Breaking Away from the TV Show


The other evening, last night actually, the son was out playing ball with some friends, the wife had gone to pick him up at a local park, and I was channel surfing in their absence. I found the original Bad New Bears, and darned if that one kid didn't look a lot like a younger Moocher from Breaking Away. I got onto the computer and discovered that indeed it was Jackie Haley. A couple turns later and I found that Jackie, not only grew up in my neck of the Valley but, was also in this little television show called Breaking Away. Does anyone here remember this show? Are you old enough to have even watched it? It ran from the end of 1980 to the beginning of 1981. I don't have the slightest recollection. Maybe that is because only eight episodes were aired. Or, maybe I was flipping burgers, throwing shakes at rude customers, and managing the drive-up window during the night shift at Carl's Jr, those evenings of the week that it was on.

The movie has become such a classic that it was rather difficult to watch the pilot and see anything other than just another cheap copy, an attempt to capitalize on the success of the big-screen version. Moocher is there, and so too is Mrs. Stohler (Jackie Earle Haley and Barbara Barrie, in other words). The roles of the other familiar characters were all filled by different actors for the remade weekly. Shawn Cassidy as Dave in particular, but also Tom Wiggin as Mike, just don't cut it for me. Of course the makers had to stay true to the characters and themes - Dave, the wanna-be Italian, aspiring racer, awkward Cyril, tough-guy Mike, the conflict between Townies and College elite, it is all still there in the television show.

Most disappointing though, may be the bike Dave rides. It is hard to see, but it looks like a cheap department store bike, rather than the elegant Masi of the movie version. The saddle is slammed low to the frame, nose pointed painfully upward, no hoods on the brake levers, etc.

You can check out the pilot and, at least a few, of the episodes on YouTube - just search Breaking Away TV Series. I will no doubt give them another shot at some point, if for no other reason than to say that yes, I have seen them.

CicLAvia on Sunday - Dave Stohler (Dennis Christopher) will be there (at the Wilshire hub I believe) and so will I.

Oh, and a word of advice, don't ever call your server an idiot until after he has handed you your food. 

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