Should Tv Bring Back Room 222

Should Tv Bring Back Room 222

Every profession could use a​ good TV show to​ help it​ flourish in​ tough times. With No Child Left Behind, maybe teachers need one more than ever.

I've heard most of​ the​ arguments on why this happens: pay, working conditions, job satisfaction, bureaucracy, lost tenure, ad infinitum. if​ you're reading this story, I'm sure you have too.

I know that students decided to​ become teachers for​ reasons other than money, and​ they didn't begin their working life expecting the​ other negatives. They must have inspired by something, maybe a​ teacher who took a​ personal interest, or​ turned them on to​ learning. Or, maybe it​ was attraction of​ having summers off.

I can say one thing, for​ sure. Teachers were rarely "made" because of​ Hollywood; film and​ television producers have done little in​ recent years to​ portray teaching in​ an​ honest and​ positive light. They've certainly done a​ lot for​ the​ images of​ law enforcement, crime scene investigation and​ medicine, but not K-12 education.

If you are in​ your thirties or​ forties, what movies and​ TV shows about teachers come to​ mind?

Welcome Back Kotter (1975-79) was hilarious. Having grown up in​ New Jersey, I admit that I'm a​ huge fan, because the​ show made fun of​ Brooklyn. But my Hebrew school friends imitated the​ "Sweathogs," the​ remedial rowdies in​ Kotter's class. Even the​ nerdy girls dreamed of​ being with Vinnie Barbarino, Freddie "Boom-Boom" Washington and​ Juan Epstein, the​ Puerto Rican Jew, while the​ guys shot their hands up, shouting "Ooh! Ooh!" like Arnold Horshack. Like the​ Sweathogs, my classmates wanted to​ annoy and​ bury the​ teachers, not praise them.

Boston Public (2000-2004) was created by David E. Kelley, who also brought us LA Law, Boston Legal, the​ Practice, Doogie Howser M.D. and​ Picket Fences. the​ latter featured Fyvush Finkle as​ a​ doddering attorney. Thanks to​ Kelley, he later plays Harvey Lipshultz, a​ doddering widowed social studies teacher. Harvey was not exactly a​ role model for​ someone starting a​ teaching career. Chi McBride played Steven Harper, the​ fair-minded principal to​ near perfection, though I could not same the​ same for​ his vice principals: Scott Guber (played by Anthony Heald), the​ authoritarian dork and​ Ronni Cooke (played by Jeri Ryan, of​ Borg collective fame in​ Star Trek Voyager), a​ lawyer-turned-teacher who directs the​ school to​ teach to​ standardized tests. They were not exactly role models for​ teachers who aspired to​ become principals.

Then there are movies such as: the​ Blackboard Jungle (1955), to​ Sir, with Love (1967), Class of​ 1984 (1982), the​ Principal (1987), Stand and​ Deliver (1988), Lean on Me and​ Dead Poets Society (both 1989), Class of​ 1999 (1990), Dangerous Minds (1995), the​ Substitute (1996), One Eight Seven (1997), and​ Freedom Writers (2018). They all revolve around the​ same theme: an​ idealistic young teacher struggles to​ reach their students and​ unsuccessfully navigates the​ educational bureaucracy in​ an​ urban public school, before stumbling on their own success formula. the​ ending to​ any of​ the​ movies is​ the​ same: the​ teachers are popular, even loved, and​ with their students behind them, they teach on.

But that's not real life, that's the​ entertainment 'biz.

Would a​ serious television drama that better depicts teachers in​ real life actually succeed? Could it​ inspire young people to​ become teachers?

In other words, what if​ we brought back Room 222, in​ re-runs, or​ updated for​ today?

Room 222 aired on ABC from September 17, 1969 to​ January 11, 1974 for​ 112 episodes. it​ was centered around an​ American History class at​ Walt Whitman High School in​ Los Angeles, taught by Pete Dixon (Lloyd Haynes), an​ African-American teacher. Other characters featured in​ the​ show were guidance counselor Liz McIntyre (Denise Nicholas) as​ Pete's girlfriend; the​ principal, Seymour Kaufman (Michael Constantine) and​ Alice Johnson (Karen Valentine) as​ a​ student teacher. in​ addition, recurring students were featured from episode to​ episode.

Pete Dixon, the​ main character, was not much different from the​ idealistic teachers in​ the​ movies, though Haynes' acting made him far more believable. While I remember Karen Valentine's character as​ being somewhat ditzy, the​ others appeared genuine and​ not ridiculously overconfident. They talked amongst each other about how to​ improve their teaching and​ best act in​ loco parentis, without trying too hard to​ be mom or​ dad to​ their students.

Like the​ movies, Room 222 tried to​ address contemporary political issues of​ the​ 1960’s and​ 70’s such as​ homosexuality, war, race relations and​ woman's rights. the​ show boiled a​ lot of​ content into half an​ hour. Boston Public needed an​ hour to​ deal with three similar themes in​ a​ single episode.

But unlike the​ movies, the​ teachers didn't always conjure heroics and​ the​ students were not always cheering at​ the​ end. There were tragedies: the​ ex-Marine who couldn't play high school baseball after coming home from Vietnam, for​ example, or​ more sadly, a​ bright and​ promising senior who dies of​ leukemia. Teachers and​ the​ principal showed their warts. Seymour Kaufman was the​ type of​ principal that any teacher would like to​ have for​ a​ boss. He was the​ Sherman Potter (of M*A*S*H fame) of​ high school principals, minus the​ Midwestern witticisms.

Did Room 222 succeed?

It almost didn't: weak early ratings almost led ABC to​ pull the​ show after the​ first season, but Room 222 ended up winning the​ Emmy for​ Best New Series at​ season's end. Room 222 was nominated for​ seven Emmy awards and​ seven Golden Globes between 1970 and​ 1971.

More amusing, Lloyd Haynes and​ Karen Valentine won TV Land Awards as​ Teacher of​ the​ Year and​ Classic TV Teacher of​ the​ Year -- thirty years after Room 222 went off the​ air!

ABC launched Room 222 in​ the​ same year as​ the​ Brady Bunch. Their final episodes concluded only two months apart. Yet, while we fondly remember the​ Brady's through numerous spin-offs and​ regular re-runs, we do not find Room 222 episodes in​ syndication today. I guess that comedies are more marketable on the​ re-run stations during prime time.

Would Room 222 succeed today, in​ a​ similar format? I'm not sure. Room 222's story lines showed open discussion and​ problem solving; the​ teachers rarely complained about the​ task of​ teaching. None of​ them kvetched about the​ low pay, or​ the​ students they taught. Teachers, like the​ crusty Mr. Dragan (Ivor Francis) who had traditional teaching styles were frequently portrayed as​ jaded. Today, the​ most fervent advocates of​ No Child Left Behind would laud them as​ teachers and​ scholars.

A Room 222 for​ the​ 2000's would have its share of​ hits and​ misses in​ political correctness. There may be too much competition for​ a​ major network to​ take the​ risk. These days, you're more likely to​ see a​ well-developed show covering the​ themes in​ Room 222 on HBO and​ their cable kin. They're more comfortable with serious, controversial programming, such as​ Mad Men, Big Love and​ the​ Sopranos.

Maybe the​ reason we don't have a​ teacher's docudrama is​ that parents don't want to​ hear teachers complain about a​ tough day at​ work, after they've had their own bad days at​ work. Parents do not usually have sympathy for​ teachers; otherwise, they'd always support school budget proposals.

It's also possible that parents do not want their children to​ know that their teachers work for​ a​ living -— and​ that teachers consider teaching a​ job, as​ opposed to​ a​ calling.

That's a​ natural, but over-protective, impulse.

Parents don't want their kids to​ grow up to​ be Sweathogs.

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