Room 222: Season 1, Episode 1

Richie's Story (17 Sep. 1969)

TV Episode  -   -  Comedy | Drama | Family
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In the pilot episode (which opens as essentially a continuation of the scenes in the opening credits), Pete Dixon teaches history in Room 222 at Walt Whitman High School. Principal Seymour ... See full summary »



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Title: Richie's Story (17 Sep 1969)

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Howard Rice ...
Roy Stuart ...
Mr. Stuart
Heshimu ...
Jason Allen
Jan Shutan ...
Sidney Clute ...
Judy Strangis ...
Helen Loomis
Pendrant Netherly ...
Al Cowley (as Pandrant Netherly)
Michael Gray ...
Student in Pete's Class
Brad David ...
Student in Pete's Class
Pamela Peters Solow ...
Laura (as Pam Peters)
Maggie King ...
Student in Pete's Class


In the pilot episode (which opens as essentially a continuation of the scenes in the opening credits), Pete Dixon teaches history in Room 222 at Walt Whitman High School. Principal Seymour Kaufman introduces Pete to Alice Johnson, a perky but painfully insecure student teacher. Pete's most enthusiastic student is Richie Lane, who goes so far as to dress a lot like Pete and even takes roll in his absence. But Guidance Counselor Liz McIntire has discovered some disturbing news about Richie -- the home address he submitted is fake, suggesting that he may not live in the school district, and therefore might be ineligible to keep attending Whitman. Written by aldanoli

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Comedy | Drama | Family




Release Date:

17 September 1969 (USA)  »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Near the end of the talk that Pete Dixon (Lloyd Haynes) has with Richie (Howard Rice) in the park, Pete extends his left arm toward Richie. During the rest of the shots of Pete he apparently has his hand on Richie's right shoulder, but in the reverse shots, except at the very end of their conversation, Richie is standing some distance away without Pete's arm on his shoulder. See more »

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User Reviews

Premier Episode for the Series
12 December 2010 | by (Ukiah, California) – See all my reviews

"Richie's Story" is the first episode for "Room 222," and although it has the feeling of being slightly overstuffed with plot, characters, and social commentary, it's nevertheless a good introduction to those characters, their interrelationships, and the kind of stories that this series would present during its five-year run. For anyone who first picked up the series later in the season (or during the rest of its time on the air), this episode has something of the feeling of coming home, because the four title characters -- history teacher Pete Dixon (Lloyd Haynes), guidance counselor Liz McIntire (Denise Nicholas), Principal Seymour Kaufman (Michael Constantine) and Alice Johnson (Karen Valentine) are all dressed in the same clothes as in the opening titles. In fact, the first scene after the titles is a long tracking shot through the main office as we're introduced to the first three, and then we follow Pete into his eponymous home room -- where the class is almost a little too eager to learn.

Later in the episode Kaufman introduces Pete to Alice Johnson, who seems to personify the term "perky," as a student teacher who will understudy Pete -- although in later episodes she will teach English, not American history. Unlike the other leads (and indeed, unlike most of the other actors playing students), Valentine's performance is a bit overdone -- a little too giddy except in one critical scene when she takes over the class in Pete's absence -- but Alice would settle down as the series moved forward.

Also touched upon is Pete's relationship with the lovely Liz McIntire, with whom he has (or would like to have) a social relationship -- though they explain to Alice that they don't want to create an atmosphere for gossip. Of course, if that's their goal, how come he picks her up after work in his convertible right there on campus? His relationship with Liz, and with Principal Kaufman, is one of the several subplots in this episode, as Liz realizes that Pete's most enthusiastic student, Richie Lane, has faked his address to get into this relatively safe and sane environment as a student, and to get out of Pete's own alma mater -- Tyler High, a tough inner city school. Pete wants to keep Richie, who even dresses like him and takes roll in his absence, while Liz and Principal Kaufman feel duty-bound to send him back.

The episode also introduces a few of the student characters who would pop up periodically during the rest of the series -- besides Richie, there's tiny-voiced Helen Loomis (Judy Strangis) and the intimidating Jason Allen (Heshimu) who with his deep voice and slow delivery is probably the most memorable student character from the series. Not yet in the cast were Ta-Tanisha as Pam Simpson (who would play a character with a different name in her first appearance) or David Jolliffe as Bernie, a white kid who sported a giant red-haired Afro larger than any worn by one of the black characters.

Although one could not describe the series as groundbreaking, especially in this pre-"All in the Family" era, it did try to raise issues such as race -- perhaps a little too self-consciously, as when Alice tells Pete that she "thinks it's so significant that you're colored" -- and when he doesn't respond, she follows up with, "Do you prefer 'colored' or 'Negro' or 'black'"? This allows Lloyd Haynes the disarming reply, "I've always preferred 'Pete.'" In this, as in so many other scenes, Haynes' deliver is so quiet and off-handed that it's easy to see how he eventually came to be seen as the epitome of a good teacher; how sad that he's been gone for more than 20 years! His calm demeanor also serves him well in a scene at a P.T.A. meeting when Dick Wilson (later to become famous as Charmin-squeezing Mr. Whipple) is similarly over-the-top as a parent who keeps trying to assure Pete that all of his favorite performers are black.

The only problem with this episode apart from this kind of in-your-face social consciousness is that the visual quality of the episode has degraded considerably. Like the other first season shows, it also features an annoying laugh track, even in scenes and moments when silence would have been the most appropriate background. Happily, the producers had the sense to keep its presence to a minimum when it appears, and by the second season the laugh track was gone, apparently because the they were able to convince the network that this was really more a drama than a comedy. Still, they never lost sight of humor -- indeed, "Room 222" was arguably television's first "dramedy," and helped pave the way for producer Gene Reynolds' later hit, "M*A*S*H." Ultimately, "Richie's Story" is a largely successful introduction to a rewarding show that eventually showed, in its quiet way, that the best social commentary is when there's no commentary about people of different races living and working together.

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