Picks and Pans Review: Fast Times at Ridgemont High

updated 03/10/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/10/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

CBS (Wed., Mar. 5, 8 p.m. ET)


When I was in high school, jealous adults told me that those would be the best years of my life. Bull. High school was hell. Puberty was purgatory. Any teen knows that, and so did the creators of Sixteen Candles and TV's Square Pegs, which portrayed the heartbreak, humor and exquisite agony of youth through teenage eyes. Fast Times, a high school sitcom based on the movie (which was based on the book), sees adolescence more as adults do, as enviable anarchy. Ray (My Favorite Martian) Walston as the stodgy teacher looks at his crazy class and says: "This whole school is turning into a three-ring circus." The kids' lines are no better; Fast Times doesn't capture the adolescent argot that added gross and grody to our lexicon. The teens' traumas also lack imagination: A boy dying to ask a girl for a date says, "There's, uh, been something I've been meaning to ask you...." But he chickens out and asks something harmless about the hot dogs she sells in the mall. Old stuff. Which makes the kids look old, like so many acned adults. Still, Fast Times, like any teen's life, is loaded with messy little subplots. So the show's pacing is right. And its cast is mostly endearing. If only I could believe that youth was as easy as it looks here.

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