The show starred Esther Rolle as matriarch Florida Evans, John Amos James Evans Sr., and their three children were James Jr, also known as “JJ” (played by Jimmie Walker), Thelma (Bern Nadette Stanis), and Michael (Ralph Carter).
‘Good Times’ slowly gaining on TV’s top-rated sitcoms (1975)
By Buck Biggers – El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas) June 29, 1975
We admit to a bit of bias in connection with a series.
For years, we carried around a guilty conscience because we had enjoyed “Amos ‘n Andy” on television. When group pressure forced the CBS network to remove the show from its lineup, we struggled to make ourselves quit watching the reruns, but it was no use. We could never resist the temptation.
The truth is that these episodes (which we saw over and over again) became not only our favorites but those of our children as well.
Which, of course, only made our guilt greater than ever since those responsible for the program’s cancellation insisted the show was unfair to blacks and would foster prejudice.
But now — hallelujah! After all these years, along comes John Amos, co-starring in ‘Good Times,” to announce: “I was upset when they took ‘Amos ‘n Andy’ off the air. That was real black humor. The blacks never complained. They loved every minute. It was the white liberals who got it canceled, thinking they were doing something for us. But they weren’t — at least not for me.”
Can you blame us for being a little biased toward John’s show?
Let’s take a look at ‘Good Times” in 3D (Difference, Depth and Durability).
Good Times scorecard
Florida and James Evans and their three children are a black family living in a Chicago ghetto. They try to keep smiling while they struggle to reach the end of the avenue of woes, down which their lives constantly seem to travel.
The major problem confronting them is lack of financial security due to the difficulty of finding decent, permanent employment for the husband and father.
It is this financial need plus the emphasis on family that so clearly separates this from all other black series such as “Sanford and Son,” “The Jeffersons” and even the less successful “That’s My Mama.”
By depth we mean talent, and it was in this dimension that we feared the program might encounter difficulty.
We were not greatly impressed by Esther Rolle in her role as the maid on ”Maude,” but CBS’s president, Bob Wood, saw potential we did not. Esther Rolle is a fine actress who, as the mother on “Good Times,” has a remarkable way of bringing reality to every scene, some of which get quite far out.
John Amos, with that solid-as-a- rock image in both looks and voice, has to be rated exceptional. And the lovely lady neighbor, as well as the teenage daughter and younger son, are all very good.
But the actor who more often than not steals this series is Jimmie Walker, the young comedian who plays the teenage son. Walker, looking something like a black version of Joe E. Brown, brings full “body comedy” to the series; eyes, mouth, arms, hips, legs all do their share to keep viewers convulsed.
On the technical side, the scripts for this series are impressive. Somehow they manage to tackle very difficult subjects — school busing, pre-marital sex, interracial marriage, alcoholism, to mention a few — and yet to do so without alienating any but the overly sensitive members of their audience.
Early episodes of the show focused a bit too often on black vs. white humor, a definite deterrent to mass acceptance, but this was quickly corrected.
If you saw one of those first episodes and were turned off by this, be sure and return to see why this is now one of the highest-rated series on the air.
Good Times opening & closing credits
Good Times theme song lyrics
Any time you meet a payment.
Any time you need a friend.
Any time you’re out from under.
Not getting hassled, not getting hustled.
Keepin’ your head above water,
Making a wave when you can.
Easy credit rip-offs.
Scratchin’ and surviving.
Hangin’ in and jivin’
Ain’t we lucky we got ’em