44. Freaks and Geeks
Air Dates: September 25, 1999–July 8, 2000
Stars: Linda Cardellini, John Francis Daley, James Franco, Samm Levine, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, Martin Starr, Becky Ann Baker, Joe Flaherty, Busy Philipps
Before Judd Apatow laid bare the heart in raunchy sex comedies like The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up, he injected brains and feeling into the high-school series with Freaks and Geeks, one of the sweetest (and shortest) TV experiences of all time.
Set in the early '80s in a Detroit suburb, the 18-episode-long series introduced viewers to the two children of the Weir family. Lindsay's the freak, and Sam's the geek. From there, the show followed the two outcasts to look into the depths of the high-school experience with compassion and humor.
Freaks and Geeks is one of greatest shows ever made. So why the low ranking? It's not a joke machine. You'll laugh, sure, (Bill as the Bionic Woman?), but mostly you'll remember the show's inclusive warmth. —RS