26 May 2017 | SnoopyStyle
solid network sitcom
Charlie Moore (Howard Hesseman) is the new substitute history teacher for the IHP (Individual Honors Program) in New York City's Fillmore High. He has faced the toughest kids but he has never had kids like these. Principal Dr. Samuels wants them to remain his winning academic machines but Charlie befriends them like regular kids. Bernadette Meara is the sympathetic assistant principal. Arvid Engen and Dennis Blunden are nerdy best friends. Alan Pinkard is the preppy conservative. Eric Mardian is the biker with brains forced into the class by his mother. He likes the poetry-loving Simone Foster. Darlene Merriman is the spoiled rich girl. Maria Borges is grades obsessed and grounds herself for getting a B. Janice Lazarotto is the ten year old. Sarah Nevins is a nice girl and Jawaharlal Choudhury is from India. When their regular history teacher Mr. Thomas retires, Charlie becomes their permanent teacher. T.J. Jones is a sassy remedial student who works her way into the class. The fourth season has Maria, Jawaharlal, and Janice leaving the class while Alex Torres, Viki Amory, T.J., and Aristotle McKenzie join the class. Later that year, Jasper Kwong joins the already overcrowded class. In the fifth and final season, Charlie Moore leaves the job to pursue his acting dreams. Billy MacGregor (Billy Connolly) is the new Scottish teacher.
I watched this middling network teacher/student sitcom back in the day. It follows the tradition of Welcome Back, Kotter (1975-1979) but these are "nerds". There are more kids which does limit their individual stories. They are big character tropes who are built up over time. I like Khrystyne Haje with her wild red hair and big heart. She presents a romantic possibility which this show never truly exploited. For the first three seasons, this show doesn't get too soapy. Only Eric and Simone really walk that path. This is old style network high school dramedy. For the fourth season, there is a large change over and not just the truncated opening credits. The changes in the cast signal the beginning of the end. Even if the missing three are not the stars of the show, they are part of the family. At least, T.J. has a good introduction and organically joins the group. The others are much less successful. Aristotle is nothing more than a throw-in boyfriend for T.J. Viki is the unattainable hot new girl and Alex is the hot-blooded Latino. I prefer Jasper and T.J.'s introduction although there are too many students to have continuous individual stories. In season five, Billy Connolly takes over for the departing Howard Hesseman. Billy is trying too hard to be wacky and funny. It's the wrong tone. The show never took off or fell off from its middling ratings. This show is limited by the high school time. There is a short-lived spin off with Billy Connolly but it goes nowhere. It's also noteworthy that Dan Schneider would become a highly successful teen show producer. The cast is a likable group and this is a solid 80's network show.