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HERC Reviews The BOSTON PUBLIC Finale!!

Boston Public 1.22 FAQ

What’s it called?

“Chapter Twenty-Two.”

Who’s responsible?

Teleplay is credited solely to series creator David E. Kelley.

What’s TV Guide say?

“The drama (which has been renewed for next season) ends its first year with a moving cap-and-gown ceremony. But confrontational issues precede the big event. Mandy Patinkin (who won an Emmy as Dr. Jeffrey Geiger in an earlier David E. Kelley series, ‘Chicago Hope’) portrays a pushy dad who withdrew his son from Winslow for home schooling, yet now demands that the teen graduate on-stage with his class. In other developments, Principal Harper (Chi McBride) clashes with Marla (Loretta Devine) over her grading of a Harvard-bound senior; and reprehends Lauren, whose aborted love affair with a former student raises new concerns.”

What’s the TV Guide ad say?

”The faculty and class of 2001 cordially invite you to Winslow High School’s commencement exercises. Get ready for anything.”

What is TV Guide not telling us?

There are a few surprises at the commencement exercises, but they are small ones.

Does Jeremy Columbine the place?

He does not.

Does Daniel Columbine the place?


But Cheryl Holt! Surely she…

Against all expectations, no one Columbines anything. Which, in hindsight, is completely understandable: It’s only been two years since the season finale of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” was postponed – because it depicted a violence-packed graduation ceremony!

The Big News?

It looks like Mandy Patinkin will play a recurring role next season as a substitute teacher even more abrasive and quick-witted than Harry Senate!

But how?

It’s the deal Harper makes: Be my substitute, and I’ll let your home-schooled whelp collect his diploma on Winslow’s stage. (Those who recall how well David Kelley’s barbs fit in Mandy Patinkin’s mouth during the first season-and-a-half of “Chicago Hope” will find this news exceptionally gratifying.)

How’s Patinkin?

Fleeting but electric. His appearance is just a set-up for next season, but every time one watches his insult-piling exit from Guber’s office, one cannot help but break out laughing. If ever a writer and an actor were made for each other!

How does the finale begin?

With a very long recap. We see pilot footage of Harper mashing the bully into lockers, we see Guber confront Cheryl Holt about her Website, we see Harry confront Dana Poole about her stripping, we see Guber telling Jackson he has “flair,” we see Lisa Grier admitting to Harper that she’s been teaching her Shakespeare class since November, we see Guber interviewing with his former student for the headmasters’ position, we see Harper and Guber fighting over Guber not getting that job, we see Jeremy Peters’ mom lying to Marylin about her son’s injuries, we see Mom Peters admit to Harper that she does occasionally lock Jeremy in the basement for punishment, we see Daniel obsessing over Lauren, we see Lauren buying a gun.

What happens after the recap?

It’s nighttime, and Daniel sneaks up on Lauren in an empty faculty parking lot to confronts her about going to Harry and the police. She ends up pulling her gun. Daniel flees. And then we – meet the parents!

And what do Daniel’s parents have to say?

He’s a nut! Daniel’s folks are trying to get him committed to a treatment facility, and they wanted to warn Lauren that his latest delusion is that he’s Lauren’s lover, and that Lauren pulled a gun on him! That crazy Daniel!

Uh oh. Is Daniel really authoring a history textbook?

No. The ‘rents explain he just copied another text, presumably as a pretence to spend time with Lauren.

How does Harper “reprehend” Lauren Davis?

He suspends her for two months; she doesn’t get to teach her summer program. (Harper thinks the gun-pointing business a bit much.)

Is there any news on the Jeremy front?

His story to Marylin this week is his mother just took off:

JEREMY: She did it before, after your little confrontation. She said to me, “Okay, you think you can do well without me?” and she left. It’s like some kind of test. She did it before expecting my grades to go down, expecting me to fall apart and stuff. It won’t happen, Ms. Suder. I promise.

MARYLIN: Where does she go?

JEREMY: I have no idea. She’ll be back eventually.

MARYLIN: And she won’t be at commencement?

JEREMY: I dunno. She might, she might not.

Didn't Kelley name Jeremy after the Pearl Jam song?

I dunno.

Does the episode really end with the graduation ceremony?

Not quite! The last thing we see is a shot of Jeremy’s basement.

What’s good?

Mandy Patinkin! Fyvush Finkel! Lauren’s crack about the symphony! And the interplay between Guber and his former debate star! This “Boston Public” is funnier than the ones we usually get!

What’s not so good?

Between the plotlines with Daniel, Jeremy and Marla, I was certain half the school would be in body bags by the closing credits. The episode offers solid comedy and drama, but the previous episodes seemed to be preparing us for real mayhem.

Herc’s rating for “Boston Public” 1.22?


The Hercules T. Strong Rating System:

**** better than most motion pictures

*** actually worth your valuable time

** as horrible as most stuff on TV

* makes you quietly pray for bulletins


I am – Hercules!!

Readers Talkback
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  • May 20, 2001, 10:36 p.m. CST

    Rashida Jones

    by Guerilla_Films

    she's going to star in a movie? well why the hell doesn't DEK write more lines for her on the show? This makes no sense. but NO.....Jeri Ryan can join next season. Ay ay ay. this show is really diverse though. If only it was as good as 'Homicide' was at mixing the diversity with the characters.

  • May 20, 2001, 10:36 p.m. CST

    I love this show

    by Cutter20

    It's too bad the finale won't be quite as great as the last few episodes... and I was really hoping for an explosive ending... ah well. Still great stuff.

  • May 20, 2001, 11:22 p.m. CST


    by BEARison Ford

    i appreciate a non-explosive ending. a lot of people have been bitching about the reality of this show and doing a Columbine would be just what people expect of them.

  • May 21, 2001, 6:57 a.m. CST


    by Rigby

    "Reprehend" is a word, and Herc took it directly from the TV Guide description.

  • May 21, 2001, 8:14 a.m. CST

    Oh Mandy, You Came and You Gave Without Taking.

    by Village Idiot

    Mandy Patinkin dosen't have the legs for a TV series. Anyone remember when that other Kellyverse show Chicago Hope and ER came out the same year? I liked Chicago Hope first: the writing, if not more realistic, was more compelling and challenging. But the show got really bad really fast. The nail in the coffin as far as I was concerned was when Pantikin left. I think I remember reading that his reasons for dropping out was that fact that shooting a TV series was too gruelling for him, and that he was tired of having to learn all the medical knowledge required to play the doctor. He's a good actor, but I've been burned before dammit! I don't expect him to be on the show for any substantial length of time.

  • May 21, 2001, 10:36 a.m. CST

    We noted the Jeri Ryan thing last week

    by Hercules

    Check the story "TREK vets to BOSTON PUBLIC, DARK ANGEL."

  • May 21, 2001, 5:03 p.m. CST


    by yneway

    How does a kid get accepted into Harvard, with grades so bad that one class could cause him not to graduate? I know schools do it differently but at our school you could fail 4 classes during your high school career and still graduate. Most of the smarter kids got to sit out the last semester. Really boring episode imho. Commencement ceremonies are only entertaining when you're the one graduating I guess. Only the second I really didn't like though. And if Marla and Lipschitz don't like each other why are they always side by side? Good to see Guber getting some respect. Where was Senate? Loved the last shot.

  • May 21, 2001, 5:14 p.m. CST

    5 Months Without BOSTON PUBLIC! What's A Guy To Do?

    by RightWing Dude

    Wow! The kid really did lock his Mom in the closet! Seeing as how the next new episode will not premiere until November (typical for FOX) & the 2nd season premiere will take place 3 months after this episode, this storyline will probably not be resolved, unfortunately. Am I the only one who will REALLLLLLLY miss Lisa Greer! At least I will be able to stare at Jeri Ryan's fine ass next season! I will miss you BOSTON PUBLIC-come back soon!

  • May 21, 2001, 5:36 p.m. CST

    That last scene

    by Spidey_88

    Wow... the episode was so calm and uneventful that that last scene really gave me the heebie jeebies... Yikes...

  • May 21, 2001, 8:02 p.m. CST

    it's a sad day

    by maxpower

    no more dana poole or lisa greer... ahhwell. =) mandy patinkin is going to be an incredible addition...i can't wait for next season!

  • May 21, 2001, 8:17 p.m. CST

    Boston Public, I sing thy praises!

    by Hardyboy

    A lot of TBers have written that they don't like this show because they consider it unrealistic and too mired in contemporary issues surrounding high schools. To all this I say: yes, BP HAS gone way over the top at times (Harry Sennett firing a gun in class and protecting the ID of a murderer and neither getting fired nor arrested; the faculty being unable to do ANYTHING about Sheryl Holt's website, etc.), but when it strikes home, it REALLY hits the mark. The whole business about a student not wanting to accept the grade he EARNED because it will keep him out of Harvard is 100% real. I lecture at a university, and to this day I'm getting e-mails from students who are upset by the B's and C's I "gave" them (not like they had to EARN them) because now they won't be able to keep their scholarships, or they'll be put on academic probation, and so on. It's enough to make a person scream. As for involving the characters with every issue that seems to be in the headlines. . .what do you expect? Set a show in a high school and IGNORE most pressing social issues and you end up with "Welcome Back, Kotter." By dramatizing today's issues surrounding high schools, doesn't Boston Public allow us to understand them in some depth? ***As to the season finale, I liked it. I was glad to see that Lauren DIDN'T blow away her stalker and was punished for pulling the gun; and that last scene of the bound and gagged Kathy Baker WAS creepy. And who wouldn't be moved by the commencement scene? Guber getting the faculty award and breaking down; the kid's speech about heroes. . .beautiful. But--uhh--what was the point of the Rogers and Hammerstein song about racism? ***As to next season: putting Mandy Patinkin in as a sub is a good move, though *I* could give Mr. Kelley some tips on being a sub. I was one for a year and a half, and it was miserable. . .I was right out of college, living with the parents (out of need, not desire), forced to put up with crap from students who knew they wouldn't see me the next day, and treated like an interloper by the regular faculty members. . .One of the worst periods of my life. It would also be nice to see some episodes about possible teacher strikes and unionization. Finally, David Kelley should institute an NYPD Blue-like bare butt policy. I mean, with Jesslyn Gilsig, Sharon Leal, Rashida Jones, and now Jeri Ryan, it's what we deserve. (OK, I AM [sorta] kidding about that one.) It's a good show, I'm looking forward to it next season, and. . .Emmy voters, don't forget Anthony Heald!

  • May 21, 2001, 8:23 p.m. CST

    hmmm the last scene

    by BEARison Ford

    that kids cackling laugh was pretty creepy, what a psychopath... i was actually expecting to see his moms dead body though, a pleasant but weird surprise.

  • May 21, 2001, 9:32 p.m. CST

    I'll miss Dana Poole

    by Twig

    Loved the award scene with Guber. Thought the last shot was weird. I thought he killed her. Graduation ceremonies always get to me I guess, but my principal didn't hug everyone(I'm glad about that). The one guy's speech was good. Chi McBride is the best actor on TV IMO.

  • May 22, 2001, 12:37 a.m. CST

    So I watched it...

    by Dave_F

    ...and I was rollin' with it, enjoying it for the most part and very happy with how the graduation ceremony tied a lot of stories together and made for a satisfying conclusion...and then Kelley goes and throws out that cheap fucking potboiler of a conclusion. Oh no, he couldn't end on the graduation which was upbeat but still bittersweet given Guber's dismal assessment of public schools...oh no, the great David Kelley must have moral ambiguity! Or, failing that, cheap fucking sensationalism. I thought this show was supposed to be a drama (or even melodrama) about teachers and schools. Didn't realize I was watching a cut-rate "Kiss the Girls" or "Bone Collector." Fuck. The worst part is that the rest of the episode *was* quite good. Kelley blunts his own talent for the sake of shock value. Well, boys and ghouls, as promised, I'll now stop griping and quit watching. I have some hope that the show can find a less-sensationalized direction next season, but I'll pass on wading through the dreck to get there. Sleazy_G, drop me a line if Kelley ever stops screwin' around and I'll give the show another shot.

  • May 22, 2001, 8:27 a.m. CST

    Failing Classes, Still Graduating

    by ThunderRoad

    Some schools (most, that I know of) insist that you pass CERTAIN classes for graduation. For instance, I couldn't fail Senior English or Civics in order to graduate, but I could have failed, say, PE. I think it has something to do with electives and credits. Second semester my senior year, I had enough CREDITS to graduate, but didn't have the right classes yet. So, it is possible that the boy wouldn't have graduated without passing a history class that Marla was teaching. But he should have been able to make it up in summer school without Harvard revoking his acceptance. Or Harvard has the option of placing him on academic probation until the first grading period. Also, it's been my experience with future Harvard-ites that they are more anal about their schoolwork than teachers, but hey, let's suspend our doubt!

  • May 22, 2001, 3:28 p.m. CST

    Credits & graduating, some added info.

    by Toonimator

    ...ThunderRoad & others are right, it's possible to have the required number of credits, but not in the right classes. In California, for instance, you have to take 3 years of Math, 3 of PE, 4 English, 2 Science, etc... and Senior year, you have to hit certain marks, too (usually low marks, like, having at LEAST Algebra 1 by Senior Year), Government/Economics, etc. That'd be a bit much to delve into for the purpose of the episode, since I'm sure different states have different requirements. It'd be nice if all schools let students take time off if they actually can. My district didn't allow free periods; I ended up as a Teacher's Assitant & doing my homework at school for 90 minutes every day, in lieu of taking some of the pitiful electives they offered. If a student's earned it, they should be able to enjoy some free time. BP did nail it with the mention about Senioritis growing each year... the class prior to mine started exhibiting it around March... my class started in early February. All in all, a nice episode. I liked all the resolutions between Harper & the students (I'll miss Ms. Holt! And Ms. Greer! Where were they when I was in high school? Wait, best not answer that, it'd get creepy) although, like someone above said, I'm glad my principal didn't hug everyone. He was one of those principals that think sports are the be-all, end-all of a school; academics rank a distant 2nd, with arts & humanities pulling up a far-off 4th, behind refurnishing his office. The ending of the show was pretty much expected (especially since it was posted here!)... an on-screen resolution does SEEM unlikely. Is he gonna keep his mom there for the whole summer? It would feel especially false if he releases her next season... the more likely resolution is, assuming he's not TOTALLY psycho, he releases her sometime "soon" and by September in the Kelleyverse, they've either come to some understanding (seeing as she'd locked him up plenty), or one or the other of them is in a psych ward or jail. If the latter's the case, it'll probably be an off-screen resolution, gossiped among the teachers and/or students. I'm quickly growing tired of the promos for all these finales, promising dramatic, edge-of-your-seat final-5-minutes, then barely delivering. ER delivered. BP... eh... sorta... not edge-of-your-seat, but definitely a bit startling after the relative unsurprising episode... The Practice had me thinking something big would happen again, but it just ended with the funeral & the cast walking away. And the "big surprise" on Friends... what? gee, given the situation, a pregnancy seemed obvious. The fact that it's Rachel isn't that much more of a revelation... or maybe I'm just finally growing extremely tired of their exploits. Oh well, at least I've got Buffy, Angel, and NYPD Blue to look forward to tonight!!!!!