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A Look Back At Good Times Upon Its Return As A Movie

"Good times are coming to the big screen. Black-ish creator Kenya Barris has been set to write the screenplay for a Good Times film based on the hit '70s sitcom, his manager confirmed to The Associated Press.

"Good Times, which aired on CBS from 1974 to 1979, was about an African-American family living in a poor neighborhood in Chicago."

To be specific, an African-American family living in Cabrini-Green, where writer Eric Monte had lived (Monte also wrote the screenplay for Cooley High, the inspiration for What's Happening!!; he attended the real Cooley Vocational here in Chicago.)

Let's take a look.


Opening and closing.


You may have noticed Jay Leno's name in those closing credits. Here's his scene:


Back to the theme song. Here are the lyrics:


Good times, any time you meet a payment
Good times, any time you meet a friend
Good times, any time you're out from under
Not getting hassled, not getting hustled.
Keepin' your head above water,
Making a wave when you can.

Temporary layoffs (good times)
Easy credit ripoffs (good times)
Scratchin' and surviving (good times)
Hangin in a chow line (good times)
Ain't we lucky we got 'em
Good times.


Mmmmmm, just lookin' out of the window.
Watchin' the asphalt grow.
Thinkin' how it all looks hand-me-down.
Good times, yeah, yeah good times

Keepin' your head above water
Makin' a wave when you can

Temporary layoffs (good times)
Easy credit ripoffs (good times)
Ain't we lucky we got 'em
Good times.


Of course, Janet Jackson played Penny Woods.

But it was J.J. whom she fell in love with, not Michael.


Lineage: Good Times was a spinoff of Maude which was a spinoff of All in the Family which was an Americanized version of the BBC's Till Death Do Us Part.


John Amos was right.

And Esther Rolle agreed.

"Good Times was intended to be a good show for Esther Rolle and John Amos," according to Wikipedia.

"Both expected the show to deal with serious topics in a comedic way while also providing positive characters for viewers.

"However, the character of J.J. was an immediate hit with audiences and became the breakout character of the series. J.J.'s frequent use of the expression 'Dy-no-mite!' (often in the phrase 'Kid Dy-no-mite!'), credited to director John Rich, became a popular catchphrase (later included in TV Land's The 100 Greatest TV Quotes and Catch Phrases special).

"Rich insisted Walker say it on every episode. Both Walker and executive producer Norman Lear were skeptical of the idea, but both the phrase and the J.J. Evans character caught on with the audience.

"As a result of the character's popularity, writers focused more on J.J.'s comedic antics instead of serious issues.

"As the series progressed through seasons two and three, Rolle and Amos grew increasingly disillusioned with the direction the show was taking, especially with J.J.'s antics and stereotypically buffoonish behavior.

"Although she had no ill will towards Walker, Rolle was vocal about her dislike of Walker's character.

"In a 1975 interview with Ebony magazine she stated:

He's 18 and he doesn't work. He can't read or write. He doesn't think. The show didn't start out to be that . . . Little by little - with the help of the artist, I suppose, because they couldn't do that to me - they have made J.J. more stupid and enlarged the role. Negative images have been slipped in on us through the character of the oldest child.

"By the end of season four, Esther Rolle had also become dissatisfied with the show's direction and decided to leave the series."


Here's creator Norman Lear's view on Amos and Rolle.


"In the finale, 'The End of the Rainbow,' each character finally gets a 'happy ending.' J.J. gets his big break as an artist for a comic book company with his newly created character, DynoWoman, which is based on Thelma (much to her surprise and delight), and is moving into an apartment with some lady friends. Michael attends college and moves into an on-campus dorm. Keith's bad knee miraculously heals, leading to the Chicago Bears offering him a contract to play football. Keith announces that he and Thelma are moving into a luxury apartment in the city's upscale Gold Coast district. Thelma also announces that she is pregnant with the couple's first child. Keith offers Florida the chance to move in with them so she can help Thelma with the new baby. Willona becomes the head buyer of the boutique she worked in and announces that she and Penny are also moving out of the projects. Willona then reveals that her new apartment is in the same apartment building that Keith, Thelma and Florida are moving to and, once again, she and Penny become the Evans' downstairs neighbors."


John and Jimmie.


Reunion 2015.


Rolle died in 1998.


Bookman was almost cast as Lemont in Sanford and Son.


Comments welcome.


1. From Jeff:

This show showed the promise that that show could be. But having whites write and play to stereotypes made this show anathema to most black folks.


Posted on May 5, 2015

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