The complete first season of the TV series Good Times.
What first comes to mind is super-skinny Jimmie Walker proclaiming "Dyn-o-mite!" and waving his arms like a funky scarecrow in a whirlwind of 1970s jive. But while Walker's James "J.J." Evans Junior became the most famous face of Good Times
, the bedrock of the sitcom were the actors playing his parents, Esther Rolle and John Amos as Florida and James Evans, two good-hearted but fallible people struggling to raise their family amid the poverty of the Chicago projects. Add to the mix boy-crazy daughter Thelma (Bernnadette Stanis), preadolescent black activist Michael (Ralph Carter), and Florida's world-wise best friend Willona (sassy Ja'net DuBois), and you've got one of the best comic ensembles of the time. Modern politically correct sensibilities may wince a bit at J.J.'s sometimes cartoonish antics, but what's far more striking about the first season of Good Times
is how frank the show was willing to be about race, politics, class, religion, sexual double standards, and family conflicts--considerably more direct and daring, in fact, than just about anything you'll find on television today. The topics of shows range from the corruption of television evangelism and white-centered history classes in school (Michael gets suspended for stating that George Washington owned slaves) to more typical sitcom themes like a housekeeping contest or J.J.'s girlfriend troubles--but even the most lightweight episodes tosses out a few acerbic (and genuinely funny) comments on the difficulty of being black in America. --Bret Fetzer