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Nick Freno: Licensed Teacher aired from August 1996 until July 1998 on The WB.
Nick ( Mitch Mullany) was an aspiring young actor who worked as a substitute English teacher at the Gerald R. Ford Middle School to pay the bills until he got his big break. Among the kids in his 5th grade class were Orlando ( Jonathan Hernandez), the smart shy boy; Tyler ( Ross Malinger), the operator who rarely did his homework; Jared ( Arjay Smith), Tyler's partner in crime; Sarah ( Cara DeLizia), the intellectual; and Davey ( Kyle Gibson), who liked to play the sax. Nick, whose frenetic teaching style included running question and answer sessions like game shows, was attracted to Elena ( Portia de Rossi), the perky, dedicated social studies teacher. Other teachers on staff were Mezz( Played by Reggie Hayes in the pilot and Clinton Jackson in the series), his childhood friend, now a science teacher; Al ( Charles Cyphers), the cynical shop teacher who had seen it all; and Kurt ( Stuart Pankin), the obnoxious gym teacher who eventually became assistant principal. At the end of the first season, after having bailed out on a short-lived relationship with Nick earlier in the season, Elena rekindled their romance.
When the show returned for it's second season there were major changes. Nick was a full time teacher-at the same school that was now, magically a high school-and Elena had dumpted him and left town. He was stuck with a class full of misfits and had to deal with a new principal, Dr. Emerson ( Jane Sibbett), an intellectual who had trouble dealing with miscreant students and little patience for Nick's sense of humor. Among his new students were Sophia ( Christina Vidal), a sexy sexpot who wasn't as worldly wise as she thought; Miles ( Giuseppe Andrews), the neurotic foil for most of his classmates; Marco ( Andrew Levitas), the overage hunk who was still in school because he hadn't graduated with his class; Jordan ( Blake Horan), an older operator along the lines of Tyler from the first season; and Tasha ( Malinda Williams), an opinionated girl who didn't want her blue collar classmates to know that her father was an investment banker and her mother a real estate agent. In the spring Nick started dating Samantha ( Donna D'Errico), the sexy supervisor in his apartment building.
A Review From The New York Times
by Caryn James
Published August 28,1996
If the title ''Nick Freno: Licensed Teacher'' seems to echo ''Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,'' that's only the beginning of the Jim Carrey influence. As Nick Freno, an actor who takes a job as a substitute teacher at the Gerald R. Ford Middle School, Mitch Mullany explodes into game-show parodies and impressions in class. You can hear him straining for that manic Carrey voice when he introduces himself to the students, saying, ''My name is Mr. Freno but I like it when you call me Big Papa!''
These outbursts are only sporadically funny. And even when they work, they can't begin to overcome the show's stale concept. In tonight's episode, Nick cancels lunch with a poor boy in his class so he can go to an acting audition. Will Nick learn to be a real teacher and make it up to little Orlando? Are there really two possible answers to that question
A Review from The LA Times
Nick Freno,' 'Foxx' Mine Familiar Turf
August 28, 1996|HOWARD ROSENBERG | TIMES TELEVISION CRITIC
Take an unemployed actor, musician or writer who, out of necessity, takes a teaching job in a school where his supervisor is cranky and/or out of touch and where his unorthodox methods impress his rambunctious class, and what do you have?
Several new sitcoms this new season, the second of which arrives tonight. (WB's "The Steve Harvey Show" was the first.)
The latest teach on the block is "Nick Freno: Licensed Teacher," premiering on WB tonight with another new comedy, "The Jamie Foxx Show," about an unemployed entertainer who, out of necessity, takes a job in his aunt's and uncle's hotel.
Out of necessity, you may be switching to another channel.
It's time for actors to become stand-up comics to even things with the comedians who have invaded prime time en masse as stars of their own sitcoms. Mitch Mullany is the latest comic-to-sitcom draftee as Nick Freno, whose first day as a substitute teacher is marked by fighting in his combustible sixth-grade classroom and interference by the middle school's rigid, ever frustrated dean of discipline, Kurt Fust (Stuart Pankin), who always seems to be asking, "What's going on here?"
Funny comedy sure isn't. Formulaic comedy is, including such conveniently knotted loose ends as a maudlin peace among warring students and Nick predictably putting school biz above show biz when forced to choose between an acting job and disappointing one of his kids.
Mullany is smooth enough. Yet as the man/child Nick, his stream-of-consciousness technique recalls a poor man's Robin Williams. Like the premise of the sitcom he's in, it's something you've seen before, and done much better.
At least Foxx's physical clowning--previously seen on "In Living Color"--compensates for some of the witlessness of "The Jamie Foxx Show." Here, he is found working at the debt-ridden small hotel owned by his Aunt Helen (Ellia English) and Uncle Junior (Garrett Morris) while clashing with their snooty accountant, Braxton (Christopher B. Duncan), and ogling their gorgeous desk clerk, Fancy (Garcelle Beauvais).
Just when it seems that Uncle Junior's heavy gambling losses will sink the establishment, Jamie puts together an unlikely rescue mission whose best moments are generated by his rubbery gyrations. Otherwise, the comedy is barely passable and situations are so pat that "The Jamie Foxx Show," despite heavy injections of black-speak, reeks of perfunctory TV.
* "Nick Freno: Licensed Teacher" airs at 8:30 and "The Jamie Foxx Show" at 9:30 Wednesday nights on WB (Channel 5).
An Article from Entertainment weekly
Last Laugh Pity: The WB's 'Nick Freno'
October 31, 1997 at 05:00 AM EST
Exactly how bad are the ratings for the WB sitcom Nick Freno: Licensed Teacher? Take the viewers of ER, wipe out 90 percent of them with the Ebola virus … and ER still beats it! How about the population of the nation of Togo? Yup, bigger than Freno‘s audience.
For Pete’s sake, there are more Americans using outhouses than watching Freno!
Welcome to life at the bottom. During the ’96-97 TV campaign, Freno drew an average of 2.4 million viewers, good enough to rank it No. 155 … out of 155 network series. This season isn’t much better for the little engine that couldn’t: After a heroic climb to second-to-last place over The WB’s Unhappily Ever After (success, so cruel and fleeting!), Freno is again saddled with prime time’s most dubious distinction. ”We’re at the point where we’re going into negative viewership,” sighs Freno exec producer Marc Warren.
Freno‘s premise seems harmless enough: Mitch Mullany plays chuckleheaded Nick, who’s trying to educate inner-city students (think Dangerous Minds minus Pfeiffer — and the danger). And the tone is fuzzy-hearted enough to spell TGIF hit on ABC. But on the fledgling WB, it’s stifled by weak distribution and a wicked Sunday slot against 60 Minutes, ABC’s The Wonderful World of Disney, and Fox’s World’s Funniest Tsunamis specials.
”You have to pretend you’re writing Seinfeld,” says Freno exec producer Dennis Rinsler, who ran Full House with Warren. ”You work just as hard, and you think you’re doing as great a job — until the ratings. The WB always tries to put a positive spin on it: ‘Hey, we’re up 2 percent in criminals over 15!”’
Nothing like a little gallows humor to help dull the pain. ”You’ll be at the table when the numbers come in, and all the writers suddenly say, ‘Excuse me, I’m going to make a phone call to my agent,”’ says Rinsler. ”Gotta keep those options open.” Adds Warren: ”On Full House, all the relatives would say, ‘Can you get me pictures? Can you get me into a taping?’ Now my aunt calls: ‘I tried to find your show, but we don’t get Channel 93. When is it on again?”’
The better question is, Why is it on? In an era when shows get axed before hitting the air (Rewind, we never knew ye), Freno has managed to avoid the guillotine for a year. WB Entertainment chief Garth Ancier says it might be canceled next month, though he sees at least one reason to warrant a stay of execution: ”We believe in Mitch as a comedy-TV star.
” Even if Mitch needs the occasional tweak. ”We’ll spend hours discussing which shirt he should wear,” says Rinsler, ”because that could be the shirt that saves the show.” More concrete efforts to broaden viewership this season included switching from a middle school setting to high school (”I don’t know if you’ve ever fired five 12-year-olds, but it wasn’t the most pleasant day,” notes Warren) and injecting some Must See into the cast: Estelle Harris (Seinfeld‘s Mrs. Costanza) as a never-seen secretary and Jane Sibbett (Ross’ lesbian ex-wife on Friends) as the smarmy principal. ”I tease Jane all the time,” says Mullany. ”No matter what she asks for: ‘Can I get some water?’ ‘Oh! Miss Big Star wants some water! Well, we’re not on Friends anymore, Dorothy!”’
Here is Mitch Mullany's Obituary from Variety
Published on May 30, 2008
Comedian Mitch Mullany dies at 39
Starred in 'Nick Freno: Licenced Teacher'
By VARIETY STAFF
Comic Mitch Mullany died May 25 in Los Angeles from a diabetic-related stroke. He was 39.
A memorial service will be held Sunday, June 8 at 2 p.m. at the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles.
Born in Oakland, Calif., Mullany started his standup career in the Bay Area and then appeared on "The Wayans Brothers" as White Mike. He starred in his own WB Network show "Nick Freno: Licensed Teacher," and in 1999 wrote and starred in feature film "The Breaks," released by Artisan Ent.
He appeared in feature film "The Sweetest Thing" and then hosted ABC reality series "All American Girl."
Mullany also appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."
For more on Nick Frene: Licensed Teacher go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nick_Freno:_Licensed_Teacher
For an episode listing go to https://web.archive.org/web/20040514013547/http://www.contrib.andrew.cmu.edu/~aaron2/wb/titles/nickfreno1.html
To watch a promo from Nick Freno go to http://youtube.com/watch?v=i_4L7spua4s
To watch the opening credits go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CuW_DQWfpSU
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Keywords: Nick Freno: Licensed Teacher Cast (Links Updated 8/1/18)