Do you remember your favourite teacher? Mine was my Grade 12 drama teacher. He would let us break into song and dance in the middle of a lesson plan. One person would start singing Bohemian Rhapsody, someone else would join in and then by the end he was right there with us singing the last note. Sometimes someone would start tapping their pen on a desk and it would turn into our own version of Stomp.
With the kids back to school again, I hope they get a teacher they can learn from, have fun with, and be inspired by. In keeping with this month’s Back To School theme, the Biff Bam Pop team has compiled a list of our favourite TV teachers.
Mr. Collins (The Wonder Years)
By: Perry Schwartz
I can’t believe Mr. Collins, Kevin Arnold’s cantankerous math teacher, only appeared in three original ‘The Wonder Years’ episodes (plus one montage episode). In those three episodes during season three of one of my all-time favourite shows, Mr. Collins, portrayed brilliantly by the late Steven Gilborn, taught Kevin so much about life, hard work and perseverance. At the moment when Kevin is most disillusioned with school, Mr. Collins shows him the way. His influence takes full effect in his final episode, The Goodbye. In this episode, Kevin realizes what his father had been preaching for years…that hard work pays off in life and that Mr. Collins was hard on him because he knew Kevin could do better. Kevin rewards him with an A+ on his mid-term, unfortunately, Mr. Collins passes away prior to Kevin taking the test.
Cue Linda Ronstadt’s ‘Goodbye My Friend’ and this epilogue from the adult Kevin Arnold (also cue the tears): Teachers never die. They live in your memory forever. They were there when you arrived, they were there when you left. Like fixtures. Once in a while they taught you something. But not that often. And, you never really knew them, any more than they knew you. Still, for awhile, you believed in them. And, if you were lucky, maybe there was one who believed in you.
See more of BBP’s favourite teachers after the jump!
Coach Taylor (Friday Night Lights)
By Amanda Reynolds
Coach Taylor makes you want to be a better person. No, he is not an official “teacher” but in Dillon, Texas, high school football is just as important if not more than any academic subject. Coach Eric Taylor ,portrayed by Emmy Award winning Kyle Chandler is the man responsible for leading a team to victory while acting as an educator of the sport and father figure to his players.
Coach loved football and he loved winning, but watching his players grow into mature, strong, successful men gave him more satisfaction than a state championship ever could. There were countless episodes of players showing up at his front door in the middle of the night looking for help or advice. Coach never asked for the role as mentor or father figure, but he always took it on without fail whether on or off the field. In the last episode of the series, Coach Taylor talks to one of his players, a former arrogant and selfish juvenile delinquent turned respected high school football star, “You may never know how proud I am of you.” To which he answers back, “You changed my life Coach.” That’s more than you could ever ask from any teacher.
“Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.” – Coach Eric Taylor
Mrs. Krabappel (The Simpsons)
By: Emily McGuiness
If the Simpsons is the parody of every middle class family then Edna Krabappel is certainly the epitome of every burned out school teacher we’ve encountered on TV and in our own lives. The cigarette always in hand, the bitter cynicism and her utter disinterest in the class she teaches were not always so.
From “Postcards from the Wedge”:
Mrs. Krabappel: Bart Simpson, you’ve had three months to do this project, you started 30 seconds ago.
Bart: Thank you, thank you.
Mrs. Krabappel: I’m not complimenting you. You’ve destroyed every ideal I’ve had about teaching since I saw ‘To Sir With Love’ as a little girl.
The empty shell of Ms. Krabappel, which we encounter for much of the series couldn’t be more different from this young idealist. Then again, how well would any of hold up against the constant assault that is Bart Simpson? His own father throttles him. Ms. Krabappel gets points just for surviving a lousy love life and the unholy boredom and terror of teaching in Springfield. Give your favorite teacher an apple this week and thank heavens you’re not the one stuck in Springfield Elementary.
Mr. Katimski (My So-Called Life)
By: Ilan Muskat
What show captures the pain of high school better than My So-Called Life? And among that show’s numerous teachers, drama teacher Mr. Katimski was the cream of the crop. Angela’s brief crush, he quickly turned into a role model for Ricki, helping him find himself: letting him embrace his affinity for drama, and even taking his first tentative steps out of the closet. Smart, awkward, and three-dimensional in a way few teachers, or gay characters, had been depicted on mainstream TV to that point. Thank you, Mr. Katimski!
“Nobody should hate who they are” – Mr. Katimsky to Ricki
Rupert Giles (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
By: David Ward
Rupert Giles is the Watcher of Buffy Summers, the once-in-a-generation Slayer – destroyer of vampires, demons, werewolves, and other phantasmagoric teeth-filled nasties that go BUMP. In brief, he is the mentor and guardian of a teenage killer, but for whom we feel a deep-rooted love and sympathy (or even empathy in those cases in which the fans of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer are fathers themselves) due to his unconditional paternal love for his ward. Watcher, warlock, teacher, mentor, father-figure, and general bad-ass – Giles is all of these things. As students go back to school, I can only hope they find in their musty library a tweed-toting, tea-drinking, book-devouring teacher like Ripper.
Mr. Belding (Saved By The Bell)
By: Mat Langford
While he was a principal and not really a teacher, Mr. Belding did teach the cast of Saved by the Bell some of their more important life lessons. He dressed up as a pirate, ate chocolate covered caterpillars, had one of the funniest laughs on TV and most importantly, he stuck up for his students – which really in the end, he regarded as his friends. Not only was he there for the first day of Zack and the gang’s high school tenure, he was also a guest at his wedding making him one of the coolest principals ever. And who can forget, “HEY HEY HEY HEY HEY! What is going on here!?”
The Professor (Gilligan’s Island)
By: JP Fallavollita
Roy Hinkley. Yes, that Roy Hinkley. The one with the Bachelor of Science degree, the Master of Arts degree and, of course, the requisite pee-aitch-dee at the end of his name. Roy Hinkley, better known to all as “The Professor” from everyone’s favourite castaway-on-a-tropical-island 1960’s sitcom, Gilligan’s Island.
I remember rushing home from school to watch reruns of the series during the lunch hour and “The Professor” was my favourite character of the bunch. What a renaissance man! Not only could he recharge batteries and create hot-water showers with only coconut shells, bamboo chutes and lagoon water; not only could he recite facts on a moment’s notice on vast topics such as law, science, history and literature; not only was he a famous scoutmaster, an accomplished chess player, expert psychiatrist and an experienced scuba diver, but “The Professor”, I thought as an impressionable ten year old, had the best chance of all the men on the fictional island to land either Ginger or Mary Ann as his girlfriend!
Played straight by actor Russell Johnson, “The Professor” was the first Macgyver! So why didn’t his name become a verb? Why did his name become “the rest” in the Gilligan’s Island theme song? I suppose it’s because that in spite of everything “The Professor” knew, he didn’t know enough to get the castaways off of that damnable island! Nope. His lack of success with boats and rafts led to three seasons and 98 episodes of Gilligan foolishness.
And for me, many, many lunch time laughs!
Mr. Prezbo (The Wire)
By: Glenn Walker
Oh sure, the easy ones like Mr. Kotter, Miss Brooks, and the White Shadow all spring to mind immediately but I’m a pain in the butt, so I gotta go edgy. That’s why my favorite TV teacher is Roland “Prez” Pryzbylewski, played by Jim True-Frost, from “The Wire.” And no, it’s not just because “The Wire” is probably the best show ever done for television.
In the first three seasons of the series “Prez” is essentially a screw-up, an incompetent cop, even though his heart is in the right place. Prez eventually finds his place on the team as a codebreaker, but in the end he really messes up, accidentally killing a fellow cop and being accused of racism. He ends up quitting the force.
Season four finds him with a new career as a teacher. In this, dealing with and helping the kids he would’ve previous arrested, Prez finds his true calling. There’s a passion and bliss here as a teacher, he never had as a cop. That’s why he’s my favorite TV teacher, because Prez is all about redemption, always a good thing in my book.
Bobby Singer( Supernatural)
By: Jason Shyer
While he might not be a classroom teacher, Bobby has looked out for and mentored Sam and Dean Winchester ever since their father died. Who could ask for a better teacher for those “idjits” than a whiskey-guzzling, plaid-wearing, walking encyclopedia of arcane knowledge? He’s proven himself over and over again as their deadliest weapon against their paranormal foes. Bobby was meant to be a one-shot character, but after a few cameos, his role was expanded and he became one of the show’s most beloved characters.
From Season 6, Episode 4 – “Weekend at Bobby’s”:
Bobby: “Sam, Dean, I love you like my own. I do. But sometimes… sometimes you two are the whiniest, most self-absorbed sons of bitches I ever met. I’m selfish? Me? I do everything for you. Everything! You need some lore scrounged up, you need your asses pulled out of the fire, you need someone to bitch to about each other. You call me, and I come through. Every damn time! And what do I get for it? Jack with a side of squat!”
Bobby: “Do I sound like I’m done? Now look, I know you got issues. God knows, I know. But I got a news flash for you. You ain’t the center of the universe! Now it may have slipped your minds that Crowley owns my soul, and the meter is running. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit around and be damned. So how about you two sack up and help me for once?”
Mr. Garrison (South Park)
By: Corina Newby
My unlikely choice for favourite TV teach is pretty likely, if you know me… Mr. Garrison from South Park is probably the worst teacher on TV if measured in any professional sense. But as someone who often found school boring, I would love to have a sexually confused, zero-filter, impulsive deviant for a teacher. Anything but Ms. Choksondik, am I right? 0_0
Mr. Moore (Head Of The Class)
By: Andy Burns
We joked that one of us was going to be pick Mr. Moore from Head of The Class. But no joke, I feel like Howard Hesseman’s Charlie Moore remains my favourite tv teacher. He managed the geniuses in his Individualized Honors Program class, including bikers, nerds (Arvid Engen – best tv name ever???), keeners and slackers. The show was supposed to focus on Hesseman, but it really was the chemistry of the students and teacher that made Head Of The Class so memorable. And you know what, I even dug it when Billy Connolly showed up.