Karen Valentine as Alice Johnson in Room 222 (1969-74, ABC).

Karen Valentine as Alice Johnson in Room 222 (1969-74, ABC)

Room 222: Season 1

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  • Review
  • TAG : Room 222 Dell Comic Book, 1970
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  • A season and a half before Norman Lear made "relevant" programming a dominant genre with the introduction of programs like All in the Family and Maude, Room 222 was using the form of the half-hour comedy to discuss serious contemporary issues. During its five seasons on the air, the show included episodes that dealt with such topics as racism, sexism, homophobia, dropping out of school, shoplifting, drug use among both teachers and students, illiteracy, cops in school, guns in school, Vietnam war veterans, venereal disease, and teenage pregnancy.

    Most importantly, Room 222 served as a prototype of sorts for what would become the formula that MTM Enterprises would employ in a wide variety of comedies and dramas during the 1970s and 1980s. When Grant Tinker set up MTM, he hired Room 222's executive story editors James L. Brooks and Allan Burns to create and produce the company's first series, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. This series eschewed issue-oriented comedy, but it picked up on Room 222's contemporary and realistic style as well as its setting in a "workplace family." Treva Silverman, a writer for Room 222, also joined her bosses on the new show, and Gene Reynolds, another Room 222 producer, produced The Mary Tyler Moore Show spin-off Lou Grant several years later.

  • Room 222 was given a number of awards by community and educational groups for its positive portrayal of important social issues seldom discussed on television at the time. It won an Emmy for Outstanding New Series in 1969.

    TV shows set in high schools are a dime a dozen these days, but when "Room 222" debuted in 1969, it was unique -- and made even more so by its writers' willingness to introduce issues of the day like drugs and racism into its story lines.

  • TV shows set in high schools are a dime a dozen these days, but when "Room 222" debuted in 1969, it was unique -- and made even more so by its writers' willingness to introduce issues of the day (like drugs and racism) into its story lines. Viewers of a certain age will remember staying home Friday nights to hang with the Walt Whitman High gang -- student teacher Alice Johnson (Karen Valentine), history teacher Pete Dixon (Lloyd Haynes) and more.

Karen Valentine & Lloyd Haynes in Room 222 (1969-74, ABC)

Schoolroom comedy-drama about Pete Dixon ( Lloyd Haynes), a black history teacher in an integrated big-city high school. An idealist , Pete instilled his students at Walt Whitman High with gentile lessons in tolerance and understanding. The number of his homeroom was 222, but wherever he went he was surrounded by a cluster of kids. They loved him for his easygoing manner and willingness to side with them when he knew they were being short-changed by the system. Seymour Kaufman ( Michael Constantine) was the cool, slightly sarcastic principal, Liz McIntyre ( Denise Nicholas) Pete's girlfriend and a school counselor, and Alice Johnson ( Karen Valentine) an eccentric student teacher ( in the second season she was promoted to full-fledged English teacher). The rest of the regulars were students. They included frizzy-haired Bernie ( David Jolliffe), jive-talking Jason ( Heshimu), girl-next-door Helen ( Judy Strangis), Richie ( Howard Rice), Al ( Pendrant Netherly), Pam ( Ta-Tanisha) and Larry ( Eric Laneuville).