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Mr. Rhodes aired from September 1996 until March 1997 on NBC.
Long-Haired standup comic Tom Rhodes got to do his routine in front of a class of appreciative , laughing kids in this sitcom.Rhodes character was an unsuccessful writer ( critics liked his first novel but it didn't sell)who returned home to New England to teach at Harkin Academy , a small town prep school.There he found immediate chemistry with Nikki ( Farrah Forke), a girl of his teenage fantasies who was now the high-strung guidance counselor. Headmaster Ray ( Stephen Tobolowsky), a wannabe hipster liked Tom's cool, leather-jacketed image but frowned on his casual teaching style; arrogant history teacher Ron ( Ron Glass)didn't like anything about him ; and freaky math teacher Amanda ( Jessica Stone )would sit astride his motorcycle any day. Jake, Zoey, Ethan, and Dani ( Shaun Weiss, Lindsay Sloane, Travis Wester, Alexandra Holden)were among the more frequently seen students.
A Review from The New York Times
Dead Poets Yield To Stand-Up Routines
By JOHN J. O'CONNOR
Published: September 23, 1996
The only thing that can keep a television critic slogging through 40 new series in a single season is the prospect of a genuine surprise popping up when least expected. Welcome to ''Mr. Rhodes,'' a delightfully off-center sitcom having its premiere on NBC tonight.
This is yet another teacher-faculty-students romp, but closer to the film ''Dead Poets Society'' than to classic prime-time exercises like ''Welcome Back, Kotter'' or ''Head of the Class.'' Mr. Rhodes, first name Tom, is actually Tom Rhodes, a stand-up comic best known up till now for a Comedy Central special called ''Viva Vietnam.'' In that show, Mr. Rhodes, son of a Vietnam veteran, visited the Southeast Asian country for a genially wacky tour of reconciliation. With his own distinctive comedy edge, Mr. Rhodes the stand-up likes to tell audiences that he is ''self-educated like Thomas Jefferson, Abe Lincoln and Marlon Brando.''
Entering sitcom land, Mr. Rhodes is a prep school teacher, returning to his hometown after a wobbly career in Manhattan as a novelist. His only novel did win awards but sold a meager 48 copies, and, he insists, half of those were to readers who thought they were buying Howard Stern's autobiography. Now, with long hair suggesting a cross between Tiny Tim and Michael Bolton, he cheerfully warns his young wards that ''I'm what your parents are paying a lot of money to keep you away from.''
The rest of the faculty at Harkin Academy makes the offbeat Mr. Rhodes look positively normal. The headmaster, Ray Heary (Stephen Tobolowsky), plays at being a closet hipster (''At home I let my freak flag fly''), but is uneasy about Mr. Rhodes's teaching habits. He does not want ''Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test'' supplanting ''Silas Marner.'' Ronald Felcher (Ron Glass), the uptight history teacher, wonders acerbically if parents seeing Mr. Rhodes will ask, ''Why is my child being taught by Fabio?''
The women on staff include Amanda Reeves (Jessica Stone), a fluttering mess introduced quite accurately as ''our woman-child math teacher,'' and Nikki Harkin (Farrah Forke), a hyperactive guidance counselor who is constantly craving a cigarette. Nikki is the daughter of the founder of the school and was once the object of Mr. Rhodes's romance fantasies. That was when he was just another poor boy in town.
The future, of course, could be very different. Amanda is already gushing to Mr. Rhodes that ''I'm worshiping you from afar.'' And Nikki is no longer very interested in her fabulously wealthy boyfriend.
And then there are the students, dressed properly in their blue blazers but seen by Mr. Rhodes as suburban white teen-agers in search of a gangsta attitude. He is told at the outset: ''They all have parents, most more than one set. The one in Birkenstocks has two mommies. Three are on Ritalin.'' But like Robin Williams in that movie, Mr. Rhodes is convinced that he can change their lives. When one youngster threatens to run off to New York, the teacher warns that a lot of bad things can happen there: ''You could end up in a Calvin Klein ad.'''
Even Mr. Rhodes is not terribly excited by ''Silas Marner,'' but noting that old Silas has been ripped off and has no friends, he puts the situation in context of the blues, a neat segue that captures his audience's fancy. That leads to a mention of John Lee Hooker and the confession that Mr. Rhodes has 32 of his albums. Pause. ''From what I can understand,'' Mr. Rhodes observes, ''he's having some trouble with his lady.''
At times the pop-culture references threaten to turn into a Dennis Miller routine, grabbing everything from the Rolling Stones to the Menendez brothers. There's even a reference to Michelle Pfeiffer in ''Dangerous Minds,'' the movie about an urban teacher made into an ABC series that will be running opposite ''Mr. Rhodes.''
But Mr. Rhodes looks justifiably confident as he flippantly pursues his serious purpose. As he tells one grumbling student, ''The drag of it is, you don't know what you're going to need, so you have to learn it all.'' Beats yet another series about alien encounters.
NBC, tonight at 8:30
(Channel 4 in New York)
Directed by Peter Bonerz (pilot), Ted Wass, Brian Roberts, Bob Berlinger, Max Tash, Gail Mancuso and Peter Noah. Produced by Gina Scheerer and Michele Wolff. Executive producers and creators are Mr. Noah, Mark Brazill and Jennifer Heath. Michael Rotenberg and Dave Becky are executive producers. Eric Cohen is the supervision producer. Jay Scherberth is the editor. Produced by Universal Television in association with NBC Studios.
STARRING: Tom Rhodes (Mr. Rhodes), Farrah Forke (Nikki Harkin), Stephen Tobolowsky (Ray Heary), Ron Glass (Ronald Felcher) and Jessica Stone (Amanda Reeves).
A Review from variety
September 30, 1996 12:00AM PT
By Jeremy Gerard
Filmed in Los Angeles by NBC Studios in association with Universal Television. Created by Jennifer Heath, Mark Brazill, Peter Noah; executive producers, Noah, Brazill, Heath, Michael Rotenberg, Dave Becky; supervising producer, Eric Cohen; produced by Gina Scheerer; written by Cohen; directed by Ted Wass; producer, Michele J. Wolfe; creative consultant, Bill Bryan; associate producer, Toti Levine; story editors, Andrew Reich, Ted Cohen; director of photography (Panaflex cameras and lenses), George La Fountaine; production designer, David Sackeroff; editor, Jay Scherberth; unit production manager, Steve Burgess; casting, Megan Branman; music, Mark Heyes. Cast: Tom Rhodes, Farrah Forke, Stephen Tobolowsky, Jessica Stone, Ron Glass, Lindsay Sloane, Shaun Weiss, Alexandra Holden, Travis Wester. In his second outing of the season , Mr. Rhodes (slow-take standup Tom Rhodes) has to contend with a plain Jane student (her name is Zoey, of course, and she’s played by Lindsay Sloane) who develops a crush on him, and the arrival of Dani (Alexandra Holden), the jailbait daughter of a Sharon Stone-type movie star. The ultraprivileged Harkin Academy is a setting far from the roiling uncertainty of “Dangerous Minds.” In fact, it’s a different universe. Harkin is overseen by a moronic, butt-kissing headmaster (Stephen Tobolowsky). The faculty lounge breeds contempt for students and lust among colleagues, while Mr. Rhodes’ classroom is the setting for literary exegesis at a level not seen on TV since the days of “Dobie Gillis.” No wonder: Apparently Mr. Rhodes’ sole credential for the job is that he is the author of a novel that won some prizes and sold 84 copies. He has long hair, which is enough to make the girls and the women go weak in the knees, and he is given to pronouncements along the lines of, “being a teenager is such a widely acknowledged bummer of a gig” that appear to endear him to students like Zoey. The first two installments of “Mr. Rhodes” suggest that the producers know a show about preppie boarding school students stands not a chance of success. So they have loaded up the show with plenty of sexual innuendo and slapstick humor, all of it second-rate and instantly tiresome. Rhodes himself has a style of delivery about half a beat behind the action that on TV comes across like a soundtrack always out of synch. Tobolowsky, a wonderful comic actor (he could have been his generation’s Richard Deacon, who played producer Mel Cooley on the “Dick Van Dyke Show” with the endearing self-confidence of the truly dim) is criminally wasted here. So are Jessica Stone, Farrah Forke and Ron Glass as Harkin faculty lounge lizards. Direction (by Ted Wass in this episode) is as uninspired as supervising producer Eric Cohen’s writing. Jeremy Gerard
To watch an episode of Mr. Rhodes go to https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x41rdyr
For more on Mr. Rhodes go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mr._Rhodes
For an episode guide go to https://web.archive.org/web/19990202111225/http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/9821/1mrrhode.txt
For more on Tom Rhodes go to https://web.archive.org/web/20060620214117/http://www.tommyrhodes.com/bio.html
For an interview with Tom Rhodes go to http://www.sheckymagazine.com/rhodes.htm
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Keywords: Mr. Rhodes Cast (Links Updated 7/31/18)