Forget petitions. Like the "Roswell" fans who sent thousands of bottles of Tabasco sauce to critics and TV network officials, fans of the coming-of-age-in-the-'80s comedy drama "Freaks and Geeks" are taking a decidedly activist role to try to save the acclaimed freshman drama. After giving "Freaks" a terrible Saturday night slot, where it had to compete with playoff baseball during its opening weeks, then moving it midseason to Mondays, NBC axed the show in March because of low ratings.
In response was born the fan consortium Operation Haverchuck, named after one of the show's bespectacled geeks. The group's sole purpose is to get another network to pick up the show. "NBC has made it very clear that 'Freaks and Geeks' is unwanted," says Haverchuck co-founder Garrett Krnich. Organizer Cindy Kopecky adds that the group is raising money to place an ad in Daily Variety that they hope will "show the [other] networks that despite what NBC and the Nielsen ratings say, there is support and an audience for 'F&G.'"
The ad campaign was conceived by Krnich, a 21-year-old film student at the University of California at Santa Barbara, who got the idea from "Roswell" fans. Of the $3,950 needed for a 40-inch Daily Variety ad, Operation Haverchuck has received $3,300 in pledges, and has collected about half of that. "It's been neglected," said the mockup copy for the ad. "It's been denied promotion, a solid timeslot, and a network that cares. It needs your help. Consider 'Freaks and Geeks' for your lineup today."
The ad is scheduled to run April 26, which would coincide with the New York Museum of Broadcasting's presentation of all 18 "Freaks and Geeks" episodes. In case the industry and media don't catch on to the irony of a canceled show's being honored by the Museum of Broadcasting, Operation Haverchuck is also planning a simultaneous media blitz.
Fans are being asked to shower the media -- and then the networks -- with e-mail, letters and peanuts. (Bill Haverchuck almost died from an allergic reaction to peanuts in one episode.) The goal is for "1,000 fans to each send five letters to each target network," which -- using the "1,000 letters equals 1,000,000 fans" formula -- equals 5 million "Freaks and Geeks" supporters. Organizer Elijah Green says the campaign coincides with the time of year the networks are determining their fall schedules, and he's confident that if the show gets picked up, it "will be a big hit for another network."
If "Freaks and Geeks" doesn't find a new home, it won't be for a lack of trying. As Krnich says, "Whether it will help, I don't know. But does that completely matter? The ad is going to be amazing simply on the grounds that so many fans pulled together and said, 'Hey, we want to say something. Together.' As somebody once pointed out to me, hundreds of television shows disappear without a whimper. It's doubtful anybody will be able to say that about 'Freaks and Geeks.'"