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Emmy commemorative: Underdog – ‘Square Pegs’

Pre-'Sex' Parker part

Before “Freaks and Geeks” there was “Square Pegs.”

Starring a pre-“Sex and the City” Sarah Jessica Parker, the show captured all the pain and pathos of what it was like to be a high school misfit in 1980s America. It lasted just one season (1982-83) on CBS, but its impact on some fans was powerful enough that there are still Web sites devoted to the show.

The brainchild of Anne Beats, a writer on the original “Saturday Night Live,” “Square Pegs” centered around two freshmen at the fictional Weemawee High School: the tall, bespectacled Patty (Parker) and the shorter, braces-clad Lauren (Amy Linker.) Best friends, the two had just one wish: popularity.

“I tell you, this year we’re going to be popular,” Lauren says in the show’s opening montage. “Even if it kills us.”

“Welcome Back, Kotter” had shown high school outcasts before, but did so in a rose-colored world where any problems that might crop up could be solved in 30 minutes.

The characters on “Square Pegs” didn’t have it so lucky. Crushes went unrequited (or worse, ridiculed); the jocks and geeks don’t all end up friends.

Best of all, “Square Pegs” didn’t pander to its intended teen audience. The scripts had jokes about Reaganomics; the soundtrack featured cutting-edge New Wave music by Devo and the Waitresses (who had a hit with the show’s theme song.)

Airing at 8 p.m. Mondays — opposite the reality hit “That’s Incredible” — viewers never really gave “Square Pegs” a shot. Nor did CBS, which decided to ditch comedy in the timeslot for the Kate Jackson “Scarecrow & Mrs. King.”

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