“I’m One” – The Who from “Quadrophenia” as seen in “Freaks and Geeks”

Ever since I introduced the late 1990s TV show “Freaks & Geeks” to my son a few weeks ago, he has binge-watched the entire one-season show (18 hours) at least 5-6 times on Netflix.  It’s been nice reconnecting with the best show ever to be broadcast on TV about teenagers, if not one of the best series in TV history.

This particular scene is one of my favorites.  It’s one where the geekiest of the geeks, latchkey child Bill Haverchuck, comes home after school to watch TV by himself.  He catches an early TV appearance by comedian Garry Shandling and experiences a moment of unbridled joy laughing at Shandling and just hanging by himself.  I know that many people paint the life of a latchkey kid as unbearably tragic.  But speaking as a latchkey kid myself, sorry Dr. Laura, I had a f–king blast! And no, it’s not because I used the alone time to drink alcohol, do drugs, use my bedroom as a f–kpad, or look at porn.  I realize this is anathema to common ideas of parenting these days, but sometimes kids just need one-two hours a day to do absolutely nothing but veg.  Yes, socializing, exercising, doing school activities, etc. are important, but vegging is seriously underrated and kids these days don’t do enough of it. 

Anyway, I love the way that The Who’s “I’m One” … one of the best, but least-heralded tracks from their great album “Quadrophenia” is used in this scene.  One of the best uses of popular music for dramatic purposes ever.

“Bell Boy” – The Who


The best song from what I would describe as the British “Catcher in the Rye”. This is the song where our protagonist Jimmy discovers his ass-kicking hero, Ace Face, is actually (gulp) a bellboy who licks the boots of people Jimmy despises.

This is the final straw for Jimmy and leads to the ambiguous finale where Jimmy either dies or becomes an adult (which in Jimmy’s mind is the same thing). Yes, on one level this is quite silly once you’ve become an adult and see it from the other side, but when you’re not quite a grownup, sometimes this s–t really seems like life and death. To Pete Townshend’s credit (and Franc Roddam’s, who directed the 1979 film version), he takes Jimmy’s issues seriously without actually supporting them. The Criterion Collection released the film version on Blu-Ray in August 2012 with all the usual bells and whistles. From what I’ve read, it was quite a cultural phenomenon in Britain back in the late 1970s. Johnny Rotten almost got the lead role, and while he would have been interesting, I’m much happier they went with Phil Daniels. A great flick.