June 9, 2010

NetPix: Square Pegs

In 1982, CBS aired a quirky high school comedy starring a teenaged Sarah Jessica Parker called "Square Pegs".  Created by Anne Beatts (one of the original staff writers on SNL) it was critically well-received but had trouble getting decent ratings and was cancelled after just 20 episodes.  

When this show originally aired, I was fairly obsessed with it and even wrote a letter to CBS when word came down it was not going to be renewed. I recently heard SJP being interviewed on Studio 360 and the host played a clip from the show which sent me into a nostalgia-spin.  I immediately searched for it on NetFlix and found the one and only season of the show now on DVD.  

Despite all the 80's "fashion" and references (remember the Budweiser "Taste Buds"?), the show holds up pretty well and is very entertaining.  Then again, given my love of GLEE, this show is pretty much my sweet spot.  As for SJP, she is totally adorkable.  She almost didn't get cast on the show as the lead geek because she was too pretty.  But when she put on a pair of the casting directors big owl glasses, a sitcom star was born.  

The other standout in the cast is Merritt Butrick as Johnny Slash.  Watching it now, he is pretty much the gay guy on the show before you were allowed to say it.  It's pretty funny the various ways they telegraph this....like everyone think's he's punk but he keeps insisting he is "New Wave", leading to his catch phrase: "it's a totally different head, man...totally." Yeah, totally.  He also has a nicely braided rattail.....god, remember those?!  And the coolest moussed-up hairdo.  Sadly, despite going on to star in "The Wrath Of Khan" and "Star Trek: The Next Generation", Merritt died suddenly in 1990 of complications from AIDS.  He was just 29.  It's a tragic footnote to what has been a truly joyous viewing experience.  

So if you're desperate for a goofy look at high school in the 80's, this show may be geeky at heart but it's a winner in my book...and the rare TV show that is laugh-out loud funny too.

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