63 of 67 people found the following review helpful
on December 29, 2002
My second favorite Norman Lear show - am so happy it's finally coming to DVD in the boxed sets it richly deserves!! "Good Times" was a spin-off of sorts of "Maude," using the character of Florida Evans who was Maude's sharp-tongued maid. Set in the Chicago, the sitcom follows the Evans family, headed by proud James Evans, Sr., and their lives in the projects of Chicago. Groundbreaking, Emmy-winning, and sometimes controversial, "Good Times" was often as funny as it was thought-provoking; I watched it every week growing up, and can't wait for the DVD of this first season, which should include these episodes, as they aired in order:
#1 Getting Up The Rent -- James Evans has been out of work most of the month. He's late on his rent payment and the landlord is ready to forcibly evict his family. James takes his pool stick down to the billiards hall and stakes his last bit of money. He wins and returns just in time to pay up. Florida remains unaware of James' gambling stunt, and thanks the Lord Jesus.
#2 Black Jesus -- J.J. has painted a portrait of a Black Jesus. Suddenly there is a run of good luck in the family. James wins two bets in the same day. But they must choose - does J.J. get to enter the painting in a contest for the art gallery? Or does the painting stay in the living room?
#3 Too Old Blues -- The family plans to celebrate James' new job. But then they find out he didn't get it because he is a couple years too old to meet government requirements.
#4 God's Business is Good Business -- James' old army buddy visits. He is now a wealthy TV minister, and offers James a job. But James turns it down after dishonest tactics are revealed.
#5 Michael Gets Suspended -- Michael gets suspended because he called George Washington a racist for owning slaves.
#6 Sex and the Evans Family -- Florida finds a sexually explicit book in the house. She is surprised when it turns out to be Thelma's. But Thelma's college boyfriend is only using it for a school paper.
#7 Junior Gets a Patron -- J.J. has sold a painting. But the art customer turns out to be one of James' old enemies. James throws the man out and refuses to let J.J. do the work, so J.J. runs away from home to live and work at the man's home. But he is unable to work in this new, peaceful environment. Florida sneaks off to visit J.J., then James turns up too. James and his friend call a truce, and J.J. returns home.
#8 Junior the Senior -- James and Florida are upset when J.J. gets passed to his senior year, even though he got a failing report card. They meet with the principal.
#9 The Visitor -- A letter written by Michael complaining about poor conditions in the housing projects prompts a visit from a high ranking city official. James is furious with his son, The Militant Midget.
#10 Springtime in the Ghetto -- The building superintendent is holding a contest for best kept apartment. Florida is eager to win and cleans up the whole house. But Michael brings Ned the wino home at the last minute. The family cleans Ned up with a bath and new clothes, and they win! It turns out the lady doing the judging is Ned's estranged wife.
#11 The TV Commercial -- Florida is chosen to appear in a tv commercial for a health tonic. But she turns down the high paying role after learning the tonic is 35 percent alcohol.
#12 The Checkup -- James is angry, smashing furniture and yelling. Michael and Thelma think he is suffering from hypertension and talk him into taking a physical exam. The Doctor tells James he has a high cholesterol level, and instructs him to cut back on salt and fat.
#13 My Son the Lover -- J.J. is dating a wonderful new girl. He is also painting her portrait for free. His heart is broken when the girl breaks up with him the same day he completes her painting.
Can't wait for Season Two, these first half-seasons of 13 episdodes aren't enough, but am glad to have them for now!!
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
When I was a kid, Good Times was one of those TV shows I simply would not miss each week. Even after its hilarious run ended, it was a constant companion of my youth in the form of syndicated reruns. Eventually, it faded away from the airwaves, and that is why I am so happy to see the release of this complete Season One DVD collection. The trials and joys of the Evans family have always been an indelible part of my memory, but watching these early episodes again is in many ways like seeing the show for the very first time. I used to just laugh at the crazy antics of J.J. and enjoy the show only for its comedy, but now I can more clearly understand the deeper meaning behind it all. While the Evans family life is far from typical, it does nobly reflect the struggles, pride, and humanity of families trying to survive and make a good life for their children in ghetto conditions. This truly was a groundbreaking television show, the first to feature a realistic African-American family trying to overcome life's great adversities together. However much they bickered and argued, the Evans family members supported and loved one another a great deal, and I believe it is this facet of the show as much as its unsurpassed comedy that explains its appeal to viewers of all races then and now.
Almost thirty years later, Good Times is still funnier than almost every other television show ever produced. What impressed me is the way the show began; the look and feel of the series was already firmly established in the very first episode, as James struggles to pay the rent and keep his family off the streets. When I was little, I didn't particularly like James because he seemed mean to me with his constant yelling. As an adult, I am a tremendous fan of John Amos' portrayal of the proud, hardworking family patriarch. This man worked like a dog in order to provide for his family, and the constant problems he faced getting and then keeping jobs is more than enough reason to explain his sometimes heated words and deeds. I no longer look at Good Times as the J.J. show; this first season seems to me to built around James Evans, Sr., although Esther Rolle, Jimmie Walker, Ralph Carter, Bernnadette Stanis, John Amos, and Ja'net Du Bois all delivered truly wonderful performances. Toward the end of these first 13 episodes, J.J. does begin to emerge as the prominent comedic talent, having served earlier as dependable but not yet featured comic relief. Jimmie Walker really comes into his own on the final episode included here, "My Son the Lover," setting the stage for great and equally hilarious things to come in later seasons.
I won't go into an episode by episode discussion, but I will mention a few of the really significant storylines that appeared. The struggle James has bringing home the bacon is a constant, but the burdens caused by his lack of education deliver a strong message to both J.J. and the viewing audience in "Junior the Senior." Teenage sexuality is addressed in "Sex and the Evans Family," a story featuring a classic display of the double standard that exists between males and females. Racism is constantly at the fore, personified in young Michael (or as James often calls him, "the militant midget"). The importance Florida places on religion and always doing what is right, no matter the costs incurred by your decision, is another strong element of the show, one given a brilliant exposition in the very second episode, "Black Jesus." Every episode imparts a meaning to the audience, one never lost amidst all of the comedy - and I do mean comedy. Good Times is still laugh-out-loud funny; it actually seems funnier now than it did years ago. While young viewers may not "get" some of the jokes based on 1970s pop culture, there is more than enough comedy spread around to guarantee a fun time will be had by all. There are no frills to this DVD package, though. I would have liked to see at least some sort of special feature, be it interviews with cast members or some kind of feature relating the story of how Good Times made it on to CBS as a somewhat controversial spin-off of a spin-off (All in the Family begat Maude, and Maude begat Good Times). You do get a little promo advertising the other vintage television shows already released by Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, but this can hardly be called a special feature. In the end, though, what matters most is the newfound opportunity to enjoy the episodes themselves once again. I hope more seasons of Good Times are forthcoming because the thirteen shows from Season One, as great as each and every one of them are, are simply not enough to satisfy my demands for more.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on February 19, 2003
After the release of All in the Family, The Jeffersons, and Sanford & Son in DVD season sets, it was only logical to release Good Times at some point. Good Times started in 1974 as a spin off of Maude. Florida Evans (Esther Rolle) was Maude's (Bea Arthur) housekeeper and Good Times concerns the Evans family and their ups and downs living in a Chicago project development. The other members of the Evans family are the father, James (John Amos), daughter Thelma (BernNadette Stanis), and sons Michael (Ralph Carter) and J.J. (Jimmie Walker). And don't forget Wilonna (Ja'net DuBois) from next door! Sorry, but Penny (Janet Jackson) and Superintendant Bookman (Johnny Brown) don't appear until Season 5 so you'll have to wait for that. The Norman Lear/Bud Yorkin sitcoms were one of a kind and each ground breaking in its own way. They dared to show real life, situations, attitudes, and characters who actually exist. Good Times was unique. It was like the Jeffersons in that it centered around a black family, but the Evans' were different from the Jeffersons both in family size and economic status (The Evans' poor, the Jeffersons rich). Good Times, like the other Lear/Yorkin classics, don't shy away from realistic views and language, but thats why these shows are so important. This type of sitcom won't come along again so get it while you can. Its a great thing that these shows have been preserved and brought to digital in an uncut & unedited form. This 2 DVD set contains the first season of 13 episodes which ran from February to May 1974. There are no extra features other than subtitles, episode selection, and previews, but having such a classic, funny, and important piece of television history in this format at the push of a button is priceless. Actually this release does have the "play all episodes" feature, which hasn't been on the other Lear/Yorkin show DVDs, so that's cool. The next logical release will be Maude, then maybe One Day at a Time! Looking forward to it and all upcoming seasons of All in the Family, The Jeffersons, & Sanford and Son! Here's the episodes for Season One of Good Times:
01. Getting up the rent
02. Black Jesus
03. Too Old Blues
04. God's business is good business
05. Michael gets suspended
06. Sex and the Evans family
07. Junior gets a patron
08. Junior the senior
09. The Visitor
10. Springtime in the Ghetto
11. The TV Commercial
12. The Check Up
13. My Son the Lover
*Trivia: Good Times was co-created by Mike Evans, who played the original Lionel Jefferson on both the Jeffersons and All in the Family. Wonder where he got the idea to call them the Evans'? Also Ja'net DuBois (Willona from Good Times) both co wrote and sings the famous theme song to the Jeffersons!
Also highly recommended on DVD:
All in the Family (Seasons 1 & 2)
Sanford & Son (Seasons 1 & 2)
The Jeffersons (Season 1)
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2003
You can have your Huxtables, but for my time and money, I'll gladly settle for the Evans family of the 1970s sitcom "Good Times." Here was a TV show that never pandered to PC norms, nor did it preoccupy itself with projecting this clean image of the "perfect" family as "The Cosby Show" did. It was an honest portrayal of an African American family living in the projects of Chicago. Shortsighted critics who nitpicked at "Good Times" for its alleged ghetto stereotypes ignored the big picture and bypassed its messages of tough love, Black pride, and family unity. While the Evans family did bicker and fight over even the most frivolous of matters, they clearly loved each other and pulled together in moments of crisis. There's Esther Rolle (who left the series after a dispute but later returned) who played the God-fearing, let's-do-the-right-thing matriarch Florida; there's James (John Amos) who was the hotheaded yet hardworking father who struggled to provide for his family; J.J. (Jimmie Walker), the clownish yet talented painter who never runs out of insults to trade with his sister Thelma (Bernnadette Stanis). Michael, the youngest, was "the Militant Midget," a studious and highly intelligent young kid. I almost forgot Wilona, the gossipy neighbor played by Janet DuBois who always looked stylish, even by modern standards. Columbia has released the first season of its 13 episodes on 2 DVDs; my favorites are "Michael Gets Suspended," "The Checkup," and "My Son the Lover." Truthfully, I love them ALL, and once you see one episode, you'll want to watch the next one and the one after that and so forth. These DVDs have virtually no features including a commentary, documentary, or other extras you'd expect from a Columbia release. Also, don't be fooled by the term "Dolby Surround" on the package. It sounds more like a mono mix to me, which is fine, as it gives the presentation that "vintage" feel. Still, if you always loved the sitcom, you have to get this DVD. I just hope that Columbia will release ALL seasons (including the ones that have Janet Jackson as Wilona's adopted daughter Penny) of this fine series, which proves that the 1970s were among the best decades for American TV.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2003
Next to Sanford and Son,Good Times was the greatest African American sitcom of all time.But unlike S&S,Good Times dealt with issues such as poverty and race,all told from the prespective of a close knit black family living in the Chicago projects.
The family included Florida Evans(Esther Rolle who was carried over from Maude),her husband James(John Amos)their children James Jr a/k/a J.J.(Jimmie Walker),Thelma (played by the still fine Bern'Nadette Stanis) and Michael(Ralph Carter).Ja'net Du'Bois also played neighbor Willona Woods(along with the aforementioned Stanis,one of the sexiest "sistas" on TV in the 70's).
Every episode from the first season is a classic.The ones that stand out are Getting Up The Rent,Black Jesus,Michael Get's Suspended,Sex and The Evans Family,Springtime in the Ghetto(Ned the Wino's classic apperence)and The Check-Up(the infamous "flying chair" episode).And who could forget the very involved studio audience(Whooo).
GT had a great three year streak,but it Jumped The Shark with the death of James Sr(who was the show's soul).Season four tried in vein to carry on without him,even tried to replace him with Carl Dixon(Moses Gunn).It got worse when Florida married Carl(so soon after James Sr died!!!!),and moved away with him(Rolle actually quit the show due to salary disputes and J.J.'s buffoonary on the show).The fifth season saw the Evans children trying to make it on their own(very unrealistic)and Willona adopting new character Penny(Janet Jackson),an abused child who showed no psychological scars afterwards.The sixth season saw Thelma marry a football player who was accidentally injured by J.J.(in the worst choreographed fall in TV history)and couldn't play anymore,as well as Esther Rolle's return.By that time,the show was a mockery of it's once great beginnings,and was cancelled not before everyone finally made it out the projects for good(a tad too convienient,yet it made you happy for them).
Even with it's erratic history,Good Times was in the end about a loving family that faces many problems together and left the audience feeling good.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 30, 2003
This is a nicely-packaged 2-disc set of the complete first season of the 1974-1979 TV series.
Video quality isn't perfect, but still good enough to make you appreciate this funny sitcom again on the DVD format.
There are many funny episodes during the truncated, 13-show debut season of this "Maude" spinoff. With most of the laughs provided (in my view) by the head man of the Evans' household, James (John Amos). Mr. Amos can be very, very funny (doing a lot with just a stare from those big eyes of his). The frequent family altercations between James Sr. and James Jr. (Jimmie Walker) make for some delightful comic moments.
So, if you want to dive back into some classic 1970s television, grab this "Good Times Season One" boxed set on DVD.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
I absolutely love "Good Times - The Complete First Season"! I have watched this show on television for years and have always loved it. The show was cancelled when I was an infant, but I was fortunate to watch it in re-runs while growing up. It was interesting to see how a working class black family living in the projects could rise about all of their struggles and manage to be a loving family. The lessons taught in just about each episode are not blatant, but you definitely get the point, whether it's from Esther Rolle's loving character, Florida Evans, or the stern father James Evans, played perfectly by John Amos.
I love this DVD set because I can not only watch all 12 episode from the first season, but I can also pick and choose which episodes I want to watch.
I would highly recommend this DVD to any fan of good television! I can't wait for the second season to be released. This is definitely one show I want to collect! Buy this DVD set!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 15, 2004
Good Times was one of the best black television shows ever. The show displayed geniune humor and the realistic struggle of blacks in the 70's. A talented cast with exceptional timing allowed viewers to grasp and feel these stories... while laughing all the way!!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2004
The subject matter of these earliest episodes of Good times have already been discussed. But fans of the show may also want to know that each episode contains scenes that have not been seen since their first run in 1974. Usually the codas of these stories that have been cut for syndication in recent years and a few bits of introductory business that help with the telling.
But in either case, these episodes recall Bobby Kennedy's 1967 statement that he would like for all networks to show a no-punch -pulled documentary of ghetto life to wake White America up out of it's apathy. "Good Times" was probably the closest thing to what he may have had in mind, although it's actual effect was limited. These early episodes, prior to the emergence of JJ's clowing, did more to tell the truth about ghetto life than any other of it's time, and even now for that matter.
It is a credit to the writing and actors that they showed the Evans family retaining their dignity and humanity in spite of some really dehumanizing conditions.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Okay before I start I try ANYONE to turn on their televisions today,or even in the 80's and 90's and find anything REMOTELY CLOSE to 'Good Times' on a network channel!Sure the shows 'breakout' star was Jimmie 'DY-NO-MITE' Walker but I LOVE Esther Rolle as Florida Evans,the great mother of this Chicago family who tries to keep a cool head that her often frusterated husband James (John Amos) didn't have.Plus there were three kids-the wisecracking JJ (Walker),his sister Thelma and the (then) extremely militant little brother Michael.One of my favorite shows on this DVD is 'The Visitor' where the Evan's receive a little visit from the housing commishioner William Stonehurst (a much more interesting character then the latter insipid janitor Bookman)when Michael confronts the man by saying that 'boy is a white,racist word'.Of course I've noticed that remarks like this make some believe that this show indulges in alot of reverse racism but I disagree-it's only part of mid 70's inner city culture.Also not to be missed here is 'Black Jesus' in whitch buddiing artist JJ paints a black jesus,actually it's only the local rummy Ned the Wino (HAHAHAHAHA)-wish I'd thought of that lol.One little problem-this show and others like it only tend to underscore the fact the sitcoms and television in general has taken a major nose dive these days with most 'black centered' shows dealing with general clowning and have been de-politisized to the nth degree!So as they say we're just lucky we had good times!