Head Of The Class: The Complete First Season (DVD Review)

While we are well into the 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray era for home video, seeing the likes of more boutique labels now joining the battle in 2020, it may surprise you what movies and television shows still are not on the home video disc format. That leads us to 1986’s Head of the Class, which made its debut on DVD this week from Warner Archive Collection. Sure, we can bemoan releasing it on a format from 2 generations ago, but with the quality in which the show was mastered and broadcast, the SD 480i resolution is a rather fine way to put it out. Updated it to HD would probably only minimally enhance the quality. As of right now, the only way to watch head of the class is on the Roku channel. This will give fans and nostaligists a chance to own the show. If you’re wanting to order the show, you’ll be able to purchase it when it pops upon on the WB Shop store. As of this review posting, its not listing on the site and being and MOD title, you’ll want to keep checking back.


In 1986’s debut season of Head of the Class, laid-back substitute teacher Charlie Moore (Howard Hesseman, WKRP in Cincinnati) is expected to do little more than read magazines when he’s assigned to a New York City high school’s Individualized Honors Program. The high IQs of the gifted IHP students are only matched by the high pressures the school’s principal, Dr. Samuels (William G. Schilling), places upon the self-proclaimed geeks. The unconventional Charlie decides to defy expectations and try teaching the kids of the IHP, even though they all seemingly know more than he does. There’s one advantage Charlie has over his charges, however: the courage to take risks and grow. Soon enough, his 10 charges – Arvid (Dan Frischman), Darlene (Robin Givens), Simone (Khrystyne Haje), Alan (Tony O’Dell), Dennis (Dan Schneider), Sarah (Kimberly Russell), Janice (Tannis Vallely), Jawaharlal (Jory Husain), Eric (Brian Robbins) and Maria (Leslie Bega) – begin to exceed expectations of their own.

I fondly remember Head of the Class. I actually am pretty certain I watched the show during its original run in the latter half of the 1980s. Whether it was the first season or later when I jumped on (Maybe the memory cheats and it was all reruns), the cast, the set, the laugh track all rang familiar with me. Though, I don’t think I’ve seen an episode since then, which intrigued me to go ahead and check it out again for a review.

I’m happy to say, the show held up pretty well in my sampling of episodes I got in time for this review. The show is surprisingly more sensitive and thoughtful than I imagined it would be. The class features a small group of the smartest ones in school, yet they are the misfits to the rest of the high school populace. The setup here allows for each one to get at least 2 or so episodes to focus on them a bit and not to keep treading all over the same stuff, though that’s unavoidable in a multicamera sitcom from that era.

The sitcom was the next best thing for Howard Hesseman after WKRP In Cincinnati, though he would leave the show before its final season. He’s a perfect fit here, allowing him to do his thing while also showing a lot of care and compassion. This was a launching pad for Robin Givens as she would take off a bit with her first regular cast role on a show. There are many people here who have gone on to many things or are just plain recognizable because of the era. Brian Robbins didn’t provide much acting after the show ended, but has been a pretty prolific comedy producer and director over the last 30 years.

Many huff and scuff at the studio shot multi camera sitcom nowadays, but some of them still hold pretty strong. Head of the Class isn’t perfect, but like all, some of the jokes land a good smirk and others just keep on trucking. The format of this one honestly allows for good family entertainment as with characters and humor it finds a nice balance of laughs, character development and winks between the adults and the kids who could be the audience watching.

Funny aside – I know the show premiered in the spring of 1986 after an episode of Perfect Strangers thank to my podcast covering the TV movie Mr. Boogedy a few years back. The stream I watched at the time (Its now on Disney+) was the full television airing and a had a commercial for its “series premiere following Perfect Strangers“. 


Disc 1


Back to the Future


Love at First Byte

The Outsider

Teacher’s Teacher

Volleyball, Anyone?

Disc 2

Critical Choices

Cold Turkey

You’ve Got a Friend

As Time Goes By

The Way We Weren’t

Rebel Without a Class

Ode to Simone

Disc 3

Past Imperfect

A Problem Like Maria

The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming

Valentine’s Day

Video Activity


Crimes of the Heart

The Secret Life of Arvid Engen


Encoding: MPEG-2 NTSC

Resolution: 480i

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Layers: DVD-9 (Pressed discs, not a DVD-R)

Clarity/Detail: Head of the Class finally arrives on DVD with a nice, polished iteration of what looks to be its broadcast quality image. Details show what they can best the closer something is to the screen, but you can see some of the scuffs on the chalk board or wood grain patterns on the desk tops from rather distant views. The image is a overall fuzzy, but does run itself nice and fluidly. If you watch it streaming, I imagine this is the same quality you will probably wind up with as well.

Depth:  While the image is flatter by nature, it does feature some decent motion, being a set sitcom and being based around more calm motions, keeping the distortions at bay as much as it can.

Black Levels:  Blacks feature on the lighter side of darkness, but some fades to black impressively keep a nice dark, natural tone with the matting bars. Some of the noise can get a bit heavier in the darker areas and there is plenty of crush present. This is a DVD after all.

Color Reproduction:  Colors don’t feature the greatest of saturation, but there are a variety of solid colors on display, with some of the more 1980s fashions able to pop with minimal bleed. The map in the background has a nice look to it with some solid, bolder colors.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and manage a consistency from start to finish. Facial features and details are a bit harder to make out aside from easy to spot dimples, wrinkles and such.

Noise/Artifacts: The release features is fair share of some issues commonly found on DVDs with noise and ghosting apparent in moments.


Format(s): English 2.0 Mono Dolby Digital

Subtitles: N/A

Dynamics: Head of the Class features a solid mono mix which has a nice mixture to bring it to its natural broadcast effectiveness. The vocals are a little louder in the mix, with the effects and laugh track under them having good clarity. Whenever a musical transition occurs it does take a louder and deeper prominence, with some good bumping bass.

Height: N/A

Low-Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are plenty loud to drive the mix and has a nice clarity and prominence to them.


Head of the Class: The Complete First Season is a 3-disc set and contains no bonus features.


Head of the Class may have its roots firmly planted in 1980s television sitcom reality, but its still pretty sensitive of its subject matter and feels rather more progressive for its time in the sampling of its episodes here. And, its still pretty funny, charming and a nice comfort watch at the end of the day. Warner Archive Collection brings it to DVD with a very watchable upgrade from broadcast quality image and sound. Sadly, no extras, but at this juncture, being able to own a DVD for the show is bonus enough. Here’s hoping they will be able to continue on with the remaining seasons.


Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com). He is also the Moderator/MC of the Live Podcast Stage and on the Podcast Awards Committee for PopCon (popcon.us). In the past 10 years at Why So Blu, Brandon has amassed over 1,500 reviews of 4K, Blu-ray and DVD titles.

1 Response to “Head Of The Class: The Complete First Season (DVD Review)”

  1. Gerard Iribe

    Simone was my favorite!