Thursday, December 28, 2017

TMP Television Edition: Friendship


A lot sooner than I thought we would, we've arrived at the last Thursday of 2017. Obviously, that also means this is the last Thursday Movie Picks of the year, too. As has become the custom, thanks to the wonderful leadership of our host Wanderer at Wandering Through the Shelves, the last Thursday of each month is reserved for talking TV, so that's what we're going to do. Our topic is friendship. Shows about friendship are everywhere so no big deal, right? You know me. Every now and again I like to warn you. You'll probably never actually come across these shows, but just in case you do, stay far away from them.


Homeboys in Outer Space
(1996-97)
Two astronauts, Ty (Flex) and Morris (Darryl Bell) flew around the galaxy in a winged vehicle that was part low-rider and part 18 wheeler. The computer that did actual piloting was name Loquatia (Rhona Bennett). Somehow, they got a barely pre-3rd Rock From the Sun John Lithgow involved in this thing, playing a character named Pitty McPatpat. Yeah, it was truly awful in every way imaginable. During the mid-90s, then-fledgling-but-now-defunct network UPN found it was doing fairly well with black audiences. As a result, they greenlit a bunch of black shows hoping to cash in. Unfortunately, by a bunch of black shows I mean any black show regardless of quality. Or how many stereotypes were involved. Homeboys in Outer Space, which you can probably tell by the title, was one of those shows.


Malcolm & Eddie
(1996-2000)
This Odd Couple inspired sitcom featured our eponymous characters sharing an apartment in a building they would soon buy and try to operate. Included in this purchase is the bar on the ground level, which is where much of the show takes place, and the garage from where one of them runs a towing business. Somehow, the two chaps found time in all for hijinks and shenanigans. Unfortunately, none of it was funny. It starred a post-Cosby Malcolm-Jamal Warner, trying to break into adult oriented roles, and comedian Eddie Griffin. It had potential, but never clicked. Yup, UPN strikes again.


Method & Red
(2004)
In real life, Method Man and Redman are hip-hop legends who formed a friendship after both were already stars. Their penchant for marijuana has made them the Cheech & Chong of the rap game. Their chemistry, and willingness to rap about said marijuana, has translated into two outstanding albums, Blackout! and Blackout! 2 along with all sorts of guest spots on each other's solo work. It's also resulted in the moderately successful stoner comedy How High (2001). Picking up where UPN left off, Fox figured 'why not give these guys a TV show?' It was a bad idea. A very bad idea. It starred the guys as fictionalized versions of themselves who, after making money in the music business, move into an upper-middle class, and predominantly white suburb. Something that was supposed to be hilarity ensues. Fox pulled the plug 9 episodes in after warring with the guys over the direction of the show.


You know what? I'd rather not go into a new year of Thursday's on a negative note, so how about some shows about friendship that were actually good? I've got some.


What's Happening!!
(1976-1979)
Roger, aka Raj (Ernest Thomas), Dwayne (Haywood Nelson), and Rerun (Fred Berry) were high-schoolers and bestest buddies. The show follows them on their daily adventures in the Watts area of Los Angeles. Most of the action is centered around Raj's house or Rob's Place, the soda shop where the boys hang out. It's said to be loosely based on the 1975 movie Cooley High, but honestly, has more in common with the legendary sitcom Happy Days. It's got much the same sweetness and value-driven humor. It's also the first American show centered around African-American teens.


Living Single
(1993-1998)
Most of the action of this show takes place in an apartment shared by three women: Khadija (Queen Latifah), Regine (a post Facts of Life Kim Fields), and Synclaire (Kim Coles). A fourth member of their little group, Max (short for Maxine, played by Erika Alexander), lives across the street, but visits every day. Also frequently around are a pair of fellas who share an apartment on the next floor up, Kyle (T.C. Carson) and Overton (John Henton). That gives us six main characters, on various rungs of the socio-economic ladder with their own ambitions, and plenty of zaniness to go around. Like my previous pick, this show was groundbreaking, as well. It was the first about a group of single African-American adults and explored all facets of their lives, socially, economically, and sexually, in a way that had never been done, particularly African-American women. The show made its debut a year before the seminal Friends and fulfilled the same role for people who weren't into Friends.


Girlfriends
(2000-2008)
Joan (a pre-Black'ish Tracee Ellis Ross) is a lawyer and sort of the leader of her group of friends. This group includes Toni (Jill Marie Jones), her buddy from high school, Maya (Golden Brooks), Joan's assistant at the firm, and Lynn (Persia White), Joan's friend from college and current roommate who can't seem to make heads or tails of her life. William (Reggie Hayes) works with Joan and often finds himself in the mix. Girlfriends picks up where Living Single left off and injects a fair bit of Sex and the City into the proceedings. It was more mature than the former, and more relatable than the latter with some of the best writing on any black sitcom, ever. Somehow, this slice of goodness started life as a UPN show, before moving on to The CW.


18 comments:

  1. Ah! Malcolm and Eddie was awesome, especially for that time Eddie pretended to be Prince. What's Happening!! Who could not love Re-Run? I loved that episode where he got caught trying to bootleg a Doobie Brothers show. Living Single is hilarious. Those were good times.

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    1. Glad you liked Malcolm & Eddie, didn't work for me. The Doobie Brothers episode of What's Happening!! is an all-time classic.

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  2. Homeboys in Outer Space sounds hilarious. I watched some of Method and Red. Side note, I love How High. It's goofy but so funny.

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    1. Homeboys is hilariously bad. It's routinely listed as one of the worse shows ever made.

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  3. I'm two for six-one good and one bad. I was a faithful What's Happening! watcher, I know everybody seemed to love Re-run but I was more a fan of Dwayne and Dee. The less said about Malcolm & Eddie the better.

    I've heard of your other two good recommends but I think fortunately never the stinkers which sound beyond awful especially the first.

    Too bad this didn't come during Girl Week since I went with all female dominated shows for my three. I hold the second in particular affection.

    Desperate Housewives (2004-2012)-On a quiet day on the quiet suburban street of Wisteria Lane housewife Mary Alice Young picks up a gun and blows her brains out. After that less than lovely introduction Mary Alice becomes our guide and narrator through the wacky often chaotic lives of her group of women friends Susan, Lynette, Gabrielle, Bree and for a while their fremeny Edie (Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Eva Longoria, Marcia Cross and Nicolette Sheridan) who all reside on the same street. Through the eight years the series ran the women at times were at odds but when push came to shove their friendship remained strong.

    The Golden Girls (1985-1992)-Four mature women (three widows & a divorcee), man hungry Southerner Blanche Deveraux (Rue McClanahan), na├»ve Midwesterner Rose Nyland (Betty White), New Yorker Dorothy Zbornak (Beatrice Arthur) and her mother Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty) share Blanche’s home and each other’s lives in the Miami suburbs. Over many cheesecakes the quartet talk about everything under the sun including aging, sex, artificial insemination and a myriad of other things interlaced with Rose’s often idiotic hometown Saint Olaf stories. They bicker, argue and fight but consistently support each other when it really matters. What makes this so special and constantly rewatchable is that four of the best comedic actresses that ever lived interact in every episode like a well-oiled machine.

    Laverne & Shirley (1976-1983)-Slapstick shenanigans of two Milwaukee brewery workers and best friends Laverne DeFazio (Penny Marshall) and Shirley Feeney (Cindy Williams). A succession of predicaments happen weekly which require the girls to extricate themselves from in some outlandish fashion as their strange upstairs neighbors Lenny & Squiggy (Michael McKean & David Lander) pop in and out along with Shirley’s sometimes boyfriend Carmine “The Big Ragoo” Ragusa (Eddie Mekka).

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    1. Yay, love for What's Happening!! Dee was awesome! And so was Shirley.

      I only watched Desperate Housewives two or three times. It was okay, but it didn't rope me in. On the other hand, I was a loyal viewer of your other two picks. Both were amazing shows. Truth told, I prefer Laverne & Shirley to the show it spun-off from, Happy Days.

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  4. I haven't heard of any of these before.

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    1. There are some shows you just know are going to fail from their titles. Heil Honey I'm Home is another that comes to mind. Worst sitcom i've ever seen was Hank. Kelsey Grammer who was in it, asked for it to stop being shown haha.

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    2. I've heard of Heil Honey. I can't fathom how someone seriously coming up with that idea.

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  5. OH I remember hearing about the trainwreck of Homeboys in Space when it came out.

    I've actually heard of all of these, but the only one I've ever seen any of is Girlfriends. My love for Tracee Ellis Ross knows no bounds, and that all started with catching a random episode of Girlfriends back when it was on UPN.

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  6. I actually heard of Homeboys in Space and my have even watched n apisode or 2 but can’t recall. I did see What’s Happening! I thought I didn’t but I did but I wasn’t much into it even though I watched it often. I haven’t watched any of the others.

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    1. I'm impressed you've heard of Homeboys in Outer Space. It's one none of us should have heard of, but alas.

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  7. Count me as another who loved What's Happening!! Shirley was the reason to watch the show.

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    1. Glad there's so much love for What's Happening... that was one of my sitcom addictions in the 70s.

      I don't watch many TV series and I'd never heard of Girlfriends, but I do love Tracee Ellis Ross in Blackish.

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    2. Mine, too! (for What's Happening!!)

      Girlfriends came at a time when I was much more into TV than I am now.

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