Judd Apatow and Paul Feig may have been stung by the criticism and cancellation of their show Freaks and Geeks back in 2000, but that did not deter them from pressing forward with another project. Freaks and Geeks was about a group of kids growing up in high school in the 1980s, while Undeclared is about the first year of college for a group of kids.
Now there are a lot of similiarities between Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared, but I’ll focus on some of the bigger things, b…cause, not really watching Freaks and Geeks back in the day, and doing a IMDB search, some of the cast seems to have carried over to it. Jason Segel played Nick in Freaks and Geeks, and frequently appears as the crazed boyfriend Eric in Undeclared. Seth Rogen played Ken in Freaks and Geeks, and appears as a roommate named Ron here. The series focuses on Steven Karp (Jay Baruchel, Million Dollar Baby), a freshman new to the University of North Eastern California, who meets Ron, Marshall (Timm Sharp, Fun with Dick and Jane), the eccentric Lizzie (Carla Gallo, The 40 Year Old Virgin) and her roommate Rachel (Monica Keena, Entourage), and the handsome Lloyd (Charlie Hunnam, Green Street Hooligans).
Together, they all share the growing pains of being away at college, away from their parents and off in the world. Using the humor that has helped propel Feig and Apatow to the next level of comedy, they’ve done it with painstaking detail, using stories that could only be described as too personal not to be true. After reading Feig’s outstanding book “Superstud”, I think I can say with reasonable certainty that the writers had to create these stories from their personal lives and whatever stories seemed to have the saddest sack were the ones that made it to air.
As far as the cast regulars go, Baruchel does manage to carry the show with some nervous feelings and confidence, while Hunnam shows a certain quality that he’s cultivated into larger roles where he’s done well. A couple of other members (notably Gallo and Rogen) are very capable in supporting roles, and the humor that pervades through the show is funny and appealing.
Unfortunately, the studio only provided the first disc for review, which only has the first 6 episodes. Holy crap, Jenna Fischer (The Office) and Tom Welling (Smallville) are here, and Saturday Night Live’s Amy Poehler plays a psychotic head resident advisor! Along with them, some of the more familiar faces while watching the season are Ben Stiller (There’s Something About Mary(), Adam Sandler (Punch-Drunk Love) and Will Ferrell (Elf).
The full screen presentation for the show is OK, though there appear to be a couple of artifact and pixilation issues. There’s a good level of film grain that’s reproduced, and some of the colors are shown rather vividly, but it doesn’t appear to look as good as it could have.
In a bit of a shock, there are Dolby Digital 5.1 audio tracks for the episodes here, along with a 2 channel stereo mix. The 5.1 provides the requisite surround effects when it has to, even with most of the action occurring in the center and front channels. Putting it up against other TV shows, it’s quite refreshing.
In the series brief 18 episode run, there’s a ton of extra materials to pour over. First, there are commentaries on each of the episodes with Apatow, many of the directors and writers for each episode. Then you’ve got deleted scenes on most every episode, and a bunch of bloopers to enjoy. There’s audition and rehearsal tape, along with some footage of table reading. There’s also a cast Q&A and a script for an unproduced episode. Fans of the show will really enjoy how complete this is.
Special Features List
- Episode Commentary with Various Cast and Crew
- Unaired Footage
- Rehearsal/Audition Footage
- Table Read Footage
- Behind the Scenes Footage
- Loudoun Wainwright Live
- Unpublished Story