Room 222


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

Tabs

About

Room 222 was a half-hour comedy-drama that aired on ABC from 1969-74. While seldom seen in syndication today, the show broke new narrative ground that would later be developed by the major sitcom factories of the 1970s, Grant Tinker's MTM Enterprises and Norman Lear's Tandem Productions. Mixing dramatic elements with traditional television comedy, Room 222 also prefigured the "dramedy" form by almost two decades.

The series was set at an integrated high school in contemporary Los Angeles. While the narrative centered around a dedicated and student-friendly African-American history teacher, Pete Dixon (Lloyd Haynes), it also depended upon an ensemble cast of students and other school employees. The optimistic idealism of Pete, guidance counselor Liz McIntyre (Denise Nicholas), and student-teacher Alice Johnson (Karen Valentine) was balanced by the experienced, somewhat jaded principal, Seymour Kaufman (Michael Constantine). These characters and a handful of other teachers would spend each episode arguing among themselves about the way in which to go about both educating their students and acting as surrogate parents.

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.

-Robert Thompson

CAST

Pete Dixon............................................... Lloyd Haynes
Liz Mcintyre
.......................................... Denise Nicholas
Seymour Kaufman
.......................... Michael Constantine
Alice Johnson
.......................................Karen Valentine
Richie Lane
(1969-1971)............................. Howard Rice
Helen Loomis
........................................... Judy Strangis
Jason Allen
..................................................... Heshimu
Al Cowley
(1969-1971)........................ Pendrant Netherly
Bernie
(1970-1974) ......................................David Jollife
Pam
(1970-1972).......................................... Te-Tanisha
Larry
(1971-1973)..................................... Eric Laneuville

PRODUCERS Gene Reynolds, William D'Angelo, John Kubichan, Ronald Rubin

PROGRAMMING HISTORY    112 Episodes

ABC

September 1969-January 1971        Wednesday 8:30-9:00
January 1971-September 1971        Wednesday 8:00-8:30
September 1971-January 1974                Friday 9:00-9:30

 

FURTHER READING

Eisner, Joel, and David Krinsky. Television Comedy Series: An Episode Guide to 153 TV Sitcoms in Syndication. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 1984.

Feuer, Jane, Paul Kerr, and Tise Vahimagi, editors. MTM--'Quality Television.' London: British Film Institute, 1984.

MacDonald, J. Fred. Blacks And White TV: Afro-Americans in Television Since 1948. Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1992.

Newcomb, Horace, and Robert Alley. The Producer's Medium: Conversations with Creators of American TV. New York: Oxford University Press, 1983.

Tinker, Grant, and Bud Rukeyser. Tinker in Television: From General Sarnoff to General Electric. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994.

Who talked about this show

James L. Brooks

View Interview
James L. Brooks on writing for Room 222
05:03

Allan Burns

View Interview
Allan Burns on getting involved with Room 222 with producer Gene Reynolds and writer James L. Brooks
05:03
Allan Burns on writing for Room 222, working with James L. Brooks, and producing several episodes of the show
04:28

Charles Dubin

View Interview
Charles S. Dubin on directing The New People, Room 222, Of Men and Women, Sanford and Son, and The 10th Level
03:25

Jerry Goldsmith

View Interview
Jerry Goldsmith on composing for Room 222
01:15

Eddie Foy III

View Interview
Eddie Foy III on casting Room 222
02:04

Gene Reynolds

View Interview
Gene Reynolds on directing Room 222
07:39
Gene Reynolds on some of the difficult topics covered on Room 222
01:11
Gene Reynolds on being fired from Room 222
02:08
Gene Reynolds on the controversial topics covered on Room 222
02:56
Gene Reynolds on how African-Americans were depicted on Room 222
02:36

Treva Silverman

View Interview
Treva Silverman on writing on Room 222 for producer James L. Brooks
07:24

Grant Tinker

View Interview
Grant Tinker on meeting James L. Brooks and Allan Burns, through leaving Universal for Fox
10:08

Cindy Williams

View Interview
Cindy Williams on her first television appearance on Room 222  and working with director James L. Brooks
01:27

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