Series / Welcome Freshmen
is a Nickelodeon
series produced from 1991 to 1993
(with reruns airing until 1996) that took place at the fictional Hawthorne High School
. The main characters consisted of freshmen Merv, Alex, Tarah, Kevin, and Walter, and their principal, Elliot Lippman, who often imagined himself as a stand-up comedian. In the third season, Tarah and Merv left and new students Manny, Erin, and Grant were added to the cast.
Originally, the show was a sketch comedy show, with the sketches tied to a theme (such as "money" or "holidays"). In the third season, the format changed to a more typical tween-oriented sitcom. Basically, Saved by the Bell
but far more cynical and less moralistic.
- Alpha Bitch: Alex is a borderline case.
- Artifact Title: Sort of. In the third season, the original cast became sophomores (with the exception of Walter, who was held back), while new freshmen Erin and Manny were added to the cast.
- Butt-Monkey: Manny.
- Censor Bar: In one sketch, two boys got the censor box and discuss how creepy it is, then ran off stage, carefully covered themselves, leaving the censor boxes just hanging there. Then as if realizing what just happened, the boxes zoomed off after them.
- Collective Groan: Whenever Mr. History shows up.
- Courtroom Episode: "The People Vs. Walter".
- Fake Video Camera View: The Merv-U-Mentary segments.
- Five-Man Band: Merv, Kevin, Walter, Alex, and Tarah.
- Generation Xerox: The Mr. History segments involve past freshmen, all played by the shows main actors. Though this could be more of an Imagine Spot.
- Hollywood Nerd: Merv is somewhere between Type 1 and Type 2.
- Irony: According to Kevin, Merv was thrilled to skip ahead to college until he found out he'd be a freshman again.
- Jerkass: All the main characters, to some extent, but Kevin is by far the biggest one of all.
- "Jump Off a Bridge" Rebuttal: In one episode, Walter's father learns that he's participating in a ridiculous-sounding new sport because everyone else is, and asks him if he'd jump off a bridge if everyone else did. Walter says that he wouldn't, then remarks that kids aren't jumping off bridges anymore, they're jumping off cranes.
- Laser-Guided Karma: A subplot of "Math, Lies & Videotape" is Kevin intending to cheat his way through midterms by buying last year's tests. He blows off studying, but the day before testing, he learns Mr. Lippman is cracking down so hard on cheating that the teachers are changing their usual tests. Kevin has to stay up all night studying just to try to squeak by.
- Limited Social Circle: Aside from the occasional incidental character (such as Mr. Lippman's nephew coming to visit), we never see the main characters hang around with anybody other than each other.
- Locked in a Room: In the school play episode, Alex, Kevin, and Mr. Lippman all get locked in a closet before the play they appear in starts.
- Mock Millionaire: In one episode, Merve reveales he's been writing to a rich girl who he falsely informed that he was rich to. When he expects a visit, he convinces his friends to pretend to be his servants. However, when she meets Merv, she admits she's not interested in him because she doesn't like how stuck-up rich guys are. Merv then admits that he's not really rich after all. Unfortunately for Merv, she does not believe him, and his friends keep their promise to not break character no matter what.
- Mystery Meat: The title of a band the gang forms in one segment.
- Put on a Bus: Merv and Tarah both left after the second season—the former going to college and the latter getting roped into a protest.
- Re Tool: The format changed from sketch comedy to Saved by the Bell styled sitcom in the third season.
- School Play: In one episode, the school had a Shakespearian play. Many of the actors ended up locked in the closet (Alex was locked in by Kevin because he wanted a girl he liked to play his love interest instead, Kevin was locked in the closet because Grant was so jealous of him and Alex kissing in the show, and Mr. Lippman was locked in).
- Second Year Protagonist: Obviously averted, considering the title is "Welcome Freshmen.'' Played straight in the second season with Kevin and Alex.
- Senseless Violins: One 'Mr History' sketch parodied prohibition with the students making bathtub bubblegum. When caught by the teachers, they brought out violin cases, from which they removed violins. That they played very badly.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Compared to other tween shows at the time, Welcome Freshmen veered pretty far on the cynical end of the scale. None of the characters were especially likable or nice, the principal was a bumbling idiot who everyone hated, there were no lessons learned at the end of any episode, and in many cases characters would get away with cheating, deceit, etc.
- Too Dumb to Live: Walter. In fact, when he took his SAT exam, he did so poorly that the computer gave him a perfect score out of pity. It's a miracle he gets out of his freshman year at the end of the series.
- Token Good Teammate: In contrast to the others, Walter's foibles and bad habits were the result of genuine stupidity. He often acted quite personable and was rarely ever antagonistic.
- You Are Grounded: In "Conformity", everyone is surprised that Kevin isn't going to the big pep rally that everyone else is going to. Kevin claims that he just doesn't do things just because others do, but then Merv reveals that the real reason he's not going is because he's grounded.