Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Forgotten TV: Mr. Novak



Teachers once occupied a loftier status than they do today and Mr. Novak (James Franciscus) was one of my favorites on this series that ran from 1963-65. He was an English teacher and Dean Jaffe, the principal. (And later Burgess Meredith)

The show took on pretty heavy topics over its two years.

A schoolteacher would only play as a comedy today. Room 222 was a similarly fine show from that era.

And believe it or not, George C. Scott played a social worker a few years earlier.

Teachers, social workers, firemen, cops, nurses, these are/were our heroes.

16 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Patti - Oh, goodness, I haven't thought about this series in a long time!! It's so interesting too how certain professions that once were almost revered aren't any more. And of course, certain professions that never existed before do now.

Bill Crider said...

The run of this show coincided with my two years of high school teaching. I never missed it. I thought I was Mr. Novak.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I bet you were.
Yes, many new professions although not ones where people get help.

Todd Mason said...

And yet...NOVAK and EAST SIDE, WEST SIDE were judged failed series. ROOM 222, in the early '70s, ran a bit longer (and I certainly enjoyed it as a child).

Todd Mason said...

Commercial failures, that is. Not too many series then about nurses who stand up to doctors, however.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely, Patti. Isn't it amazing how a so-called sitcom could do a better job in some cases of portraying schools and teachers (Room 222) or cops (Barney Miller) than more pretentious hourlong dramas?

Jeff M.

pattinase (abbott) said...

If a character on a sitcom was a teacher today, that would only be incidental to his marital problems or his relationship with his buddies though.

Mike Dennis said...

And don't forget from an earlier era, Patti, OUR MISS BROOKS.

Anonymous said...

David Kelley's BOSTON PUBLIC was perhaps the most ridiculous portrayal of a public school other than FAME. My favorite on that show was when one job needed to be dropped (don't ask why, who cares?) and the English and dance teacher were competing to see who stayed.

No talk of seniority, no union, just a dance/teachoff catfight!

Just like in the real NYC schools.

Jeff M.

Todd Mason said...

Well, Kelley always has been a crap writer...and his series have followed suit. ROOM 222 wasn't actually a sitcom...it was one of the later half-hour drama series (albeit it did have comedic aspects...Karen Valentine's character was meant to be at the heart of many of those).

OUR MISS BROOKS and MR. PEEPERS weren't about teaching, any more than FAME (shudder) was (in any of its awful forms, including the two tv series)...DANGEROUS MINDS was, however unsuccessfully, artistically and commercially. Seems to me I'm forgetting a more recent better teaching-profession based series...

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

Just a bit before my time, though fromt he 70s I remmber liking the TV version of THE PAPER CHASE

pattinase (abbott) said...

THE PAPER CHASE was a good movie too.

Anonymous said...

And of course THE PAPER CHASE started as a book - a novel by John Jay Osborn, Jr.


Jeff M.

Max Allan Collins said...

MR. NOVAK was a great show, liberal in a Camelot-era way, with solid writing, daring subject matter, and all kinds of interesting actors. Franciscus was at his absolute best here, and both Dean Jagger and Burgess Meredith were outstanding. Lots of STAR TREK writers, directors and actors on this one.

Ron Scheer said...

No one thought of WELCOME BACK, KOTTER?

pattinase (abbott) said...

Social issues are only discussed on TV through the lens of a crime now. Too bad.
Kotter, yes. And wasn't Richard Dreyfus a teacher on one. Of course, many shows featured teaching to some degree-My So-Called Life, Saved by the Bell, The Wonder Years, Little House, The Waltons, etc. But few have dealt with teaching seriously as much as Mr. Novak and Room 222.