Smart Guy is an American sitcom centering on the exploits of child genius T.J. Henderson (Tahj Mowry), who moves from being an elementary school student in the fourth grade to a high school student in the tenth grade, attending the same school as his two elder siblings Yvette and Marcus.
Created by Danny Kallis, the series ran for three seasons on The WB Television Network from April 2, 1997 to May 16, 1999. The series was produced by de Passe Entertainment and Danny Kallis Productions, in association with Walt Disney Television.
The show (which is set in Washington, D.C.) centers on the misadventures of boy genius T.J. Henderson (Tahj Mowry), who at the age of 10 moves from elementary school and gets transferred to Piedmont High School, where he ends up becoming a high school sophomore with 15-year-olds as his classmates. He must adjust to the life with older but not necessarily wiser high school teenagers — his brother Marcus (Jason Weaver) and Marcus's best friend Mo (Omar Gooding). He often deals with the usual missteps of trying to fit in as a kid genius, while being a small kid in high school.
Older brother Marcus, the suave and underachieving middle child, also deals with teenage problems, such as finding a date, and doing homework (though he sometimes tries to get T.J. to do his homework for him). Their father Floyd (John Marshall Jones), a single father who owns his own roofing business, deals with the problems of raising his three kids, Yvette, Marcus and T.J. since his wife's death. Floyd's only daughter, and Marcus and T.J.'s older sister Yvette (Essence Atkins), is (usually) the level-headed one of the family and is the typical overachieving student.
Episodes deal with T.J.'s attempts to fit in high school, as well as the contrast between his smarts and his brother's underachieving nature.
The character of T.J. Henderson (whose full first and middle name was never revealed), played by Tahj Mowry. The youngest child in his family. He's 10-11 years old in seasons 1 and 2 (and 12 in season 3), and, as the title suggests, is smart, with an I.Q. of 180. He skipped from 4th grade to 10th, knows several different languages and has a photographic memory. Outside of the occasional moments of awkwardness that are bound to occur when a child interacts with high schoolers, T.J. has a peaceable existence in the school, and is eager to be involved in school functions.
So much so, that he becomes the mascot for his school basketball team, which leads to occasional bullying. T.J. later is promoted to being the equipment manager for the Piedmont High basketball team. He spends a fair amount of time at school with his older brother, Marcus, and T.J.'s best friend, Mo Tibbs. Although they have some tense moments, it is obvious that the two brothers care for each other deeply. Though T.J. spends much of his time around teenagers, he is occasionally seen spending time with kids his own age. T.J. plays keyboard for Marcus's band in several episodes after the other member broke his finger from an accident (and was also briefly the manager of the band in the episode "Achy Breaky Heart").
The character of Marcus Henderson, played by Jason Weaver, is T.J.'s older brother. He is fairly popular and reacts remarkably well to his younger brother sharing nearly every one of his classes, although tensions do arise from time to time (this is especially true in the pilot episode). He gets average (or below average) grades, simply because he does not apply himself. He's a forward on his school's basketball team and has several love interests throughout the run of the show, none of which are seen for more than one episode. He is the lead vocalist for the band which he created, Mackadocious (in which Mo is the bassist and T.J. is the keyboardist).
Morris L. "Mo" Tibbs
The character of Mo Tibbs was played by Omar Gooding. He is Marcus and T.J.'s best friend. It's been revealed that he was adopted and his birth mother is a fortune teller in Delaware name Shelia Ecks. Floyd is often annoyed with Mo's antics, such as eating from their fridge and sleeping in T.J.'s bed. He pretty much lives there and he hates eating at his own house (he once cracked a tooth off his mother's oatmeal). He works out and is very muscular. He plays bass guitar in Marcus' band, Mackadocious, and is a talented chef and barber. He is portrayed in the show as someone who is sometimes dimwitted and gullible. . A recurring catchphrase of his is, "Hello der!" ("hello there").
Tasha Yvette Henderson
The character of Yvette Henderson was played by Essence Atkins. The sister of Marcus and T.J., Yvette is intelligent, (usually) level-headed and is a women's rights activist. She has a fake I.D. that says she's 28, as revealed in the season one episode "The Code". Yvette sometimes finds it hard being the only girl out of three males in the Henderson family, as seen in the season two episode "Men Working Badly". She is in 11th grade in season 1 and graduates high school at the end of season 3. After being rejected from Princeton, Yvette planned to attend Georgetown University as the series ends. Although the character of Yvette is in her late teens, Essence Atkins (who was born in 1972) is actually only ten years younger than John Marshall Jones, who plays her father.
The character of Floyd Henderson, played by John Marshall Jones, is the father of the family and owns a roofing business, called Floyd Henderson Contracting. Unfortunately, his wife Christina (as mentioned in an episode) died of a heart attack. After the loss of his wife, he would have trouble finding another woman to date. However, he does date in a few episodes: in season two's "Dateline", T.J. sets Floyd up on a date with a woman named Jamie (Jackie Mari Roberts), who T.J. gets jealous of after Floyd spends less time with him; and in the season three episode "Beating is Fundamental", he dates a woman whose son T.J. dislikes (and later punches). He is frequently a comic foil to most characters including T.J. He also gives good moral advice to all of his children (and even Mo).
- Nina Walsh - Played by Tinsley Grimes, Nina is one of Yvette's friends and is seen with her most of the time, however she is only seen during the third season (Yvette had a revolving door of friends up through that point). She works at the store in the mall, where in the episode "Get A Job", she was forced to follow "black people" because her boss Ms. Hendra thought that African-Americans who were in the store would steal. She is deep and poetic and drools over cute guys.
- Deion Lavon White - Played by Arvie Lowe, Jr., Deion is a teenager who attends Piedmont High. His usual hijinks include taking pictures of Marcus and Mo and selling them to a company for profit (in season two's "My Two Dads"), and scamming Marcus and Moe into selling health bars in a pyramid scheme which he involves every other student in school to sell them as well (in season two's "Goodbye, Mr. Chimps"), among other things (Marcus refers to him as "a little shrimp"). In the season two episode "The Dating Game", Deion had a crush (more like an obsession) on Yvette and asked her out to the school dance, which Yvette rejects repeatedly (and prompts her to go with T.J.'s plan to make Deion think that she is dating Mo).
- Mackey Nagle - Played by J.D. Walsh, Mackey is a student who is in Marcus and Mo's grade. He is fairly popular and is definitely not the sharpest knife in the drawer. He tries to fit in at school by buying new clothes and speaking slang, but most of the time makes a fool of himself and ends with a comment stating "It's because I'm white, isn't it?" (which is usually replied with nods by everyone who was listening, this particular gag was only seen in the season two episode "Sit In (a.k.a. Dawgburger Rebellion)"). In the season three episode "Perchance to Dream", he has a dream about Yvette kissing him as she tells him about her dreams about Mo. He often wears flannel shirts. He actually ends up streaking during the graduation ceremony in the season three episode "The Graduate?" (after T.J.'s plan of a revenge prank on the Seniors backfires).
- Basil Militich - Played by James K. Ward, he is the vice-principal of the school. He is cheap when it comes to school necessities, and sometimes is presented as incompetent.
- Coach Gerber - Played by Dann Florek, he is the gym teacher and basketball coach at the school. He is bald and aging and went through a divorce (which includes paying 800 dollars to his wife monthly). He once taught math and gets angry easily. He sleeps in his office since he can no longer afford a home of his own. He once mentioned that he has prostate problems.
- Brandi Andréa Dixon - Played by Kyla Pratt, Brandi is a girl around T.J.'s age, and met T.J. at the arcade in season two's "Bad Boy". She is very good at basketball and joined the team T.J. plays on in season three's "She Got Game", but she stopped playing due to T.J. being upset with her when she begins starting and T.J. is benched. She wears "ghetto fabulous" clothing and depicts an exaggerated stereotype of youth. It is obvious that they have crushes on each other, but it is never focused on. Brandi only appears in two episodes: "Bad Boy" in season two, and "She Got Game" in season three (though Pratt previously appeared in season one as Lillie, one of T.J.'s three prom dates in "Baby, It's You and You and You").
|Season||Episodes||First air date||Last air date|
|Season 1||7||April 2, 1997||May 7, 1997|
|Season 2||22||September 10, 1997||May 13, 1998|
|Season 3||22||September 20, 1998||May 16, 1999|
Tahj Mowry and Omar Gooding are the only cast members not to appear in every episode (which in the case of Mowry is quite unusual for the lead actor for a television series to not appear in all episodes). Tahj Mowry did not appear in the Season 3 episode "Get a Job" and Omar Gooding did not appear in "A Little Knowledge".
The series was taped at Sunset-Gower Studios in Hollywood, California. The establishing shot of the fictional Piedmont High School later appeared on another Washington, D.C.-based Disney series, Cory in the House for the Disney Channel.
The Henderson house
A majority of the show's scenes take place in the Henderson house or the school. Originally, most of the family scenes took place in the kitchen, with no living room area seen during the first season. The living room set when it was added in season two had a window and the front door at stage center, and the stairs and kitchen doorway at stage right. The kitchen set was scaled back as well with the back stairs that lead to the bedrooms removed. The layout changed again in season three with the kitchen remaining the same, but the living room layout changes including the front door now located at stage left. Marcus and T.J.'s bedroom is the only set to remain the same during the course of the entire series.
Piedmont High School
Piedmont High is the high school that Yvette, Marcus, Mo and T.J. attend. The four main sets seen in the show are the classroom, the hallway, the cafeteria and the auditorium. The hallway changes its layout twice during the series.
Theme song and opening sequences
The theme song for the first and second seasons was produced and written by Kristian Rex who also scored the music for the entire second season. The theme song for Smart Guys's third and last season was performed by Hami and featured cast member Omar Gooding. A short version of the season three theme, which is different from the regular theme song was used in episodes in which ran over the allotted time.
The opening sequence for the first two seasons was fully computer animated with the exception of the cast video headshots. The show's title logo was shown at the beginning and again at the end of the sequence when the main characters (minus Mo) are shown above it. The season three opening titles were made to resemble a music video (the sequence was choreographed by Russell Clark).
Three months after Smart Guy was canceled on The WB, reruns began airing on Disney Channel in September 1999 and continued to air until December 2003, and again for a "Back to School" themed marathon on September 3, 2004. Smart Guy was aired on The N, Noggin's television programming block, from April 7, 2002 (along with Sister, Sister) until April 23, 2004.
The show was recently removed from the Canada-based Family Channel and was replaced by Wizards of Waverly Place in October 2007, though it is still on Disney Channel in the United Kingdom, but not on a recurring basis in the UK. In late 2006, the show started airing on Disney Channel in Australia and New Zealand. In 2006, the UK Disney Channel pulled the show, which at the time was only aired during working days in the early afternoon.
The series aired on BET from September 6, 2008 to June 6, 2009 and again from July to September 2009. The series began airing on GMC TV on March 2, 2013, airing only on weekends. The series began airing on MTV2 on April 19, 2013.
|2000||American Cinema Foundation||Nominated||Television Series - Comedy|| |
|2000||Humanitas Prize||Nominated||30 Minute Category|| Steve Young|
For episode "Never Too Young"
|1999||NAACP Image Awards||Nominated||Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress||Tahj Mowry|
|2000||Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress||Tahj Mowry|
|1998||Young Artist Award||Nominated||Best Performance in a TV Comedy Series - Leading Young Performer||Tahj Mowry|
|1999||Best Family TV Comedy Series|| |
|1998||YoungStar Awards||Nominated||Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Comedy TV Series||Tahj Mowry|
- Smart Guy at TV Guide
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