Friday, July 24, 2015

Head of The Class

In 1986, a sitcom premiered about a class of gifted, high IQ students, and their inquisitive teacher: Head of the Class.  The show lasted from '86 to 1991.

Here's the peppy, hopeful opening theme... very '80s in every way.

I've heard this show referred to as Welcome Back Kotter with nerds, making reference and comparison to a similar '70s era show about students and teachers.  Kotter, by contrast, was about under-performing students. 

Howard Hessman played the teacher Charlie Moore at the beginning of the series, and through most of the show's run. 

 To be honest, I have a bit of a selective memory about the students. There were so many of them that I seem to recall only the ones that made the strongest impression on me. I do remember how each student was a unique personality, creating a class where each one's quirks and oddness was brought out. I recall there was a sensitive, an artsy girl, and a leather jacket wearing rebel guy. 

Dennis Blunden, played by Dan Schneider, was probably most memorable to me. He was a heavyset and somewhat sloppy kid, kind of like myself at that age. He was also a computer whiz, which I was not.

It turns out that in the years after Head of the Class, Schneider has become quite successful as a producer of family oriented shows on Nickelodeon.

Arvid Engen, played by Dan Frischman, was also memorable as the stereo-typically skinny and bespectacled science nerd of the group. 

I've had friends who resembled Arvid (who, I suppose, would play nerdy teen versions of Laurel in contrast to my Hardy). 

Robin Givens played the rich girl Darlene Merriman.

Tony O'Dell portrayed Alan Pinkard, a politically conservative student who dressed in yuppie attire.

I remember an episode where the class visited the Moscow, which back in the '80s was still in the Soviet Union during the waning days of the Cold War. I recall that they had a scene where the staunchly pro-American Alan got into a debate with an equally adamant pro-Commie Soviet student. I remember thinking it was a pretty unfair comparison, as if the less conservative students wouldn't have reason to oppose Soviet totalitarianism.  In any case, just a few years later Communism would fall, which I guess showed you who really won that debate.

In 1990, toward the end of the show's run, Billy Connolly replaced Hessman, playing teacher Billy MacGregor.