Like the critically acclaimed “Freaks and Geeks” and “My So-Called Life” before it, “Boston Public” is high drama set in a high school.
Unlike most academically based TV shows, however, this one revolves around the lives – both professional and personal – of the faculty and staff.
And, boy, what lives they lead. This ain’t your parents’ “school drama”, kids. The problems are never simple at Winslow High, that’s for sure.
This David E. Kelley production is way over-the-top.
In the beginning, there was ‘Harry Senate’ (played by Nicky Katt), teacher extraordinaire. He shot off a gun in the classroom just to drive home his anti-violence lesson plan. Don’t worry, it was loaded with blanks. The only thing hurt was Senate’s career. But he wasn’t fired, because behind the gruff exterior of ‘Principal Steven Harper’ (Chi McBride) is a heart of gold. Harper himself later killed a parent. But it was self-defense. He was cleared of all charges.
In any case, this is “Boston Public”, so before too long it all became too much for poor Harry. He lost that “teaching fire” in his belly.
He lost his will to live.
He lost his mind. But not before bedding fellow teacher ‘Ronnie Cook’ (Jeri Ryan).
Hey, he might’ve been crazy – but he’s not stupid!
Then, poor Harry took an “extended leave of absence.” Doh!
Yes, teachers seem to come and go quickly on this show. There was the older male teacher who had an affair with a nubile young female student. His best friend, the Phys. Ed. coach, knew about the affair but said nothing. Sooner rather than later, the extracurricularly copulating couple got caught during a “private tutoring session” – by her dad, no less.
The amorous teacher got fired. His best friend got fired for not turning the guy in. The sexed up one moved on, the friend committed suicide. Cut to morgue scene of Principal Harper having a heart-to-heart talk with the corpse. Obviously, Harper did most of the talking. Not like that time he killed a parent. But, hey, that was clearly self-defense. The charges were dropped. In case you missed that the first time.
Then there was the somewhat naive woman teacher who had a student stalking her. But, since this is “Boston Public”, the stalker was female too. Yup, there’s nothing hotter than primetime “Lesbian Stalking”. The student was transferred to the School for Mentally-Disturbed Girls; the teacher was transferred to another school “for her own protection.”
Then, there was new teacher Zach Fischer (Jon Abrahams), who thought dissecting frogs in science class just didn’t cut it. So he borrowed a human corpse from a pal at the county morgue. Just for the record, it wasn’t the same corpse Harper talked to in one of the previously described episodes. Or the dead parent, killed in self-defense – a crime for which Harper was eventually cleared. Did I mention that already? Well, they sure mention it a lot on “Boston Public”.
Vice Principal Scott Guber (Anthony Heald) strongly objected to Fischer’s rather, uh, unorthodox teaching methods, and demanded the corpse be returned immediately. Instead, Fischer and Cook tried to hide the body until class time. During the “cadaver caper”, the body turned up missing. Yup, you guessed it; some smart-alecky student thought it would be funny to hide the corpse in Guber’s office closet. The viewer found it much more amusing than Guber did.
Teacher Fischer is still on-staff, however. Well, as of this writing he is. One never knows with “Boston Public”, where they go through teachers faster than students go through boring textbooks. For all I know, his days are numbered.
Like I said, things are never simple at Winslow High.
There was the time Guber’s student assistant got pregnant. Policy had it that once a student starts “showing”, she had to be carted off to the School for Pregnant Girls. There was much to do over that one. She then outed her boyfriend, who had dumped her, by putting up fliers calling him an “impregnator”. Hoo-boy!
The girl went to have her pregnancy terminated, and a tender moment was shared when Guber showed up at the abortion clinic to lend some moral support. She ended up keeping the baby, however, which made for a “very special” episode of “Boston Public” indeed.