|Created by||Anne Beatts|
|Written by||Anne Beatts
|Directed by||Kim Friedman
Craig Richard Nelson
|Starring||Sarah Jessica Parker
|Theme music composer||The Waitresses|
|Composer(s)||Tom Scott (pilot)
Paul Shaffer ("Special Musical Material", pilot)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||20|
|Executive producer(s)||Anne Beatts|
Richard N. Hannah
|Camera setup||Single camera|
|Running time||22–24 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Embassy Television|
|Distributor||Columbia Pictures Television
Columbia TriStar Television
Sony Pictures Television
|Original run||September 27, 1982– March 27, 1983|
Square Pegs is an American comedy series that aired on CBS during the 1982–1983 season. The series follows Patty Greene (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Lauren Hutchinson (Amy Linker), two awkward teenage girls desperate to fit in at Weemawee High School.
Overview and setting
Created by former Saturday Night Live writer Anne Beatts, the pilot introduces an eclectic group of eight freshmen on their first day at Weemawee High School. Most scenes were filmed in the abandoned Excelsior High School in Norwalk, California. Weemawee at first appears to be in a generic suburban American community. However, though the location is never stated outright, the plot often refers to events going on nearby in "The City", which is the universal New York metro reference to Manhattan. A frequent hangout for the kids and the most common location for scenes outside of school is "The Grease", a Greek diner, also common to the NYC metro area (it is actually called the Acropolis, according to the neon sign). In another reference to the New York metro location, Patty states that when her father brought her to his cabin in the woods, she cried as they "passed each exit on the Connecticut Turnpike".
The series was much acclaimed by critics at the time for its realistic (if comic) look at teenage life, reflecting a sensibility somewhat similar to the John Hughes teen comedies of later years. Though targeted to younger viewers, the prime time show's dialogue is rather adult and risqué, much more like Saturday Night Live than the later high school comedy Saved by the Bell which was aimed at pre-adolescent viewers.
Presumably the characters were to go through high school during the following four years until graduation, but the show lasted only one season. The first two episodes had strong ratings, but plummeted shortly thereafter. An article in the June 9, 1984 issue of TV Guide blamed the show's failure on the inexperience of its staff, and drug use on the set, though cast and crew interviewed for the 2008 DVD release make no comment regarding the latter allegation.
Patty Greene is a budding young woman, not quite beautiful yet, but well cultured and intelligent. While clever and seemingly well-adjusted, she seems awkward and a social misfit (i.e. a square peg) when amongst the "popular" students. Patty hates her eyeglasses, but her father won't let her get contacts (because, he says, her eyes are "still growing").
Patty's very close friend Lauren Hutchinson struggles with her weight (the actress needed to wear padding for the role), has braces, wears unusual clothing, and also does not fit in with the popular crowd. However, much more so than Patty, Lauren constantly desires to be in with the in crowd, and the series' episodes revolve more or less around her dragging Patty into various schemes in attempts to make them more popular.
Lauren and Patty are surrounded by colorful supporting characters. Their friends Marshall Blechtman (John Femia) and Johnny "Slash" Ulasewicz (Merritt Butrick) are a pair of lovable geeks. Marshall is a motormouthed would-be comedian, while Johnny is a soft-spoken new wave fan (not punk... "a totally different head... totally.") Though seemingly off in his own reality most of the time, Johnny Slash states that he "[does not] do drugs and isn't a hippie" and on more than one occasion displays unexpected intuition and empathy, particularly regarding Marshall and the girls. The two help to maintain a school radio station. Several episodes indicate that Marshall is attracted to Lauren and Johnny to Patty.
The popular kids whom Patty and Lauren are usually trying to impress are Jennifer DiNuccio (Tracy Nelson), the quintessential buxom Valley girl, her boyfriend Vinnie Pasetta (Jon Caliri), a handsome greaser hood, and LaDonna Fredericks (Claudette Wells), Jennifer's friend and the sole minority character in the cast. Vinnie is cool but dense, using the "Why don't you make like a tree and get out of here?" line three years before the character Biff in 1985's Back to the Future. LaDonna is known for sassy remarks such as "Shoot, child, you think this place is crowded? You should have seen our living room when The Jeffersons went to Hawaii. Those were the three worst Sundays of my life."
The typical official high school activity culture is personified by preppy Muffy B. Tepperman (Jami Gertz) who is the endlessly chipper chairperson of the Weemawee Pep Committee, head of the Morals Club, chairman of the Science Fair Committee and member of the Future Nurses of America. Muffy has a memorably pompous, oratorical speaking style and begins many sentences with "It behooves me to tell you..." or an elongated "People...". Though perhaps even more socially inept ("I’m going to ignore that because, frankly, I don't get it"), Muffy's unawareness and/or lack of concern with her failure to fit in with the popular kids is in stark contrast to the motivation of the show's protagonists, and does not stop her from relentless involvement in peppy activities.
An ongoing gag throughout the series is Muffy's fundraising for Weemawee's adopted "little Guatemalan child," Rosarita. As the series progresses, Muffy's charitable intentions become more and more frivolous, asking the school community to provide the girl with her own apartment away from her parents, cable TV, a second pair of culottes, swimwear, a split-level duplex, and finally, her own cleaning lady.
This group of eight students, though clearly of varied academic standing, are always in the same classes. The recurring staff members at the school are:
- Ms. Alison Loomis, a feminist liberal arts teacher who often bemoans her ex-husband
- Rob "Lovebeads" Donovan, who continuously brings up his antics in the 1960s and always stops just short of completing references to smoking pot
- Mr. John Michael Spacek, the affected but married drama teacher
- Principal Dingleman
Before the opening credits and theme song begin, every episode starts with the following dialogue appearing in a montage of stills from the school:
- Lauren: "Listen. I've got this whole high school thing psyched out. It all breaks down into cliques."
- Patty: "Cliques?"
- Lauren: "Yeah, you know. Cliques. Little in-groups of different kids. All we have to do is click with the right clique, and we can finally have a social life that's worthy of us."
- Patty: "No way! Not even with cleavage."
- Lauren: "I tell you, this year we're going to be popular."
- Patty: "Yeah?"
- Lauren: "Yeah. Even if it kills us."
|Nº||Title||Directed by:||Written by:||Air date||PC|
|1||"Pilot"||Kim Friedman||Anne Beatts||27 September 1982||101|
|Freshman Patty gets the chance to "click with the right clique" when she attracts the attention of a handsome senior.|
|2||"A Cafeteria Line"||Kim Friedman||Janis Hirsch||4 October 1982||102|
|The romantic leads in the school musical lead to romance for Patty and Vinnie.|
|3||"Pac Man Fever"||Terry Hughes||Marjorie Gross||11 October 1982||105|
|Marshall loses his comic touch when he becomes "possessed" by a video game. His only hope for salvation: exorcism by the cleric of comedy, Father Guido Sarducci.|
|4||"Square Pigskins"||Kim Friedman||Andy Borowitz||18 October 1982||104|
|Lauren talks Patty into joining the Weemawee girls football team — coached by a gung-ho army vet and a women's libber who bristles at the slightest slight.|
|5||"Halloween XII"||Terry Hughes||Marjorie Gross,
|1 November 1982||109|
|The Weemawee High School Halloween dance gets canceled when Muffy spends the entire budget on unnecessary decorations. She feels so guilty that she begs Ms. Loomis to have a slumber party for the girls; Patty and Lauren see this as an opportunity to join in with the popular girls. The girls become scared when they hear noises outside, only to discover that it's Vinnie, Johnny and Marshall. They all calm down until they think they see a dark, monster-like figure moving towards the door...|
|6||"A Simple Attachment"||Terry Hughes||David Felton||8 November 1982||107|
|Hopelessly in love with Lauren, Marshall takes an opportunity with the science fair to build a "love detector." His project backfires on him. It also causes problems for happy couples by making other love matches for them.|
|7||"Weemaweegate"||Kim Friedman||Chris Miller,
|15 November 1982||108|
|Vinnie is attempting to become the school mascot but keeps running into problems. School newspaper reporters Patty and Lauren decide to investigate the strange happenings. The clues quickly point to Marshall, but is he being set up?|
|8||"Open 24 Hours"||Kim Friedman||Deanne Stillman||22 November 1982||106|
|Marshall becomes Johnny's manager and books his band, a band no one's ever seen, for the gala opening of a supermarket deli counter.|
|9||"Muffy's Bat Mitzvah"||Kim Friedman||Margaret Oberman,
|29 November 1982||113|
|When she leaves them off her guest list, Lauren and Patty scheme to get invited to Muffy's bat mitzvah party.|
|10||"Hardly Working"||Terry Hughes||Andy Borowitz,
|13 December 1982||112|
|Jennifer does the uncoolest thing possible: she gets a job.|
|11||"A Child's Christmas in Weemawee: Part 1"||Terry Hughes||Marjorie Gross,
|20 December 1982||115|
|Patty's in a quandary: should she spend Christmas in an isolated cabin with her divorced father, or the way she'd prefer — with her friends at school?|
|12||"A Child's Christmas in Weemawee: Part 2"||Terry Hughes||Marjorie Gross,
|20 December 1982||116|
|Patty wants to patch things up with her dad in time to still attend the all-important Weemawee Christmas party.|
|13||"It's All How You See Things"||Kim Friedman||Janis Hirsch||27 December 1982||110|
|Patty thinks that wearing glasses is the cause of her problems, and therefore decides to stop wearing them.|
|14||"Merry Pranksters"||Kim Friedman,
|Deanne Stillman||10 January 1983||111|
|To gain popularity Patty and Lauren become expert pranksters. The joke is on them, however, when someone else gets credit for their stunts.|
|15||"It's Academical"||Terry Hughes||Andy Borowitz||24 January 1983||114|
|The kids are excited when Dan Vermillion (Martin Mull), host of channel 124's quiz show It's Academical, announces that Weemawee High School has just been selected to compete. This will be a big competition since they will face their arch-rivals, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Tech. Patty is selected along with Muffy and Larry Simpson since they have the three highest grade point averages. Patty sees this as another chance to gain popularity, and maybe Larry as a boyfriend.|
|16||"The Stepanowicz Papers"||Terry Hughes||Susan Silver||31 January 1983||103|
|When Mr. Stepanowicz starts his new job as the school janitor, Lauren dreams of becoming Mrs. Stepanowicz. Patty tries to talk some sense into her friend, but it looks like Lauren needs to learn the hard way.|
|17||"To Serve Weemawee All My Days"||Kim Friedman||Andy Borowitz,
|7 February 1983||117|
|Mr. Donovan's job is in jeopardy because the school board has discovered he is living with a woman.|
|18||"No Substitutions"||Kim Friedman||Andy Borowitz||14 February 1983||119|
|Mr. McNulty (Bill Murray) is a substitute teacher who fills in for Ms. Loomis while she is in Reno for a teacher conference. Mr. McNulty sets the kids up with mock marriages to teach them about life, and he quickly becomes their favorite teacher. The kids end up learning a life lesson, just not the one that was planned.|
|19||"No Joy in Weemawee"||James Nasella||Marjorie Gross,
|21 February 1983||118|
|The Weemawee Braves are holding baseball tryouts when star pitcher Vinnie harasses Johnny until he finally has had enough and takes a turn at bat. Johnny hits three consecutive pitches for home runs and immediately makes the team. Coach Donovan is beside himself since his school has not won a single baseball game since 1955.|
|20||"The Arrangement"||Craig Richard Nelson||Anne Beatts,
|7 March 1983||120|
|Vinnie needs Patty to help him study for a big math test. If he doesn't pass it, he can't have the party he wants to throw to celebrate his six-month anniversary with Jennifer. By helping Vinnie, Patty and Lauren think the popular kids at school will finally accept them.|
Theme song and other music
To accurately reflect high schoolers' tastes of the moment, new wave music was an important facet of the show's style. The show's opening and closing theme songs, "Square Pegs", and an untitled instrumental reminiscent of "Chopsticks" composed by Tom Scott, are performed by The Waitresses. In some episodes, "Chopsticks" is the opening theme and "Square Pegs" the closing theme, and in others these are reversed.
- The Waitresses appear in the premiere episode as a band performing at the school dance. They sing "I Know What Boys Like" during a scene, and "Square Pegs" during the closing credits, with the characters dancing along. Their song "Christmas Wrapping" is playing in the popular hangout diner ("The Grease") during the Christmas episode. They are mentioned by Jennifer in the episode in which she works at the diner.
- John Densmore, original drummer for The Doors, plays himself as a member of Johnny Slash's new wave band, "Open 24 Hours" in two episodes: "Open 24 Hours" (episode #8) and "Muffy's Bat Mitzvah" (episode #9).
- Also performing in "Muffy's Bat Mitzvah", the new wave band Devo appear as themselves.
- The walls of the school radio station, run by Marshall, are covered with posters from then-current New Wave acts, including Berlin, The Clash, Missing Persons, Squeeze, Devo, The B-52's, and Laurie Anderson.
- Billy Idol's song "Dancing with Myself" is featured in episode #18 ("No Substitutions") which guest starred Bill Murray. The song is replaced with generic music in the DVD release, but the original audio is in the version available on Hulu.com and iTunes.
- Original broadcasts: Square Pegs debuted on CBS September 27, 1982 in the 8 P.M. Monday slot, formerly held by M*A*S*H, which moved to 9 P.M.
- Syndication: After having been unseen for a decade, episodes were shown on USA Network in the mid-1990s, and later on Nickelodeon, and TVLand.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released the entire series on DVD in a 3-disc set on May 20, 2008, to coincide with the theatrical release of Sarah Jessica Parker's film Sex and the City: The Movie. On the DVDs, the episodes have been digitally remastered and include eight featurettes called "Weemawee Yearbook Memories." Each featurette focuses on a different cast member and has new interviews with the actors and creator Anne Beatts.
Because the two parts of "A Child's Christmas in Weemawee" appear together as one episode, the DVD packaging states that it includes 19 episodes rather than 20.
- Frank Halperin. "Sarah Jessica: Before 'Sex,' she was 'Square'" ("It List" column), The Courier-Post (Cherry Hill, New Jersey), August 23, 2007.
- "Square Pegs" DVD News: Announcement for "Square Pegs: The Complete Series", TVShowsonDVD.com, February 25, 2008