"Hang Time with these friends of mine!"
Those of us of a certain age will all remember Hang Time - a teen basketball show that aired in the late 90s and early 2000’s on TCC (The Children’s Channel).
It was another in a long line of Peter Engel produced,, teen-centric TV series. You may recognize Engel’s name from the credits of some of your other favourite post-school shows from the era, like Saved by the Bell, California Dreams and USA High. Basically, they were all the same show, with a very slightly different premise. Hang Time's loose difference, they played basketball.
The show followed the story of the Deering Tornados - a high school basketball team whose star player was… wait for it... a girl! Yes, Hang Time was breaking gender norms all the way back in 1995 which, if nothing else, proves it was ahead of it’s time.
We'd imagine your memory of this great show is hazy at best. So, here’s 8 things that you forgot about Hang Time:
1. That it existed
Yes, there’s a certain amount of you whose memories have withstood the test of time and puberty and you remember Danny Melon and the boys as if it was yesterday. But, the rest of you probably just did a big “Oooooh yeah!” In fairness, I can’t blame you, we were inundated with cool shows back in the day, it’s hard to keep them all in the forefront of our minds!
2. It starred genuine Hollywood star Anthony Anderson
Anthony Anderson has had a really successful career. He’s appeared in everything from Law and Order to Transformers and is currently the lead in Golden Globe winning ABC show “Black-ish”. He even had a featured role in The Departed! Who would have thought Teddy Broadis would one day end up working with Scorsese? Well, none of it would have been possible without little ole Hang Time giving him his first break.
3. It’s absolutely UNREAL Theme Song, and a not so good one.
“Hang Time! Running together, sharing a dream so fine!” “We’re hot, we’re in the zone, part of the team never aloooooone”, lyrics that, I’m sure you’ll agree, would leave even amazing song writers like Frank Stallone envious.
In season one however, the original theme music wasn't quite as funky.
4. It also started “Diablo” from Suicide Squad’s career
Fans of the “Academy Award Winning” film Suicide Squad (yes, it’s a real thing, it won for Best Achievement of Make Up and Hair Styling.) will know that one of the main characters of the Squad is “Diablo”.
Diablo was one of very, very few bright spots in the film. But did you know that Jay Hernandez, the actor that plays Diablo, got his first break as Latin heartthrob Antonio Lopez on Hang Time? Hernandez also appeared in fellow Engel-produced teen show “USA High” but that’s another conversation for another day!
5. Daniela Deutscher and Jay Hernandez met on the set and are still married to this day
Daniella played the Deering Tornados best player, the aforementioned should-be feminist icon Julie Connor. Deutscher and Hernandez met on the Hang Time set in 1998 and are still together today. Almost 20 years as a couple can only be measured in Hollywood years as eons! Fair play to ye lads.
6. Julie Connor
Ah Julie. If you were a little bit too young for Kelly Kapowski to be your first ever rush of blood to the head, you most definitely had Julie Connor. Daniella Deutscher was gorgeous, independent, strong and would absolutely destroy you at basketball. She was as much a heroine for younger girls as she was an object of teenage boys' affections.
7. It Featured NFL Hall of Famer Dick Butkus as a Basketball Coach.
From Season 4 onwards, the NFL Hall of Famer took over as coach of the Deering Tornados.
As teenagers in Ireland, obviously none of us knew or cared who Butkus was, but you have to admit it’s an odd appointment. It would be like casting Wayne Gretsky as a LaCrosse coach or casting Michael Jordan as a baseball coach…oh wait. You can almost imagine the randomness in the writers' room when someone chimed in with the “you know what would be some laugh…".
8. After Season 1 they pressed the reset button
Peter Engel took over as show runner after Season 1, and the whole show changed. Only four main cast members remained, three new players were added, Mary-Beth Pepperton got a promotion from head cheerleader to “team manager”, and even the Deering Tornados jersey changed from a cutesy baby blue to a pretty bad ass black and yellow.