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Series / Room 222

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The main faculty of Walt Whitman High School. Clockwise from bottom left: Principal Seymour Kaufman (Michael Constantine), guidance counselor Liz McIntyre (Denise Nicholas), student teacher Alice Johnson (Karen Valentine), and history teacher Pete Dixon (Lloyd Haynes).

A Dramedy series created by James L. Brooks and airing on ABC from 1969 to 1974, focusing on life at a typical American High School in Los Angeles and in particular the American history class taught inside the eponymous Room 222 by idealistic African-American teacher Pete Dixon (Lloyd Haynes).

Many serious topics facing teenagers were addressed, some relevant today: bullying, depression, suicide, teen pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse, violence, cheating, teacher-student relationships and so forth. Despite this, most episodes had at least one lighter-hearted subplot to provide balance.

In addition to being the first major success for Brooks (who would go on to develop many popular TV shows and films), and one of the first successful series set at a high school to appeal directly to teens, Room 222 is probably best remembered today for two things:

This series features examples of:

  • Consummate Liar: In the Season 1 episode "The New Boy," a new student named Dennis Joplin transfers to Whitman High, upon which he establishes himself as a former star basketball player who acted out, got bad grades, and was expelled from his old school due to his unhappy family life. He also promises to buy tickets to the upcoming The Rolling Stones concert for anyone who wants them, as his dad and Mick Jagger's dad had supposedly fought together in World War II. Turns out he can't play a lick of basketball, has a happy family life, has no way of procuring the Stones tickets as they're all sold out, and his dad hasn't even heard of Mick Jagger. His name might not even be Dennis, as Principal Kaufman tells Mr. Dixon that he had used the name Fred while at his previous school. Needless to say, Richie and the gang are pretty upset when Dennis fesses up, after initially being called out on his lies by Mr. Dixon.
  • Enthusiastic Newbie Teacher: Alice Johnson, especially in the early seasons. This changed only slightly as she grew in experienced into a seasoned but still among the most popular teachers.
  • Instrumental Theme Tune: Composed by Jerry Goldsmith.
  • Sad Clown: The Season 1 episode "Funny Boy" introduces us to Harvey Butcher, an overweight kid who's always "on" – always cracking wise in and out of class. Eventually, it's revealed that he's not a very happy person inside – he uses his knack for humor to cover up his insecurities over his weight, and his unhappiness at not being too popular with the girls.
  • Shout-Out: The series is set at the fictional Walt Whitman High School in Los Angeles.
  • Very Special Episode: A possible Ur-Example of the trope; as mentioned above, the show dealt with a lot of hot-button issues at a time when most TV shows, especially sitcoms, avoided such topics.