The White Shadow - Season 1
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When professional basketball player Ken Reeves (Ken Howard) suffers a serious knee injury, his career comes to a grinding haltand 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.
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
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Ken Howard was a excellent actor! This show is entertaining with a message in each episode. Great writing and a very good cast.Published 2 months ago by Kyle R. Lilly
the first season of one of my favorite shows from my childhood on dvd!Published 2 months ago by Bryan Donovan
Watched with my mom and loved this show, passing on the love to my 13 year old who is a basketball fanatic, he loves the show and its characters and storyline every bit as much as... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Hal
Great show! Grew up watching this classic that was ahead of its timePublished 14 months ago by Mike B.
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