Billy and Head Of The Class

Billy (1992)
Head Of The Class (1986-1991)
Type: Spin Off

   Head Of The Class was another teacher and his students comedy. It was basically Welcome Back, Kotter with smart kids. Mr. Kotter taught the learning challenged Sweat Hogs and Charlie Moore taught the challengingly learned. Ick. That reads as very pretentious... but accurate.

   Head Of The Class centered on the honors class at Monroe High School. The kids were all very intelligent but they were still kids. They didn't know everything and still had to learn the same basic stuff about life everyone else does when they're growing up. Howard Hesseman (formerly Dr. Johnny Fever on WKRP In Cincinnati) played Charlie Moore, a substitute teacher for the class who ended up actually giving a rat's ass about these kids and their personal development and sticking around - for four years! Good gig for a substitute.

   But after four years the teach packed it in. Why? Well Howard Hesseman signed on as the star of the show and the show was focusing more and more on the students and less and less on him. He started being more of a supporting player and who wants that to happen to them on "their" show. Common problem with teacher/student sitcoms. Same thing happened on Welcome Back, Kotter and Saved By The Bell (originally titled Good Morning, Miss Bliss before Hayley Mills' Miss Bliss left).

   So with Charlie Moore gone those kids needed a new teacher. That teacher turned out to be Billy MacGregor played by Scottish comic Billy Connolly. An interesting side note: Billy Connolly wasn't sure if taking the role was a good idea or not but was convinced to take the job after talking it over with his friend, Monty Python's John Cleese. The show gave him the chance to give himself and his comedy exposure to a large American audience. But the show was running out of steam. At the end the show still had most of its original kids in the cast and five years is a bit of a long time for honors students to take to finish High School. Billy taught them for a single season before the show folded up tents and the kids all graduated.

   The next season found Billy, both the actor and the character, back in a new show. Billy was no longer a High School teacher. He had moved on to a job teaching college kids! The big gimmick here was that the series was basically a remake of the movie Green Card: Billy was in America on a visa, his visa expired and so to stay in the country he got into a marriage of convenience with one of his students. He lived in the basement of her house, helping out with her kids from a previous and I'm guessing real marriage. The kids liked Billy so you still had that Head Of The Class vibe going in addition to the fun of a "married" couple flirting with really falling in love. Not that they had much time to do that. After a single season the immigration folks at ABC caught up with Billy and deported his ass off the schedule. Damn law breaking delightfully funny foreigner!

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