In mentioning Shout! Factory yesterday I forgot to note two things: one, that the AP had a good article recently on how this newish company (formed out of the ashes of Rhino records) became the best TV-on-DVD company, and two, that today was the day that their special “Yearbook” edition of Freaks and Geeks became available in stores.
Should you get the Yearbook Edition if you don’t already have it? It’s difficult for me to say. The price is still very high, and the packaging actually has its disadvantages (you have to keep the paper lining on or you might not be able to find the thing on the shelf, since it’s meant to look like a big leather yearbook). Also, the extra articles included in the liner notes are mostly previously-published material, and some of it is available online. So what it comes down to is whether the two additional discs of bonus features are worth the extra money. If you’re a huge Freaks and Geeks fan, or just a huge fan of seeing how great TV shows are made, the answer is yes, it’s worth it. Just seeing the complete table reads is a fascinating experience, not just because you see the actors becoming their characters without the benefit of makeup or costumes, but because it’s interesting how differently the thing plays in a reading: when I was watching the read of “I’m With the Band,” I felt that F&G plays much more like a flat-out comedy than it does when you see it with the early ’80s drama look of the show. But if you just like F&G, and don’t necessarily need to see every single thing that’s related to its production, then the regular six-disc set — with plenty of extras, including commentaries on every episode — is the one to go for.
Tangential question: which F&G alum do you think benefited the most from the release of the DVD set and the elevation of F&G from “little-seen cult flop” to one of the best-known cult flops of all time? As I said earlier, it certainly helped Judd Apatow establish an empire, but he’d already taken some steps toward doing that before F&G came out on DVD, since he had already finished producing Anchorman. Similarly, Seth Rogen might not have become a star without the redemption of F&G, but Apatow was going to include him in all his projects one way or the other. Paul Feig, perhaps? His directing career wasn’t going much of anywhere until F&G re-entered the public consciousness; now he’s one of TV’s busiest directors.