Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Classic TV: Room 222 (1969)

High schools have long been a fertile ground for movies & television, from Our Miss Brooks (which transitioned from radio to TV) and Mr. Peepers in the 50's to Welcome Back, Kotter in the 70's to Saved By The Bell & Beverly Hills 90210, and the film---and subsequent TV series---"Dangerous Minds" in the 90's.

Perhaps one of the best known high school-centric series of our generation would be Room 222, which spent 5 seasons on ABC from 1969-74. Created by future Emmy & Oscar winner James L. Brooks, Room was just as much about the faculty as it was the students themselves, and addressed prevalent social issues of the period. Producer-director Gene Reynolds also worked on another popular series for 20th Century Fox----M*A*S*H, shortly before Room ended its run.

What made the show work was the chemistry of the ensemble cast. Room 222 was billed as a comedy-drama instead of a straight-up sitcom, and thus didn't have a laugh track. It really didn't need one, and, in its later years, neither did M*A*S*H. Hmmmm, ya wonder..........

Saturday morning buffs will recognize a couple of names in the cast, particularly Judy Strangis (later of Electra Woman & DynaGirl on The Krofft Supershow) and Nicole (spelled Nichole) Jaffe, the original voice of Velma Dinkley on Scooby-Doo, which premiered the same year over on CBS. To my knowledge, Ms. Jaffe's appearance may have been a 1-shot deal, as she's not included in Wikipedia's listings for recurring cast members.

Anyway, here's the series opener, "Richie's Story":

It's just too bad real-life high school wasn't this good.

Rating: A.

No comments: