Saturday, October 27, 2012

We Don’t Need No Education


classroom 10-26-12Image courtesy of criminalatt at


Since I’m taking a break from studying to jot down a few lines tonight, I thought I’d give a short mention to some of my favorite programs about schools and the kids who inhabit them.

Of course, the thing about TV school is that it’s nothing like it was when I was a kid.  Heck, I’m not sure it’s even like it is now.  TV kids were precocious, often to an unrealistic degree.  Of course, it didn’t help that sometimes the “kids” were just young-looking adults.  But, even when they were actually kids, writers often made them far too wise beyond their years.  And, often times, kids were poorly behaved while in school.  I mean, sure, every class has a clown or two, but most of the classrooms I’ve been in wouldn’t have tolerated a lot of what was going on on the screen.  But, I suppose that’s the whole dramatic license bit.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a show set in a classroom that was actually about schoolbook learning, though I’ll admit that Welcome Back, Kotter did actually deal with education more than most.  But it was also way out there at the edge of the that-would-never-happen-in-a-classroom scale.  And their adult cast wasn’t even all that young looking.  But I liked it anyway.

One of the earliest school shows I remember was Room 222.  I don’t distinctly remember the kids from that one, but I think they were at least actual teenagers.  Mostly I remember perky Karen Valentine, and wishing my teachers could be as cool as the ones at Walt Whitman High.

While not really a show about school, I loved Greatest American Hero, and at least it was a show about a school teacher.  A teacher who got some extraterrestrial powers, sure, but a teacher just the same.  Young adults served as the supporting cast here, but at least that made it a little more believable when they ended up getting involved in some of the wilder escapades.

And who could forget Square Pegs?  Well, the truth is, a lot of people have probably forgotten it, even though it was really pretty funny, and starred a young Sarah Jessica Parker, many years before she would go on to Sex and the City fame.  I was a recent high school graduate when this show hit the air, but I still well remembered the difficulty of not really fitting in, so it was all very true for me.  TV is always the best when it touches close to home. 

Quite possibly my favorite school show of all time was Boy Meets World.  Adorable Cory Matthews and his best friend Shawn Hunter had some fun adventures, and I liked watching them all.  They seemed like mostly real kids (even if Cory’s girlfriend was an unlikely hippie chick named Topanga), and they had a stern-but-fair principal in Mr. Feeney.  I actually started watching this program because of the dad, played by William Russ, who I absolutely adored as Roger LoCocco on Wiseguy.  Like most sitcoms about kids, the parents were often afterthoughts in the stories, but Mr. Matthews still came across like a good dad, and I was glad Russ had brought me to the show.  The kids were cute as kids, and watching them grow up and go through all the normal pains of that process made for some nice storytelling. 

So, there you have it: some of my favorite shows through the years set against a backdrop of the classroom, even if most of them have little to nothing to do with education.  It seems lesson plans and homework aren’t entirely necessary for good entertainment. 

But, now, I think it’s time for a quick review of notes, and then off to bed, so that I may get up before the crack of dawn tomorrow and head for my own classroom.

What TV students do you enjoy?

31 Days of TV