7 May 2002 | raysond
Commentary on a show that was groundbreaking for its time..The Emmy winning Room 222
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 lasted five seasons and produced 112 episodes from September 17, 1969 until the series finale on January 11, 1974. and it came out during the "bubble gum" era of shows like "The Brady Bunch", "The Partridge Family",and "Love,American Style". This was a fine show that was very "realistic" and to learn what it was like to just get along with each other but also tackled heavy and controversial subjects that were groundbreaking for prime-time television. During its five-year run, "Room 222" was nominated for an impressive 7 Golden Globes and 8 Emmys and won 3 Emmys in 1970 for Outstanding New Series, Outstanding New Actor in a Prime- Time Series,and Outstanding New Actress in a Prime-Time Series.
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.