For a bunch of gifted students, it has taken the kids from "Head of the Class" a long time to graduate, hasn't it? But tonight's episode of the ABC series (at 8:30, Channel 13) begins a two-part swan song, concluding its fifth and last season on the air.
The network has not renewed the show for next fall and, in fact, yanked it in December for the Jonathan Winters/Randy Quaid series "Davis Rules" (now also canceled).
In the finale, both students and teachers make plans to get on with their lives beyond the hallowed high school halls. So what is more appropriate than a pop trivia quiz to mark the passing of one of the most successful school-based series in TV history? (Answers follow below, but no fair peeking.)
1. What is the name of the high school whose gifted-student class provides the show's setting? (This may have two correct answers.)
2. Which cast member is far more famous for things other than this role? (An easy one.)
3. The show's laid-back teacher for four years was played by Howard Hesseman, but he left this final season and was replaced by Scottish comedian Billy Connolly. How did the show explain Hesseman's absence, and in what earlier hit series did he have key roles?
4. Tannis Vallely plays Janice, the youngest of the bright students. When the series premiered in 1986, just how young was her character supposed to be?
5. "Head of the Class" is the latest in a moderate list of successful shows set in schools, and Media Monitor has come up with five of particular multi-season note. Can you name them?
THE ANSWER SHEET -- (Thanks for some source information to "The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows"):
1. Initially, the Manhattan school was called Monroe High School (according to the reference book named above), but soon became Fillmore High.
2. Robin Givens (Darlene) gained celebrity as the wife who accused boxer Mike Tyson of physical abuse. She's also making sexy waves in the current film, "A Rage In Harlem."
3. Mr. Moore was said to have quit teaching to pursue an acting career. And Hesseman played the new husband of Ann Romano (Bonnie Franklin) in the final two seasons of "One Day At a Time," and before that was deejay Johnny Fever on "WKRP in Cincinnati."
4. Janice, the innocent with the braids and glasses, was just 12 at series start.
5. Our five above-average school shows include: "Our Miss Brooks" (CBS, 1952-56), "Room 222" (ABC, 1969-74), "The Bill Cosby Show" (he was coach/teacher Cliff Kincaid in this series on NBC, 1969-71), "Welcome Back Kotter" (ABC, 1975-79) and "The White Shadow" (CBS, 1978-1981). We also like the Canadian-import "Degrassi High School" (previously "Degrassi Junior High School"), still being seen on many public broadcasting stations.