In 1988 I turned 15 years old. That meant that it was time to start worrying about getting my drivers license. Getting a drivers license meant freedom! Now, I’m not sure if it was because I was looking for this type of film, or if it was just that time for this type of film to be made, but I haven’t seen any movies that focus on getting your drivers license since the 80’s. Remember, License to Drive (1988) and Moving Violations(1985)?
A Crash Course in TV Programming
Crash Course, is a made for TV movie for “Sweeps Week”. In the 80’s Sweeps Week meant good programming, mini-series like V (1983) North & South (1985) and Lonesome Dove (1989) to name a few came from. It also meant big advertising revenue for the networks. Over time, with the advent of TIVO, DVD, NetFlix, Hulu and new cable programming, sweeps week and the rush to grab an audiences attention for those precious Nielsen Ratings, has fallen to the wayside. In case you’ve been wondering why network television keeps sucking more and more in recent years, there’s your reason. It’s also the reason for the merciless onslaught of Reality TV. In other words, they’re cheap to make.
Back to the film at hand… every now and again there was an attempt to lure the attention of young viewers like myself to the Networks. Before I get into it, this film is a cleverly designed marketing tool in the sense that all the actors, were pulled from the more successful sitcoms airing on the Network at the time. The cast reads like a who’s-who of 80’s TV… certainly it was filmed during hiatus.
Because Crash Course is a made for TV movie, I think it’s been unfairly dismissed. It’s silly, and rediculous and most importantly… fun! Who doesn’t want to see a nervous group of teens (I will include a full cast list) trying to get their licenses? Especially, when you’re experiencing that very thing in real life, at that same time.
Alyssa Milano heads the all star cast that is sentenced to go to summer school and take Drivers Ed. With pressure being applied by the principal of Hamilton High, Mr. Paulson (Ray Walston), the driving teacher Mr. Pearle (Charles Robinson) is on probation and will lose his job if his students don’t pass the driving exam. To ensure this happens, he’s paired up with Ms. Savage (Jak’ee Harry), a ruthless blood thirsty over achiever who is hell bent on getting Mr. Pearle’s job. Ms. Savage gives “demerits” to her students, and shoots suction cup darts at them whenever they mess up.
Crash Course further explores the issues of the day, such as who’s cool, who’s a spaz, what kind of make up girls should wear, when girls should wear make up, who’s an over protective parent, passing illiterate student athletes for scholarships, and who’s a lazy-good-for-nothing bum.
Of interest, much of the cast returned for Dance ‘Til Dawn (recommendation coming soon) another made for TV movie about a group of teens getting ready and going to their prom, with EVEN MORE familiar faces!
In 1997 I worked on The Trojan War (Jennifer Love Hewitt) filmed at Monrovia High School, the same school used in Crash Course. I was be able to cross “be in a teen comedy” off my Bucket List.
Once again, not much is available for Crash Course. Aside from playing on cable three times in the past 22 years Amazon.com offers a VHS of it, but the packaging is a horrible mistake for the home video market. There isn’t even a real publicity still either, just the two I ripped on the side. The good news is you can stream Crash Course RIGHT NOW on NetFlix! But who knows for how long? I know there’s a strong out cry for this film, I’ve read the online threads. At least to the few of us who saw it at that moment, it’s a time capsule of 80’s goodness. Crash Course has been lost and forgotten about. Also known as Driving Academy and Drivers Ed.
If it was up to me, I would release Crash Course and Dance ‘Til Dawn as a double feature DVD release, fully loaded with cast interviews and commentaries. Simply put, they just don’t make them like THIS anymore and I doubt they could anyway. There isn’t any trailer or video of this anywhere, so I grabbed the first 10 minutes for you… the quality isn’t very good though.
- Brian Bloom… As The World Turns
- Dick Butkus… My Two Dads
- Olivia D’Abo… The Wonder Years
- Jack’ee Harry… 227
- Harvey Korman… The Carol Burnett Show
- Edie McClurg… Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
- Alyssa Milano… Who’s the Boss?
- Charles Robinson… Night Court
- Rob Stone… Mr. Belvedere
- Ray Walston… Fast Times at Ridgemont High
- B.D. Wong… Law & Order: SVU
- Tina Yothers… Family Ties