TV 101 is another forgotten show that probably most people have never heard of in the first place. Yet, it was an underrated show that never got the audience it deserved.
The premise of TV 101 had a teacher (played by Sam Robards, son of Jason and Lauren Bacall) returning to his high school. He teaches a journalism class, where they produce the high school TV news show. Hence the title, TV 101.
The cast included Matt Leblanc (long before FRIENDS), Teri Polo (MEET THE PARENTS) and Stacey Dash (CLUELESS and still today playing high schoolers in I COULD NEVER BE YOUR WOMAN).
Airing on CBS from November 1988 until March of 1989 (opposite WHO’S THE BOSS and ROSEANNE), the show was cancelled after only 13 of its 17 episodes. It deserved better.
Some of these episodes I remember very clearly, even though I saw each episode only once, 20 years ago.
There was an episode where the popular girl (Teri Polo) befriended a less popular student. One of the better explorations of teen cliques of the day. It was sort of like CAN’T BUY ME LOVE, without any money involved.
In another episode, a narc came to school and the class burnout, Checker (Andrew White who never seemed to do anything after) falls for her. When he finds out why she was hanging around him, he is devastated. The episode ends with the use of Bruce Hornsby’s “The Show Goes On” in an extremely effective way. That song has been used in many films and TV shows since, but this was the first and still the best use of it.
There was also a very controversial multi-part episode where Matt Leblanc gets his girlfriend pregnant. The episode spent more time discussing the issue, presenting every side of it, in a very intelligent way than any other TV series.
They had a stunt episode where they had the school elections for Class President. There were several different candidates. I remember the popular group was running, but there was a scandal that the President was cheating on his girlfriend, or something like that. The gimmick was that the audience called in to vote for who they wanted to win. I believe the foreign exchange student won. And I was actually upset by the result!! I cared that much about the show.
I keep hoping for someone to remember this and release it to DVD. Even with all the FRIENDS hype, you never heard anything about this, and Leblanc was one of the leads.
Still, in the past 20 years, with the thousands of hours of TV programming I have seen, I still remember this show.