Home Television Comedy Learning the Ropes

Learning the Ropes

1 9 8 8 (Canada)
13 x 30 minute episodes

Robert Randall is a single father (separated from his never-seen wife, Anne) who cares for his two teenage children, Ellen and Mark.

Robert (ex-football pro Lyle Alzado) has a daytime job as a history teacher and vice-principal at the Ridgedale Valley Preparatory School, and a second, nighttime job as a wrestler called The Masked Maniac – “the animal of the wrestling ring”.

He wrestles in a black mask with a skull and crossbones in the centre of the forehead area and an M on each side of the eyeholes. His wrestling colleagues call Robert “The Professor”.

Robert originally did it for laughs, but when the character caught on and the money started rolling in, he kept the job to provide for Ellen and Mark’s future.

Robert must now keep his wrestling job a secret because school regulations prohibit teachers from moonlighting.

When Mark (Yannick Bisson) discovers his father is a wrestler (he is looking for his tennis racket and finds the mask in the closet), he is thrilled (“It’s like finding out your father is Freddy from Nightmare on Elm Street“).

Ellen (ex-Degrassi High star Nicole Stoffman) has the opposite reaction when Mark tells her. She is stunned and unable to accept it (“It’s not every day you get to see your father maiming people”).

The Burger Palace is Ellen and Mark’s after-school hangout. Beth (Jacqueline Mason) is Ellen’s boy-crazy girlfriend, and Carol Dixon (Cheryl Wilson) is the school’s French teacher.

Lyle Alzado was one of the first major US sports figures to admit to using anabolic steroids. In the last year of his life, as he battled against a brain tumour that eventually caused his death, Alzado asserted that his steroid abuse directly led to his fatal illness.

Alzado died on 14 May 1992 at the age of 43.

Robert Randall
Lyle Alzado
Mark Randall
Yannick Bisson
Ellen Randall
Nicole Stoffman
Jacqueline Mason
Carol Dixon
Cheryl Wilson
Principal Whitcomb Mallory
Richard Farrell