Making The Grade aired from April until May 1982 on CBS.
Franklin High, a rambling, 4,500-student St. Louis school was the setting for this short-lived comedy. Harry Barnes ( James Naughton) was the dedicated Dean of Boys, whose biggest problem was dull, pompous assistant principal Jack Felspar ( Graham Jarvis).Felspar's unwillingness to deal with reality was typified by his definition of the " Lord of Death" gang that terrorized students and faculty alike as a " social club." Sara Canover ( Alley Mills), was the beautiful young drama teacher who had to fend off the insistent and unwanted attentions of English teacher David Wasserman ( Philip Charles MacKenzie), a self-styled ladykiller. Jeff Kelton ( Steve Peterman) was an idealistic young English teacher, Anton Zemeckis ( Zane Lasky) a Latin teacher who made money on the side as a travel agent, and Gus Bertoia ( George Wendt), a superjock physical-education instructor.
Gary David Goldberg created the series and was its executive producer.
A Review from The New York Times
By JOHN J. O'CONNOR
Published: April 5, 1982
In ''Making the Grade,'' James Naughton plays Harry Barnes, dean of boys at a large high school situated, for some undoubtedly sane reason, in St. Louis. Barnes is remarkably unflappable in the midst of what looks like established anarchy. ''If anyone asks for your wallet,'' a new teacher is told, ''give it to them.'' Finding a student drinking something out of a brown paper pag in the hallway, Barnes says in mock exasperation, ''Six years and you haven't learned anything - it's white wine with Hershey bars.''
Thrown into this threatening setting are other members of the faculty, some of them as weird as the students. Heading the list is the assistant principal, Jack Felspar, who is trying to convince the faculty and all outsiders that the school has no problems. A gang called the Lords of Death is nothing more than a social club, he keeps insisting. Felspar is portrayed to a zanily demented turn by Graham Jarvis, whom ''Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman'' fans will recall as Charlie Haggars.
''Making the Grade'' has its serious moments. Barnes is trying to get a bright Spanish-speaking student (John Vargas) to consider going to college. A new teacher (Philip Charles MacKenzie) is determined to bring a smidgin of discipline to his classrooms. And every once in a while Barnes and his colleagues have to confess, ''I like the challenge, I like the kids.'' With Gary David Goldberg as executive producer and creator of the series, ''Making the Grade'' pounces on some academic realities, but the series will have to tread carefully in making them funny from week to week.
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