Monday, July 11, 2005

Old-School TV

TV Land is having a "Good Times" marathon, which is the equivalent of telling me I just won the 4 digit for playing a number "in the box." As many know, Good Times is my S-H-I-T. I own the first four complete seasons. I know episodes by heart. I know how much the Evans' rent was ($125 per month). In know where Wilona worked and I know where Florida moved after she got married and abandoned her kids in the ghetto.

I love me some Good Times.

That got me to thinking about Old School TV. What is it about Old School TV shows that keeps us interested? All of the shows from the 70s - Good Times, The Jeffersons, All In the Family - dealth will real life issues that we still deal with today. Archie Bunker was racist as all get out, yet at the same time he was refreshingly blunt, and provoked discussion.

Here's my question: why is black-oriented tv so lame-ass today compared to the 70s and 80's? I mean, if you look at any random episode of The Jeffersons or Good Times or Sandford and Son, you will hear the black characters use the word "nigga" the way it's used today, and the way they DO NOT use it on tv now.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying we should use that word on tv. Or at all. I'm merely asking: why is it that those shows seemed ahead of their time? Was it simply about the post-1960s black power movement?

Why are black shows today so...simple and clueless and message-less?
What are your favorate black old school shows?

12 comments:

*Madosi said...

Favorites? Well I am only 26 so I really do not have the point of reference as others, but I used to watch The Jeffersons, Good Times, etc. They were all great to me and even during my time, The Cosby Show, A Different World were the ones that got my attention. I think then it was more about awareness. The shows and their writers dealt with issues while today its solely about entertainment. And they are doing their job well, of entertaining that is.

Times have changed. I was told back then the shows went along with the times and today its the same thing.

ollie said...

I think movies and TV (and even music) were just edgier and more real back then -- especially in the '70s. Entertainment execs are simply too afraid now to put anything up that isn't milquetoast. I read a story talking about this once that said movie houses used to give directors almost complete creative freedom back in the '70s. Also, musically, you have a focus on the singer-songwriter genre rather than the pop factory that you have today.

A.Run said...

Drew, I think you have met your match in the Good Times trivia dept. But more of that in a minute.

About 70s TV being edgier, I think it was because we had just emerged from the racist 60s and the 70s were trying to squash (or give the appearance of squashing) racism on TV. But we were junkmen or living in the ghetto. George Jefferson broke us out us that. I can go on and on but...

Here's some Good Times trivia for you, Drew (and no fair watchign the dvds for the answers):

1. JJ's friends called themsleves the Orsome Foursome. But they lost one member what did they call themselves then???

2. What sitcom did Good TImes spinoff from?

3. What city was that sitcom take place in (hint: it made no sense that Florida worked there but lived in Chicago).

4. What was James' original name on the spinoff sitcom??

5. What other politician did Alderman Davis play the dozens with in the Evans' living room?

6. What was Mad Dog's two henchmen's names?

7. What other sitcom did Mad Dog's mother play in on a regular basis???

8. Name three of Wilona's boyfriends.

9. Rhetorical question. Why was it when Keith was dating Thelma, he picked her up in a limo. But after they got married, he had to drive a cab? What happened to his NFL money?

10. BONUS: In which episode did Good Times creator Eric Monte appear?

A.Run said...

Drew, I think you have met your match in the Good Times trivia dept. But more of that in a minute.

About 70s TV being edgier, I think it was because we had just emerged from the racist 60s and the 70s were trying to squash (or give the appearance of squashing) racism on TV. But we were junkmen or living in the ghetto. George Jefferson broke us out us that. I can go on and on but...

Here's some Good Times trivia for you, Drew (and no fair watchign the dvds for the answers):

1. JJ's friends called themsleves the Orsome Foursome. But they lost one member what did they call themselves then???

2. What sitcom did Good TImes spinoff from?

3. What city was that sitcom take place in (hint: it made no sense that Florida worked there but lived in Chicago).

4. What was James' original name on the spinoff sitcom??

5. What other politician did Alderman Davis play the dozens with in the Evans' living room?

6. What was Mad Dog's two henchmen's names?

7. What other sitcom did Mad Dog's mother play in on a regular basis???

8. Name three of Wilona's boyfriends.

9. Rhetorical question. Why was it when Keith was dating Thelma, he picked her up in a limo. But after they got married, he had to drive a cab? What happened to his NFL money?

10. BONUS: In which episode did Good Times creator Eric Monte appear?

J said...

good times was my show, but i couldn't tell you any of wilona's men's name...

but here are my observations about good times...

- why did florida leave her kids in the ghetto when she married ol ' boy? that was out cold

- why was wilona single and living in the projects? usually, people that live in the projects got kids and issues. but that heifer worked at a boutique. you mean to tell me that she couldn't have found an apt. not in the projects?

- janet's impressions of mae west were not that funny

- how did thelma find the only broke NFL player? i mean, he couldn't get a pension from the league?

- and why did it seem like they had 9 bedrooms in that place? whenever some trouble went down, somebody had to go to a bedroom. i mean they acted like they lived in a suite. sometimes, thelma, JJ and michael had to go to the bedroom while james and florida handled grown folks business. i know they were cramped...

J said...

and a.run...you know you have to provide some answers for your questions!

A.Run said...

ok....you give up, Drew?

Drew said...

No, i'm working. Been doing it all day. Won't have time to answer until later. But if want to reveal the answers, feel free.

A.Run said...

I'm working too..but like Bernie Mack said, when we break, WE BREAK.

ok...amateurs:

1. The Gleesome Threesome

2. Maude. Florida was Maude's maid.

3. NYC

4. Henry

5. Jimmy Pearson

6. Neck bone and uhhhh lemme get back to you on this one

7. She played Donna on Sanford and Son

8. Frank Mason, Jeffery and Ray

10. The episode was called Black Jesus; when the Evans gained good fortune after Michael placed a black picture of Jesus on the wall instead of the white one.

Drew said...

Jemele, i'm trippin that you brought up Penny's Mae West impersonation. I forgot all about that corny shit.

And you're right: Florida DID leave her kids in the ghetto when she married Carl.

But here's another thing to ponder: she came BACK to be with her kids and never mentioned his ass again!

And yeah, it's strange how Thelma managed to snag the ONLY broke player in the NFL. Keith was just tore down. And I can't believe all those grown folks lived in that apartment.

Personally, I think Good Times died when James died.

Drew said...

I just wish we could get back to that Old School TV culture when the shows were daring and raw and edgy. Yes, naturally, it's a sign of the times: things are going great, so there's no reason for out-and-out militant art like there was back then.

But, wasn't it predicted after Sept. 11 that we'd get back to that? That the seriousness of Sept 11 meant the end of Irony, and that we as Americans were going to start taking things much more seriously in the modern terrorist age?

Wasn't all that predicted? And yet, a few weeks after Sept 11 we were back to worrying about how many little girls R Kelley slept with.

Maybe we're just a simple-minded culture with no hope.

*Madosi said...

We are now in the time of Reality TV, which can sometimes be really interesting.

I think there is a bigger need now for shows of that time -- shows that dealt with some real issues. But where are you going to find people making those kinds of shows and where are you going to find studios that will be willing to do so.

People do not want dark comedy -- shows that are entertaining but also deal with some real issues. They are too caught up in Desperate Housewives (which I love by the way) and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (which I am suprised is still on the air).

I really do not know. I think after 9/11 people wanted to forget what they were dealing with. That is why there was such a strong push for these different shows even now. We all want reality shows where someone wins big, FAST!

My question is, why are there so many political shows coming out next fall now? What is that all about?