Legendary comedian and master of the deadpan one-liner Rodney Dangerfield, who is most known for his catchphrase "I get no respect," inspired an upcoming MGM Television reality series based on his 1986 hit film Back to School. Back to School, directed by Alan Metter with a screenplay by Steven Kampmann, Will Porter, Peter Torokvei and Harold Ramis, stars Dangerfield as under-educated clothing mogul Thorton Melon, who joins his semi-estranged son Jason (Keith Gordon) at the fictional Midwestern Grand Lakes University.
Thorton makes friends and enemies while trying to navigate the challenges of college and twentysomethings, all the while learning that money can't buy everything. This new classic comedy has an early appearance from Robert Downey Jr. and a very funny bit part from the late great Sam Kinison. Now, it's being reimagined for modern audiences as a reality TV series.
Variety is reporting that MGM Television has joined forces with Dangerfield's widow, Joan Dangerfield, to produce a Back to School inspired docu-series. The show will feature family members from different generations facing the college experience together. However this new series will extend beyond the classroom, with extra-curricular and social activities being done together, too. The producers are hoping that plenty of hilarity ensues from these potentially uncomfortable situations.
What makes the comedy Back to School extra special is that Dangerfield's Thorton is believable in his quest to encourage his socially awkward son to stay in college by agreeing to join him. While he doesn't have a degree, he knows about business and people and eventually wins over most of those he meets. He is willing to try new things and most people are open to him being part of college life. Perhaps this new series will have fun with the awkward moments featuring real people, but will also celebrate how accepting people can be if they aim to be accepted.
If the new series takes on the humor and the heart of the film, the concept of parents and more-or-less willing children wanting to experience college together is a good one. Some situations will be contrived, like adults and their grown children trying to live side-by-side in dorms or fraternities/sororities. But some college adjustments - such as study habits, relationships between teachers and students and budding friendships - happen to everyone and it could be fun to see how different generations adapt to similar situations. It also remains to be seen what effect the experience will have on the relationships between the parents and their children, and if they're changed, whether it will be for the better or worse. Really, while most people would cheer on loving parents' goals for bettering themselves and getting an education, many would not necessarily want their family members to attempt the same experience at the same time.
It is a shame that Rodney Dangerfield can't take part in the show as he passed away when he was 82 in 2004.