Paul Drinkwater/NBC
January 06, 2000 at 05:00 AM EST

”Freaks and Geeks”’ upcoming switch to Mondays at 8 p.m. is a midterm exam for the hour-long high school dramedy. If the critically revered series passes, the network will order another nine episodes. But if teens and twentysomethings — most of whom weren’t home to watch the show in its old Saturday-night time slot — tune into CBS’ ”King of Queens” instead, then the Peacock will wait till May to decide whether ”the best show on network television” (according to Time Magazine) deserves a second season.

Samm Levine, who plays the ”Star Wars” loving, wise-cracking ”geek” freshman Neal Schweiber, explains the situation: ”NBC is being the corporate giants that they are by letting us air one episode Jan. 10, and then deciding on Jan. 11 whether they want to order more. We only get one show to prove ourselves.” So the pressure is on the episode — about a beautiful transfer student who spends her first few days hanging with the geeks — to have boffo ratings and convince NBC the series isn’t a loser.

Either way, the six remaining shows that have already taped will continue to air in the new Monday time slot. Levine argues that the show is worth watching because it depicts REAL high school students, not the J. Crew-meets-J.D. Salinger versions of teens you see on the WB. ”Those shows are so dreadful. Nobody in high school is going to look that good and have sex with that many people,” Levine says about ”Dawson’s Creek” and company. And if all the critical accolades for ”Freaks” can’t persuade you to watch, Levine isn’t above a blatant display of desperation: ”For God’s sake, even if you’re not a fan just watch us this one Monday night!”

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