SQUARE PEGS follows the hilarious misadventures of Patty (Sarah Jessica Parker, TV's "Sex and the City") and Lauren (Amy Linker), two freshmen girls desperate to fit in at Weemawee High School. Befriended by oddball characters Marshall (John Femia), a budding comedian, and Johnny Slash (Merritt Butrick), a wacky new-waver, Patty and Lauren still hope to impress the popular kids: valley girl Jennifer (Tracy Nelson), her tough boyfriend Vinnie (Jon Caliri), and their sassy friend LaDonna (Claudette Wells). And it would "behoove us" to not forget Muffy (Jami Gertz), the ever-peppy preppie! Acclaimed by critics, SQUARE PEGS struck a chord with viewers of all ages and developed a huge cult following. Featuring guest stars Bill Murray, Martin Mull -- plus New Wave acts Devo and The Waitresses (who perform the opening theme) -- all 20 digitally remastered, rad episodes are now available in this awesome 3-disc set, on DVD for, like totally, the first time ever!
was in a class by itself, but much like brainy, bespectacled Patty (Sarah Jessica Parker) and pushy, overweight Lauren (Amy Linker), popularity eluded this late, lamented series, which was expelled from prime time after one season. Rarely seen in syndication, its cult cachet has only increased with time (enhanced by Parkers extreme makeover into Sex and the Citys
trend-setting Carrie Bradshaw). In the words of peppy, preppy Muffy Tepperman (a spirited Jami Gertz in her own career-launching role), it behooves us to report that the series lives up to its rep as a smart and hip alternative to what creator Anne Beatts (in one of the newly filmed interviews with the shows creators and cast included on each disc) calls "processed cheese television" of the day. Square Pegs
was a totally different head; totally. Anticipating 16 Candles
and Freaks and Geeks
, Square Pegs
viewed high school from the perspective of the bottom of the high-school social food chain. Patty and Lauren are freshmen at Weemawee High School. Lauren has it "all psyched out": If the girls can click with the right clique, they will at last have "a social life thats worthy of us." Alas, it is not to be. The girls instantly run afoul of the schools reigning Mean Girl, Jennifer (Tracy Nelson), her bad boy boyfriend, Vinnie (Jon Caliri), and her sassy best friend, LaDonna (Claudette Welles). "La Donna doesnt like anything I do," Patty wails, "and I dont do anything." They are also treated with disdain by Muffy, who seems to have the run of the school to rally students around sponsoring a "Guatemalan child" (they need swimwear, too). Patty and Lauren reluctantly bond with fellow square peggers Marshall Blechtman (John Fernia), an aspiring comedian always ready with a <>Saturday Night Live or Monty Python
reference, and the "laid back and left back" Johnny Slash (the late Merritt Butrick), whos New Wave, and not punk. (New Wave, he explains, is "a totally different head; totally").
Each episode brings some new fresh hell for Patty and Lauren, but also some hope that their fortunes will somehow change and their stock will rise (in the pilot episode, Patty impresses a "stone fox" upperclassman, and in another, she's Vinnie's leading lady in the Chorus Line-inspired school musical, "A Cafeteria Line"). Until then, cup size may trump IQ, but friendship will trump popularity. Weemawee High School appears to be based in New York, but everything else about the show is totally Los Angeles, from, like, Jennifers Valley Girl-speak to an appearance in one episode by Steve Sax and the Dodgers. The laugh track is as lame and half-hearted as the one employed by SCTV, but the shows left of center spirit shines through. Two standout episodes feature, respectively, Bill Murray (Beatts former National Lampoon and <>SNL colleague) as an unorthodox substitute teacher, and Devo, who performs at Muffys New Wave Bat Mitzvah. And thats Wally Cleaver himself, Tony Dow, as Pattys estranged divorced father in what passes as a Very Special two-part holiday episode. Square Pegs is totally '80s (in one episode, Marshall's Pac-Man addiction can only be cured by an intervention by Don Novellos Father Guido Sarducci), but the Waitresss indelible theme song ("Id like it if they like us/But I dont think they like us") sets just the right pathetic/persevering tone that will resonate for a new generation for whom "one size does not fit all." --Donald Liebenson