer tells them that listeners don’t want nice.  They want mean.  So, Chris and Jamal insult all of their friends on the show.  Apparently, the listeners love it and it looks like Chris and Jamal might get their own show!  I guess pre-911 New Yorkers loved to turn on the radio and hear insulting jokes about obscure high school students.  All of Chris and Jamal’s friends get angry and refuse to have anything to do with them so Ms. Noble decides to get involved.

“Is this the type of show you want to do?” Ms. Noble asks.

Considering that Chris and Jamal haven’t even graduated high school and they’re already the hosts of the top radio show in New York and they’re also getting paid a lot of money, I’d say that this is probably exactly the type of show that they want to do.  Still, no one on City Guys can ever say no to Ms. Noble so Chris and Jamal quit their show and probably sabotage whatever hopes they may have of ever having a career in broadcasting.  Instead of becoming the next Howard Stern, Jamal can look forward to inheriting the diner from his Dad and then, 20 years later, watching it go out of business due to the COVID lockdowns.  Meanwhile Chris will probably either end up in jail for insider trading or as an assistant to Bill de Blasio.  Either way, it’s not happy future.  Thanks, Ms. Noble!

Episode 4.15 “Frisky Business”

(Dir by Frank Bonner, originally aired on November 11th, 2000)

It’s the first day of school and everyone is shocked by Chris’s short hair.  When they ask him why he cut it, he says that, when he was backpacking through Europe over the summer, too many Italian men mistook him for being a girl and tried to hit on him….

Of course, Chris had short hair last episode and no one mentioned it.  On top of that, when did the previous school year end?  It’s pretty obvious that NBC showed the fourth season episodes out of their intended order because who cares about continuity, right?  It’s not like there are people hired for every movie and television series whose entire job is to keep track of continuity from shot-to-shot….

Actually, while we’re talking about things that don’t make sense, how did Chris backpack through Europe when he and Jamal were sent to summer school for cheating on that Chemistry midterm?  At one point, during this episode, L-Train mentions that summer school ended the day before the new school year began.  So, there’s really no way Chris could have done summer school and gone to Europe.  My theory is that Chris paid someone to attend summer school for him.  That was pretty smart of Chris.  I’m impressed.

Anyway, the kids are shocked to discover that Manny High now has metal detectors and they now have to line up to enter the school.  Dawn complains that nothing violent has ever happened on the Manny High campus.  That’s actually not true.  There’s been a lot of fights and near-fights on campus.  Just a few episodes ago, someone (probably Louis) wrote “Jerk” on Jamal’s locker.  Manny High is a dangerous place!

Not only do the students have to deal with the metal detectors but, after L-Train is caught with a switch-comb, the school board also decides to install transparent lockers and surveillance cameras on the roof.  The students are given a list of things that they can no longer wear or bring to school.  Ms. Noble tells the students that she has to enforce the rules.  (HA!  WHERE’S YOUR GOD NOW, STUDENTS!?)  But she encourages the students to come up with a “constructive” way to protest.

Chris and Jamal go on their stupid radio show and announce that Manny High has been turned into a prison and “Ms. Noble ain’t the principal no more, she’s the warden!” Chris and Jamal call on everyone to refuse to go to class until something is done about the metal detectors.  Ms. Noble responds by suspending Chris, Jamal, Al, L-Train, Dawn, and Cassidy.

Being suspended apparently means hanging out at the New York Diner.  Ms.  Noble, who I’m going to assume in now divorced since we haven’t heard or seen anything about her husband since she got married, shows up there as well and says, “Hey kids, how’s life in the suspended lane?”  Ms. Noble proceeds to scold them for not expressing their feelings in “a proper way.”

The kids decide that the best way to handle things is to set up a metal detector at the next school board meeting, which is being held at Manny High for some reason.  To me, that seems a lot more obnoxious than anything that was said on the radio but it works.  I guess the kids just needed Ms. Noble to talk down to them.  After being forced to walk through the detectors themselves, the school board agrees to compromise with the students, which is something that would never happen in real life.

(It especially wouldn’t happen today.  Nowadays, Americans love being bossed around.)

Anyway, these episode actually weren’t that bad, at least not when compared to some of the other episodes of City Guys.  Both Scott Whyte and Wesley Jonathan showed a noticeable improvement as actors in these two episodes.  It helps that Chris got his hair cut.  I really didn’t realize how much Chris’s long hair bugged me until I saw him with short hair.

Retro Television Reviews: City Guys 4.12 “Makin’ Up Is Hard To Do” and 4.13 “Living in America”

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 YouTube!

This week, Al and Dawn have relationship trouble and the viewers are expected to endure a clip show.

Episode 4.12 “Makin’ Up Is Hard To Do”

(Dir by Frank Bonner, originally aired on October 28th, 2000)

It’s Spring Fest.  Time for dance on the school roof!

Now, to be honest, this episode’s roof dance actually looks like it would be fun to attend.  The music is a lot more danceable than that jazz funk that the Jazz Posse played last week.  For once, it looks like Dawn actually put some effort into decorating the roof.  There aren’t any dead pigeons lying around.  It looks like fun until….

….for some reason, Chris starts dancing with Ms. Noble.  And then Ms. Noble leads the entire school in a disco line dance, Tony Manero-style.  I’ve said this a hundred times before but, people — SHE’S THE PRINCIPAL!  It is neither healthy nor believable for students to be this obsessed with their principal!

As I mentioned earlier, Dawn put the dance together.  This time, she worked with Nate, a new kid from California.  Because the show’s writers finally remembered that they were supposed to be a couple, Al got jealous of Nate and forbid her to work with him.  Dawn dumped Al, which would have been a big dramatic moment if not for the fact that the two of them hardly ever acted like they were dating in the first place.  Al attempted to sabotage the dance by booby-trapping a raffle box but, after discovering that Nate was a nice guy and having a change of heart, Al was the one who ended up with an ink pack exploding all over him.  Dawn was so moved by Al’s stupidity that she took him back.

Meanwhile, Jamal and some random student had a dance-off.  Jamal won.  Yay!

This episode actually wasn’t too bad.  The dance looked like fun.  Dawn shouldn’t have taken Al back, though.

Episode 4.13 “Living in America”

(Dir by Frank Bonner, originally aired on November 4th, 2000)

Ms. Noble sets up a pen pal program between Manny High and Japan because, of course, she did.  Unfortunately, it turns out that Chris and Jamal have not been responding to the emails being sent by the Japanese students.  When Ms. Noble asks them why, Chris and Jamal reply that they don’t know what to talk about.  Then, the entire homerun ends up discussing all the amazing adventures that they’ve had.

Yep, it’s a clip show, delivered with all the straight-face earnestness of a show that had an extra episode to burn off.

“Hey, Train,” Al says at one point, “maybe you should tell everyone about that time you tried to be a wrestler….”

That pretty much sums up this episode.

Still, there is a little bit of drama when Ms. Noble suddenly announces, “Kids, I just heard there was an earthquake in Japan, not far from where your pen pals live.”  Well, I guess they won’t have to reply to those emails now …. oh wait, everyone survived.  That’s good.

For whatever reason, Tubi has removed City Guys from its site.  So, I will be watching the rest of this show on YouTube.  I think every episode is on YouTube but I can’t be sure.  We’ll find out, starring next week!

Retro Television Reviews: City Guys 4.10 “Keep on the Download” and 4.11 “Havoc”

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 YouTube!

C.I.T.Y. …. this show is never going to end….

Episode 4.10 “Keep On The Download”

(Dir by Frank Bonner, originally aired on October 21st, 2000)

To be honest, I guess it’s kind of silly that out of all the things that I dislike about City Guys, it’s Chris and Jamal’s radio show that tends to annoy the most.

I mean, I know I spend a lot of time complaining about the way all of the student’s worship Ms. Noble but if there’s anything that truly makes me want to throw something across the room, it’s definitely the sound of Manny and Jamal announcing, “Hello, Manny High!”  The whole radio station thing has never made sense to me and I’ve always had a hard time with the idea of Chris and Jamal becoming radio superstars with their stale schtick.  It also doesn’t help that I’ve never really understood just when exactly Chris and Jamal are doing their show.  Are they broadcasting during class hours?  Are they broadcasting during lunch?  Why does it sometimes seem as if they go several days without even thinking about their radio show just to suddenly have it once become the center of their lives a few episodes later?

This episode establishes that every school in New York City apparently has its own radio station.  Adam and Malik are the radio hosts at Washington Prep and they’ve managed to get an interview with a rapper named Dr. Deej.  After they taunt Chris and Jamal with their success, Chris and Jamal react by trying to get Dr. Deej to appear on their show.  When Jamal can’t get Dr. Deej to return his calls, they decide to just have Chris pretend to be Dr. Deej.

Yes, that’s right.  The very white Chris pretends to be a rapper.  “Yo, yo, yo,” Chris says, “the doctor is in this house, pass me the scalpel, crunch me an apple….”  (Don’t get mad at me, I’m just transcribing.)  The real Dr. Deej calls in to ask how he can be on Chris and Jamal’s show when he’s actually on Adam and Malik’s show.  Uh-oh!

Having been humiliated, Chris and Jamal go over to Washington Prep, break into the booth, and steal the sign with the radio call letters.  Being two huge idiots, Chris and Jamal bring the sign to the roof of Manny High so that everyone can celebrate their thievery.  Ms. Noble sees the sign and is not amused.  When Chris and Jamal say that its just part of a prank war, Ms. Noble informs them the pranks have gone too far and they’re both off the air.  YAY!

Wow, I’m glad that radio stuff is over with.  Let’s move on….

Oh wait, we’re only halfway through the episode.

Adam and Malik announce that they will be broadcasting an on-air funeral for the Chris and Jamal show.  So, Chris and Jamal break into Washington Prep during the middle of the night and they try to sabotage Adam & Malik’s DJ booth.  While trying to move some wires around, they short out an amp.  (Wow, that really escalated.)  Because they’re both extremely stupid, Chis and Jamal break into Washington Prep a second time and attempt to leave a new amp in the DJ booth.  (I’m not sure why, since their stated goal was to sabotage Adam and Malik and they managed to do just that.)  This time, a security guard catches them and, instead of calling the cops, he calls Ms. Noble.


Anyway, the situation is resolved by letting Adam and Malik use Manny High’s DJ booth until their booth is repaired.  And apparently, Ms. Noble is going to let Chris and Jamal back on the air as well.  I’m not really sure why.  I guess it pays off to break into other schools.

While this is going on, Dawn becomes so obsessed with winning a trophy in the Academic Bowl that she alienates all of her smart teammates and is instead forced to compete with Al and L-Train on her team.  Bizarrely, the Academic Bowl is held on the roof of Manny High and Ms. Noble is the host.  The final question is to list one of the three nicknames for catfish, which really doesn’t sound like an Academic Bowl question.  Because L-Train knows all three of the names, Manny High wins.  L-Train announces that he’s going to take the trophy to a pawn shop.  Ms. Noble, who is so quick to get involved in every aspect of her students’s lives, has no problem with L-Train selling the most prestigious trophy the school has ever won.

Okay, can we move on now?  Yay!

Episode 4.11 “Havoc

(Dir by Frank Bonner, originally aired on October 28th, 2000)

Chis is apparently a guitarist now.  He’s so good that the Screaming Skulls want him to be their new lead guitarist!  But Chris is already in a band, a jazz fusion band with Al, L-Train, and Jamal.  (Their band is called the — *snicker* — Jazz Posse!  I went to a college with a world-famous jazz band and even my jazz-obsessed classmates would not have been caught dead listening to a band called the Jazz Posse.)  How can he be in two bands at the same time?  Actually, quite a few musicians are in multiple bands at the same time but most of them aren’t as dumb as Chris.  Chris he has to make a choice between either being in a world famous rock band or continuing to play on the roof of Manny High.

Jamal acts as if Chris is being selfish for wanting to play with his new band as opposed to spending all of his time with his high school friends.  But, honestly, Jamal kind of sucks.  Never once does he congratulate Chris or even acknowledge that it’s cool that Chris now has proof that he has a possible future as a professional musician.  Instead of being happy for Chris, Jamal immediately start complaining about him not wanting to be in the high school jazz band.  I find it hard to believe that the Al, Jamal, and L-Train couldn’t find someone else to play guitar in their little band.  Is Chris the only guitarist at Manny High?  To the show’s credit, Cassidy actually does call Jamal out for his behavior.  Cassidy goes to Chris’s first gig as a member of the Skulls and discovers that Chris has been replaced by the band because their old guitarist came back.

The next day, Chris lies to everyone at school and says that he’s still in the Skulls.  How exactly does he think he’s going to keep this a secret, as the Skulls have been portrayed as being a pretty famous band?  Chris shows up at the Jazz Posse’s next performance and asks to rejoin the band.  He apologizes for leaving them earlier, despite the fact that Chis has nothing to apologize for and Jamal was the one being a jerk about it.  So, I guess Cassidy calling out Jamal was just something that was done to pad out the episode because no one acknowledges that any musician would rather join a successful band than play in a high school jazz band.

The Jazz Posse plays a show on the roof of Manny High as the end credits roll.  Why does everything have to be on the roof?

Retro Television Reviews: City Guys 4.8 “Kodak Moment” and 4.9 “Meet Mr. History”

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 YouTube!

This week, Chris meets a princess and L-Train becomes Mr. History.

Episode 4.8 “Kodak Moment”

(Dir by Frank Bonner, originally aired on October 14th, 2000)

Chris, Al, and L-Train are standing at a newsstand when a blonde (Kristen Miller) with a fake British accent runs up and kisses Chris.

“Do you always kiss strangers?” Chris ask her.

“I do if they’re cute,” she replies.

“Wooooooooooo!” the audience replies.

My immediate reaction was to assume that Chris was being set up by a human trafficking ring and that he would soon be finding himself in Hostel-style situation.  And, to be honest, I didn’t really have an objection to that because Chris is a pretty stupid character and, considering everything that has happened to him over the course of the last four seasons, it’s kind of hard to see what else was really left for the show to do with him.  He’s served his purpose so why not use Chris as a cautionary tale?

However, it turns out that the blonde is actually Princess Sarah, a member of European royalty who just wants to lead a normal life but who can’t get away from the paparazzi.  Poor thing.  Who cares?  Anyway, Chris and Princess Sarah go on a date but then Chris sees Sarah kissing another man and he decides the best way to react is to work with Al and L-Train to get a picture of the princess that they can then sell to the press.  But then Princess Sarah puts on a fake mustache so she can sneak onto campus and explain to Chis that the man was her ex-boyfriend and she was just kissing him to say goodbye.  Chris forgives Sarah but he forgets to call off Al and L-Train.  Al sneaks into Sarah’s hotel room and takes a lot of pictures.  Chris learns a lesson about privacy and I get a migraine.  To escape the paparazzi, Sarah returns to the UK because, as we all know, the British tabloids are notorious for respecting the privacy of the rich and famous.

(If Sarah were played by a British actress, this episode would perhaps be a bit less annoying.  But the fake accent on top of all the usual City Guys foolishness just makes the whole thing unwatchable.)

Meanwhile, Jamal, Dawn, and Cassidy try to catch a ghost on camera.  Ms. Noble eventually joins them.  It’s meant to be a parody of the Blair Witch Project.  It turns out that there isn’t really a ghost at Manny High  Instead, there’s just Ms. Noble and the janitor playing a practical joke on the students.  What?  Didn’t Ms.  Noble just get married?  Why isn’t she on her honeymoon?

This was dumb.  Let’s move on and meet Mr. History.

Episode 4.9 “Meet Mr. History”

(Dir by Frank Bonner, originally aired on October 20th, 2000)

Ms. Noble remembers that she’s supposed to be a teacher so she assigns everyone a research report.  The students have to track down an old person and interview them.  Chris and Jamal don’t know any interesting old people so they turn in an interview with Jamal’s fictional Uncle Jesse.  Ms. Noble is so impressed that she arranges for Uncle Jesse to appear on a local television show.  Uh-oh.  Time for L-Train to dress up like an old guy and go on television!  Of course, L-Train is in no way believable as an old guy so everyone ends up getting yelled at by Ms. Noble.  Chris, Jamal, and L-Train attempt to apologize to the producer of the television show but end up getting their apology broadcast to the entire city.  The show presents the apology as being the right thing to do but there’s no way that Chris, Jamal, and L-Train aren’t going to get mugged the next time they get on the subway.  The entire city of New York now believes them to be a bunch of …. well, jerks!  (As well all know from the mock trial episode of City Guys, jerk is the worst thing you can call someone in New York.)

Meanwhile, Dawn and Cassidy go into business with Al and it goes about as well as L-Train’s glowing basketball idea.  No one on this show ever learns anything!

These city guys are getting dumb.