Saturday, August 25, 2007

to geek or not to geek

An article in last week's Entertainment Weekly gave an update on the cast members of the under-appreciated "Freaks and Geeks.'' That show and other projects by Judd Apatow give a realistic portrayal of nerdy characters. "The 40 Year Old Virgin," "Knocked Up" and "Superbad" all made big money at the box office. Nerds are hot right now.

A couple of new TV shows feature nerds in a leading role. "Chuck" on NBC and "Big Bang Theory" on CBS will both air during the 8pm hour on Mondays starting September 24. One show gets it right, the other gets it very wrong.

Chuck is a likable guy, working for a thinly disguised version of the Geek Squad at a thinly disguised version of Best Buy. His super-talented college roommate has gone on to become a secret agent. Chuck receives an email from his former roommate that turns him into a valuable resource for the CIA and NSA. A smokin' hottie shows up at the store and wants to get to know Chuck better. Turns out that she's a secret agent too, trying to find out what Chuck did with the email. The visual images from the email are now in Chuck's brain.

Meanwhile over on CBS, Leonard and Sheldon are a couple of Caltech scientists living together with their dueling dry-erase boards full of complicated mathematical formulas. When a smokin' hottie moves in across the hall, they attempt to convince her (and the viewers) that they are straight. It's not very convincing because Leonard and Sheldon are played too effeminately. Everything about the show seems wrong to me. Even the character's names. Calling the lead nerds Leonard and Sheldon is as much of a cliché as calling a gay character Bruce. The writers couldn't possibly be attempting an homage to the late Sheldon Leonard, could they? The old time movie tough guy would turn over in his grave. The whole time I was watching, I kept wondering why they canceled "The Class" for this.

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