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 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.Contents
Set in Washington, D.C., the show centers on the misadventures of boy genius and youngest child 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 freshman with teenagers as his classmates. He must adjust to the life with older, but not necessarily wiser, high school teenagers – including his brother Marcus (Jason Weaver) and Marcus' best friend Mo (Omar Gooding). Episodes typically deal with T.J.'s missteps of trying to fit in as a kid genius, while being a small kid in high school, as well as the contrast between his smarts and his brother's underachieving nature.
Older brother Marcus Henderson, the sophomore 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 Henderson (John Marshall Jones), a widowed 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), usually is the level-headed member of the family – similar to Floyd in that respect – and is the typical overachieving student.Episodes Main article: List of Smart Guy episodes Season Episodes First air date Last air date 1 7 April 2, 1997 May 7, 1997 2 22 September 10, 1997 May 13, 1998 3 22 September 20, 1998 May 16, 1999 Characters Main The series main cast (from left); Mo (Omar Gooding), Floyd (John Marshall Jones), T.J. (Tahj Mowry), Yvette (Essence Atkins) and Marcus (Jason Weaver) Tahj "T.J." Henderson
Played by Tahj Mowry, the character of T.J. Henderson (whose full first and middle name were never revealed) is the youngest child in his family, portrayed as 10 to 11 years old in seasons 1 and 2, and 12 in season 3. As the show's title suggests, T.J. exhibits exceptional intelligence with an IQ of 180, knows several different languages and has a photographic memory. He skips six grades from fourth to tenth grade due to his intelligence, after his teachers at his previous school discovered that T.J. was not feeling challenged enough by a fourth grade curriculum. 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 ("Pugnacious Pete, the Powerful Piedmont Penguin"), which leads to occasional bullying.
T.J. is later promoted to being the equipment manager for the Piedmont High Penguins basketball team. He spends a fair amount of time at school with his older brother, Marcus, and his brother's best friend, Mo Tibbs. Although they have some tense moments, the two brothers – who share a bedroom throughout the series – 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, which occasionally results in his attempts to try to fit in with them in situations where he feels out of place. T.J. plays keyboard for Marcus' band Mackadocious in several episodes, after one of the group's other members breaks his finger in an accident (he also briefly served as the band's manager in the season three episode "Achy Breaky Heart").Morris L. "Mo" Tibbs
Played by Omar Gooding, the character of Mo Tibbs is Marcus and T.J.'s best friend. He is typically portrayed in the show as being dimwitted (such as confusing a rasher with a haberdasher) and sometimes gullible, to the point where in the episode "I Was a Teenage Sports Wife", T.J. makes Mo part of a placebo experiment by giving him sugar-filled pill capsules that T.J. claims will stimulate synapses in the brain (therefore increasing intelligence), in order to better perform on tests, only for Mo to inform other students about the pills and flooding T.J. with offers for the "brain pills". Despite his heavy and muscular build, Mo is usually depicted as a friendly person (the pilot episode, however, depicts him as being almost a rival to Marcus in a couple of scenes – particularly one in which he gets into a fight with Marcus over their classmate Mariah (Venus DeMilo Thomas), whom they both are romantically interested in, resulting in T.J. stepping into the altercation to defend Marcus). Mo is discovered to be an excellent chef, due to the tutelage of Yvette (who helped him learn how to cook after Mo signed up for a cooking class on the spur of the moment – simply because the class was cooking bacon at the time), he plays bass guitar in Marcus' band Mackadocious, and is also a (semi-)talented barber.
Floyd is often annoyed with Mo's antics, such as his constantly eating from their fridge and even once having slept in T.J.'s bed (having done so as part of a plan to help T.J. sneak out to see a friend at an arcade after being reprimanded – and effectively, grounded – by Floyd over his choice of clothing). Despite this, Floyd seems to genuinely care about Mo and, as seen in "Diary of a Mad Schoolgirl", shares with him a passion for barbecuing. Mo all but lives at the Henderson's house and hates eating at his own house (having once chipped a tooth while eating oatmeal cooked by his mother, as he notes in the opening scene of "Get a Job"). In the season three episode "That's My Momma", Mo accidentally overhears a conversation between his parents Delroy and Verla Mae that they had adopted him as a baby – this leads him to have a falling out with his parents and Marcus and T.J. helping him find his birth mother – who is revealed to be a fortune teller in Delaware named Shelia Ecks. A recurring catchphrase of his throughout the series is, "Hello der!" ("hello there").Marcus Henderson
Played by Jason Weaver, the character of Marcus Henderson is T.J.'s older brother and the second-oldest child in the Henderson family (behind sister Yvette). He is a fairly popular student at Piedmont High 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, to the point where he tells T.J. that he wishes that his younger brother would disappear from his life). He gets average – or below average – grades, simply because he does not apply himself. He is 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 also the lead vocalist for the band which he created, Mackadocious, in which his best friend Mo is the bassist and T.J. is the keyboardist.Yvette Henderson
Played by Essence Atkins, the character of Tasha Yvette Henderson – who is generally referred to by her middle name – is the older sister of Marcus and T.J. and the only daughter of Floyd Henderson. She is in the eleventh grade in season one and graduates high school at the end of season three. Yvette is intelligent, is usually level-headed, is a women's rights activist and has a passion for art, including drama, photography and dancing. She is also the editor of the school newspaper, The Penguin (a position that is the partial basis of "Stop the Presses", in which T.J. decides to start his own newspaper – The Weekly Veritas, which he abruptly switches from a hard news to a tabloid publication upon the advice of Marcus and Mo due to flagging sales – after he becomes dissatisfied with repeatedly assigned by Yvette to write puff pieces). Yvette sometimes finds it hard being the only girl in a family full of mostly men, as seen in the season two episode "Men Working Badly".
Episodes in which her character dates a fellow Piedmont High student feature Yvette sometimes overthinking the relationship, such as when she dated a dimwitted swimmer whom she had mainly a physical attraction to in the episode "Big Picture" or when high school senior Yvette dated a sophomore in the episode "T.A. or Not T.A." In the season one episode "The Code", it is revealed that she has a fake I.D. that says she is 28 years old. After being rejected from Princeton University, Yvette planned to stay in Washington, D.C. to attend Georgetown University as the series ends. Although the character of Yvette is in her late teens, Essence Atkins (born on February 7, 1972 and therefore being in her mid-20s during the run of the series) is actually only ten years younger than John Marshall Jones, who plays her character's father Floyd.Floyd Henderson
Played by John Marshall Jones, the character of Floyd Henderson is a widower and the single-father of sons T.J. and Marcus and daughter Yvette. He is a self-made businessman and owns a roofing company called Floyd Henderson Contracting. After the loss of his wife, he would eventually start dating once again: such as in season two's "Dateline", when T.J. sets Floyd up with a woman named Jamie (Jackie Mari Roberts) through an online dating service, whom T.J. eventually gets jealous of after Floyd spends less time with him; and in the season three episode "Beating is Fundamental", when he dates a woman whose son T.J. dislikes (and later punches), though many of the women that he is seen dating in the series are usually not seen for more than one episode. He is frequently a comic foil to most of the main characters, including T.J. He also gives good moral advice to all of his children (and sometimes even to Mo).Recurring
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" as Jason Weaver, Essence Atkins and John Marshall Jones are the only cast members to appear in every episode.
The series was taped at Sunset-Gower Studios in Hollywood. 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, and also as the establishing shot for John Adams High on the ABC series Boy Meets World.Main settings 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' third and final one 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).Syndication
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 aired on the Canadian-based Family Channel until it was replaced by Wizards of Waverly Place in October 2007. The show still airs on Disney Channel UK, but not on a recurring basis. In late 2006, the show started airing on Disney Channel in Australia and New Zealand. In 2006, Disney Channel UK pulled the show off the air, which at the time was only aired during work 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.Awards and nominations Year Award Category Recipient Result 1998 BAFTA Kids' Vote Won YoungStar Awards Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Comedy TV Series Tahj Mowry Nominated Young Artist Awards Best Performance in a TV Comedy Series – Leading Young Performer Tahj Mowry Nominated 1999 Best Family TV Comedy Series Nominated NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress Tahj Mowry Nominated 2000 American Cinema Foundation Television Series – Comedy Nominated Humanitas Prize 30 Minute Category Steve Young