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Good Times

From Academic Kids

For the Chic song "Good Times," see Good Times (song).

Template:Infobox television Good Times is an American sitcom that was originally broadcast from February 1, 1974 until August 1, 1979 on the CBS television network. The program was a spin-off of the sitcom Maude (itself a spin-off of All in the Family). Like those two other series, Good Times was developed by producer Norman Lear.

The character Florida Evans (played by Esther Rolle) had been Maude Findlay's housekeeper on Maude, but in early 1974 the character was transplanted to an apartment in a housing project (implicitly the infamous Cabrini-Green projects, shown in the opening and closing credits but never mentioned by name on the show) in a poor, African American neighborhood in inner-city Chicago. In this new incarnation, Florida lived with her husband James (John Amos) and children J.J. (Jimmie Walker), Thelma (BernNadette Stanis), and Michael (Ralph Carter). When the series began, J.J. and Thelma were both in high school and Michael, called "the militant midget" by his father due to his activism, was ten years old. Their exuberant neighbor, and Florida's best friend, was Willona Woods (played by Ja'net Dubois), a recent divorcée.

As was the case on other Norman Lear sitcoms, the characters and subject matter in Good Times were a breakthrough for American television. Working class characters had certainly been featured in sitcoms before (dating back at least to The Honeymooners), but never before had a weekly series featured African American characters living in such impoverished conditions (Fred and Lamont Sanford of Sanford and Son at least owned their own home and business). Episodes of Good Times dealt with the characters' attempts to get by in an inner-city ghetto despite all the odds stacked against them. When he wasn't unemployed, James Evans usually worked at least two jobs, many of them temporary, as he struggled to provide for his family. Being a sitcom, however, the episodes were usually more uplifting and positive than they were depressing, as the Evans family stuck together and persevered.

Originally, the program was only slated to run in the spring of 1974, but high ratings led CBS to easily renew the program for the fall 1974 season. The program was very successful during its first full season on the air, 1974-1975, when it was the seventh-highest-rated program in the Nielsen ratings and a quarter of the American television-viewing public tuned in to an episode during any given week. (During 1974-1975, three of the top ten highest-rated programs on American TV centered around the lives of black Americans: Sanford and Son, The Jeffersons, and Good Times).

Almost from the premiere episode, J.J., an aspiring artist, was the public's favorite character on the show and his frequently-invoked catch phrase "Dyn-o-mite!" became very popular. As the series progressed through its second and third year, however, Rolle and Amos, who played the Evans parents, grew more disillusioned with the direction the show was taking as J.J.'s antics and arguably stereotypical behavior took precedence in the storylines. At the beginning of the 1976-1977 season, Amos's character was killed in a car accident. A year later, at the start of the 1977-1978 season, Rolle left the series (although she returned for the program's final year). To fill the vacuum left by the parents' departure, new characters were added or had their roles expanded: Johnny Brown as building superintendent Bookman; Ben Powers as Thelma's husband Keith Anderson; and Janet Jackson as Penny, an abused girl adopted by Willona - who herself took on a more central role in the series. (Janet Jackson, of the famous Jackson family, would later make a much larger name for herself as a solo artist in the world of pop music).

The first four seasons of Good Times were taped at CBS Television City in Hollywood, California, while the final two were recorded at Metromedia Square, Norman Lear's own production facility.

The last original episode of Good Times aired in 1979. Today, the first four seasons of Good Times are available on Region 1 DVD in North America. In addition, the network TV One (which can be seen on Comcast cable systems as well as DirecTV) airs the show in a programming block with another African-American sitcom, 227.

The British sitcom The Fosters (1976-1977), about a black family in England, was based on Good Times, and in fact used many of the same scripts, after they had been adapted for the British audience.

External links

  • The Good Times TV Show (http://www.crazyabouttv.com/goodtimes.html) page at Crazy About TV contains trivia, a plot summary, cast list, and episode titles for the series.
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