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Lara Jill Miller
A group of gifted high-school students are placed together into an "enrichment" class. Although brilliant, they have much to learn about each other and themselves. Written by
Murray Chapman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
During the Seventies one of the most popular TV comedies was Welcome Back Kotter which in many ways was the mirror image of Head Of The Class in the Eighties. Kotter was about a teacher essentially babysitting some kids who were marked for life as losers and trying to tell them they necessarily didn't have to be. Head Of The Class was about the education system's cream of the crop, kids with high IQs and great potential. In a sense their home room teacher Howard Hesseman doubled as a guidance counselor.
High IQs and great potential doesn't immunize you from life's problems which are magnified in the teen years. Hessemann usually dealt in each episode with one of the kid's problems either academically or personal. Each kid had a specialty, Brian Robbins who did look like he could have been a James Dean wannabe was a writer. Dan Frischman was an overachieving math genius, son of a mathematics professor as well who never had a social life. His father's idea of fun was doing algorithms with his on. Tannis Vallely had a super IQ and just had trouble fitting in in high school as she was about 10.
Tony O'Dell had an interesting role, maybe the most interesting of the kids. He was a conservative thinking history enthusiast, but was never presented as a figure of ridicule. Hessemann who clearly didn't share his beliefs encouraged him to marshal his arguments and think objectively as the best of teachers do. O'Dell was also clearly looking too old for high school, but his performance was convincing.
William Schilling was the principal who treated these kids like hot house plants had his clashes every week with Hessemann. It was not unlike those that Gabe Kotter had with Mr. Woodman on Kotter. Except the roles were reversed as the principal scoffed at Kotter's concern for these losers and Schilling was concerned lest the egos of the geniuses be bruised. Both situations worked in their respective series.
Head Of The Class really died when Hessemann left. Still it was a wonderful show for the time we had it.
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