"Room 222," so far as I know, has never played in re-runs. As in, nowhere. Ever. It is one of those mystery shows, like "Ironside," that apparently, at least to someone's way of thinking, wore out its welcome during its fairly healthy initial run. It's a real shame, because this show is a treasure that deserves to be seen. It dealt with cutting-edge issues of the day during those years of student protests and anti-war demonstrations, and reveals just how much we have changed.
Now, of course, "222" would seem anything but cutting edge, which is a
good thing because it shows our progress since then. It simply deals
with black teacher Lloyd Haynes struggling against bureaucratic
pressures, exemplified (but usually moderated) by the fine Michael
Constantine as the principal, to help his students stay in school and
make something of themselves. Nothing dramatic about that. Absolutely
routine - by today's standards. But not by those of 1969.
My memory is fuzzy, but I seem to recall that "222" was on the same day
as comedies like "Love, American Style" and "The Brady Bunch," on ABC.
Anyway, the contrast was striking. This was the heyday of bubble gum
shows like "The Flying Nun" and "The Partridge Family" and rural
comedies set in mythic small-town America. Seemingly half of the CBS
schedule was set in Shady Junction or the Clampetts' mansion or
Mayberry RFD when "222" premiered. Socially relevant shows were very
few and far between. Like "The Mod Squad," this show was a very
adventurous step for its day. Unlike "Squad" and "Brady Bunch," nobody
seems to recall "222."
Lloyd Haynes was perfect as the "Let's all just get along" teacher, and
Karen Valentine was her usual perky self as his side-kick. But the
performances were secondary. Just seeing an African-American in a
position of authority and bringing people together made this show stand
I'm guessing that this was intended to be nothing more than a low-rent
rip-off of the previous year's classic "To Sir, With Love" starring
Sidney Poitier. If so, it accomplished that goal and then some. "222"
was only one small step for TV away from the mindlessness of the past,
but it was a giant leap toward "realistic" shows like "All In The
Family" and "MASH." I just wish people today could see it and learn
what a fine show it was.