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Series / Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby

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Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby is a New Zealand comedy series that ran from 2005 to 2006, with two seasons going to air. It aired in New Zealand and Australia.

It revolves around the fictional Tepapawai Boys High School, one of the worst schools, if not the worst, in New Zealand. In the beginning of the series, the principal, Roger Dascent, needs a teacher for the worst class in school, 5F. Everyone he asks refuses, until in despair, he asks his secretary, Lauren, "Is there anyone we haven't tried?" She gives him Mr Gormsby's file. Mr Gormsby (played by David Ellis McPhail) is a politically incorrect teacher, old fashioned to a fault, and a firm believer in corporal punishment. He carries a cane with him wherever he goes.

Mr Gormsby isn't Dascent's only problem, though- throughout both seasons, he has to deal with the Teachers' Union members going on strike, a school fire, a teacher/student relationship, the demands placed on him by the local Education Review Office reviewer, his own collapse into insanity, a car bombing, the constant lack of funds, incompetent teachers and the impending doom of Tepapawai's possible merger with the local girl's school. Naturally, once Gormsby enters, hilarity ensues.

Tropes for this series include:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Marion Patterson to Dasent. He only puts up with her to keep the school open.
  • Airplane Arms: Gormsby comes across a student with learning difficulties running around pretending to be a World War II Spitfire. He berates the boy for being inaccurate and promptly sticks his arms out and runs around making engine noises to show the right way to be a Spitfire.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Gormsby, to Ms O'Flaherty (he's trying to motivate her to learn self-defence from him): "What if this bag had a ponytail?" (Steve has a ponytail). The tactic works beautifully.
  • Asshole Victim: Steve ends up having his car firebombed, is arrested for insurance fraud (he was innocent), is accused of downloading child porn and making meth from the back of his car, and loses the job he wanted. And he deserved every little bit.
  • Badass Teacher: Gormsby may be a teacher, and an old one at that, but he is deadly.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Steve. The reason he hates Gormsby so much is that he sees through Steve right away.
    Gormsby: (teaching a spelling lesson) Bastard. Bastard. Steve is a complete bastard.
  • Black Comedy Rape: Subverted.
    Gormsby: Sit down Bastabus, of course I wasn't going to roger you. This isn't a Catholic school. It was simply a ruse to make Hohepa take responsiblity for his actions.
  • Butch Lesbian and Lesbian Jock: Ms Tangaroa.
  • Butt-Monkey: Bastabus.
  • Cool Car: Gormsby's 1960s stately Wolseley 16/110, which contrasts sharply with Steve's two attempts at cool cars. It is so cool that when Hohepa wants to impress a girl from the local posh school, it is Gormsby's car he chooses to steal to make an impression.
  • Cool Teacher: Gormsby. Hey, most of what he teaches isn't anywhere near the curriculum, but his students certainly enjoy learning.
  • Corporal Punishment: In episode one, one of the objections raised to hiring Gormsby is that he has used his swagger-stick in the past to administer corporal punishment; on a teacher! Gormsby does threaten Hohepa with a thrashing, but is told that such a thing is now illegal. His subsequent punishments are far more creative in nature.
  • Do Wrong, Right: Formerly the Trope Namer, as Mr. Gormsby was known for it. The trope-naming instance was when Hohepa admitted to firebombing Steve's car, and Gormsby ultimately took him to task - not for firebombing Steve's car, but for using chemicals he hadn't mixed himself. He even starts by admitting destruction of machinery can be commendable depending on the circumstances, but this was not the right circumstances, because "this is not El Alamein, and we are not fighting the Hun".
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Gormsby. Yes, he's not in the army anymore, but that doesn't stop him acting like it.
  • Driven to Madness: Dasent, at the end of Season 1. He gets better.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Hohepa. His first name is Elvis.
  • Expansion Pack Past: Gormsby's stories of life in the army.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: After Steve gets Ms O'Flaherty pregnant and forces her to have an abortion, she becomes so depressed that she tries to kill herself. She only survives because just afterward a fire broke out and she was discovered by the boys of 5F.
  • Hippie Teacher: Steve seems like this.
  • In-Series Nickname: Pissant, for Dasent.
  • Jerkass: Steve.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Mr Gormsby. Yes, he's rough, old-fashioned, and occasionally astoundingly offensive, but he's sincerely trying to impart knowledge to his students (while teaching them to not get caught, at least), helps the meek stand up for themselves, and is quick to defend anyone from what he perceives to be injustice.
  • Last-Name Basis: Most of 5F, for reasons ranging from 'everyone in class goes by their last name' to 'it's embarrassing' to 'most people can't pronounce it'.
  • Meaningful Echo: "Nice wheels, Steve."
  • Molotov Cocktail: At one point, Gormsby teaches 5F how to make them in order to help them understand the Russian Revolution.
  • New Zealand Brevity: Each season only has seven episodes.
    • Then again, it is called Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby, not Twenty-Two.
  • N-Word Privileges: Gormsby doesn't have them, but after a while everyone realises that he's not trying to insult them, he's just stuck in the past and still thinks they're acceptable (or he just doesn't care anymore).
  • No Bisexuals: After Alasdair sleeps with Ms O'Flaherty during the school camp he is accused of 'going hetero'.
  • Parental Substitute: By the end of the series Gormsby has become this to Hohepa, even giving him his "Firing Squad" cigar for Hohepa to celebrate becoming a father himself and giving him genuine advice and support. It shows that for all his bluff talk, Gormsby understands his boys a lot better than Steve does with his faked concern.
  • Sadist Teacher / Stern Teacher: Gormsby tends to walk the line between these tropes.
  • Save Our Students: Several times, such as when Tepapawai nearly got merged with the nearby girls' school.
  • Separated by a Common Language: The page quote wouldn't work in America ("substitute teacher") or Britain ("supply teacher"). Also, Govind's official character page, "dairy" in this context meaning "convenience store".
  • Subordinate Excuse: Lauren, probably the most competent member of Tepapawai's staff, is only staying on as Dasent's secretary because she's in love with him. He proposes to her during the finale.
  • Teacher/Student Romance Ms Partington and Afioga. It doesn't end well.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Hohepa's girlfriend Sophie. It actually ends quite well- they move in together and he gets to become the assistant Māori teacher.
  • This Is Not a Drill: 'Camp Tepapawai', in a rather memorable moment.
  • Transparent Closet: Alasdair.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Everyone.
  • Wacky Home Room