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A group of gifted high-school students are placed together into an "enrichment" class. Although brilliant, they have much to learn about each other and themselves.Written by
Murray Chapman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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"Head of the Class" is very dated to the late 1980s. From the big hair to the clunky IBM terminals in the classroom, there's no doubt you're watching a show produced nearly 20 years ago. However, that actually adds to the program's charm -- especially for those of us who were in high school ourselves during that time period.
For 3 seasons, Head of the Class had a lot going for it. While lighthearted and often requiring a suspension of disbelief, the show was funny, entertaining, and charming. There was an excellent chemistry among cast members, and Howard Hesseman was perfect for the part of wise teacher Charlie Moore. Even the New York setting of the sitcom was well done, from the fascinating city imagery in the opening song to many different exterior shots shown between scenes. I saw the show at a taping in Burbank, California in 1986. Despite having actually been on the California set, I had to constantly remind myself that it wasn't actually shot in New York. That's unusual for a sitcom.
Unfortunately, things started to unravel in season 4. Too many of the original student cast members were lost, and the new ones replacing them were uninteresting and flat. How much do you really remember about Viki, Aristotle, Alex, T.J., and Jasper? You probably remember their faces, but they were simply cardboard replacements for the vibrant and quirky Janice, Jawaharalal, and Maria. This was already a sign that the show was slipping.
In Hesseman's final year, there were also a surprising number of "musicals" performed on the show. The first one was an interesting change, but this repeated theme made it clear that the writers were running of out ideas.
Finally, Hesseman left (probably sensing the end being near), and Billy Connolly replaced him. That was the truly the beginning of the end. Like the replacement students of the previous year, Connolly's character lacked the substance and depth that made Hesseman's so great. Between the boring new teacher and the tired-looking, modified class of students, this show ceased to hold many people's interest. It was mercifully put down at the end of the '90-91 season.
I would like to see Head of the Class back somewhere on television. Nick at Nite ran it for awhile in a horrible time slot (something like 4:30am), but eventually it vanished. It can't be found anywhere, which I think is a shame. This fun show deserves better than to rot in some syndication company's archive room.
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