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In the dozen years since its cancellation it has continued to convert new viewers, through showings on cable television and via DVD; in September, its 18 episodes began streaming on Netflix.
Whether telling the story of an A student straying from her expected path, a drummer whose dreams outstrip his talent, a kid addressing his parents’ foundering marriage through ventriloquism, or a geek who gets the girl of his dreams only to learn she bores him, the show—unusual for a network series—always preferred emotional truth to rosy outcomes, character to type, and the complicated laugh to the easy one.
Created as veiled autobiography by Paul Feig and developed with executive producer Judd Apatow and supervising director Jake Kasdan, the series gathered a cult following during its on-again, off-again, abbreviated original broadcast.
He, creator Paul Feig, and cast members including Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, and James Franco tell Robert Lloyd what made the show both great and doomed.
which premiered on NBC in the fall of 1999, is one of the most beautiful and ambitious television series ever made.
PAUL FEIG: First day of prep, we get into the office, and Judd’s like, “Let’s tear the script apart.” And I said, “What do you mean?
They don’t want us to.” And he said, “Yeah, I know, but let’s see if we can make it better.” And it was this stripping away of the old Paul Feig, who was a complete control freak, who wouldn’t let people change a word of anything he wrote.
It was a more interesting approach than all the other teenagers I was reading, who just hated their parents. ”JAKE KASDAN: We used to say in editing that you could always cut to Linda and she’s doing the right thing.
PAUL FEIG: Lindsay was the only character not based on somebody I knew. NATASHA MELNICK (actress, “Cindy Sanders,” Sam’s cheerleader crush): John’s eyes were so big and so expressive that any thought that went through his brain, you could see it. One day on the set I was sitting thinking about my part, and John was shoving his spaghetti in his mouth that we were supposed to eat in the dinner scene, going, “It’s so great! It’s, like, the easiest job in the world.” I thought, My God, he totally has it right.
It had always been about trying to fit the person to read the lines correctly.
JUSTIN FALVEY (Dream Works development executive): From the moment the actor walks into what is usually the sterile, anxiety-ridden room of casting, Judd’s applauding and everybody’s got great energy. LINDA CARDELLINI: Here’s this girl [Lindsay]who desperately wants to be away from her parents and what they know her as, but at the same time truly does not want to disappoint or rebel against them and really loves them.