|The cast of Dweebs: America was not ready to love them back in 1995.
Quick, name the half-hour CBS sitcom about a group of brilliant but socially-inept nerds and the attractive female character who acts as their link to "normal" society. Ah ah ah, not so fast! The show I'm thinking of debuted a full twelve years before The Big Bang Theory. And instead of becoming a pop culture cornerstone, this one left the air after only six of its ten episodes had appeared in prime time. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you.... Dweebs.
|Title card from Dweebs.
|Karl and Sheldon: Two of a kind?
Big Bang, of course, has become one of television's most successful programs -- the top-rated scripted series last season, a smash in syndication, and the inspiration for merchandise ranging from bobbleheads to board games. BBT might very well be the last big across-the-board hit network sitcom. Dweebs, however, had the misfortune of living up to the title of a Devo greatest-hits compilation: Pioneers Who Got Scalped. We were only about a decade into the personal-computing revolution back then, and vast swaths of the public were unfamiliar with this new thing called "the Internet." Back then, it was plausible for Carey to be baffled by such everyday things like e-mail, spreadsheets, and Windows. Frankly, computers hadn't quite gotten "good" back then. They were clunky-looking and somewhat of a chore to operate. Now, of course, we're all a lot more tech-savvy, and the word "app" is part of the vernacular. (On Dweebs, it's treated like something a Martian might say.)
For educational purposes, here is the pilot episode of Dweebs, written by Peter Noah and directed by Andy Ackerman, who fortunately had another job waiting for him on Seinfeld, where he helmed an astonishing 87 episodes before working with Seinfeld veterans on such series as The New Adventures of Old Chrstine and Curb Your Enthusiasm. As you'll soon see, Dweebs is not an all-time great comedy, at least not yet. The move from the garage to the office building is ill-advised, as the series loses a lot of visual interest in the blah new setting. (Carey corrects this toward the end by bringing a bit of the garage into the office.) The dialogue is too jokey and on-the-nose, and many of the jokes are groan-inducing. ("I don't do Windows," Carey tells a computer salesman.) The abundance of mid-1990s references keeps the show from being timeless. But the cast is appealing (even Feldman, who -- let's not forget -- has appeared in a number of highly-regarded films, including Stand By Me and Gremlins), and there is great potential for comedic possibilities here. Those possibilities, of course, would be explored with incredible success on the very same network over a decade later.
For the truly curious, there is a lovingly-made Dweebs fan site right here.