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The White Shadow - Season 1

4.8 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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(Nov 08, 2005)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A timeless classic that fans are clamoring for! From the Creators of "COACH CARTER," "ST. ELSEWHERE," "NORTHERN EXPOSURE" AND "NYPD BLUE."

When professional basketball player Ken Reeves (Ken Howard) suffers a serious knee injury, his career comes to a grinding halt—and all his dreams of glory seem shattered. Fortunately an old friend, who is now the principal of a Los Angeles inner-city high school, offers him a job as a basketball coach. Although initially hesitant, Reeves' love of the game finally convinces him to accept the position. But he soon discovers the only thing worse than his team's lack of skill on the court is their lack of belief in themselves off the court. Yet the new coach feels certain that the right combination of guts, sweat, luck and attention will make his players winners in the end.


The entertaining and sometimes powerful The White Shadow gets under one's skin very quickly. Ken Howard plays former NBA star Ken Reeves, whose career in the pro game is cut short by serious injuries. Along comes Ken's old college roomate, Jim Willis (Jason Bernard in the pilot episode, Ed Bernard after that), principal of an inner-city high school in Los Angeles with a high dropout rate and plenty of antagonism between thuggish students and an angry faculty. Jim makes Ken an offer any sensible man might refuse, but somehow Ken can't: becoming coach of the school's low-achieving basketball team.

Hardly a bleeding heart and prone to inopportune wisecracks, Ken nevertheless gets the team on its feet and slowly takes cautious interest in the personal lives of individual players. Over the course of 15 first-season episodes, Ken gets in the middle of his students' problems, including alcoholism, gang affiliations, early fatherhood, racism, and fighting. Ken is not without his own issues and biases, which have to be faced at critical times. In "Just One of the Boys," the addition of a new player, who might be gay, to the team makes him terribly anxious--and embarrassed that he feels that way. "Spare the Rod" finds Ken at his lowest moment after striking a student who punched him in the nose. What makes this story interesting is that every adult in the school rushes to Ken's defense, even praises him for taking a stand. Yet the attention deepens his shame, and makes Ken too ready to forgive his dangerous attacker. Actress Joan Pringle is excellent as vice-principal Sybil Buchanan, Ken's ally-adversary. Be on the lookout for a number of actors who would soon have starring roles on 1980s TV series, among them Michael Warren and Bruce Weitz (Hill Street Blues), Peter Horton (thirtysomething), and Jonathan Frakes (Star Trek: The Next Generation). --Tom Keogh

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Ken Howard, Joan Pringle, Ed Bernard, Thomas Carter, Kevin Hooks
  • Directors: Bruce Paltrow, Ernest Pintoff, Jackie Cooper, Mark Tinker, Michael Zinberg
  • Writers: Bruce Paltrow, Gary Kott
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Stereo), French (Dolby Surround)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: November 8, 2005
  • Run Time: 719 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000AQ68SW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,165 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The White Shadow - Season 1" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Ironically this series takes place in a high school, and I was in Junior High (1978-1981) when CBS aired it. But still a lot a young kid like me was able to learn and grow with. Ken Howard plays Ken Reeves (a native of my home town of all places: Bayside, New York, in reality Howard was born in Manhasset just over the Nassau County line) a not so lucky forward (I think) for the Chicago Bulls who constantly injures his knee. After the last injury at which he injured his pride a little as well, Ken hangs it up and suddenly gets reunited with his old high school team mate and friend Jim Willis (Jason Bernard in the pilot, Ed Bernard thereafter) who is the principal of George Washington Carver High School in a majority black neighborhood. To make long story short, Willis asks Reeves would he be interested in being Carver's new basketball coach. After thinking about it, he accepts despite learning from Willis' vice principal Sybil Buchanan (Joan Pringle) that the majority of the team are studying to be hoodlums and dropouts (a number of them have juvenile records already). With the support of his sister and brother in law (as well as Willis), Ken keeps the team in check, and helps the "losers" at heart become winners (on and sometimes off the court). The name of the series comes when Ken says to the team at the end of the pilot that he will always be behind them, to which player Morris Thorpe (Kevin Hooks) replies "yeah like a white shadow". The name sticks, and thus a very nice series develops. The stories focus on 1 or more of the team members getting in trouble with the law or other sources, Ken's love life (which is worse than his pro career was) and his being accepted by other students and faculty members. Very good series, I hope all 3 sets come out quickly.
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Format: DVD
I remember when THE WHITE SHADOW aired initially in the late 1970's. It was a favorite show, not a ratings winner unfortunately, but a smartly written, naturalistically performed, and very entertaining program anchored by Ken Howard's perfect lead in the title role. The cast entire was wonderful. They could banter with each other without leaving a doubt they cared about each other as teammates and as friends. Standouts include future directors Thomas Carter and Kevin Hooks and the wittily laconic Byron Stewart as "Coo." Joan Pringle and Ed Bernhard also lent solid support as the constantly harried school administrators. And look fast for cameos by folks such as Forest Whitaker and Lupe Ontiveros.

Aside from the sports angle, the show also took on the hot button social issues of the day (ones that still resonated, some that have yet to be resolved), including racism, unwed teen pregnancy, teen gang violence, alcholism, homosexuality, etc., and handled them with nary a trace of political correctness, pat moralizing, or easy answers. In fact, it is hard to imagine many of the realistic scripts getting past today's TV censors, who are more concerned with boosting "self-esteem" than with portraying human beings as they really are.

The DVD preserves the vibrant look of Southern California in the late 70's/early 80's, and the voice-over commentary by Howard and Timothy Van Patten (aka Salami)on disc 2 is a pleasurable bonus.
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Format: DVD
I was in early Junior High when this show first aired, and played on the basketball team. Given that similarity, this show quickly became one of the few I would never miss. The basic premise is that a former NBA basketball player hurts his knee and takes a job coaching an inner city high school basketball team. The fact that the coach is a former NBA star, white and is now in an inner city school teaching to mostly non-white students is part of a recurring storyline.

The show is of course dated, and has the feel of a typical 1970's drama. The basketball scenes are always a bit too short and often look quite staged. The actors of course look nothing like high school age people. All of this is typical for the era.

However, what is not typical is that this show is actually very well done! The acting is good, and the storylines cover a variety of social issues, including race and religion, as well as other social and moral issues that are perhaps even more worth discussing today. I bought a copy for my father, and we will be watching the episodes together, just as we did over 25 years ago.

The quality seems great, from what I have watched so far. I would have liked better inserts, maybe a booklet or two on the show, but overall the packaging and presentation is solid. I recommend this for anyone who watched the show the first time, as for some reason I never seem to find it in syndication.

Overall, this is a quality TV show from an era that produced few of them. Recommended, especially as a family show and for those currently on a basketball team in high school, as I was when it first aired.
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Format: DVD
In the late 70's, Ken Howard was a broadway and film actor. He had a few season long TV series like Adam's Rib. in 1978, he put himself on the map with a three season TV series, the White Shadow.

Shadow was a series drama of High School and the things that imfluenced the students(why don't someone remake this series!). Howard never sound pious or preachy as the Coach Reeves which is one reason why this show worked

Many films copied this system (like Stand and Deliver, Coach Carter with Samuel L Jackson, Remember the Titans), but without the Shadow..these movies wouldn't have come by. Shadow dates itself, but its message is there.

Shadow was family fare with a message, it came out when I was in College and it mean something then and still does today-since i felt what these players were going thru in their lives. It dealt with issues we still face in schools today. Yes it is a little dated.... There are no laptop computers, retro 70's clothes and hairstyles, cars, etc--but it still works as good classic television does and should be aired today instead of the 175th rerun of the Brady Bunch

This set brings back memories! is it good-i think so!is it worth it, I think so! Its like a classic, you can always return to it and it never grows old

Bennet Pomerantz, AUDIOWORLD
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