Head of the Class

Q: In 1988, which American sitcom became the first to shoot an episode in Moscow?
A: Yep. You guessed it.

To the untrained eye, Head of the Class might have to just be ‘Welcome Back Kotter with nerds’, but you, friend, aren’t giving this wacky 80s sitcom its due.

Seriously, how cool was it that none other than Dr. Johnny Fever himself was the teacher of the Individualized Honors Program at New York’s Monroe High School/Millard Fillmore High School? Yes indeed, Howard Hesseman (fresh from WKRP in Cinncinati and One Day at a Time) stepped into the classroom that day, and we all suddenly had a new favorite teacher: Mr. Charlie Moore.

And was there anyone among us that couldn’t relate to at least one of the IHP students? Pretty girls had Simone, nerds had Arvid, preps had Alan, geeks had Dennis, bad boys had Eric, and then… then there was Robin Givens, who played snooty Darlene. Largely unknown at the time, she would, over the course of the show, become a household name thanks to her budding relationship with a fella by the name of Mike Tyson.

But we digress. Head of the Class was one of those rare shows that was funny, inventive, and even a little heart-warming from time to time. Mr. Moore (who started as a substitute, you’ll recall) was never really about teaching the kids book smarts; he wanted to give them a full education, which would explain the zany, annual spring musical productions. (Remember Hair? And Little Shop of Horrors?)

And then in the third season (during the Cold War, mind you), Head of the Class became the first sitcom ever to film in the Soviet Union. It was a pretty groundbreaking (and ballsy) move at the time, but they pulled it off, and it remains a watershed moment in TV history. (Mr. Moore taught us what watershed means, by the way).

At its core, though, Head of the Class was just a simple ABC sitcom (Wednesday nights at 8:30, after Perfect Strangers). We had a villain (the blowhard Dr. Samuels), we had the perky, blonde pseudo-love interest Ms. Meara, and we had one of the best opening themes to ever grace our favorite decade:

By the end of the fourth season, Hesseman called it quits (Billy Connolly replaced him for the final season), and much of the original class had moved on, too, but no matter…

We’ll always consider ourselves an honorary member of Millard Fillmore High’s final graduating class. (That wrecking ball still hurts.)

Go Nerds!

We ♥ Head of the Class.


~ by weheart80s on May 19, 2011.

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