The Education of Max Bickford (TV Series 2001–2002) Poster

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The show that didn't go on
Petri Pelkonen21 October 2004
This show tells about the life of a Jewish college professor called Max Bickford (Richard Dreyfuss) and his family, which includes Lester (Eric Ian Goldberg) and Nell (Katee Sackhoff), who also studies at the women's college where her father teaches.Other great characters are Andrea Haskell (Marcia Gay Harden), who's also a professor and Erica Bettis (Helen Shaver), who used to be a man.The Education of Max Bickford ran from 2001 to 2002.My question is why? Why did it last for one season only? I liked it.The comedy worked in it, the drama worked in it and the cast was magnificent.The adult actors were great, the kid actors were great.And then you could see these amazing guest stars making visits.There was Eli Wallach in three episodes as Jay Bickford, Max' father.In one episode there was Peter O'Toole as Sidney McKnight, an old professor.These legends can make any show better, and this one was good already.So why didn't it last? What can you do? Some shows go on and some don't.That's the way it goes.
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TV Execs SUCK!
shubee329 April 2002
Apparently, the creators of "The Education of Max Bickford," have LEFT the show, because the honchos at CBS want to make Max more "sympathetic."

Why does corrupt corporate marketing constantly encroach upon quality television? One of the things that makes "Bickford" such a delight is its departure from one-dimensional characters and caricatured portrayals which are so endemic to network programming. Yes, Max is hypocritical, contradictory, enervating and downright offensive. And yet, amidst all his spiritual blemishes, Max's good intentions, deep respect for his colleagues and love for his family shine through. As opposed to the black-and-white world of the cop-medical legal dramas that pervade our airwaves these days, the main character's complexity enhances his humanity, rather than diminishes it. Sound like someone you know? Look around...there's more than just a little bit of Max Bickford in each of us.

Perhaps the lower ratings are due to the uniquely American need for blinding escapism, albeit at the cost of introspection. God forbid network television should be an instrument of self-reflection. No, they need those ratings, those delicious and oh-so-informative demographics, which translate into advertising revenue and profit. Where is our profit as the intelligent, discriminating TV viewer, huh? HUH?
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This is a Keeper !!
kat1314 December 2001
Intelligent TV has returned to commercial television. Great topics with a fine grasp of cross generation relations. Maybe not a fair comparison, but M*A*S*H was rough around the edges when it started. "Max" has a great foundation to start on, it can only get better. Stick with it CBS I plan to keep watching. KM
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Outstanding comedy-drama that hits home for everyone.
Dianne Shevetz13 May 2002
What can I say about Richard Dreyfuss that hasn't already been said in reviews. Having seen all his movies, he never ceases to amaze me at the character roles he develops. He will never be a romantic leading man, but his diversity allows the viewer to love him for who he is without being the stereotypical male actor. I feel like I know Max but he is more complicated than the show has yet to divulge.

"The Education of Max Bickford" has really grown on me. As I predicted I didn't think Aunt Erica/Uncle Stevie could be a recurring theme for long. Even though, CBS didn't overdue it with that role but it too added some interesting plots to the series along with humor. I also loved the way Richard Dreyfuss has evolved Max into a more lovable character, with the human flaws and frailties we all can identify with in our middle-age, daily lives. His children, Nell and Lester are typical of kids today on a multifaceted levels. And Max is finding dating at his age awkward, after many years of marriage and the subsequent loss of his wife. Then to compound matters, and I can really identify with this; his irascible father enters the picture with all the stubbornness and hard-headedness he displayed his whole life.

Max is sandwiched in between two generations both of which he can identify with to a point, but never fully understands either. To add to the interest of his teaching at Chadwick they have incorporated Marcia Gay Hardin, aka Andrea Haskell, who does a wonderful job on the series. She adds some of the balance that Max needs in his life but again she is a colleague and not a new love interest, even though he had his one time fling with her, while she was a student at the college. Perhaps a more intimate relationship will blossom as the show progresses.

For me it will be interesting to see what follows next season because the writers and Dreyfuss have allowed for a wide open door of possibilities. The surprise guest cast even keeps the show on its proverbial toes and adds another dimension and spark for the viewers. One thing I can say that holds my interest is that even though the setting doesn't change, the stories are always a surprise and fully entertaining. Many shows are so predictable that after several episodes one becomes bored. But for Max Bickford, I would give the show a 9.5 on the rating scale.
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Realistic and Excellent
bob_laird6 January 2002
We have been watching Max Bickford since the beginning. As a university professor for the past 35 years, who has been a Chair of a Department, and dealt with Presidents and Deans, Academic Senates and Boards of Governors, I was unsure what to expect when the series started. From my experience, the series truly gives the flavour of academic life, certainly as seen from the perspective of someone who, like Max, has to deal with colleagues of all temperaments and genders. I am often left wondering if the writers were students at MY institution!

Beyond the academic realism, the human side of this series is a real joy to watch and savour. To see a parent willing to sacrifice himself for his kids, to stand up for the "old-fashioned" liberal causes he believes in, and to challenge the rich and the powerful when necessary, is to enter again the world of principles and love that had seemed to have been overridden by the social Darwinism so necessary to the operation of the new economic order.

This is a great show--we certainly hope that it continues in the CBS lineup--it should have real legs. Thanks.
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One of the more interesting weekly TV series.
TxMike26 April 2002
Just goes to show you, after reading recent comments, no change will please everyone. I am in the camp that was getting tired of watching the "severe" Max Bickford, and was considering dropping it all togther, until they changed the focus and softened him up a bit. I watch the show because I find it entertaining, and it usually makes me think. It seldom tries to come up with a solution, but it touches on such diverse topics as transexuality, aging, doing drugs, lying to parents, bigotry, free speech, plagarism, and on and on. I suppose daughter "Nell" is my favorite character. I know "Max", I am almost Max in my own world. But Nell is a good, bright, conflicted girl trying to find her path into and through young adulthood. I like this show, however I wouldn't expect everyone to. You have to be in touch with the real world.
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Good Show!
Rosemea D.S. MacPherson30 September 2001
I watched ` The Education of Max Bickford' and found that the premise of the series is quite promising. I like Richard Dreyfuss (American Graffiti, The Good Bye Girl, Mr. Holland's Opus) and know his work pretty well. Max Bickford reminded me of Mr. Holland in Mr. Holland's Opus, a person who is ready to succeed in life, but the problems and circumstances life itself brings stalls his success. He gets just as annoyed as Elliot Garfield, Dreyfuss character in' The Good Bye Girl' does. He does it really well. Actually he can go through a broad spectrum of emotions and succeed. Dreyfus is an outstanding actor. Max Bickford is a professor who seems to be very good. He is a single parent and sole provider for the family. His teenager is a typical rebel teen, and his little son is very wise. The first episode did not show why he is still single, but did mention that his wife had died. He worked a lot in his profession and just found out that one of his ex-students, Marcia Gay Harden (The Spitfire Grill) received a chair instead of him. That made him really mad. I guess I would have made me mad too. It made him made enough to accept the position of department head that he earlier had refused as political garbage. Then there is a she who used to be a he. `Erica Bettis` Helen Shaver' (The Color of Money). The audience is presented with a series of issues, that could raise good discussion between the characters and to create an atmosphere of a great show! My husband and I both enjoyed the first episode. I liked going to college so much that a new show about a teacher brings back that mystery of finding out what a professor is all about! I recommend this series, and please do yourself a favor and watch something fun and intelligent.

Good Show!
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The Education of Max Bickford - A really great show
a-beerling10 April 2005
For the first time in my live I had the plan asking a television network why they stopped broadcasting a great show.

In this case 'The Education of Max Bickford'.

The show was aired in Holland every late Sunday night.

Following 'The West Wing.

Another great show.

Watching both shows was a great conclusion of the weekend.

And something to look forward to.

I already planned an angry e-mail to RTL4, the Dutch network that aired the show.

But hey.

I found out it was not their mistake.

I was shocked to find out CBS ran the show for only one season.

Shame on them.
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Max Bickford fan in the Netherlands
peter-voestermans14 February 2005
What a shame that this series only ran for 1 season... I'm watching the re-run of all episodes again, enjoying every second of it!!! Not only a fantastic role by Richard but by all other characters. New England at its best...the atmosphere is very special. I hope that there will be another season of "the education" in the near future...because it's an education for everyone to watch this kind of television...... ...... ....... ......... ............ ........ ............... ......... ........ ........... ........... ........... ..................... ......... ....... ......... .......... ........... .......................... ....... ...... ......... ......... ......... .................. .............. 1000000compliments. Peter
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Intelligent and funny -- it grows on you.
jbmls27 January 2002
I have seen most of the episodes of Max Bickford and found it to be a fun, intelligent and well-layered program. Dreyfuss' character started out being quite the curmudgeon and then there was talk of "softening" his crusty character -- making it "Touched by a Professor." However, they seem to have found a good balance. Bickford is still a wonderful crank, but he has more facets now than were originally evident. They have not softened him up too much. They have also made his daughter less of a drag, which is refreshing.

The most recent episode, with Eli Wallach and Bob Balaban in guest roles, was truly worthy of an Emmy. Now they need to figure out how to get more of an audience to the program.
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Great Cast. That's about it.
Sinnerman26 December 2002
Its interesting how in one particular episode, we see Richard Dreyfuss paying a passing reference to one of the most intellectually stimulating yet emotionally vacant film in recent times, "Memento".

Like that film, "Max Bickford" wears its intelligence on its sleeves, spouting liberal beliefs and media sanctioned ideologies. Like that film, it also falters terribly in handling the heartfelt half of human experiences. It astounds me how characters(all of them infact) in the series can handle a more than decent argument on socio-political issues and yet, have less than basic intuitive understanding of human nature and psychology. Its just not possible....

It appalls me that the people littered in this "world" are cerebral beings but social failures. The disconnect between their obvious intelligence and their preposterous lack of common sense and social aptitude(sometimes on even the most rudimentary of human foibles)downgrade the intelligence of us all, the viewers. Very often, we look to television not just for entertainment or mental gratification, but for closure to issues of our hearts as well.

Which is all the more a pity when we have such a great cast, who with a more deserving script, might have addressed the complex issues explored in this series with greater depth, with both sides of the brain engaged.

Its sad when a television series celebrates its intelligence at the expense of humanity, of emotional maturity, of life. Its sad the show enjoyed talking down at humans for having "either-or" capacity(i.e. having intellectual resource will automatically deplete a human being's capacity to feel like a human being). That being clever elevates a genius from the rest of us so much so that we no longer can fathom basic emotional truth about humanity.

At least, all is not lost. One series miraculously managed the balance between the heart and the mind. Its called "The West Wing". If only Max Bickford had referenced President Bartlett rather than Leonard Shelby? If only...
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Excellent portrayal of transsexuals
Anouk5210 December 2001
The portrayal of Erica (formerly Steve) and her ex-wife on the December 9 episode was excellent. As a post-operative male-to-female transsexual woman with an ex-wife of my own, I was amazed at the accuracy of the emotions the writers and actors gave these characters in the show. My only complaint was that the end result, with Erica inviting her ex-wife into the house for tea (or whatever) is a rare, rare outcome. In most cases, the ex-wife will have absolutely nothing to do with the transsexual woman, and frequently, the relationship is extremely antagonistic. (Mine is!) None the less, I applaud the creator and writers of this show for including a transsexual woman among the characters and give them all a great big, THANK YOU, for portraying us a real people, not freaks as shows such as Springer do.
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My Favorite TV show of recent years...of course it was canceled!
barrymn114 November 2004
I was taken by this amazing show from the first episode! This was the kind of first-rate out-of-left-field that CBS used to air (like "Picket Fences").

But, unlike "Picket Fences", CBS was not behind this show and it barely made it through its only season.

All of the large cast was first-rate, and just imagine, on the last episode before cancellation, Peter O'Toole, who had guest starred on an episode, actually joined the cast!

Richard Dreyfuss is a great actor and this project was taylor made for his's a shame that CBS didn't give a crap about it...very much like what they did to the "Cybill" sitcom.
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One of the best TV shows...and one of the shortest-lived
barrymn16 September 2004
CBS has the tendency to produce the best TV shows...and to cancel them long before they should.

This show was in my opinion one of the best hour-long shows I've ever seen. I thought the plot and cast were first-rate...a smart show with all the right elements.

Apparently, the ratings were not good, and unlike "Picket Fences", which ran for years without good ratings, CBS canceled this amazing program after just one incomplete season. The last episode had Peter O'Toole joining the cast....but of course, since the show was canceled, it was just a one-shot.

Some of my all-time favorite TV shows were on CBS and were either canceled too soon or were moved about the schedule so much that they lost their audience: "Cybill", "Evening Shade", and the short-lived show that starred Sharon Gless after "Cagney & Lacey" (name escapes me right now).
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Interesting, acting is great.
mooshoo898 November 2001
The shows premise, although promising, leaves a bit to be desired. There is a certain "something" is witty, the story lines are well done, and the acting is (of course) incredible. The only thing that is slightly out of place is Max's consistent writing of his own life through someone elses life. The most tender and sometimes the most enjoyable moments are those that Richard Dreyfuss spends with his son Lester (Eric Ian Goldberg) the young actor seems to be the Opie of his time, with some great acting ability and a face no one could resist! Although Max has some extremely witty subplots and one have to wonder about its staying power. Although there is no doubt that all of the actors, young and old on this show have ability and have must wonder about the WRITERS ability to keep coming up with fresh story lines, without making it TOO soap opera-ish.
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Not funny.
kinglink-214 March 2002
I like many people watched this show in preparation for the TV movie on "9/11". I must admit when I saw Richard Dreyfus was starring I thought that this show had a lot of promise. Unfortunatly I was wrong.

This show is billed as a comedy, unfortunately the show was neither funny nor innovative. The show that I watched involved a script which gets loose and many of the fellow faculty gets mad at him, then after everyone has read the script, he gets locked in the basement of the school.

If you think this sounds like something you have seen, don't think twice... they took two common sitcom ideas and combined them (the misunderstanding followed by getting locked in a room with someone you hate). Well it is common to reuse other shows ideas this show added nothing interesting, and was quite boring. I believe the show was trying to give shock value but it wasn't, I believe that the show was supposed to get us to watch more of the show, and it turned me directly away from this show.

The writing is mediocre, the comedy is none existing, but the only good thing about this show is Richard Dreyfus' acting, which is not enough to keep your interest.
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Great cast, but soap opera scripts & poor direction lost me.
fh10 March 2002
What a waste of fine actors :-(

The insightful, and touching moments are losing their impact as this viewer is no longer able to give up a "willing suspension of disbelief".

Why, for example, does the surgeon need to be cold and ruthless to the family of the patient. Such direction (and lines) only jar the viewer because such behavior is simply not plausible.

The behavior of Max Bickford's secretary, (a fine actor, given impossible lines) is so outrageous that the viewer is immediately aware that s/he is viewing just another Hollywood script.

The precocious behavior of Max's son of 12 or 13 portrays him as a wise philosopher of 70.

I could go on, but I don't believe that the writers of this show are interested in appealing to any audience above the lowest common denominator.

Before these actors read one line, they should ask the director, is this the way people really behave? But, then they'd be out of a job.

Sorry, Richard, I find your talent, and those of most of the cast wasted on poor script. I saw the show about the Bickford novel and I won't watch another show.
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