Feb 22, 2013

Head of the Class

Head of the Class (1986-1991) was Welcome Back, Kotter in reverse, about a class of mismatched overachievers, all brilliant, but with different personalities and academic interests.  Their mentor (not really a teacher, since they far surpassed him in knowledge of every subject) was Charlie Moore (Howard Hesseman, Dr. Johnny Fever on WKRP in Cincinnati).

Plots involved anxieties over their Harvard applications, competitions for prestigious awards, and trying to fit in with the cool kids, plus a memorable story arc set in the Soviet Union (the first American tv series ever filmed there).  No gay content, but not a lot of the hetero-horniness otherwise endemic among 1980s tv teens, plus some buddy-bonding, and several of the anti-slackers have moved on to gay-friendly projects.

1. Brian Robbins as Eric Mardian, the Vinnie Barbarino of the group, a surly leather-clad "bad boy" with a puppy-dog smile and an athlete's physique.  Unfortunately, he was also the most aggressively girl-crazy.   Brian has moved into production, and is responsible for some of the best gay-subtext teencoms on Nickelodeon, including Keenan and Kel and Supah Ninjas. 

2. Tony O'Dell as Alan Pinkard, a conservative Republican Michael J. Fox clone.  Not nearly as girl-crazy; most of his episodes focused on being competitive and snobbish, not on liking a girl.  Tony O'Dell had a long list of credits before Head of the Class, including Dynasty and Karate Kid.  Today he is an acting coach, and reputedly gay, thought I don't really see any confirmation on his twitter posts. 
We need another photo of heartthrob Tony O'Dell.  This one emphasizes the tight jeans.

3.  Dan Frischman as Arvid Engen, a stereotypic bespectacled nerd.  He had some "crush on a girl" episodes, but mostly he buddy-bonded with fellow nerd, the portly Davis Blunden (Dan Schneider).  Today he is an actor, writer, and magician.  His first novel, Jackson and Jenks, is about two teenage boys who are best buddies and magicians.  (Dan Schneider, by the way, produces some more of the best gay-subtext teencoms on Nickelodeon, such as Drake and Josh and ICarly).

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