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Room 222: Season 1

4.2 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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(Mar 24, 2009)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

When Room 222 premiered in 1969, it quickly made Friday nights worth staying home for. A compelling series about life at a multiracial Los Angeles high school, it left an indelible mark on popular culture by using the half hour form to explore socially relevant issues (more than a year before All In The Family) and by starting the still-popular trend of high school television series. Created by the now legendary James L. Brooks (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda, The Simpsons), the program was praised for dealing realistically with such subjects as prejudice and drugs.

Pete Dixon (Lloyd Haynes) is a dedicated and popular history teacher who fights the good fight on the side of his students. Joining him in his idealistic approach to education are guidance counselor Liz McIntyre (Denise Nicholas) and student teacher Alice Johnson (Karen Valentine). Experienced and slightly world-weary principal Seymour Kaufman (Michael Constantine) provides a balance to the youthful idealism of the 60s cultural revolution but at the end of the day everyone is on the side of the students. Season One guest stars include Teri Garr, William Schallert, Bob Balaban, Kenneth Mars, Bud Cort, Donald Moffat, Larry Linville, Beah Richards, Paul Winfield, Nancy Wilson, Bernie Kopell, Rob Reiner and more.

Bonus Features:

* Forty Years On: All new interviews with creator James L. Brooks and cast members Denise Nicholas, Karen Valentine and Michael Constantine

Amazon.com

From its auspicious pilot episode, Room 222 was in a class by itself, earning an Emmy Award its first season for Outstanding New Series. James L. Brooks, who would graduate to The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Taxi, and The Simpsons, created this groundbreaking dramedy set in integrated Walt Whitman High School in Los Angeles. Anchoring the Grade-A ensemble is the late Lloyd Haines as idealistic history teacher Peter Dixon, who doesn't go by the book. "The world is being revised," he tells his students. "You'd better be doing some thinking." Denise Nicholas costars as compassionate guidance counselor (and Dixon's girlfriend) Liz McIntyre. Michael Constantine earned an Emmy Award as job-weary, but principled principal Mr. Kaufman. Karen Valentine also earned an Emmy as over-eager student teacher Alice Johnson. Rarely seen in syndication, Room 222 is a rediscovered treasure that holds up 40 years later. Episodes deal with such timeless issues as self-esteem (a disruptive student uses humor to mask his loneliness), course relevance (students rebel against their elderly "Preparation for Marriage" teacher), school bureaucracy (a prize student reveals he actually lives out of district), and popularity (a new student lies to gain acceptance). Room 222 gets high marks for keeping it real. It tackled some hot button issues of the day, such as race, in an understated and meaningful way (even the laugh track is restrained). When Alice asks Peter if he prefers to be referred to as colored, Negro, or black, he responds, "I've always preferred 'Pete.'" Among the standouts in the classroom are Howard Rice as the precocious Richie, David Jolliffe as Bernie with the red afro, Heshimu as militant Jason, and Judy Strangis as shy Helen Loomis. The show also features early appearances by a roster of Most Likely to Succeed candidates, including Teri Garr, Rob Reiner, and Bob Balaban, along with such TV Land faves as William Schallert (The Patty Duke Show), Ann Morgan Guilbert (Millie on The Dick Van Dyke Show), and Bernie Koppell (Get Smart). Little, if any, restoration works appears to have been done, but in this case, the washed-out colors and less than crystal audio complement Room 222's 60s vibe. This set gets extra credit for a nice bonus feature, a series retrospective featuring new interviews with Brooks, his writing partner, Allan Burns, Constantine, and Nicholas. Their affectionate and candid remembrances put this show in the context of the era and restore its legacy as one of TV's smartest, and, for the time, hippest, half hours. --Donald Liebenson

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Lloyd Haynes, Denise Nicholas, Karen Valentine, Michael Constantine
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Color, Full Screen, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Shout Factory
  • DVD Release Date: March 24, 2009
  • Run Time: 660 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001LRL4Y2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,195 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Room 222: Season 1" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. Hornaday on December 13, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
File this under the category, "good things come to those who wait," and brother, has it been a long, long wait for this Classic TV gem to be rediscovered and released on DVD. Now, thanks to Shout! Factory, the complete first season of the iconic comedy-drama, Room 222, is being released for the first-time ever in a four-disc DVD boxed set.

The series, which premiered on ABC in 1969, explored life at integrated Walt Whitman High School in Los Angeles, as seen through the eyes of Pete Dixon, a black American history instructor whose classes are held in Room 222. It's amazing to look back and realize that integration was considered fairly "new" in 1969!

(The basic plot was similar to the popular 1967 film, To Sir, With Love, which starred the brilliant Sidney Poitier. In the movie, Poitier portrayed an idealistic teacher-trainee dealing with rambunctious white high school students from the slums of London's East End.)

Room 222 was a half-hour comedy-drama that aired on ABC from 1969-1974. While seldom seen in syndication today, the show broke new ground that would later be developed by the major sitcom factories of the 1970's.

Mixing dramatic elements with traditional TV comedy, Room 222 also predated the "dramedy" form by almost two decades! (Note: Director James L. Brooks worked on the series and went on to fame for his efforts in everything from the Mary Tyler Moore Show to the Simpons, as well as countless movies.)

The plots of Room 222 centered around dedicated and student-friendly teacher Dixon (played by Lloyd Haynes) whose mild-mannered style was admired and respected by students. He used American history class as a spring-board to teach real-life lessons in understanding and tolerance.
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With so many TV series being abandoned by the larger studios, I caution reviews with the words they use to discourage shoppers from purchasing this wonderful series. I believe you can provide accurate information concerning the quality of this release without bashing it and scaring shoppers away. Room 222 in a charming, well written show that needs to see all of its seasons released. If sales are not good we may certainly not see any further seasons released. I am very happy to have this in my DVD collection. Of course I wish the video/audio were perfect, but it's completely watchable for a show from 1969. Please support this release and enjoy a great show from the past.
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Format: DVD
Despite the poor-to-fair, and inconsistently so, picture quality, I am so GLAD that this 1st season of Room 222 was released! Let's hope all the seasons are issued.

Also, it is apparent that the studio did the best job they could--for example, the episodes are about 26 minutes long, not shortened syndication versions.

We wanted very badly for this set to be released; let's not complain. It's not like Shout Factory regularly makes junk, it's normally pristine stuff; they obviously did the best they could with this, and it IS appreciated.

Let's see season #2 of Room 222 very soon!
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This DVD represents a breakthrough, in that it was one of the first shows on TV to have an integrated cast and and a black star. Although all four of the characters had a more or less equal role, it was Lloyd Haynes and Denise Nicholas who had the first two opening credits. It was also one of the first, if not THE first, show to address complex social issues. It was really one of a kind and gives a snapshot of what school life was like in the late 60s and early 70s. It's also great to see Karen Valentine (it was before my time, but she must have been the object of many guy's desire, especially those who like the girl-next-door type). And of course Michael Constantine is fantastic as Principal Kauffman. For anyone who loved him in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, here's a chance to see him in the role he was famous for before that. And it's great to watch the students to see actors who went on to become bigger stars.
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All of the reviews thus far attesting to the poor quality of the video transfer are absolutely true! One reviewer stated your mouth will drop open when you see it...Not far from the truth. However, I give props to Shout Factory for even digging deep in the vault to bring this fine show to DVD. There is even a statement on the back of the DVD packaging that states "DVDs created from best surviving video masters." I ordered this DVD set as soon as Amazon put it up for an incredible pre-order price of $10.99! So, I'm not complaining....just putting this out there for those of you who want to know. Shout Factory has done a fine job with the many other DVD sets they have produced, and we look forward to more!
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Can anyone out there name a more recent television series dedicated to the efforts of teachers? No? I didn't think so.

Room 222 did for the teaching profession on television what Jack Webb did for the police profession on TV. It just brought the whole thing down to earth and made the people more true to life. I saw Room 222 growing up in Northeastern Pennsylvania, and it was part of that smash ABC Friday night line-up: The Brady Bunch at 8 p.m., The Partridge Family at 8:30, Room 222 at 9 p.m., The Odd Couple at 9:30, and Love American Style at 10 o'clock. Looking back upon it all, I probably understood Room 222 the least. The show was subtle with much more mature conversation than the shows which preceded it on Friday night, and more serious than the two which were to follow. The laugh track was subdued; It didn't hit one over the head. I suppose the ABC execs who programmed the show meant it for a high school audience and their parents, and both had to listen attentively and be thoughtful at that. In a world that seemed to be unraveling in the late '60s and early '70s with Vietnam, the Youth Movement, Watergate, what have you, Room 222 now seems like an island of stability compared with more recent times of what is happening on junior high and high school campuses.

I suppose that Lloyd Haynes was an ABC counterpart to NBC's Chet Kincaid on The Bill Cosby Show. Here was a thoughtful, African-American man who could teach and hold the students' interest while putting history into perspective and addressing current issues.
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