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This show pretty much was a forerunner to shows like "The White Shadow", "Boston Public" and even the first two seasons of "Beverly Hills: 90210". When it first premiered it was viewed as a "dramedy". In fact, it even had a laugh track the very first season. But, the show progressed you could see that this was very much an issue oriented show that dealt with issues that many shows today deal with (sex, drugs and death). One show that was particularly controversial was when a young student contracts v.d. and an elderly teacher loses her job because she gave advice to the young man. This was in an era when anything dealing with s.t.d.'s were still kept in the closet. Too bad they don't show the reruns of this show anymore, rather than the fluff that proceeded it in that classic A.B.C. Friday night lineup, The Brady Bunch.
This year marks the 35th anniversary of some influential 'bubble gum'
One such show marking the anniversary is 'The Brady Bunch'. Another is
this underrated chestnut, Room 222.
It was in an integrated setting trying to show the viewing public that with effort and communication, people of all races, religions and nationalities could get along peacefully.
Here, in my opinion, is a classic that merits release of DVD with a group of other underrated classics.
If not for Room 222, there would be no Boston Public.
OK, it wasn't perfect, and everything tended to get neatly sealed up at
the end of each episode, but I remember episodes of "Room 222" now and
it seems to capture what it is like to be a teacher(I am one myself, so
I know whereof I speak.) The teachers were realistic, the kids didn't
look like they hadn't seen the inside of a high school for years (some
of the "teens" in "Boston Public" had receding hairlines) Teachers
seemed to have a rotating schedule like in real life (unlike, for
example, Kotter, who seemed to fill his day with the same 9 students.
Even the aforementioned "Boston Public" seemed to have teachers in
front of the same kids all day.
This and the first "Cosby" show were probably the best depictions of school life and the lives of teachers; maybe not because they are so accurate in themselves but because the rest are so far removed from reality.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
My white, small-town mother planted her white, small-town children in
front of the TV when shows like Room 222 were on. It was funny enough
to keep our attention and serious enough to be worth it. In a time when
the idea of civil rights was still considered something strange that
many still had to ponder, Mom saw to it that her children saw a black
man being respected, week after week, and we grew up believing there
was nothing unusual about the notion. Good for Mom.
Good for the people who made Room 222, as well. Lloyd Hanes had the gravitas and empathy to make Pete Dixon's students flock to him, and to make the kids watching listen to what he had to say. He did this without preaching at us (or seeming to), and he kept learning from the students, as well.
One episode that still stands in my mind was when Mr. Dixon kept trying to get one particularly irresponsible student to grow up. After enough of this, the boy yelled that Mr. Dixon kept, "telling me how to live, how to live, how to live. How about telling me how to die?" Turned out that he was cutting classes to go walk through the park and think during the last days of his life. Mr. Dixon immediately set out to get to know the boy in a new light. In the last scene, the school reacted to the boy's death.
It may have been socially relevant for its time,but this was one of the
shows that dealt with the cutting-edge issues of its day. This show came on
the heels of several issues of its time including the Apollo 13 moon
mission,the struggle of the civil rights movement and the overall fighting
and the anti-war demonstrations of the Vietnam War.
However,it was the 'Boston Public' of its time.
Room 222 simply deals with the everyday happenings of a black English teacher(played by Lloyd Haynes)who is struggling against bureaucratic pressures which is exemplified by the school principal(played by Michael Constantine) who would always help his students make something of themselves by staying in school and not getting into trouble. However,it was absolutely routine even by today's standards--but it was frank and very controversial went it premiered in 1969 on ABC-TV.
The show dealt with a lot of racial issues here which goes to show that just seeing an African-American in a position of authority and helping out the students and bringing them together made this show stand out. There were other issues as well including pregnancy,drug abuse and school violence,and interracial dating(something that was explored but never dealt with and the first to do so). One episode in particular dealt with a student who wanted the faculty have a black festival and out of the blue---the queen of soul herself---Aretha Franklin lends her support and even sings here(that episode is a rarity if it is seen).
There were excellent secondary performances from not only Haynes,but from Karen Valentine and Denise Nicholas and from the students too including Glynn Turman and Eric Laneuville. The series ran on ABC-TV from 1969-1974 and it came out during the "bubble gum" era of shows like The Brady Bunch. This was a fine show that was very "realistic" and to learn what it was like to just get along with each other.
NOTE: The shows' creator was James L. Brooks who went on to produced "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and countless others. The producers were Larry Gelbert and Gene Reynolds who would also produced the M*A*S*H TV show the following year as well as writer D'Angelo Brooks.
I agree with all of the positive comments posted for this show... But,
I really do not understand why ---- with all of the fluff that is being
released on DVD .... this is not...
Many very important shows, that served the purpose of giving guidance, dealing with life's problems and giving the viewer a conscious... have not been released on DVD and appear absolutely no where (cable or regular TV) in re-runs...
Why is there no demand for shows like this? Like Family, Eight is enough, LA Law, Lou Grant etc... Why is it, that you go to sites, that are taking votes, as to what you would like to see released on DVD... and most of the "values" programs are completely forgotten....
We can see fluff anywhere... why not vote for something important... that could help set humanity straight... Before we all go into the toilet...
Thank you for giving this your time....
I loved this show when it came on TV at the end of the 60s. I looked
forward to it every Friday night, when it debuted in the fall of '69. I
was still in elementary school then. But I really enjoyed this program,
about a cool group of high school kids. Walt Whitman High, was a huge
HS in Los Angeles. It was a multicultural school, where students of all
The teachers at Walt Whitman High, were also of various races. Mr. Kauffman, was the dedicated, beleaguered Principal. Pete Dickson, a black man, was the school's American history teacher. He was a caring, patient teacher, who really succeeded in engaging his student's interest in history. Pete Dickson was also someone that the students could come to for advice and assistance, with their personal issues. Ms. McIntyre, the attractive assistant Principal, was also romantically involved with Pete Dickson.
Then there was Alice Johnson, who worked with Pete Dickson as a student teacher. Alice was the often annoying, but well-meaning foil for Pete's self-assured personality. Their classroom featured an interesting menagerie of students. There was Jason, the tough-but-sensitive black kid, with a big 'fro and shades. His friend Ritchie, was the class brain. Helen was the shy, vulnerable girl. Bernie, was the white hippie-type kid, with the red-headed afro hairdo. These students were like real teens, negotiating everyday life in the tumultuous late 60s/early 70s.
The best thing about Room 222, was that it had a fresh, contemporary take on American teens, in an urban high school setting. The values of the show centered on tolerance and diversity, amongst both the students, and the teaching staff. Because of this factor, the series was on the cutting-edge, regarding racial progress in society. The generation gap between the students and their teachers, was also easily bridged due to the open-minded teaching staff.
Yet another thing about this show that was unique, was that it was a drama, yet it also had a laugh-track. It was one of the first shows, that could be categorized as a dramedy. And there was plenty of gentle humor within the show, along with all of the teen angst. Room 222 is on DVD, and can be enjoyed by future generations to come.
this show seemed better almost 40 years ago than it does now.the subject matter seems almost trite today,but was groundbreaking then.funny how things to my generation that seem quaint just seem old-fashioned to the younger crowd.oh well...this series ushered in a whole new generation of TV programming(sort of reality-like)with grownup plots(including one i recall-Bridget Loves Bernie-that dealt with a interdenominational marriage-wow).this time was ground zero for political and social activism,and much of this show dealt with these issues.Lloyd Haynes played the everyman History teacher who had a lot of wisdom to impart to his class,backed up by Denise Nicholas(who was his girlfriend on the show)and a mostly wacky Karen Valentine.the show was a bit on the unreal side(i didn't go to a school like that)but did what it intended to-bring TV into a new age.
The creator James L. Books of Room 222 later became the executive
producer of The Simpsons.
In episode 281 season 13 of The Simpsons (first aired: Sunday, February 24, 2002) Bart's new idol, Buck McCoy, retells his history in television. During the flashback sequence, he mentions starring in police drama during the 60s which was recast as "Room 222" upon his leaving.
This line from The Simpsons is clearly a reference to a show which James L. Brooks had created and most likely to its unfortunate obscurity.
This is just to correct some of the entries in the cast list. I wish I
could remember more of this series but I was just too young, I do know
however, that both Michael Constantine and Karen Valentine were on for
more than one episode. They were series regulars. I was only age 6 when
this series started and 12 when it went off the air but I remember that
Michael Constantine played the principal and Karen Valentine a fellow teacher. I used to watch this show regularly with my parents. I seem to remember Bruno Kirby being on several episodes as well. Denise Nichols and Lloydd Haynes were definitely the stars. It was a very good show I wish it would come back on TVland or something.
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