Synopsis
 
It's the start of a new year at the High School for Performing Arts. Doris and Leroy have graduated and Leroy is finding it difficult being out in the big wide World. He then gets offered the post of teaching assistant to his mentor Lydia Grant but he finds the adjustment from student to teacher difficult to cope with at first.
 
Meanwhile new student Dusty Tyler is feeling out of place too and not sure she belongs at the school. Danny and Chris are set their toughest acting assignment yet when they have to play women! and Nicole and Holly's friendship is on the line when they both compete for the lead in the first school show of the year. 

 
 

My Review
 
The BBC cancelled Fame in the U.K. at the end of the 4th season and I had to wait 7 years to see season 5 when a cable station then began to air the show.
 
I had a different experience of watching these episodes to the way I watched Fame as a kid. I no longer had to wait each week for a new episode or spend that week savouring and rewatching the previous episode. I would get tapes with a number of episodes on them and I would watch them back to back.

My initial reaction of the 5th season was that perhaps the BBC were right and the quality had diminished. As I watched the previews of each episode it was if in every episode they were using things like Jekyll and Hyde, Sherlock Holmes, Scrooge, Huckleberry Finn etc. instead of creating new ideas so I was a little disappointed but as I've watched these episodes more I actually came to really enjoy most of them. There seemed to be less guest stars and the core cast of Danny, Leroy, Chris, Jesse and Nicole all seemed to get lots to do in these stories. Sadly the teachers didn’t quite get used as well as in previous seasons as it seemed to be all about the kids but I do feel there is a lot of good comedy, loads of great songs and some good things going on.

As the first episode started we see new opening titles and Loretta is now singing the theme tune. Valerie is now gone and we have 3 brief mentions of Doris, which I suppose we should be grateful for especially when so many characters have gone without being mentioned. Cassidy has now left too but his role seemed to gradually disappear at the end of the previous season and he's just never mentioned again. So at first, for me this season doesn’t seem too different to what was happening in season 4.

This first episode is a fun, feel good story and it concentrates on Leroy coping now he's out of school. Although as I watch I can’t help thinking that if anyone was going to be so attached to the school, after graduating and would have returned, it would have been Doris.

The teaching assistant idea is a good one to be able to keep Leroy at the school and gives huge development for the character but I'm not sure how realistic it is for someone with absolutely no teaching qualifications to get such a position. I know they call it an assistant but Leroy is constantly left to teach classes, evaluate & discipline students, cast shows etc.. all on his own and so is basically doing everything a proper teacher would. I also find it amazing how many members of the board of Ed Leroy has to audition for, there’s like 5 people on that panel for a simple assistants job! I guess it adds tension to the scene, which is similar to the audition scene from the Flashdance movie.

I do feel that Leroy’s story is very satisfying and I enjoy watching as he tries to adjust to how the teachers and students treat him. I simply adore the end where Leroy and Lydia are watching Dusty dance and he says “what do you call those moves” and Lydia replies “wicked” as the dialogue is taken directly from Leroy’s audition in the Fame movie. Then even better when Leroy gives his own interpretation of Lydia’s “You got Big Dreams…” speech from the first episode of season 1. In fact when he says it I just get goose bumps. On a side issue I would love for Debbie’s Principal character in the new movie to utter that speech too as homage to the series.

Holly and Nicole’s story of competing for the lead role in the Fall show is fun although I can’t help feeling it's a little out of character for either of them to be so manipulative. We’ve never seen this rivalry before and we don’t see it again.

I also enjoy Danny and Chris exploring their female sides when new drama teacher Miss Persky has the two dress up and play women for a scene. There is loads of great humour with this story and particularly from Chris when he tells Jesse he could have the pick of any guys in the school. Also when he tells Danny his dress makes his hips look huge and he should have more pride in his appearance. Although I have to say neither of them look particularly good as women.

This episode is one of my favourites from this season primarily because it’s a rare occasion when all the cast is involved although Sherwood and Shorofsky don’t have too much to do but I love Morloch when he tells Lydia about how much he hates having to ask the Board of Ed for anything because they make him beg and then he rants about how he’s only a Vice Principal because the Board want to keep him in his place. Ken is so wonderful in this scene and it sort of gives an answer to the question as to why Morloch isn't actually the Principal.

Again the use of lots of real location footage adds so much to the look of the episode that I really like.

Loretta seemed a nice addition to the cast as Dusty and she has a nice powerful gospel voice. Although I do like the new version of the Theme I always thought Nia should have been the one to re-record the Theme tune.

The one thing that lets this episode down for me is the music. We start with the cast dancing in the streets to “We need a place to belong” which is a good song but I was disappointed that none of the cast were actually singing it. For me that would have been such a great opening if all the kids had had a chance to sing a couple of lines on the song. I do however love Mrs Berg getting on down!

Loretta’s “A Place to Belong” song is okay and certainly shows off her voice but to me it almost sounds like it’s lots of different songs fighting against each other, nothing seems to get repeated to give the audience a hook and parts of it seem to get a little screechy.

I’m really not very keen on the “Cats” dance as it’s simply not my kind of thing and seems to go on forever. It looks like they actually had members of the Broadway cast perform the routine and that’s why they seem to be constantly showing the Cats signs in the episode to promote the Broadway show.

One thing I noticed is there is suddenly an extra door in the teacher’s lounge which has never been there before. I have to question what’s its purpose it’s virtually next to the existing door just on the other wall and would only take them to a slightly different part of the Lobby. It seems like a lot of pointless expense for a school to have a door fitted next to an existing door. I’m also not sure if the dark panelling next to this door is part of the wall or some new fancy cupboard again I’m sure the school can’t afford these new things.
 

Episode Pictures
 
 
CREDITS
 
Production number 2851 
 
Written by Paul & Sharon Boorstin
Directed by Ray Danton
 
Original U.S. air date 12th October 1985
Original U.K. air date 1992 on The Children's Channel. 
 
 
Guest Stars
 
Randee Heller as Miss Peggy Persky
Tom McDermott as The Stage Manager   
 
 
SONGS
 
"A Place Where Were Belong" 
Written By Matt Vernon and Michael Bradley  
 
"I Need A Place To Belong" performed by Loretta Chandler
 Written By Diane Louie
 
Selection of Songs from the Musical Cats
 
"Cats" & "Memory"
Written By Andrew Lloyd Webebr, Trevor Nunn & T.S. Eliot
 
"McCavity" & "Jellicle Cats"
Written By  Andrew Lloyd Webber & T.S. Eliot 

MP3s Available:
 
 
 


Episode Promo:
 
Watch the full episode in the video section.
 

YouTube Video


LINKS:
 
 


Guestbook
Comments