6 June 2020 | MartinHafer
Worth seeing just for a chance to get a glimpse of the 50s and 60s sit-com actors.
"High School U.S.A." is a failed pilot for a sit-com that never materialized. While this isn't unusual, what IS unusual is the huge cast. First, it stars a lot of 50s and 60s sit-com actors...such as Barbara Billingsley, Jerry Mathers and Ken Osmond from "Leave it to Beaver", Harriet Nelson and Ricky Nelson from "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet", Dick York from "Bewitched" and Paul Peterson from "The Donna Reed Show". Second, you get to see very young familiar actors, Crystal Bernard and Crispin Glover. Third, Henry Gibson ("Laugh-in") and Julie Newmar ("Batman") are also on hand. Just because of this unusual cast, the show is worth a look and it's currently posted on YouTube.
The high school in this show features many 'teens' who look about 19-25 (for example, Glover and Bernard were 20 and 25 respectively) and the 'evil' kids sport outrageously preppy clothing. I lived through the 80s and kids really didn't dress like that all that often...but here they are more caricatures...thus the 'costumes'. The show is about the non-preppy kids and their antics....and in this specific episode, the auto shop kids want to make a great float for the upcoming homecoming in order to best the preppies. However, Jay-Jay is no good to these friends, as he's much more concerned with trying to bed the pretty new substitute teacher!
Wow...talk about an unsavory plot...a comedy about a teen trying to bed a 26 year-old teacher! I can't imagine such a plot being used today in light of many famous pedophilia stories involving lady teachers and their teenage lovers. Yuck!
So is there anything I liked about this show apart from the old time TV stars? Well, I liked one tiny scene where the teacher (Ken Osmond) talks to a kid about shaping up...saying that as a kid, all his teachers and adults loved and trusted him because he was such a nice kid! This is the same actor who played Eddie Haskell on "Leave it to Beaver"....and Eddie was a complete jerk who NO parent would ever consider trusting despite his superficially nice demeanor! A nice inside joke for older viewers.
Unfortunately, apart from a few tiny scenes, the show was not something I enjoyed. It wasn't just because of the pedophilia plot...but because it all seemed rather cliched and unfunny. By the way, the show seemed a lot like "Animal House" with teens...and a heavily sanitized "Animal House" at that. I'm almost surprised they didn't call their float the Deathmobile!