Good Times: The Complete Series [DVD]

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Overall Customer Rating:
Rating 4.9 out of 5 stars.
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Like so many other Norman Lear-produced efforts, Good Times made its network bow as a mid-season replacement, taking over the Friday-night time slot previously occupied by the failed wartime sitcom Roll Out. Although only Florida Evans (Esther Rolle) was familiar to audiences by virtue of her appearances on Maude, the rest of the Good Times characters were so fully rounded that the laborious first-episode practice of introducing them one by one was unnecessary. True to the intentions of its creator, Eric Monte, the series' first season stressed the solidarity and indomitability of the modern African-American family, even when surrounded by poverty and deprivation. The plot lines were evenly divided among the five main characters -- Florida (Esther Rolle), her husband, James (John Amos), oldest son J.J. (Jimmie Walker), daughter Thelma (BernNadette Stanis), and youngest son Michael (Ralph Carter) -- with next-door neighbor Willona (Ja'net DuBois) providing comic punctuation. While Jimmie Walker had been a successful standup comedian, and as such, arguably had more laugh-making "equipment" than his co-stars, the series had not yet evolved (or devolved) into "The J.J. Show." Still, laughs were served up in full measure, even though the first 13 episodes were more issue-oriented than later entries, touching upon such contemporary topics as age discrimination, fraudulent evangelists, "social" promotion in the public schools, the paucity of African-American representation in school history courses, and poor housing conditions. None of this, however, was done with a heavy hand. Good Times ended its first season with a 21.4 rating, tying with CBS's Barnaby Jones as the 17th most-watched TV series in America. ~ Hal Erickson

Cast & Crew

  • Esther Rolle - Florida Evans
  • John Amos - James Evans
  • Jimmie Walker - James `J.J.' Evans Jr.
  • Ja'net DuBois - Willona Woods
  • Ralph Carter - Michael Evans

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