A&E // 1994 // 598 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // January 9th, 2008
From my heart and from my hand, why don't people understand...my intentions?!
Whoa, I totally forgot about this bodacious syndicated half-hour comedy from the early '90s. But thanks to A&E, I have a chance to relive on of my favorite shows from back in the day -- and see if it still measures up to my memories.
Fed up with their status as bottom-feeding nerds in the social strata of high school, best friends Wyatt Donnelly (Michael Manaserri) and Gary Wallace (John Mallory Asher) shove Playboy cutouts into a computer printer and manage to create a magic, wish-granting super-hot female genie named Lisa (Vanessa Angel, Kingpin).
The two seasons follow the misadventures of Gary and Wallace as they make wishes and ultimately screw things up and turn to Lisa for help in wriggling out of the bad idea wishes in the first place. What to wish for? How about being one-hit wonder rock stars managed by Ryan Stiles? Or creating a robot girlfriend for Wyatt? Or going skiing for the week and leaving a pair of prone-to-jealousy gum-clones in their place? Or perhaps playing an ultra-violent video game in real life? The sky's the limit and the cleavage is out of this world!
Great show! And as clever as I remember it! I had my doubts after the first episode, a clunky, corny homage to the original John Hughes movie (which, you have to admit, was goofy and retarded in its own way). But once the series got rolling, the laughs and wit came with it. Thankfully, here's another small bit of evidence that I wasn't a complete idiot when I was in high school and had a modicum of taste.
Bottom line is this show is very funny. The central gimmick of two morons having their wishes granted from a supermodel genie translates well into a TV series. The showrunners were able to take the blueprint of the Hughes film and develop it perfectly for episodic television, while still maintaining the spirit of the chaos that horny teenagers with limitless magic at their disposal can weave.
Each episode has Gary and Wyatt besieged by some kind of typical adolescent issue and taking the easy route with Lisa's wish-granting abilities. Desperate for sex? The boys enlist Lisa to be the sex-ed teacher, culminating in an interesting lab practicum ("Sex Ed"). Sick and tired of the abuse handed out by Wyatt's psycho older brother Chett? Revert him back to infant status and raise him to be a docile weakling ("Chett Reborn"). Harboring a grudge against the bully from summer camp? Travel back in time eight years and get even ("Camp Wannabe"). Or maybe that wimpy physique isn't cutting it with the girls. Have Lisa fabricate a muscle suit ("One Size Fits All"). Of course all of these wishes go horribly awry, forcing Gary and Wyatt to react to the travesties and learn something at the end.
I admit that it kind of sounds cheesy on paper, but in practice, it all comes together. The wishes often lead to laugh-out loud moments and the moral lessons aren't corny and intrusive. And it's all helped out by spirited performances by everyone. Weird Science is a silly show, sure, but the actors involved have a ball with it and turn out some deft comedic performances. Asher and Manaserri anchor the lunacy with their manic takes on Gary and Wyatt and Vanessa Angel does what she has to do: let loose the occasional one-liner, dispense sage wisdom and quicken the pulse in a bikini. And a special tip of the hat to Lee Tergesen who plays a fantastic Chett, enough to give Bill Paxton a run for his money. In fact, I'll go as far to say that the cast made these characters their own enough to steal the thunder from their big-screen counterparts.
Like any television season (except for Arrested Development and Airwolf) there are a few sub-par episodes, but the majority of the shows are clever and hilarious. A big thumbs up from me and a recommendation to both fans of the series and folks interested in taking a chance on a quirky, goofy teen fantasy/comedy that actually has both smarts and a heart.
On the technical front, the shows are transferred in their original full frame aspect ratio, 2.0 stereo treatment. There are no picture quality boundaries broken here, but the episodes look and sound adequate. Extras are sparse, highlighted by cast commentary (Manaserri, Angel and Asher) on three episodes. A text-based trivia quiz and set of cast bios round out the set.
Just as funny as I remember it, the first two seasons of Weird Science is a worthy box set to pursue if the premise grabs you.
Zap. Not guilty. Zap.
Review content copyright © 2008 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 598 Minutes
Release Year: 1994
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Cast Commentary
* Trivia Quiz
* Cast Bios