Discovery of a New Gem- Mr. Novak

My Mom loved the TV series “Mr. Novak”. I was surprised to discover a lot of Boomers have little recollection of it. I’m assuming it’s one of those shows which has gotten virtually lost or overlooked through the years, which is unfortunate. After having heard about it off and on, mostly from Mom and an old boyfriend, I had never seen an episode- until last night.

“Mr. Novak” was a drama, which ran for two seasons on NBC. It centered around English teacher John Novak, portrayed by the very handsome James Franciscus. It was his first year of teaching at Jefferson High School in Los Angeles, and the majority of the storylines involved various situations with his students, and his personal life. Also included was the relationship he had with the school principal, Mr. Vane. He did not always agree with Mr. Novak’s teaching methods, but respected him. Later in the second season, Mr. Vane was promoted to state superintendent, and Mr. Woodridge was the new principal, played by Burgess Meredith. In real life, Dean Jagger was too ill to continue with the series.

Some of the episodes must have been rather shocking for its time, including a girl being pressured into contemplating suicide by her overbearing parents, the harassment of African-American students on campus, and the drug overdose of one of Mr. Novak’s students. During the first season, JFK was assassinated. An episode titled “Death of a Teacher” followed, as the students must deal with the sudden loss of a teacher. I believe this was a way for both the show, and its viewers, to address that traumatic event, without doing so directly. It was a different time, so the TV shows of the day did not mention the Kennedy assassination, which I feel was best.

I’m not sure why the series only lasted two years. I’m still looking into that. However, it was certainly a good show, and appealed to both young and older viewers. It was both intelligent, and well-written. Now, to find it on DVD, so I can add it to my collection..

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~ by kmnnz on January 18, 2012.

13 Responses to “Discovery of a New Gem- Mr. Novak”

  1. Yo Kelli – I mentioned it in one of my comments on YouTube but I figured I’d chime in on here too.

    I have a coffee table book solely dedicated to ’60s TV, and there is a whole section on Mr. Novak. NBC placed it on Tuesdays at 7:30 (EST), where it stayed for its entire two-season run. The competition from the other networks was tough: CBS had the long-running Red Skelton Hour, while ABC aired the popular war drama Combat! Both these shows were top 10 hits and consistently beat Mr. Novak in the ratings.

    • Hey Paolo!

      Thanks for dropping by 🙂 I would LOVE to get a copy of that book, as many of my favorite TV shows are from the ’60s. Thanks for the insight into the brief run of “Mr. Novak”. Unfortunately, it was in the wrong time slot, I see. Glad you solved that mystery for me.

      Hope you stop by again soon! Your comments are always welcome.

  2. Hi Kelli
    I have been trying to buy the TV series Mr. Novak. Can you help me out?
    Jack Bradley
    jbradley22@cogeco.ca

    Thanks
    Jack

    • Hi Jack!

      So glad you stopped by. I too have been having the hardest time finding the entire series of “Mr. Novak”. I placed an ad on iOffer, to no avail thus far, but I’ll give it a try again soon.

      Should I find it, I promise to let you know. 🙂

  3. From what I understand Mr. Novak was up against
    the Tv series Combat!, on ABC, which was a huge
    ratings blockbuster. That may have why the series
    ended after 2 seasons.

    • I’ve seen snippets of a few episodes of “Combat”. Vic Morrow was a very good actor. Another time slot could have made a difference.

      Thanks for dropping by!

  4. I was a Novak fan – I was not into Red Skelton at all and I had my own TV in my room so if dad was about and wanted to see Combat (on at the same time) I was not put out – I got to see my Mr. Novak! I think from my experience – a lot of boomers are too young to remember Mr. Novak – those born in ’58 and after were too young to watch it and depending on the family you were brought up in, maybe even if you were a ’53 or after Boomer – it was big with the high school gang of boomers (and some of the Jr. High I guess – I had a 4 yr HS) – After the first season’s crushes all the gals had on Richard Chamberlain over on Dr. Killdare – Jim Franciscus was the next hunk to come along and steal away out little TV hearts! So that’s my guess why many who say they are Boomers don’t remember this one – you had to be in that right age group – just like lots of Boomers don’t remember all the great drama anthology programs on in the 50s – Studio 58, Playhouse 90, The Loretta Young Show – seems I run into lots of boomers who barely recall The Shirley Temple Storybook and that should have been open in all families for even the ’52 on boomers to see. We are loosing a lot of the born in 46-1950 boomers now to older age and even the great beyond.

  5. Hi,
    I’m trying to find an episode of Mr. Novak. I think any episode would do. My wife was in the opening of the show – she was a student in the LA high school used by the show and they used some of the students as extras. She died last year, and I would love to have the footage of her to give to our daughter. In your posting you said you viewed an episode. Where did you get it? Is it online somewhere? Thanks for your help!

    • I have 52 of the 60 episodes..go to my web site and tell me which episode. I may want the information about your wife for my web site…I am trying to get the year books for those two years of the high school…with her name I can see her picture (maybe via classmates.com) and I can look for her in the the episodes….

  6. There are a couple of sources…mostly poor quality. I have 52 of the 60 episodes which I try to share with others…collectors have been trying the scrape together a complete set. If you are interested contact me

  7. I just found out that Mr Novak is now available on FINDERS KEEPERS CLASSICS LLC PO Box 52 Whiteford, Md 21160. Tel # 443-286-6821.
    Classic movies DVD.com.

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