Good Times was a Norman Lear-produced sitcom that ran on CBS from 1974-1979. The show was a spinoff of Lear’s earlier comedy, Maude (Itself a spinoff of All in the Family). The show followed the lives of the Evans family, a poor black family living in the high-rise projects of Chicago:
- Florida Evans (Esther Rolle): Matriarch, occasional Mama Bear
- James Evans (John Amos): Patriarch, Chew Toy
- James “JJ” Evans, Jr. (Jimmie Walker): Catch Phrase machine, The Wisecracker, Kavorka Man(cleaned up in later seasons)
- Thelma Anderson, nee Evans (Bern Nadette Stanis): The Chick
- Michael Evans (Ralph Carter): “The Militant Midget”, male Soapbox Sadie, The Smart Guy
- And their neighbor, Willona Woods (Ja’net Du Bois): Sassy Black Woman, Drop-In Character
Most episodes featured the efforts of the Evans to get by in the ghetto and make a better life for themselves. Despite the fact that those efforts usually ended in bitter disappointment, the show remained surprisingly positive and uplifting. And like most Lear shows of the time, Good Times wasn’t afraid to moralize or bring up controversial topics.
The show’s most controversial move was killing off patriarch James at the beginning of the fourth season. Esther Rolle hoped this would bring a shift in JJ’s character from the clownish Kavorka Man he had been, to a more responsible Man Of The House. The writers didn’t see it that way, seemingly ramping up JJ’s foolishness (though it’s worth noting that Jimmie Walker, who played JJ, was a stand-up comedian and not much of an actor).
This led to Rolle quitting the show for the entire fifth season, her character having relocated to Arizona to be with her second husband. She was brought back in the sixth and final season with promises to clean up JJ’s act (and never reference her second marriage, which Rolle thought went against Florida’s character in multiple ways). The series finale aired on August 1, 1979, with a Mega-Happy Ending. Reruns can be seen daily on TV One and occasionally on Nick at Nite’s TV Land. All six seasons are available on DVD.
article found @ http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Series/GoodTimes