HEAD OF THE CLASS - THE COMPLETE SERIES (ABC 1986-91) Howard Hesseman, Robin Givens, Billy Connolly, Dan Schneider, William G Schilling, Jeanetta Arnette, Dan Frischman, Tony O’Dell, Michael De Lorenzo
Created by Michael Elias and Rich Eustis and based upon Eustis’s personal experiences as a substitute teacher in New York City, this ABC sitcom starred Howard Hesseman (the former Dr Johnny Fever on WKRP in Cincinnati) as Charles Moore, a substitute teacher at Fillmore High School.
Charlie is hired to take over the Individual Honors Program (IHP) class, teaching a class of gifted children of varying ages. Although his students are book-smart enough, he soon realizes they have a lot to learn about life and makes it his mission to expose them to certain of life’s realities.
Fillmore’s meddling principal, Dr Harold Samuels (William G Schilling), does not appreciate Charlie’s non-academic approach and often becomes a stumbling block that the teacher and his students must circumvent. All Dr Samuels cares about is that Moore’s students win the city’s Academic Olympics contests. The school’s assistant principal, Bernadette Meara (Jeanetta Arnette), does what she can to support Charlie.
His class members include the grade-obsessed Maria Borges (Leslie Bega); nerdy Arvod Engen (Dan Frischman); preppy and pretty Darlene Merriman (Robin Givens); book-loving Simone Foster (Khrystyne Haje); Indian exchange student Jawaharlal Choudhury (Jory Husain); preppy heartthrob Alan Pinkard (Tony O’Dell); brainy tough guy Eric Mardian (Brian Robbins); art-loving Sarah Nivens (Kimberly Russell); heavyset science fiend Dennis Blunden (Dan Schneider); 12-year-old prodigy Janice Lazorrotto (Tannis Vallely); fast-talking TJ (Rain Pryor); horny Alex Torres (Michael De Lorenzo); normal Viki Amory (Lara Piper); artistic Aristotle McKenzie (De’vereaux White) and new Asian student Jasper Kwong (Jonathon Ke Quan).
In 1990 Charlie left, and Scottish substitute teacher Billy MacGregor took over as Head of the Class. MacGregor was played by Scottish comedian Billy Connolly, who went on to his own spin-off series in 1992, simply called Billy, which saw him enter into a marriage of convenience just to stay in America.
In 1998, Head of the Class became the first American television series to film an episode in the Soviet Union.