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Mr. Novak, NBC TV Series 1963-65.

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Flashgear, Jul 11, 2017.

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  1. bmasters9

    bmasters9 Producer

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    IIRC, she was the leadoff victim on The Streets of San Francisco, in the 2-hr. pilot of that 1972-77 ABC police/detective series.
     
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  2. Message #442 of 488 Dec 19, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2018
    Flashgear

    Flashgear Screenwriter

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    Doug, thank you for your concern my friend! I did indeed receive my set on Friday, along with everything else I was waiting for, including the new season two of High Chaparral. I know you are a fan of that show, and you might be delighted to see Mark Slade ('Blue') in the Novak episode Day in the Year, late in season one...and he returned in season two of Mr. Novak. Between being involved in Christmas hubub and attending to family, I have only had a chance to do a cursory inspection of the new set. But I did take a number of screen captures from the new WAC release for comparative purposes with my old homemade DVD screen grabs...as yourself, Bob and Jobla have already reported, the episodes do look very nice, although derived from the original Turner tape transfers and not from the original 35 mm OCNs as originally suggested. But the difference, although noticeable, is quite small and not a bother. I am very happy and remain hopeful that Warners will follow on with season two in the reasonable future.

    Novak arrives for work in his ghastly Plymouth Valiant Station Wagon...
    A novak wac 1.JPG

    The kids of Jefferson High have some nice rides...lotta T Birds here...
    A novak wac 17.JPG

    Ken Berry (in his single episode), Marian Collier and James Franciscus on their way to work, To Lodge and Dislodge...
    A novak wac 3.JPG
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    Dean Jagger and Jeanne Bal...
    A novak wac 18.JPG

    Guest star Kim Darby, at 16 years old in her first career credit as the blind student...shy, vulnerable and fragile in a very touching performance...she won critical acclaim in the trade papers for her "auspicious debut", and she is convincingly memorable in this role...
    A novak wac 5.JPG

    Tony Dow, fresh off LITB, in his first Novak appearance... a recurring role as the yearbook editor in season one...
    A novak wac 6.JPG
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    Franciscus is also very good, once again establishing his character as selflessly noble and supremely compassionate...and wise beyond his years...his career role...
    A novak wac 20.JPG

    You can't do better than this guy...Oscar winning (12 O'clock High, 1949) screen veteran Dean Jagger...
    A novak wac 22.JPG

    As Doug has already noted in his fine review, this is another strong episode...powerful...
    A novak wac 23.JPG

    The music in this series is exquisite...the MGM music department still at the height of their powers...
    A novak wac 24.JPG
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    Doug, Herschel Bernardi's performance as the entertaining and ultra popular teacher with a shameful secret to keep just blew me away. I think it might be the absolute best thing he ever did in television! As a supporting character actor he was often held to a pro forma cut out or walk on role in which he was eminently competent as a work-a-day actor. But on Novak he is unleashed with a meaty part to play and turns in a brilliant performance that is heartbreaking to witness. Then you have the wonderful Diane Ladd, playing Bernardi's dedicated wife, who comes on with but a single scene (approx. 5 minutes) and also delivers a desperate and plaintive performance that is equally heartbreaking in intensity. I think it is also one of James Franciscus finest episodes.
    A novak wac 32.JPG
    A novak wac 33.JPG

    So I went into Google Newspapers where one of my hometown newspapers is very well represented in that archive...many big city newspapers are not online there for what I assume are proprietary reasons and likely only accessible behind paywalls...I discovered that Mr. Novak's premiere episode debuted in my hometown of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, a full two days before it aired on NBC...debuting on Sunday, September 22, 1963...the Canadian network CTV chose to program it as a lead in to the 90 minute Ben Gazzarra/Chuck Connors series Arrest and Trial...and up against the insanely popular and long running shows Ed Sullivan and Bonanza on our other network, CBC. It seems that Mr. Novak was in tough for ratings in Canada too...it's nemesis in the states, Combat! aired on Thursday nights in my neck of the woods...
    A novak sunday september 21 1963.JPG
    A novak sunday september 21 1963 1.JPG
    A novak sunday oct 5 1963.JPG
     
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  3. Jeff Flugel

    Jeff Flugel Screenwriter

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    Woo-hoo! Glad you finally got your S1 Mr. Novak set, Randall! Thanks for the screen captures, it does look pretty dang good.

    Looking at that Sunday, Sept. 23, 1963 TV schedule for Calgary is very interesting. What a tough decision for families at 6pm on Sunday nights - forced to choose between Walt Disney Presents, Maverick (which must have been a re-run, as the show had ended in 1962), Stoney Burke and Wagon Train! Kids and their fathers must have been fighting over which channel to settle on...
     
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  4. Flashgear

    Flashgear Screenwriter

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    Thanks, Jeff! I must admit that after all these years of waiting, when I popped in the first disc, I was a little choked up. And not just because this series is a drama rife with authentic and affecting sentimentality. Precious Americana from another age. I was only in grade two as an almost 8 year old when Mr. Novak debuted, but I held onto strong and powerful memories for years later, until rediscovering the show via tape trading in the early '90s...before the internet and reams of info at your fingertips, it seemed like some of these long ago and more obscure shows were more like some dreamlike hallucination, wondering if they had actually existed at all in the real world. Now, with an event and a date in mind, I can effortlessly find meaningful trivia like this. Or for more important matters, I can view a newspaper story from WW2 describing the torpedoing of my Father's warship, and the rescue of him and fellow survivors from the oil soaked and freezing Atlantic. Or see my Uncle's name in the casualty returns for wounded in action on the Italian front. The latter event happening almost 75 years to the day that I write this. Amazing, and I'm grateful.

    We only had the two TV stations back then. The other listings were for neighboring cities that were a little too far away (90 miles for Red Deer and 180 miles to Medicine Hat), for most of the best and most lofty antennas. It does seem to be standard practice back then for a new series or new episode to broadcast in Canada a couple days before the American Networks. I've seen a number of HTF members on here who grew up close to the Canadian border remark to me that they often viewed American TV shows a couple of days before they aired on CBS,NBC and ABC...people who lived in the Buffalo, Plattsburgh, Cleveland and Detroit areas watching Canadian signals from Windsor and Toronto with a good antenna, for instance. It is interesting to see shows like Maverick and Stoney Burke airing in the early supper hour, with one series being off first run for over a year, and in the case of Stoney Burke, a one season and done (although Great) show from the season before. We had a lot of unfamiliar things like that because of foreign sales contracts. Either one of our channels would have shows from all 3 American networks, the BBC and Australian productions too.

    I do remember a few minor battles over channel selection. But I was definitely low man on the totem pole, with two much older brothers who regularly pounded me into the dirt. No one challenged Dad, and deferred to Mom, just as it should have been. Sundays then, as now, were loaded with important Hockey, Football and Baseball games which pretty much was what Dad wanted on. I'm thinking I mostly saw Mr. Novak in reruns, ha, ha...

    A novak wac 10.JPG
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    I also found this ad hailing the September 1960 launch of the same station that would carry Mr. Novak three years later...from Screen Gems Canada...a lot of all time favorites in that line-up...
    A CFCN Sept 10 1960.JPG

    A good morning from the luscious Joey Heatherton as seen in Mr. Novak's To Break a Camel's Back...
    A novak wac 38.JPG A novak wac 37.JPG
     
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  5. Bob Gu

    Bob Gu Screenwriter

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    Randall, glad to hear your MR. NOVACK arrived. Don't put down Novak's Valiant. It was a missed toy car, tie-in, merchandizing opportunity. They were already making them.
    41sBpSg9bVL.
    I had the red convertible friction motor car version.
    s-l1000.
    I was about four episodes in before I realized that bumper card was some kind of ink wash watercolor.
    A novak wac 14.JPG

    I found a turnabout.

    d8d7ee2569858d90260561623ce81403.
     
  6. Gary16

    Gary16 Screenwriter

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    Living in the Cleveland area I did the majority of my Canadian viewing (to see Canadian content and US network shows ahead of the US release date) via CFPL 10 London and CKCO 13 Kitchener starting in the late 50s. Later came Global.
     
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  7. Bert Greene

    Bert Greene Supporting Actor

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    Well, my "Mr. Novak" set arrived as well. Hope to watch a few before the usual chaos of the Christmas season starts intruding. As I have a lot of the episodes from my vhs-tapings of the TNT airings, it won't all be new to me, but I still anticipate enjoying them again. Looking forward to revisiting some episodes I recall fondly, like the one with Martin Landau as a lawyer defending Novak from manhandling one of his students when he tries to stop a fight. Also anxious to again see that episode where Walter Koenig guests as an exchange-student, Shifty Pierre, who steals Novak's cache of beaver pelts from the utility room. It led to that well-filmed chase sequence with Principal Vane driving his team of malamutes down that long hallway at Jefferson High, capturing Pierre. Brooke Bundy was in it too, wearing a big, fuzzy parka. That was a good one. I think. Well, maybe that one was actually a dream I had. I guess I'll find out, if I run across it in this set.
     
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  8. Doug Wallen

    Doug Wallen Lead Actor
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    X Is The Unknown Factor (1.4) Brooke Bundy, Ross Elliott, David Macklin, Anne Seymour. An extremely gifted physics student is being pushed by so many well meaning faculty and his father to do well so he can receive a prestigous scholarship. His teacher want its as she is at the end of her career, his father wants it as a matter of course and will stop at nothing to see his son gets it. Mr. Novak wants him to earn his reward honestly and Principal Vane can see benefits to his school if the student wins. His girlfriend just wants to go to the dance. Pressure mounts and causes the student to make a poor decision.

    School pressure can seem insurmountable at times and this episode delves into that. All the adults want whats "best" for Mike. Mike doesn't want to let anybody down. Ultimately he lets himself down and then realizes that he alone bares the responsibility. He is growing up and facing consequences. Great performances from all involved.

    A Single Isolated Incident (1.5) Tige Andrews, Gloria Calomee, Joe Mantell, (Stephen Talbot??). A blistering look at racism before the Civil Rights Act. A young black girl is harrassed by 10-12 students. She is called names (not used) and assaulted with various objects. The press and police show up and the incident threatens to become a media circus. The spotlight is thrown on Mr. Butler (Vince Howard) who states he wants to "punch something".

    Principal Vane sees this as an incident and not organized protesting. He seeks help from the studentbody, Mr. Butler's Leadership class. He runs off the press and asks the police to leave. At the urging of the Leadership class he calls for an assembly.

    While the Principal is trying to decide how best to keep controll, Mr. Novak catches some of the troublemakers attacking another black student. In the Principal's office, all four students uphold the code of silence. During assembly Principal Vane explains the definition of the words "suspension" and "expulsion". If I had been in that assembly, I would have been terrified after hearing those definitions. The ending was left vague but with a glimmer of hope for the majority of students. So sad to see that things haven't really changed in 55 years.

    Time to take a school break (it is the season, right?). Will be visiting Dodge, the High Chapparal, Mason's law office, Stoney's quest for the buckle and possibly an adventure or two with the Doctor.
     
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  9. Susan Nunes_329977

    Susan Nunes_329977 Stunt Coordinator

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    Been watching one episode a day since I received the set, and I can't say enough about the series. Having been in education, the stories ring true, even decades after it was made. Many of the same issues depicted in the series are still relevant now.
     
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  10. Doug Wallen

    Doug Wallen Lead Actor
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    Mr. Novak - Season 1
    The Risk (1.6) Alexander Scourby, Sherry Jackson, Lurene Tuttle. Alcoholism, when is it an issue? The school is in need of a replacement teacher. A former teacher/mentor to Mr. Novak happens to apply. Mr. Novak is aware of Mr. Ferguson's past. He is not aware that the new Mrs. Ferguson has not come to terms with her addiction. Mr. Ferguson has been moving from job to job when someone discovers the family secret. Mr. Novak encourages him to stay and fight for this job if he really wants it. Principal Vane also offers encouragement. Somewhat surprised that Sherry Jackson was able to look almost unattractive as his wife.

    Hello, Miss Phipps (1.7) Lillian Gish, David White, Arch Johnson, Allan Hunt, Sherry Alberoni. Finally some conflict with the local school board and parents. Conflict like this seems to happen all to frequently today. Parents trying to dictate to school officials and school boards. A fine study of loyalty. Loyalty to teacher mentors, to students and to new faculty. Whose needs take precedent, the teacher, the faculty or the students. Every good educator will always side with the needs of the student. That is why I appreciate this episode. Principal Vane knows that Miss Phipps is only concerned about her students just as Mr. Novak is. Great to see that he "forced" them to work together. I really liked the parents meeting. I am enjoying these episodes because of the longer scenes giving the actors a chance to make the story real. The final act is truly amazing to see Mr. Novak come to the defense of a teacher he initially disliked and the students comments sold the scene. I wanted to clap also.
     
  11. Jeff Flugel

    Jeff Flugel Screenwriter

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    That would be pretty hard to do, for sure, Doug! The key word is "almost." ;)

    [​IMG]

    Thanks for bumping this thread up with your own interesting thoughts on the episodes. I guess Randall must be taking a well-deserved holiday break from posting about Mr. Novak.
     
  12. Tom.W

    Tom.W Stunt Coordinator

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  13. Neil Brock

    Neil Brock Producer

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    Hottie comparison, Mr. Novak vs Channing:

    Mr. Novak: Kim Darby, Shelley Fabares, Brooke Bundy, Joey Heatherton, Diane Baker, Shirley Bonne, Cheryl Holdridge, Brenda Scott, Kathryn Hays, Noreen Corcoran, Marta Kristen, Davey Davison, Bonnie Beecher, Lynn Loring, June Harding, Lane Bradbury, Joyce Van Patten, Claudine Longet, Lois Nettleton, Vera Miles, Julie Sommars

    Channing: Suzanne Pleshette, Joey Heatherton, Yvonne Craig, Dawn Wells, Katherine Crawford, Noreen Corcoran, Leslie Parrish, Lisabeth Hush, Mariette Hartley, Fay Spain, Carolyn Kearney, Susan Kohner.

    Have to give it to Channing, IMO.
     
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  14. Jobla

    Jobla Supporting Actor

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    I prefer the Novak babes, myself. Tough choice, however.
     
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  15. Rustifer

    Rustifer Screenwriter
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    You got some fascinating stuff going on in here, dude. I had no idea.
    Mr. Novack is a series I'd like to see on MeTV sometime. One of my favorites of the era.
     
  16. Bert Greene

    Bert Greene Supporting Actor

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    I'm about halfway through the set, and quite pleased with the series. It's holding up better than I remember. Only a couple of times when 'issue' oriented plots bigfooted the character-driven narratives, but even they weren't too ham-fisted to annoy me much. It's ultimately a pretty winsome show, with engaging leads/regulars, and is really quite effective in its capture of the daily chaos and bureaucratic jumble of its school backdrop. My fear of too much 'teen angst' hasn't quite percolated up... as of yet. I'll wait until I'm through with the set before I point out any favorites or non-favorites.

    While looking through an old 1929 issue of "Photoplay" a few weeks back, I ran across a review of Dean Jagger's first film, "The Woman from Hell" (1929-Fox). He was the male lead, opposite Mary Astor, and it was Jagger's only silent film. Astor played a costumed 'Satan Lady' for a carnival barker at a beachside midway, who marries Jagger, a lighthouse-keeper. The isolation of the island lighthouse ultimately gnaws on Astor, and apparently leads to a bit of marital discord. "Photoplay" didn't seem to think much of the film. I still think it's probably better than the similar-themed movie made the following year by Universal, entitled "Undertow" (1930). This one starred Johnny Mack Brown as the lighthouse-keeper with an errant wife, played by the somewhat infamous Mary Nolan. I've seen this one, and it's a bit of a stinker, to put it mildly. It would be nice to see the earlier film with Jagger, but it seems to be a 'lost' film, with no extant prints, unfortunately.
     
  17. Message #457 of 488 Jan 18, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2019
    Rustifer

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    Well, damn! After reading everyone's glowing descriptions of the Mr. Novak series, I'm even more desirous to see these episodes again. Not one to generally order DVD sets, I may make an exception. I truly haven't seen it since it first aired in 1963 when I was 14 years old--but after reading some of these reviews, I remember much more than I thought I would.
    My boyhood heartthrob, Sherry Jackson also appeared in several 77 Sunset Strip episodes. One cannot post enough cheesecake of her...

    upload_2019-1-18_9-45-32. upload_2019-1-18_9-45-56. [​IMG] [​IMG]

    So many directors found it necessary to cast her in as little clothing as possible. Bless every one of them.
     
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  18. Peter M Fitzgerald

    Peter M Fitzgerald Cinematographer

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    If this is "almost unattractive"... I say, 'bring on the ugly'! :D

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    There's a shot with some amazing lighting, where Sherry Jackson's face (as she lies in bed) is completely in shadow, except for a tiny key light on her left eye (!)... it's the sort of thing I normally associate with Conrad Hall-shot episodes of The Outer Limits--

    [​IMG]

    "The Risk" (Episode #6), is overall terrific, by the way, with an excellent performance from Alexander Scourby, whom I remember most as crime kingpin "Mike Lagana" in Fritz Lang's The Big Heat (1953) and narrator of the classic David L. Wolper-produced National Geographic Specials (1966-71), The Incredible World of James Bond promo special (1965) and The Body Human (1977-83).

    [​IMG]
     
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  19. Doug Wallen

    Doug Wallen Lead Actor
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    Worked in the rest of disc 2 of Mr. Novak - Season 1 so far this week.

    To Break A Camel's Back (1.8) Joey Heatherton (WOW!!! :wub:), Royal Dano. A rebellious teen who is smart but very manipulative due to her looks. She causes trouble in every class she has. He r history indicates that she just transfers when things don't go her way. She is the product of a dysfunctional family. Her father drinks, her mother just had a baby and she entices all who are around her. Principal Vane is pretty blunt in his assessment, "I just don't like her." I really like the true way the situations are portrayed, but I just find it unrealistic that a teacher can make so many personal visits to help his troubled students. I realize this is an idealized portrayal, but Mr. Novak seems like the only teacher who is able to tackle these visits. the other teachers are shown as caring, just no to the degree of our lead. Dramatic license I understand. that is just the only complaint I have. I was stressed to the max just to attend all of the "mandatory" meetings, sports activities, fundraisers and student productions. Again, caring wins out in the end, Holly does not transfer out.

    A Feeling For Friday (1.9) Diane Baker, John McGiver, Peter Breck, Edward Platt. A change of pace episode that did not wholly revolve around school activities. Mr. Novak has a personal life and a past. His former wealthy college girlfriend invites him for a weekend getaway. Novak accepts as he wishes to escape his scholastic duties. Upon arriving upstate, he finds himself in a defensive position concerning his profession. A Doctor keeps egging him on about his "relationship". Novak begins to see that his former flame is toying with him. Novak makes an impassioned speech about his career and heads home to prepare for a conference with parents who won't believe their precious child could possibly fail his classes. (A very real occurence that seems to be worse than ever today).

    Pay The Two Dollars (1.10) Martin Landau, Macdonald Carey, Tom Lowell, Paul Lambert, Beau Bridges, Marion Ross. I consider this to be the dramatization of every teacher's worst nightmare. You witness students mistreating/bullying another student. How far do you go in stopping the action? Mr. Novak stepped in and shoved the bully away. In the commotion, the bully fell on his arm and fractured it. Upon meetin the parents, it was apparent where the bully learned how to act this way. Novak is sued, school board provides counsel and the option to settle seems to be the planned outcome. That is not how Novak wishes to proceed. The attorney id played by Martin Landau who comes across as a "seen it all" lawyer who collects his retainer and is supposed to make these nuisance cases go away. He doesn't know how to react to Novak and that is the heart of this story. Novak eventually convinces the lawyer who agrees to defend Novak. A very intriguing episode.
     
  20. Doug Wallen

    Doug Wallen Lead Actor
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    Continuing with my adventures following Mr. Novak. The third disc contains a nice selection of episodes and two bonafide "heartthrobs"! Tommy Kirk in one episode and Frankie Avalon in another, and you can throw in Walter Koenig (Chekov) as a high school Russian(gets to try out his accent) defector. You never know who is going to show up in this series.

    Love In The Wrong Season (1.11) Pat Crowley, Tommy Kirk, Tim McIntire, David Macklin, June Vincent. Sure am glad I was in elementary ed, would hate to be caught in this type of "dating" situation. A remedial reading teacher who is dating Mr. Novak finds herself drawn to one of her students. She has issues relating to men due to her mother's example and find's herself feeling more than maternal to a motherless student. Novak calls her on it but she isn't ready to face facts until the student attempts to kiss her. She then realizes she is being whispered about. Excellent study of the need for professional distance between young out of college teachers and the older, mature students being taught. Principal Vane is wise beyond his years.

    The Boy Without A Country (1.12) Jeanne Cooper, Walter Koenig. A 16 year old student runs from Russia and defects to the US where he is taken in by a childless couple longing for a son. She desires to give him affection, but the young man is unsure how to ask for love. Alexei does not want to be seen as a tool for propaganda, he just wants to be welcomed as any other student/child. Strong performance by Walter Koenig as the Russian student.

    A Thousand Voices (1.13) Frankie Avalon, Robert F. Simon, Rita Lynn. An off-campus car club loses their sponsor. After auditioning a potential sponsor, Mr. Novak agrees to the job temporarily. Frankie Avalon (David) is the club president who is fighting to retain his leader role. He sees it evaporating and will not abide anyone else making the major decisions about "HIS" club. No new sponsor is found and the club must disband. David does not want to be a part of anything he did not make and destroys drama club property before disappearing. His mother is not surprised and has very little to say to encourage the school. Mr. Vane observes that sometimes there is that one student we can't save. How very true, the school is not a substitute for parents.

    My Name Is Not Legion (1.14) Peter Lazer, Shelly Fabares. A new transfer in has rebellious issues and acts out in many unappropriate ways. Mr. Novak sees the brilliance in the boy and tries very hard to get the rest of the staff to see it. He finally reaches the boy and gets him to admit the the lies he has been telling. That is a start. Staff agrees that maybe he can be acclimated to life on campus.

    He Who Can Does (1.15) Edward Mulhare. This episode focuses on Miss Pagano. She has a past, a two week past with a novelist. Rand Hardy is looking for his lost weekend but is too late. Rand entices Mr. Novak by telling him he has the makings of a good writer and offering him a job as his personal secretary in order to "experience life". Rand is to intent on what he wants that he is unable to fathom that anyone else would want a more simple life. He is unable to settle down. Novak said it best that all Rand wants is a "hotel and a bottle of whiskey" and that is not for him.

    Once again, thanks Randall for posting your observations about this series and keeping it alive as we waited for the release of this first season. I am halfway through. Sure hope Season 2 can find a release soon.
     
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