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.

Retro Television Review: City Guys 4.6 “Students of the Bride” and 4.7 “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems”

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, Ms. Noble gets married and her students get involved for some reason.

Episode 4.6 “Students of the Bride”

(Dir by Frank Bonner, originally aired on October 7th, 2000)

Ms. Noble’s wedding day is coming up and, because Ms. Noble is the most unprofessional educator in New York, she allows her students to find out that she doesn’t have a dress, a venue, a cake, a florist, or a wedding band.  Jamal, Cassidy, Dawn, L-Train, Al, and Chris step up to help Ms. Noble plan her wedding.


Are you freaking kidding me?

Look, I love weddings as much as anyone.  I love planning them and I love telling people what they have to wear and I love coming up with the song list for the reception.  But seriously — MS. NOBLE IS THE PRINCIPAL!  Add to that, she’s an adult and so is the man she’s supposed to marry.  Why are they incapable of planning their own wedding?  Why are a bunch of high school students throwing a bachelor party for Billy?  Doesn’t Billy have any friends his own age?  Speaking of which, does not Ms. Noble have anyone her own age to help her plan her wedding?  Do neither of these two have any family in New York?  How does this make any freaking sense!?

Anyway, it turns out that having a bunch of high school kids plan your bachelor party is a mistake because Ms. Noble gets upset when she sees Billy dancing with the hula girls that L-Train brought to the school.  (Of course, they have the bachelor party on the roof of Manny High.)  Ms. Noble and Billy fight and say that maybe they shouldn’t get married.  The kids make it their mission to make sure that Ms. Noble gets married to Billy.  “Ms. Noble’s getting married if I have to marry her myself!” Jamal says.  SHE’S YOUR PRINCIPAL, YOU WEIRDO!

Oh!  And Jamal and Cassidy briefly fall in love but then they realize that it’s just because they’ve been working on the wedding and they’re both in a romantic mood.  Remember when Cassidy was dating Chris?  Whatever happened with that?

God, this is a stupid episode.  Ms. Noble does get married at the end of the episode so yay.  Let’s move on.

Episode 4.7 “Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems”

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

L-Train invents a glow-in-the-dark basketball.  Al, Chris, and Jamal form a company to sell the ball.  Al lets the power go to his head and he learns an important lesson about how to treat his employees.  Good for him.  I think the more important question raised by this episode is why they allowed this to happen with Chris’s hair.

I mean, Scott Whyte was not a bad-looking guy but he spent the majority of City Guys with the least flattering haircut imaginable.

While Al is learning an important lesson about business, Dawn is getting cast in a commercial and Cassidy’s getting jealous.  Cassidy gives Dawn a lot of bad advice, which Dawn believes because Dawn could be an incredibly stupid character.  After Cassidy comes clean, Dawn steps aside so that Cassidy can fulfill her dream of acting in a commercial.  Of course, this all leads to Cassidy getting hit in the face with a pie.  Ugh.  I hate pie gags.  They always look so messy.

This was a fairly middling episode but Steven Daniel did get a chance to show off his physical comedy skills when L-Train was left alone in the basketball factory.  That was definitely a plus.  As well, no one was roped into helping Ms. Noble plan her honeymoon so that was another plus.

Next week, the neat guys continue to be smart and streetwise!

Retro Television Review: City Guys 4.4 “Presumed Innocent” and 4.5 “The Third Wheel”

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!

Time for this again.

Episode 4.4 “Presumed Innocent”

(Dir by Frank Bonner, originally aired on September 30th, 2000)

Jamal is convinced that Louis (Mike Bowman), a student who we’ve never seen before, is a skinhead.  Louis has a shaved head and appears to have a bunch of new tattoos on his neck and hiding under his short-sleeved shirts.  Jamal also says Louis was super aggressive the one time that they played basketball.  “He was always trying to foul a brother hard,” Jamal says, “If it looks like a duck and talks like a duck and walks like a duck,,,,”

“Then shucky ducky quack quack!” L-Train exclaims.

Later, in class. Jamal tosses aside a backpack and claims the chair that in which it was sitting.  That backpack belonged to Louis and, in Louis’s opinion, so did the chair.  Louis proceeds to call Jamal a …. JERK!  That’s right.  He used the word “jerk.”  I considered whether or not to give everyone a trigger warning before revealing what Luke said but I decided to take the risk and just reveal what Louis said, as ugly as it may be.  Now, in Manny High, calling someone a “jerk” is obviously the worst thing that you can do.  Ms. Noble is able to prevent Louis and Jamal from getting into a fight in the classroom but later, Jamal discovers that someone has spray-painted “JERK” on his locker.  Jamal immediately accuses Louis, telling him, “You’ve messed with the wrong brother.”

Louis laughs and says, “At least now you’ll always be able to find your locker.”

Bad move, Louis!  Jamal throws the first punch, Louis throws the second, and then Ms. Noble finally runs up and shouts, “Stop …. or you’ll have to fight me!”  Realizing that neither one of them has the skills necessary to defeat a middle-aged high school principal, Jamal and Louis stop fighting.  When Jamal says that Louis tagged his locker, Louis replies that Jamal doesn’t have any proof.  “This ain’t Judge Judy!” Jamal replies.

Inspired, Ms. Noble decides to have a mock trial so the students can decide whether or not Louis defaced Jamal’s locker.  (And to think, some principals would have just punished both of them for fighting in the hallway.)  Chris represents Jamal while Cassidy and Dawn are assigned to defend Louis.  Ms. Noble serves as the judge and the other students serve as the jury and are probably bored to death.  I mean, seriously, this is a lot drama over a locker that’s been defaced with one of the mildest insults known to man.

(Add to that, this was already done in that episode of Saved By The Bell where Ms. Bliss’s tacky sweater got paint on it and Screech was put on trial.)

When Chris turns out to be a terrible lawyer, Jamal resorts to sending Al to get proof that Louis is a skinhead.  Al returns with a picture of Louis at a bus stop with several other bald people.  When Jamal (having fired Chris) enters the photos into evidence, even Ms. Noble looks like she’s ready to sentence Louis to life imprisonment.  Louis explains that all of the people in the photos have cancer, “like me.”  And he also reveals that his tattoos aren’t skinhead tattoos.  They’re marks that are used to guide the radiation.  Louis gets mad and walks out of the classroom.

“Case dismissed,” Ms. Noble says, which doesn’t really make any sense because Louis could have still defaced Jamal’s locker while also having cancer.  The two things are not mutually exclusive.

“I can’t believe I judged Lou by how he looked,” Jamal says, “I mean, me, a brother!”

Chris and Jamal go to the cancer clinic and apologize to Louis.  We never find out who wrote “Jerk” on Jamal’s locker.

Actually, this isn’t a terrible episode.  Mike Bowman (who, as far as I know, is not related to me) did a pretty good job as Louis and the show’s message was ultimately a worthy one.  There was even a slightly funny B-plot about Al and L-Train trying not to use any slang on their radio show.  City Guys is definitely not my favorite show to review but this episode was okay.

Episode 4.5 “The Third Wheel”

(Dir by Frank Bonner, originally aired on October 7th, 2000)

Al’s birthday is coming up and Dawn wants to celebrate it without L-Train coming along.  However, when Al tries to tell L-Train that he’s not invited to celebrate his birthday with him and Dawn, L-Train mishears and thinks that Al is complaining about Dawn being clingy.  Al gets upset.  “I have to choose between my best friend and my girlfriend.”  Al, are you really so stupid as to not know that you spend your birthday with your girlfriend?  Apparently so.  Anyway, Dawn and L-Train realize that Al is too stupid to choose between them so they collaborate on the party, which is a pretty simple solution.  You have to wonder why it took so long for them to come up with that.

Meanwhile, Chris and Jamal want to put on a horror-themed radio show and, of course, Cassidy and Ms. Noble decided to get involved.  Doesn’t Ms. Noble have a wedding to plan?

This episode was dumb and I don’t want to waste any more time on it.

Retro Television Reviews: City Guys 4.2 “The Users” and 4.3 “Cheat Happens”

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!

Oh, Hell, it’s that time of week, isn’t it?  It’s time to watch City Guys.

Episode 4.2 “The Users”

(Dir by Frank Bonner, originally aired on September 23rd, 2000)

It’s midterm time!

Wasn’t it midterm time two episodes ago?  And the episode before that?  And maybe even before that?  My point is that Manny High seems to have a lot of midterms.  I mean, when I was in high school and college, you only took midterms once per semester because you could only be halfway through once.  Manny High has midterms every week!

Chris and Jamal are not only worried about passing their midterms.  They’re also concerned about what to do with Jasper, who is their new techie at the student radio station.  Jasper is very friendly and a very exuberant and very annoying.  Chris and Jamal feel that he’s trying too hard to be edgy and street and that’s really saying something when you consider that Chris and Jamal are the two biggest phonies not named Al at Manny High.  Jasper also appears to be in his 30s but he swears that he’s a student and that he’s got a straight-A average.  Chris and Jamal befriend Jasper so that he’ll tutor them but, when they get a chance to score an internship with a bigtime radio DJ, Chris and Jamal conspire to keep Jasper from finding out.  (Oh my God, they’re just using Jasper!  They’re users!  The episode’s title makes sense!)  After sending Jamal across town to pick up a fictional lunch order, Chris does his crappy Homer Simpson impersonation and the DJ is so impressed that it’s suddenly easy to understand why people eventually stopped listening to the radio.  Unfortunately, Jasper makes his way to back to the radio station earlier than expected, finds out about the internship, and gets his feelings hurt.  Realizing that they are the two worst people in the world, Chis and Jamal apologize to him.

“Yo yo, Jas,” Jamal says, “We didn’t mean to diss you, man.”

“Yeah,” Chris says, “we decided to give you some props.”

Yeah, guys, Jasper is definitely the one who is trying too hard….

(I am dramatically rolling my eyes.)

Anyway, Chris, Jamal, and Jasper all get the internship but, fortunately, it’s a summer internship so I guess we won’t actually have to watch any of the undoubtedly wacky adventures that they’ll have together.

Meanwhile, Ms. Noble is yelling at everyone.  You would think that this would lead to all the students finally figuring out that their principal is not their friends but instead, Dawn, Cassidy, and Al discover that Ms. Noble is having man trouble and they decide to fix things between her and her boyfriend.  (Her boyfriend, by the way, is the same guy that Ms. Noble had nostalgia sex with last week.)  It turns out that her boyfriend has been working late every night because he’s been trying to save up enough money to buy Ms. Noble an engagement ring.  He proposes to her at the crappy diner where all the students hang out.  The audience goes crazy.  Cassidy and Dawn get tears in their eyes.  People — SHE’S THE PRINCIPAL!  NOBODY IN HISTORY OF HIGH SCHOOL HAS EVER CARED THIS MUCH ABOUT THEIR PRINCIPAL!

God, this show is annoying.  Let’s move on!

Episode 4.3 “Cheat Happens”

(Dir by Frank Bonner, originally aired on September 30th, 2000)

Mid-terms are over and it’s time for finals.  We’re only three episodes into the series and it’s already time for finals?  What the heck?  Anyway, Jamal says he’s not worried about his chemistry final because “this brother’s all about chemistry.”  Plus, Jamal says, “Jamal ain’t down with summer school.”

“Bam!  Bam!  Bam!” Chris later shouts, as he turns in his final.  Chris is feeling confident because he and Jamal made cheat sheets for the final.  Even though they lost the cheat sheets, Chris and Jamal apparently learned everything about Chemistry while making them.  Unfortunately, it turns out that they accidentally put the cheat sheets in L-Train’s textbook and when Ms. Noble spots the sheets, she accuses L-Train of cheating.  When L-Train refuses to confess to cheating, Ms. Noble announces that the entire class will have to retake the test.  Everyone blames L-Train.  Chris and Jamal are the worst human beings ever.

That said, Chris and Jamal may be terrible but at least they know how to host a radio show.  On the other hand, when Dawn and Cassidy demand to be allowed to host their own radio show, they totally blow it.  I guess telling terrible jokes and doing lame impersonations is a lot more difficult than it looks. Luckily, Dawn and Cassidy get a second chance and, by making fun of the boys, they’re a success!  Yay!  I don’t know what the future episodes of this show may hold but I have a feeling that we will never again hear a word about Dawn and Cassidy’s radio show.

Anyway, after L-Train nearly gets into a fight trying to defend his honor, Chris and Jamal confess and Ms. Noble replies, “I’ll see you in summer school!”  So, I guess that internship’s off!  That’ll teach Chris and Jamal to be honest.

Next week, this crappy series continues.

Retro Television Reviews: City Guys 3.25 “Mom on the Rocks” and 4.1 “Kickin’ It”

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!

This week, one season ends and another begins.  Will City Guys never end!?

Episode 3.25 “Mom on the Rocks”

(Dir by Frank Bonner, originally aired on June 10th, 2000)

The third season comes to an end with …. mid-terms!

Mid-terms?  Does school never end in the world of City Guys!?  Is there no summer in New York City?  Still, Ms. Noble assures everyone that they’ll be fine if “you’ve kept up with the school work.”  I’m not sure how they’re supposed to keep up with anything when Ms. Noble is constantly giving them community service assignments but whatever.  Someday, these students will graduate and discover that none of them have the slightest idea how to live without Ms. Noble telling them what to do.

Dawn is directing the school’s ballet (which is called, I kid you not, Cinderella In The Hood) and she needs an extra dancer.  L-Train volunteers (“Can I get jiggy with it?”)  and this, of course, leads to a lot of “Oh my God, a man is wearing tights” jokes.  Jamal and Al also volunteer to work crew, mostly so they can hit on the dancers.  (From my experience, this was actually a pretty accurate reflection of what the crew usually did during high school dance performances.  Of course, it was also my experience that the stage crew tended to get in the way and no one would be caught dead checking any of them out.)  Isn’t Al dating Dawn?  I guess this is another case of NBC showing the episodes out-of-order.  Anyway, if you couldn’t guess that two dancers are going to end up with broken toes and Jamal and Al are going to end up having to replace them, then you obviously didn’t see the episode of Saved By The Bell where Zack discovered he was one credit short of graduating.

(Of  course, the dance is being performed on the roof of the school!  How is that even practical?  Does Manny High not have an auditorium?)

Dawn has more problems than just the fact that she’s apparently not a very good ballet director.  She’s also agreed to tutor Chris and Cassidy on Biology but when they show up at Dawn’s house, they discover that Dawn’s mother (Jennifer Savidge) is an alcoholic!  The next day, at school, Cassidy shows Chris all of the AA and Al-anon pamphlets that she’s spent the night collecting.  Chris suggests that maybe they should stay out of it.  “We have to do something!” Cassidy exclaims.  Why, Cassidy?  Why do you have to do something?  It’s not your problem.  To me, this is more evidence of the influence of Ms. Noble.  Sometimes, the best thing to do is to leave people alone and let them deal with things on their own schedule.

Anyway, just as you probably guessed that Al and Jamal were going to end up wearing tights, you probably also guessed that Dawn’s mother is going to show up for the performance drunk.  Dawn gets embarrassed but luckily Ms. Noble is there to tell Dawn that she shouldn’t have tried to hide her mother’s problem in the first place.  Wait?  What?  Go away, Ms. Noble.  Seriously, what was Dawn supposed to do?  Walk into school and tell everyone that her mother was an alcoholic?  Add to that, this is season 3 of this dumbass show.  After three years of Dawn relentlessly pushing herself to always be the best and basically having a panic attack over the least little thing, how did it never occur to anyone that maybe Dawn had issues at home?  It’s not Dawn’s responsibility to tell anyone.  If anything, it seems like everyone else failed in their responsibilities towards her.

Ms. Noble also mentions that Cassidy and Chris got Dawn’s mother some coffee.  Dawn’s mother then shows up, magically sober, and says that she’s willing to go to AA.  Screw AA.  It looks like all she needs is coffee!

This episode was cringe city.  Let’s move on to the fourth season.

Episode 4.1 “Kickin’ It”

(Dir by Frank Bonner, originally aired on September 23rd, 2000)

The fourth season begins with the school year already in swing.  Al is a star soccer player and….

Wait.  Let me re-read that to make sure I didn’t get that wrong.

Since when — in all of the episodes that have preceded this one — has Al ever shown any athletic ability?  Then again, the show randomly turned Jamal into a baseball superstar so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Al is suddenly New York’s best teenage soccer player.  Unfortunately, Al is so good at soccer that his coach encourages him to focus more on playing than studying.  Fortunately, Ms. Noble catches him and L-Train giving a weakass oral report on Abraham Lincoln and she not only tells Al to get himself together but that he’s getting an F on his report.  (L-Train, meanwhile, is just an innocent bystander who also gets an F because he was unlucky enough to be partnered with Al.)  Al realizes that he needs to do better in school so he tells the coach not to give him any more special treatment.  (That would definitely happen, as teenagers are notorious for refusing special treatment.)

Meanwhile, Ms. Noble wants to lose some weight because her high school reunion is coming up and she is looking forward to seeing an old boyfriend.  Cassie, Chris, and Jamal make it their duty to help Ms. Noble get in shape.  Cassie is so excited when she hears that Noble want to impress a man.  Uh, kids — WHY DO YOU CARE!?  SHE’S YOUR PRINCIPAL!  NO ONE CARES ABOUT THEIR PRINCIPAL!  And, seriously, doesn’t Ms. Noble ever get tired of having to share every aspect of her personal life with her students?

Anyway, the kids decide to crash Ms. Noble’s high school reunion so that they can tell her ex-boyfriend about all the success that Ms. Noble has had in her life since she was in high school and …. actually, you know what?  This is too stupid to even detail.  I mean, the reunion is held on the freaking roof of Manny High, for God’s sake.  This is such a dumb show and I’ve still got 51 more episodes left to review.  So, I’ll just wrap things up that Ms. Noble and her boyfriend head off to the auditorium, where I assume they’re going to spend the entire reunion having nostalgia sex.  As a result, we now know that this school has an auditorium and there’s absolutely no reason why everything has to be done on the roof.

As for next week’s episodes, I’m sure something will happen that will annoy me.

Retro Television Reviews: City Guys 3.23 “Fast Times At Manny High” and 3.24 “Harlem Honey”

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!

This week, we explore just how stupid one show can get.

Episode 3.23 “Fast Times At Manny High”

(Dir by Frank Bonner, originally aired on February 12th, 2000)

One of the strangest things about City Guys has always been the students worshipful attitude towards Ms. Noble.  Ms. Noble is the school’s principal.  She’s the authority figure.  She’s the disciplinarian.  In what world do teenagers actually like authority figures?  I mean, I know that authoritarianism is all the rage today and that there’s a lot of high school and college students out there who are desperate to have someone telling them what to do.  But City Guys is a show from the 90s.  Weren’t the 90s supposed to be about rebellion?  I was thinking about this as I watched Fast Times At Manny High because I noticed that Chris and Jamal have a picture of Ms. Noble hanging on the wall of the radio station.  Seriously, it’s creepy how obsessed the students are with their principal.  Of course, it’s possible that City Guys just wasn’t very realistic in general.  I mean, just consider the fact that Chris and Jamal had a popular radio program, despite having next to no on-air charisma or chemistry.

Anyway, in this episode, Ms. Noble decided that all of the students should fast for one night.  If the students go for an entire night without eating, a corporation will donate $500 to a hunger charity.  All of the students agree because, of course, none of them have the guts to tell Ms. Noble to stop trying to run their lives.  However, it turns out that the fast is not as easy as anyone thought it would be.  I mean, they’re going 9 to 10 hours without eating!  OH MY GOD, SUCH COMMITMENT!

For some reason, the fast is held on the roof of Manny High.  (I really worry about that roof, to be honest.  I once snuck out onto the roof of my high school and I got yelled at because apparently, the roof was in really bad shape and, despite the fact that I barely weighed 100 pounds, there was a risk that it could collapse underneath me.  Meanwhile, at Manny High, they’re using the roof for carnivals, fashion shows, protests, radio contests, and fasts!)

Anyway, the kids screw up the fast.  (It’s almost as if they’re irresponsible teenagers!)  Jamal and Chris sneak off to go on a date with two of their listeners and then, while sneaking back into the school, they end up in Noble’s classroom..  Al and Dawn sneak off to celebrate their anniversary, in Noble’s classroom..  (Yeah, that relationship is still going on.)  L-Train tries to sneak food into the fast and ends up eating in Noble’s classroom..  Cassidy sneaks off the roof to try to sneak a rewritten term paper into Ms. Noble’s classroom.  Of course, they’re all too stupid to pull it off and the corporation announces that they will not be donating $500 to the homeless.  Ms. Noble is very disappointed in all of them, even though L-Train explains that he had to break the fast because he was getting so hungry that he was thinking of eating Al.

(Maybe Ms, Noble could just donate $500 to the charity herself.  I mean, she is the one with a job.)

The kids feel guilty and they all agree that they have to do something to help.  L-Train says that he can’t do anything until he gets some food.  L-Train …. IT’S ONLY BEEN 6 HOURS!  I used to go weeks without eating until I got yelled at by my doctor,

Anyway, the rule-breakers agree to cook breakfast for the kids who did fast and apparently, this inspires the corporation to donate $500 to charity so I guess everything worked out.

Stupid episode.  Let’s move on.

Episode 3.24 “Harlem Honey”

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

“This is New York Diner, no place is finer!” Jamal says as he answers the phone at his Dad’s restaurant.  Already, we know that this episode is going to suck.

Anyway, Jamal’s father (Ivory Ocean) is upset because his latest girlfriend has dumped him.  In order to cheer him up, Jamal and Chris go online and, using the name Harlem Honey, start sending romantic emails to Jamal’s father.  However, when Jamal’s father says that he wants to meet his new girlfriend, Jamal and Chris decide to recruit Ms. Noble to pretend to be Harlem Honey and….



Sorry, I was silent screaming.  Anyway….

Remember how I said Fast Times At Manny High was a dumb episode?  Well, it’s brilliant compared to Harlem Honey.  What teenager — no matter how lonely their father may be — is going to set a parent up with their high school principal!?  Anyway, Noble refuses but fortunately, L-Train’s aunt is single but then Ms. Noble changes her mind and she and Jamal’s father pretend to be in love and…



Yes, I was silently screaming again.

Can we just move on from this episode and pretend that I never saw it?  That sounds good to me!

Next week, the third season of City Guys ends!

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.

Retro Television Reviews: City Guys 3.15 “Funny Business” and 3.16 “Get Your Vote On”

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!

Hello Manny High!  When last we checked in with the City Guys, they were starring on a reality show.  Let’s see what happens this week….

Episode 3.15 “Funny Business”

(Dir by Frank Bonner, originally aired on November 6th, 1999)

Oh hey, I guess the whole reality show thing is over.  In this episode, there’s no mention of Reality House or the Loft.  There’s no cameramen chasing Jamal and Chris.  In fact, no one mentions anything about ever having appeared on reality television.  I guess this is one of those things, like the video yearbook, where they’ll explain what actually happened two seasons from now.

In this episode, Rebecca (Lisa Pepper), a Manny High graduate, returns to her former school so that she can offer three internships at her architectural firm.  Of course, Dawn volunteers.  And then Ms. Nobel randomly draws two names out of a bag for the other two spots and, of course, she draws Chris and Jamal!  I have a feeling that every piece of paper in that bag had either Chris or Jamal’s name written on it.

Chris really enjoys the internship until Rebecca orders him to be her love slave.  After Chris says that’s not appropriate workplace behavior, Rebecca threatens to flunk him unless he become her boy toy.  Chris, Jamal, and Dawn secretly record Rebecca threatening Chris and Rebecca gets fired.

Every show produced by Peter Engel did at least one episode dealing with sexual harassment but I think City Guys was the only one to feature a guy being harassed by a woman.  The episode is a bit heavy-handed and, over the past two and a half seasons, Chris has basically tried to get in the pants of every woman that he’s met so it seems like a little out-of-character that he would turn down the first woman who has actually shown any interest in him.  I mean, if we’re going to be honest, Chris is a serial harasser who apparently can’t handle having the tables turned on him.  This episode says more about Chris than it does Rebecca.

Episode 3.16 “Get Your Vote On”

(Dir by Frank Bonner, originally aired on November 13th, 1999)

Chris has two tickets to the Taxi, Taxi, “the hottest Broadway show.”  Both Cassidy and Dawn volunteer to be his date.

“Two girls, one ticket,” Al says, “you in trouble!”

Well, Al, let’s think about it.  First off, Chris has been trying to date Cassidy since this season began and now, she’s begging to go on a date with him.  Plus, Al — YOU’RE DATING DAWN!  Remember that!?  I’m going to guess this episode was actually filmed before the episode in which Al and Dawn got together and NBC, as they often did, showed the episodes out of order.  As I’ve said before and will probably say again …. NBC just didn’t care.

The Broadway thing is only the B-plot.  The A-plot features L-Train running for reelection as Student Council president.  Jamal decides to run against him because he feels that L-Train hasn’t done enough for the radio station.

While Jamal campaigns for the presidency, Dawn and Cassidy beg Chris to pick one of them to take to the Broadway show.  “You in a player’s paradise!” Al tells Chris before reminding him that Chris has all the power over Dawn and Cassidy.  Al …. DAWN IS YOUR GIRLFRIEND, YOU WEIRDO!

As for the election, Jamal makes a lot of promises that he can’t keep and is elected over L-Train.  After Ms. Nobel informs him that the student council has no money and he’ll have to hold a fund raiser to keep all of his promises, Jamal decides to have a carnival on the roof of the school.  I have to admit that I’m kind of amazed at how strong that roof is.  I mean, they do everything on that roof!

For some reason, Jamal decides to bring a pig to the carnival.  L-Train, looking for revenge, plots to set the pig on the loose but, after Jamal offers to make him vice president, L-Train abandons his evil plan.  Unfortunately, the pig is already on the loose.  (There’s something I never thought I’d write.)  The carnival is a disaster.

“Jamal must go!” the students chant, until L-Train explains that he’s responsible for the pig getting loose.

While this is going on, Cassidy and Dawn get revenge on Al and Chris by having Cassidy’s uncle pretend to be a cop in the anti-scalping division.  After Chris tries to sell the tickets, the fake cop arrests Chris and Al and orders them to hand the tickets over to Cassidy and Dawn.  Ha!  Take that, Chris and Al!

Jamal and L-Train make up and then Jamal resigns so L-Train can become president again.  So, everything’s back to normal.  Yay! 

This episode wasn’t that bad, if you can overlook the plot.  Steven Daniel had some good moments as L-Train.  And the pig getting loose on the roof was a genuinely well-done moment.  Plus, Dawn and Cassidy got to see Taxi Taxi!

Next week …. well, who knows?  I’m sure it’ll be crazy whatever it is.