Monday, November 2, 2009

Room 222 (1969-1974)

Classic TV show Room 222 (1969-1974) started out as a comedy which I loved. Then after the first year, it turned into a drama, which I did not care for as much. It is about the life at integrated Walt Whitman High School in Los Angeles, as seen through the eyes of Pete Dixon (Lloyd Haynes), a black American history teacher whose classes are held in room 222. (The basic plot reminds me of the movie To Sir With Love, starring Sidney Poitier.) Pete used American history class to teach real-life lessons in understanding and tolerance. I thought it was interesting how they used comedy to explore these issues.

The cast of students and teachers were: Pete's girlfriend, the school counselor Liz McIntyre (Denise Nicholas), student-teacher and later English teacher Alice Johnson (Karen Valentine), and principal Seymour Kaufman ( Michael Constantine). Among the students were Helen Loomis (Judy Strangis), Bernie with the wild hair (played by David Jolliffe), Jason Allen ( Heshimu Cumbuka), and genius Richie Lane, ( Howard Rice.)

The show also featured early appearances by Teri Garr, Rob Reiner, and Bob Balaban, along with William Schallert (The Patty Duke Show), Ann Morgan Guilbert (Millie on The Dick Van Dyke Show), and Bernie Koppell (Get Smart, The Love Boat).

Karen Valentine became a fan-favorite worldwide. She was in all of the teen magazines. The series theme song was composed by Jerry Goldsmith.

Writer and producer of Room 222 was James Brooks, who has written and produced many popular shows/movies. Just to name a few:

The Simpsons- 445 episodes
Taxi - 111- episodes
Lou Grant -114 episodes
Mary Tyler Moore- 114 episodes
Rhoda -16 episodes

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  1. Dawn, you are so right about the popularity of Karen Valentine. It seems like she was everywhere on TV in the early 1970s, from a GIDGET TV-movie to her own short-lived sitcom after ROOM 222 ended. Also, if I'm not mistaken, this was one of the first network TV series with an African American lead, comin four years after I SPY.

  2. Dawn and Rick Karen also did a ABC Movie of the Week "The Girl Who Came Gift Rapped" with Gig Young. BTW some Room 222 was shot at Los Angeles(LA) High.

  3. Karen was also a semi-regular panelist on Hollywood Squares. 1966 thorough most part of the 1970s.

  4. Dawn, I've never seen this show, but your great review has intrigued me. It's available on DVD, so I'll check it out on Netflix! Thanks!

  5. Dawn, Lloyd Haynes and I both grew up in South Bend, IN. One day he showed up at my high school, in room 222. This was a fun blog!

  6. toto, Thank you for sharing a wonderful memory with us.