Mr. Hand (Ray Walston)
Think of cranky Mr. Hand as the original “No Child Left Behind” teacher. Sure, throughout the school year, charismatic stoner Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn) turns baiting Mr. Hand into an art. (Having a pizza delivered to class is a nice touch, but then, so is Mr. Hand’s making sure that everyone but Spicoli gets a slice.) But Mr. Hand sees Spicoli’s antics not just as willful antagonism (to Mr. Hand himself, to the school, and to the entire notion that education is important), but also as a cry for help.
So when Mr. Hand goes to Spicoli’s house to make him spend an evening making up for all the time he’s wasted in the classroom, he’s not just being vindictive, he’s also helping Spicoli pass his class and graduate. Even Spicoli has to give Mr. Hand a grudging measure of respect after that. As played by Ray Waltson at his crankiest, Mr. Hand may not trust his students much to behave like mature young adults (and they don’t give him any reason to do so), but he sure knows how to get his point across.
Next Stand and Deliver