Retro Television Reviews: City Guys 3.21 “Yoko Oh-No” and 3.22 “Party Like It’s 1999”

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!

Roll with the city guys!

Episode 3.12 “Yoko Oh-No”

(Dir by Frank Bonner, originally aired on December 3rd, 1999)

Apparently, the show’s writers remembered that Dawn and Al are a couple before they wrote this episode because it opens with Dawn giving Al a hard time about buying her a “gold” bracelet that turned her wrist green.  Seriously, Dawn, you can do so much better.  DUMP HIS ASS!

The majority of this episode, however, dealt with Jamal and Ashley (Trina McGee).  Ashley, as you may remember, was Jamal’s girlfriend who spoke with a ludicrously exaggerated southern accent.  Trina McGree is probably best known for playing Shawn’s longtime girlfriend on Boy Meets World.  She appeared on three episodes of City Guys while she was still on Boy Meets World.  If I remember correctly, she was actually pretty good on Boy Meets World but was she ever awful on City Guys.

Jamal’s friend tell him that they think he’s letting Ashley control his life.  At first, Jamal says that they don’t know what they’re talking about but then he realizes that he’s wearing the clothes that she likes and that he’s carrying around a beeper because he’s a drug dealer so Ashley will always be able to summon him.  Jamal realizes that he has to break up with Ashley but, after Ms. Nobel says how proud she is of him for having a committed relationship, Jamal decides that he can’t break up with her.  (WHAT!?  HOW MUCH CONTROL DOES MS. NOBEL HAVE OVER HER STUDENT’S LIVES!?)  So, Jamal tries to arrange for Ashley to fall in love with L-Train instead.  It doesn’t work.

While this is going on, Dawn decides that she wants to see All-4-One in concert.  (All-4-who?  They were big in the 90s.)  Because no one on this show can do anything the simple way, Al pretends to be dying in an effort to get them to give him free tickets.  The band — which, for some reason, come to meet Al at the diner owned by Jamal’s father — are not happy with Al’s deception.  Al confesses that he has to impress Dawn.  The band, who I guess are super forgiving and have nothing better to do with their time, agree to give Dawn a private concert.

Meanwhile, Jamal and Chris decided to use their radio show to try to get Ashley to dump Jamal.  They ask listeners to call in with their romantic problems.  L-Train calls in and says that his girlfriend picks out all of his clothes and forces him to carry a “peeper.”  L-Train then calls in a second time, pretending to be his girlfriend.  “You go, girl!” Ashley says, which leads to Jamal announcing that he’s sick and tired of her bossing him around.  Uh-oh, Jamal — you’re on the radio!

Jamal rushes over to Ms. Nobel’s office and apologizes for breaking up with Ashley.  Jamal, were you required to turn in your balls when you enrolled at Manny High?  Seriously, I can’t believe I just typed that but Jamal is just annoying as Hell in this episode.  Anyway, it turns out that Ms. Nobel doesn’t care because Ms. Nobel is a middle-aged woman with a school to run.

At the diner, All-4-One performs for Dawn.  Were All-4-One one of those bands that Lou Pearlman screwed over?  “They’re all for real!” Al announces.

This was a dumb, dumb, dumb episode.  This is actually the second Peter Engel-produced show to feature an episode called Yoko, Oh No!  It worked better for California Dreams because, in the case, the title actually referred to someone dating the lead singer of a band.  In this case, it’s just dumb.  Jamal is not John Lennon.

Let’s move on.

Episode 3.22 “Party Like It’s 1999”

(Originally aired on December 3rd, 1999, directed by Frank Bonner)

On New Year’s Eve, the kids gather one the roof of Manny High and think about all of their previous adventures and — oh crap, it’s a clip show.

Anyway, the neat guys will see you next week!

Retro Television Reviews: City Guys 3.11 “El-Train In The Sky With Geena” and 3.12 “Miracle 134th Street and Lexington Avenue”

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!

Are the neat guys still smart and streetwise?  Were they ever?  Let’s find out!

Episode 3.11 “El-Train In The Sky With Geena”

(dir by Frank Bonner, originally aired on November 27th, 1999)

Jamal is still dating Ashley (Trina McGee), the manipulative girl with the thick Southern accent.  However, Jamal is concerned when her ex-boyfriend Roger comes to visit “from the South.”  After lying to Roger about Ashley having to serve detention, Jamal and Chris take Roger on a tour of New York City, one that is meant to make him hate the city so much that he’ll never want to return.  At one point, they take him to — cringe! — the Twin Towers and make him walk all the way to the top, via the stairs.  They tell him to think of World Trade Center as being a “Stairmaster with a gift shop on the top floor.”  UGH!

Now, in all fairness, the creative team behind City Guys had no idea what would happen 20 months in the future.  At the time this episode aired, the World Trade Center was a popular New York tourist attraction and it made sense that Jamal and Chris would take a visitor to see it.  Still, watching this scene today is all sorts of cringey.  “Why do we have to take the stairs?” Roger asks.  “Because the elevators are broken,” is the reply.

Seriously, let’s just move on to the A-plot of this episode.

The students have raised $200 to buy Ms. Nobel a gift.  (What is the deal with these people and their pathological obsession with their principal?)  They give the money to L-Train, the class president.  Unfortunately, L-Train has a new girlfriend named Geena and Geena is hooked on …. MARIJUANA!  She’s so addicted that she even lights up at the movies.  She’s so addicted that, when she finds out L-Train has $200 in his locker, she steals it so that she can buy more weed.  She promises to pay L-Train back but the next time that L-Train sees her, she’s staring at her hand and talking about how she can’t feel her face.  What exactly has she been smoking?

Anyway, L-Train is forced to buy a cheap chair for Ms. Nobel’s gift.  Ms. Nobel is disappointed in him.  JUST BE GRATEFUL YOUR KISS-ASS STUDENTS GOT YOU A GIFT!  Anyway, Ms. Nobel encourages L-Train to give Geena a second chance and to get her in drug rehab.

Anyway, this was a dumb episode.  It turns out that Roger and Ashley only dated in the 2nd grade and Geena agrees to get help.  And I guess Ms. Nobel eventually gets a better chair.  Steven Daniel gave a typically empathetic performance but everyone else was definitely an autopilot.

Let’s move on!

Episode 3.12 “Miraclce on 134th Street and Lexington Avenue)

(dir by Frank Bonner, originally aired on November 27th, 1999)

It’s a Christmas episode!

The gang is still working at the New York Toy Company, where Al and Jamal try to make extra money and from which Chris and Dawn are regularly delivering toys to the local community center.  After discovering that Allison, one of the kids at the center, wants to meet her father for the first time, Chris and Dawn track him down and reunite the family.  Ms. Nobel praised everyone for doing a good job.  No one mentions anything about the fact that Chris, Jamal, Dawn, Cassidy, Al, and L-Train would rather spend their holidays with Ms. Nobel instead of their own families.  Seriously, high school only lasts four years.  How are these people going to survive adulthood without having Ms. Nobel around 24/7?

Usually, I like Christmas episodes but this one didn’t really work for me.  I hate to say this but the performers playing Allison, her mother, and her father weren’t particularly believable in their roles.  Plus, it didn’t seem to occur to anyone that maybe there was a good reason why Allison’s father no longer had any contact with his family.  Instead, Dawn and Chris just took it upon themselves to tell him where Allison and her mother could be found.  I mean, they could have at least done a background check.

The neat guys did not impress me this week.  Hopefully, next week will be a bit better.

Retro Television Reviews: City Guys 3.17 “Angels of Harlem” and 3.18 “Rollin’ With The Homies”

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!

Roll with the city guys!

Episode 3.17 “Angels of Harlem”

(dir by Frank Bonner, originally aired on November 20th, 1999)

Ms. Nobel’s church is celebrating its 100th birthday so, of course, her students are roped into helping to decorate because who cares about keeping the church out of school and all that other stuff.  It turns out that the church is going to be torn down by a real estate developer and that developer is …. CHRIS’S FATHER!

Chris and Dawn chain themselves to the church and …. well, look, this was a dumb episode and it featured way too much church stuff for my tastes.  Let’s move on.

Actually, before I move on, I guess I should mention that Jamal starts dating Ashley in this episode and, unlike Jamal’s other girlfriends, it appears that Angela is actually going to be featured in multiple episodes.  Ashely is played by Trina McGee, who also played Angela on Boy Meets World.  Oddly enough, Trina was already two years into Boy Meets World when she did City GuysBoy Meets World was also an ABC show whereas City Guys was an NBC show.  It’s just a bit odd to see her pop up on this show.

Episode 3.18 “Rollin’ With The Homies”

(dir by Frank Bonner, originally aired on November 20th, 1999)

“Alright, alright, alright!” Jamal announces as he shows up at Manny High for another day of learning, “Only a few days to Christmas break!  A brother can’t wait for Christmas vacation!”  

Anyway, it’s time for the Winterfest Dance, which Cassidy explains is a dance on the roof in the middle of winter.  And since this is an episode of City Guys, it’s also time for Ms. Nobel to show up and tell everyone to get a Christmas job working at a toy store.  Did Ms. Nobel not have any other students to whom she could give these assignments?

The owner of the toy store informs Jamal, Chris, and L-Train that they’ll be working as delivery boys.  The first delivery is a bunch of video games to the owner’s house.  He explains that his son is home from boarding school and that the games are for him.  “Are you interested in adopting a young black child?” Jamal asks.

Al, Dawn, and Cassidy are assigned to be salespeople.  They get into a competition to see who can win the sales contest.  Yawn.  At least this episode acknowledges that Dawn and Al are now a couple.

Jamal, Chris, and L-Train make friends with the boss’s son, Tommy.  Tommy is in a wheelchair and his father is superprotective.  At first, Tommy is upset to discover that Jamal, Chris, and L-Train are getting paid extra to hang out with him but then Jamal makes it up to him by taking him out of the house without his Dad’s permission.  When Tommy’s Dad finds out, he fires Jamal, Chris, and L-Train.  Meanwhile, Tommy gets mad at everyone for treating him like he can’t take care of himself.

The next day, in school, Ms. Nobel decides to get involved because she doesn’t have a life outside of church and school.  She tells Jamal to treat Tommy like he would treat anyone.  Apparently, treating Tommy like everyone means throwing the Winterfest Dance in Tommy’s house.  Tommy gets a date with Cassidy.  Tommy’s father is a bit upset about the dance being moved to his house but Ms. Nobel talks him out of it.  Because Ms. Nobel can do anything.

I’m just being snarky.  By City Guys standards, this was actually a pretty good episode.  Al and Dawn are a cute couple and I’m glad Tommy had a good Christmas.