Smart Guy was an American sitcom that aired on The WB for three seasons from 1997 to 1999. The show is about the misadventures of kid genius T.J. Henderson, who skips elementary school and moves up to high school. He must adjust to life with older but not necessarily wiser high school teenagers - including his brother Marcus.
The series was created by Danny Kallis, who would later co-create The Suite Life of Zack & Cody for Disney Channel, where Smart Guy had also aired in reruns following its cancellation by The WB.
T.J., played by Tahj Mowry, is the title character and the youngest child in his family. He's 10 years old in seasons 1 and 2, 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 bullying. He spends a fair amount of time at school with his older brother, Marcus, and Mo, Marcus' best friend. Although they have some tense moments, it is obvious that the two brothers care for each other deeply. T.J. plays keyboard for Marcus's band in several episodes after the other member broke his finger from an accident.
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. He gets average grades 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. He is the vocals for their band which he created, Mackadocious.
Morris L. "Mo" Tibbs
The character of Mo Tibbs was played by Omar Gooding. He is Marcus's best friend. It's been revealed that he was adopted and his birth mother is a fortune teller. 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 the band. Also he is a talented chef. He is portrayed in the show as someone who is sometimes dimwitted and gullible. He also says the famous phrase, "Hello der!" (said "hello dare"), and he is lovable at the same time.
Tasha Yvette Henderson
The character of Yvette Henderson was played by Essence Atkins. She is the older sister of Marcus and T.J. Yvette is intelligent and is a women's rights activist. She has a fake I.D. that says she's 28. She is in 11th grade in season 1 and graduates high school at the end of season 3. After being rejected by Princeton, Yvette is planning to attend Georgetown University as the series ends.
The character of Floyd Henderson, played by John Marshall Jones, is the father of the family and owns a roofing business. Unfortunely, 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. He is frequently a comic foil to most characters including T.J. He also gives good moral advice to all of his children (and Mo, too).
- Nina Walsh - Played by Tinsley Grimes, Nina is one of Yvette's friends and is seen with her most of the time. She is a White American and works at the store in the mall, where in one episode she was forced to follow black people because her boss thought they would steal. She is deep and poetic and drools over cute guys.
- Deon - Played by Arvie Lowe Jr., Deon is a African-American teenager who goes to Piedmont High. His usual hijinks include taking pictures of Marcus and Mo and selling them to a company for profit, and scamming Marcus and Moe into selling health bars, among other things (Marcus refers to him as "a little shrimp"). In one episode, Deon had a crush on Yvette and asked her out to the school dance.
- 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. 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 in one episode.
- Mr. 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 presented as incompetent.
- Coach Gerber - Played by Dann Florek, he is the gym teacher 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.
- Brandy Dixon - Played by Kyla Pratt, Brandy is a girl around T.J.'s age, and met T.J. at the arcade. She is very good at basketball and joined the team T.J. plays on, 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 African American youth.
Three months after Smart Guy
was canceled on The WB
, reruns began airing on the Disney Channel
from September 1999
to September 2003
, and again in a "Back to School" themed marathon of the show in August 2004
. The show was recently removed from the Canada-based Family
and was replaced by Wizards Of Waverly Place though it's 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
The show currently airs reruns on BET which started September 6, 2008.
- Tahj Mowry and Omar Gooding are the only cast members not to appear in every episode. Tahj Mowry did not appear in the Season 3 episode Get a Job and Omar Gooding didn't appear in "A Little Knowledge"
- Ashley Tisdale, who would later star in the Disney Channel series The Suite Life of Zack and Cody and Disney's High School Musical movie franchise, appeared in an episode when she was only 11 years old.
- Destiny's Child appears in Season 3, Episode 10, "Date with Destiny". Those were the original members, Beyonce Knowles, Kelly Rowland, Latavia and Letoya Luckett.
- Jason Weaver did three of his songs in his band, Mackadocious, in Season 1, 2, and 3.
- Mowry makes a comical performance on tap dancing with Dulé Hill in Season 2, though the tapping noises are added through post-production. Mowry is a tap dancer in real life.
- A laugh track was added in order to keep the actor's facial expressions intact.
- Series creator Danny Kallis previously worked alongside Omar Gooding in Hangin' with Mr. Cooper, where Gooding played Earvin Rodman and which Kallis served as Executive Producer for much of that show's first season. Kallis has also directed several Smart Guy episodes.
- The establishing shot of the fictional Piedmont High school later appeared on another DC-based Disney show, the Disney Channel Original Series Cory in the House.
- Tahj Mowry's character, T.J., appeared on Tahj Mowry's sisters' show, Sister, Sister in 1997 on the episode Child's Play, where he portrayed Tia and Tamera's tutor for the SATs. Tahj is actually the younger brother of the sisters. Tahj had previously played two other guest roles.
- In the Season 2 Episode 2, "Working Guy", in the main office you can see the camera that makes the connection, but in T.J's house it isn't there.