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The Return of Square Pegs

Time hasn’t been kind to the series Square Pegs. Twenty-five years after its version of high school geek angst hit the airwaves, the show now comes off like the once-cool classmate whose faded reunion appearance only provokes forced smiles and secret thoughts of, “Why was I so in awe?”

In all fairness, comedy writer Ann Beatts’ deeply personal baby, about two gawky teen girls trying desperately to achieve popularity at Weemawee High, was a unique attempt to get at something quirkily witty and paradoxical in the American teenage character — the cultural smarts that provide a defense mechanism while your roiling heart makes you believe and do the stupidest things. But as a piece of written, acted and directed television, it’s barely senior talent-show material. And yet the complete DVD series that Sony Pictures Home Entertainment just put out does feature an unusually gripping interview with its one notably talented element — star Sarah Jessica Parker — who played bespectacled, lovelorn clique-outsider Patty Greene. Inelegantly videotaped — she’s posed symmetrically center and facing the camera as if she were a dating Web site hopeful — Parker seems freed from the constraints of regimented, publicity-campaign interview technique. As if understanding the deep emotions that can attend nostalgia and the love of a cult show, she reminisces about her time as a school-age performer with job pressures, generational dissonance and educational inconsistencies, and how, while her profession gave her incredible opportunities, it also set her apart in ways she’s always been conflicted about. By the time she acknowledges the pop culture bridge that many believe makes her Sex and the City heroine, Carrie Bradshaw, the adult incarnation of ever-inquisitive, searching Patty Greene, Parker smiles in a way that indicates she’s not only happy about this speculation but that it also means something to her as a successful female adult actress, one who’s had her share of doubts about what it takes to fit in.