Friday, July 08, 2016

Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place

© by Gerald So | | 7:00 P.M.

Last Tuesday, Shout! Factory released the 11-DVD complete series set of Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place. The main characters navigated grad school and the job search at roughly the same time I did, and while the cast went on to bigger and better projects, this is where I discovered almost all of them.

I had seen Traylor Howard on NBC's shorter-lived, similarly-set Anthony Clark sitcom Boston Common. On Two Guys... she played the shrewd, tomboyish Sharon Carter, her best friends fellow Tufts grads brilliant slacker Michael "Berg" Bergen (Ryan Reynolds) and idealistic Pete Dunville (Richard Ruccolo).

In Season 1, the three friends each pursued professional and romantic fulfillment, Pete most idealistically pursuing "the one" girl he's meant to be with. Season 2 brought in Nathan Fillion as handyman Johnny Donnelly, whom Sharon dates seriously and eventually marries, and Suzanne Cryer as Ashley Walker, who rivals Berg for smarts and sarcasm. By the end of Season 2, Pete developed romantic feelings for Sharon, but they weren't reciprocated, after which I lost most interest.

Having refreshed my memory of the series this week, I'm glad to see the characters went on to deeper relationships, particularly Ashley with Pete. Ashley was a very driven, abrasive character. As she was fleshed out, viewers got to see, as tough as she was, she was often lonely. Her arc with Pete went from utter dislike to the kind of connection they had always wanted.

As much development as four seasons offered, as Sharon, Berg, Pete, and Ashley were often unsure about work and love, the show never seemed that sure of itself. Original pizza place regulars Juliis Carry, David Ogden Stiers, and Jennifer Westfeldt were gone after Season 1; in the course of the series, Berg's dad was played by Howard Hesseman and Steve Landesberg, his mother by Cheryl Ladd and Bo Derek; Pete changed careers from architect to cosmetics executive to fireman. There were musical episodes, speculative Halloween episodes, an episode without dialogue, and the de facto series finale, of which viewers chose the ending via Internet vote. Can you say, "Ratings ploy?"

Still, my best memories are pleasantly intact. Shout! Factory's set hits the soft spot I have for the show.

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