Good Times had ‘highs’ and ‘lows.’
Blog King, Mass Appeal
NEW YORK — “Temporary layoffs. Good Times. Easy credit rip offs…” Network officials at ABC aired a pair of ’70s reboots Wednesday night in a holiday television special titled “Live in Front of a Studio Audience.” Amid continual obtrusion from President Donald Trump’s Impeachment debacle, the Norman Lear doubleheader showcased an episode of “Good Times” followed by “All in the Family.” Both comedies were based on re-enactments of previous shows which is sort of disappointing because we were anticipating a contemporary twist. Nevertheless, only one sitcom shined bright and that was clearly “All in the Family.”
Lear’s conception was crackerjack from start to finish. Marisa Tomei threw down as Edith Bunker and Woody Harrelson channeled Archie Bunker’s inner racist to the “T.” Their opening duet of “Those Were The Days” was simply hilarious. Kevin Bacon also made a guest appearance as Pinky Peterson.
“All in the Family” was rock solid.
Big thumbs up!
Wish we could say the same for “Good Times.”
Lord have mercy.
— ABC (@ABCNetwork) December 19, 2019
In the episode called “The Politicians,” the star-studded negro cast was comprised of Viola Davis (as Florida Evans), Andre Braugher (as James Evans), Tiffany Haddish (as Willona Woods), Jay Pharaoh (as J.J. Evans), Asante Blackk (as Michael Evans) and Corinne Foxx (as Thelma Evans).
Jharrel Jerome made a guest appearance as Jimmy Pearson.
Let’s recap the show:
1) With ministration of a gospel choir, Grammy winner Patti LaBelle and “Black-ish” actor Anthony Anderson kicked things off with a zestful duet of the sitcom’s theme song. Patti stole the show in a hot pink ensemble. She’s 75 and looks 30. Nice to see she hasn’t lost her touch.
2) Pharoah’s J.J. Evans wasn’t too shabby either. The imbecilic sibling definitely picked up some weight. He had a gut like a mothaf*cka! But he brought ounces of ebullience to an otherwise moribund cast.
3) Foxx’s Thelma Evans wasn’t a thing of beauty nor was it expected to be. But, given her paucity of acting métier, she gets a passing grade. Besides, her dad is Jamie Foxx. That has to count for something.
4) Original cast members Jimmie Walker, Ja’net DuBois and BernNadette Stanis appeased the audience with a curtain call and they looked fantastic. That BernNadette has a fat ass.
1) Screenplay was dry, insipid and generally unfunny. The show lacked pace and dragged towards the end. The director probably picked the wrong episode. Viewers deserved better.
2) Braugher’s portrayal of James Evans was borderline atrocious. He stumbled over his words multiple times. He was feminal, acquiescent and completely void of a backbone. You could tell right away the kids didn’t fear him. Conversely, the real James (played by John Amos) was macho, obstinate and he routinely brandished his belt at the first hint of backtalk. 70s James was a badass. His presence alone sparked trepidation.
Braugher was badly miscast.
Somebody dropped the ball big time.
3) Davis’ Florida Evans was glacial from a personality standpoint and, unlike the schmaltzy character made famous by Esther Rolle, she lacked romantic chemistry with her husband. Florida was such a feminist, James didn’t try to kiss her, hug her, or grab her derrière. Watching the show, you couldn’t tell they were married. But, the director deserves credit for incorporating a wide aperture between Florida’s two front teeth.
4) Haddish’s Willona wasn’t awful. It’s just that she couldn’t build camaraderie with Florida or instigate a rivalry with James because of their onstage inadequacies. As previously mentioned, James was a namby-pamby and Florida resembled a zombie. Haddish’s dramatis personae never stood a chance.
5) John Amos (the real James Evans) made a guest appearance as Alderman Fred C. Davis and it didn’t go particularly well. The 79-year-old thespian appeared to peruse his lines through a teleprompter and there was too much dead air in between quips. The audience wasn’t sure when to laugh. He also addressed Willona accurately each time which is a gaffe in itself. If you recall, the real Alderman boasted a comical proclivity of mispronouncing her name. Amos, at this stage of his career, was simply over his head. Jimmie Walker would’ve been a much better choice as the Alderman.
6) The exclusion of corpulent landlord Nathan Bookman was unfortunate but understandable in today’s politically correct climate. The first taunt of “Buffalo Butt” would’ve drawn vitriol from the World Obesity Federation and other fat organizations.
In summary, “Good Times” had its fair share of highs and lows.
Only problem is the lows stood out more.
Blog King’s Rating: 2 out of 5 popcorn bags
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