1 9 8 5 (USA)
6 x 60 minute episodes
This short NBC Friday night series starred Joanne Braithwaite (Janet Eilber), a first-year English teacher at John F Kennedy High School in Southern California.
Joanne is recently divorced and has a 16-year-old daughter, Mia (Beth Ehlers), who is a student at JFK High. Accordingly, lots of school-related situations spill over into their home life.
Mia’s best friends are Giselle (Tammy Lauren) and Annette (Liane Curtis). Mia and Giselle work together after school at the Potato Palace at the mall.
Neil “Trout” Troutman (David Packer) is a mature level-headed type who manages the Potato Palace and struggles to keep a long-distance romance alive with Joy (Melora Hardin) while playing the field with Keri (Alexandra Powers). He knows he’s being a duplicitous two-timer, but Keri is This Really Terrific Girl.
Chris Henson (Darren Dalton) is a reformed bully who dropped out of school for mysterious reasons, and his return to school is met with whispers and stares.
The other featured adult is Dan Bragen (Jim Metzler), the school’s most popular teacher. He wears shorts and lets his students address him by his first name. At first, Joanne is shocked by his demeanour but eventually finds herself attracted to him.
Other teachers include Roxanne Treevy (Freddye Chapman) and Len Kunkle (Logan Ramsey).
The low-key series was the work of the creative team of Seth Freeman and Michele Gallery, who won Emmys for their writing on Lou Grant. The show had an overall soft focus with no hard edges or grit, with the softness emphasised by the use of original pop songs.
But despite all the prettiness, there was a ring of realism in the dialogue and in the characters. Teenagers are not usually articulate, and the kids’ dialogue was realistically flat, awkward and monosyllabic.
The series was not picked up after its six-week trial run.
Neil ‘Trout’ Troutman