Celebrating B Movies, Cult Films, and Indie Classics.

Crash Course (1988)

by  |  December 5th, 2010  |  Comedy  |  7 Comments

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.

The Film

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.

Rob Stone and Alyssa Milano get a Crash Course in Drivers Ed.

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.

Crash Course deserves a better treatment on the home video market.

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.

Cast List

  1. Brian Bloom… As The World Turns
  2. Dick Butkus… My Two Dads
  3. Olivia D’Abo… The Wonder Years
  4. Jack’ee Harry… 227
  5. Harvey Korman… The Carol Burnett Show
  6. Edie McClurg… Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
  7. Alyssa Milano… Who’s the Boss?
  8. Charles Robinson… Night Court
  9. Rob Stone… Mr. Belvedere
  10. Ray Walston… Fast Times at Ridgemont High
  11. B.D. Wong… Law & Order: SVU
  12. Tina Yothers… Family Ties


Matthew Dowling, a native Philadelphian, now residing in Los Angeles, is an actor, writer and film maker. Matt's training with 2nd City, and numerous appearances in TV shows, movies, theater, infomercials, and most importantly... B movies, has prepared him for making B Movie recommendations.


  1. Ken Masterson

    April 21st, 2011at 10:15 AM(#)

    Where can I get the VHS… or better yet, a full-length AVI version? I haven’t seen Crash Course since… maybe 1989. Maybe a Torrent I could download sometime?


  2. ruud (NL)

    July 28th, 2011at 6:53 PM(#)

    i think it’s about the same time i last saw that movie, i remember i liked it a lot but after using only dvd’s and later the pc, i gave away all my recoders and tapes (over 400 vhs and 500 vcc(video2000 those tapes where like cassettes both sides)) i’m searching allover the net for this one mail me if you had any luck beetlejuice.nl@gmail.com
    grt ruud

  3. Matthew Dowling

    July 28th, 2011at 7:08 PM(#)

    It’s a classic! Great Double Feature with License to Drive! You can stream Crash Course on Netflix still! Let us know if it still holds up the way you remember, it did for me! -Matt

  4. jerem

    July 29th, 2011at 7:37 AM(#)

    Un filme super , de l’ humour difficile a trouver en vf un classic yes

    bisous de belgique / kisses from belgium

  5. linda

    January 26th, 2012at 12:31 PM(#)

    salut, moi j’ai gardé ma cassette vidéo de ce film je l’ai enregistré sur la 5 à l’époque, il me semble que c’etait en 1988.

  6. Matthew Dowling

    February 4th, 2012at 1:01 AM(#)

    Thanks Jerem & Linda!

    Always appreciate the input! And yes I agree that ‘Crash Course’ is a true classic comedy from the 80’s. To bad they don’t make them like this anymore.

    And yes, I think it’s available on VHS but a little hard to find… perhaps on ebay.com

    Let us know when you find a copy! -matt

  7. C.J.

    May 13th, 2014at 10:35 PM(#)

    If you have Xfinity (Comcast) On Demand, then by selecting Movies, Free Movies, By Network, IMPACT, and then Blooper Reel, you can watch “Crash Course” for free there(they’re showing it until June 9th, 2014). I’m planning to take my DVD recorder to my friend who has Xfinity to burn a DVD of it!

    I first watched it on YouTube last year (I’m a ’90s kid, but I have 2 older sisters who grew up in the ’80s; I checked out those miniseries you mentioned thanks to you ;)) – I’m a big fan of Alyssa Milano and her work… this is indeed a funny movie (or at least so bad it’s funny lol). For some reason the style reminds me of “Purple People Eater”(also 1988, with Neil Patrick Harris, and sadly also not on DVD).

    By the way, when are you gonna review “Dance ’til Dawn”? That movie is awesome! :)

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