The Jeffersons - The Complete First Season
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13 episodes on 2 DVDs. Color/6 hrs/NR/fullscreen.
Long before Bill Cosby started wearing his friendly sweaters, urban middle-class African Americans burst onto television in the form of Louise (better known as "Weezy") and George Jefferson, portrayed by Isabel Sanford and Sherman Hemsley. Spun off from All in the Family, The Jeffersons ran from 1975 to 1985, and it's easy to see what made the show so popular--Sanford and Hemsley were a knockout comic duo, surrounded by a skilled supporting cast that included the interracial couple Helen and Tom Willis (Roxie Roker and Franklin Cover), British expatriate Harry Bentley (Paul Benedict), as well as George's cantankerous mother Olivia (Zara Cully) and their snappy, cynical maid Florence (Marla Gibbs).
Set in a high-rise apartment building in the heart of New York City, the show spun around George, a classic character portrait of vanity, arrogance, and petty prejudice. Balanced by the more level-headed but just as strong-willed Weezy, George's self-serving abrasiveness struck comic gold, particularly in the second season, when the show's style had been set but was still fresh. Episodes tackled subjects trivial (George and Tom wear the same tacky dinner jacket to a party) and trenchant (a country club invites George to join, but only so that a newspaper reporter will think the club is open to minorities). The black and white mix of the cast allowed for a sharply satirical take on race relations, which managed to have a genuine sense of hope while never glossing over the complexity of racial tension--and was consistently funny. In fact, it's striking how well the show's humor holds up; The Jeffersons turned a series of half-hour farces into a sly examination of marriage, race, class, and the battle of the sexes; it's sad that so few contemporary sitcoms have this kind of intelligence, courage, and sheer talent. --Bret Fetzer
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The first season is only thirteen episodes long and the series proved to be a critical and fan favorite for decades. Isabel Sanford would be the first African American actress to win an Emmy Award for Outstanding Leading Actress in a Comedy Series as Louise Mills Jefferson. Sherman Hemsley would be inducted into the Television Hall of Fame as well. The spinoff series was developed by the genius, Norman Lear. The Jeffersons were neighbors to the Bunkers in Queens, New York. Like his other series, the spinoff was a huge success on its own merit.
The series is well-done, acted, and casted brilliantly as an ensemble company. I especially love Zara Cully's Mother Jefferson who died during the series run. You have to love the interaction between George and Florence and the Willises as well. The series would go on for a decade and more if the network didn't cancel it.
I wished the DVD would have featured extra features like Norman Lear interview or interviews with the cast members. Sadly, the only cast members alive right now are Marla Gibbs, Berlinda Tolbert, and Damon Evans (second Lionel). This season features Mike Evans ( the original Lionel before he went off to work on "Good Times"). Apart from that, it's a great series.
Sony ought to have taken a more progressive approach to remastering these discs. Again, The Jeffersons would never look as good as a production shot on film based preservation materials. But color correction and balancing should have been applied. Ditto for DNR, used only to moderately reduce the level of video noise on virtually all of the patterned materials that creates distracting ringing halos around just about everything. I've graded this release for content and quality. If only on quality alone, it would have rated a single star.
The packaging was very nice
The only reason I give it to stars because disc one with that pla The only reason I give it 2 stars because disc one would not play