Tuesday, April 11, 2017

What Might've Been: High School USA (1984)

It's funny how things work.

In the fall of 1983, NBC presented a made-for-TV movie, "High School USA", which was a blending, if ya will, of the network's current stars, such as Todd Bridges & Dana Plato from Diff'rent Strokes, The Facts of Life's Nancy McKeon, Tom Villard (We Got it Made), and Michael J. Fox (Family Ties), plus Crystal Bernard & Cathy Silvers of ABC's Happy Days, which was in its final season, with older sitcom stars, including:

Frank Bank, Ken Osmond, & Tony Dow (Leave it to Beaver)
Dawn Wells (Gilligan's Island)
Elinor Donohue (Father Knows Best, The Andy Griffith Show)
Angela Cartwright (Make Room For Daddy, Lost in Space)
Bob Denver (Dobie Gillis, Gilligan's Island)
Barry Livingston (My Three Sons)

The movie was enough of a hit to warrant at least consideration for a spin-off series, which, understandably required some cast changes, not just with the younger generation, but the older one as well.

The pilot aired on Memorial Day weekend in May 1984. Only a handful of the original cast returned, including Ken Osmond, Crystal Bernard, and Crispin Glover. Frank Bank & Tony Dow didn't return, replaced by two more Beaver alumni, namely Barbara Billingsley and Beaver himself, Jerry Mathers. Meanwhile, the cast also included Henry Gibson (ex-Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In), who had reinvented himself as a character actor in TV & movies, including "Nashville" & "The Blues Brothers", and from Batman, Julie Newmar & Burt Ward. I think this may have really kickstarted Ward's comeback as an actor, five years after Legends of the Superheroes, also for NBC.

Now, I never saw either the pilot or the movie, but the pilot is here for your perusal. No rating.

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