Some of my Favorite Sitcoms from the 1980s and 1990s   Leave a comment

Related image

…Not gonna lie: I don’t remember much about the 90s that didn’t involve TV or video games. And I’m proud of it. LOL.

I’m gonna split this nostalia trip 4 categories actoss four different posts: Kids Shows, Cartoons, Sitcoms and Drama. I’ll cover Anime in my Anime Blog separately. Each Category will get a separate post because of how much I know I like to write ^_^

For those who were born in the late 90s or otherwise don’t watch broadcast TV much, sitcoms were TV shows that ran for 30 minutes from the 50s to the 90s.  The older generations might recall The Honeymooners, I Love Lucy, The Jeffersons and Sanford & Son. Those were all Sitcoms. Sitcoms were often family oriented and depcited people or families of the time. Episodes also often had a lesson or message for viewers to learn.

Here are a few of my all-time favorite sitcoms.

 

Sitcoms

Image result for 1990s TV Shows

 

 

This was the shit RIGHT HERE. The Fresh Prince of Bel Air ran from 1990 to 1996 and lasted 6 seasons.

 

Some stuff about the cast you may or may not known:

 

  • Will Smith was actually the least experienced actor on the show at the time it began filming episodes. He would often forget his lines, much to the chagrin of the other cast members. It’s easy to forget he was an above-average hip hop artist trying to transition into acting. By the time the final season finished filming, Will Smith had landed his first major motion picture role as Captain Steve Hiller in the 1996 action thriller Independence Day. He reportedly beat out Tom Cruise for the leading role (Cruise was cast in 1997’s Mission Impossible).
  • James Avery getting cast as Uncle Phil is the stuff of legends. The story goes, Avery walked into the room not knowing who he was and chastised him for his demeanor and casual dress. Will Smith turned to Executive Producer Quincy Jones (the same Quincy Jones who managed Michael Jackson) and told him “I want him”. Reportedly, John Amos (Good Times, Roots) and Morgan Freeman (The Shawshank Redemption) had also been considered for the role. He passed away in 2010.
  • Janet Hubert, who played Vivian Banks for half the show’s run was famously fired because of her personal beef with Will Smith. She was angry Will didn’t advocate for the rest of the cast more and James Avery often had to talk her down, reminding her it’s HIS show. Daphne Reid was hired to replace her as Vivian Banks for the rest of the series. When Will Smith recently talked of wanting to do a possible reunion special, she made it known she still hates his guts. Ouch!
  • Alfonso Ribiero, like Jaleel White was defined by the character he played on TV: Carlton Banks. A little known fun fact about Alfonso: Before he was cast for the role, he trained to be a backup dancer for Michael Jackson. If you ever wondered why The Carlton Dance was so precise, now you know why. Tom Jones, who sings It’s Not Unusual made a guest appearance on an episode in a dream sequence after years of fan request and the renewed popularity of his song thanks to its use on the show.
  • Karyn Parsons, who played Hillary Banks was a talk show host for two years during seasons 4 and 5. It was a good way for those who only knew her for her role on Fresh Prince to see her in a different light.
  • You probably already know this but DJ Jazzy Jeff worked closely with Will Smith when they toured before the show. The “Jazz is thrown out” sequence was only shot once. In episodes in which he would be thrown out, he would always wear the same clothes he wore in the original shot to be consistent.

…Karyn Parsons, Tatiana Ali and Alfonso Ribiero are all of Trinidadian descent. I only just learned that from reading the show’s IMDB section. The only reason I mention that is because my family is from Trinidad ^_^

Alfonso brought back the Carlton Dance for his appearance in Dancing with the Stars back in 2014:

 

 

…He saved it for last and yes, he won the competition. He held off using the dance until the very end on purpose knowing he would only get to use it once and knew that if he saved it until the end, he would win the competition. His DWTS appearance also revitalized his acting career and celebrity status. A few years earlier, he revealed in an interview he left the business after the Fresh Prince ended because all anyone saw when they looked at him was Carlton Banks. Fortunately, he was able to get by on royalties from the show. After his DWTS appearance, he was able to find work in various TV roles.

Image result for Family Matters

Family Matters ran from 1989 to 1998.

…Man oh man. The IRONY of that video’s screenshot. I just finished reading the trivia section on IMDB for the show. I am now about to reveal to everyone the mystery of what happened to Judy Winslow. The character was appearantly doomed from the start and more so when Urkel became popular.

Valerie Jones played Judy in the first episode and was replaced by Foxworth afterward. The problem is her character had little screen time and was often ridiculed or the butt of jokes in almost all of her on-screen appearances. In other words, she was disposable. The story goes when Foxworth asked for a pay increase, the show’s producers were so pissed at her request she was promptly written off the show after four seasons. They told her she was let go due to budget cuts. This is why when she’s seen going upstairs, she’s never seen again. Later episodes revised the show’s canon to make it as if she never existed. If you look at family pictures in the living room after her last appearance, you will see she is no longer included. I do wonder if they never planned to keep the character for as long as they did given her abrupt exit without closure. They could’ve said she died and though morbid, it would’ve still been closure.

What happened to Foxworth after she was kicked off the show is tragic but unfortunately not uncommon: She got into porn at 19 and later, substance addiction. Fortunately, she got clean and is doing well now. She explains how and why here:

Fans of the TV series noticed Foxworth was left out of the reunion special that happened a few years after her OWN appearance. In a statement she released online, she explained she was not told of the planned reunion and though she was not surprised she was left out because of her checkered past since leaving the show, she felt that her omission was a missed opportunity. She also professed a willingness to be a part of a series reboot which the other cast members discussed.

Speaking of, here’s whart the other living cast members look like now:

Related image

Rosetta LeNoire, who played Ester Winslow was 85 years old when she left the show in 1997. She passed away in 2002 at age 90. Michelle Thomas, who played Urkel’s love interest Myra passed away from stomach cancer the same year as her final appearance. Orlando Jackson, who was added to the show later on got into legal trouble after leaving the show. Believe it or not, Reginal VelJohnson was the only actor to appear in every single episode of the series on both ABC and CBS.

It is interesting to note Family Matters is actually a spinoff of Perfect Strangers in which Harriet Winslow (played by Jo Marie Payton for all but the last season) first appeared as an elevator operator.  She as well as Reginal VelJohnson were the most experienced cast members. Fans were familiar with VelJohnson from his appearances in the Lethal Weapon movies in which he also played a cop. Jo Marie revealed later she wanted to leave the show sooner but didn’t because she was under contract. When CBS bought the show, she agreed to do a few episodes of what ended up being the 9th and final season.

New Edition, Dave Koz, Shanice Wilson, Tracie Spencer, Freddie Jackson, Missy Elliott, Ziggy Marley and The Melody Makers, Portrait, All 4 One, Immature, MC Lyte, Donna Summer, and Shai all appeared during the show’s run.

Image result for Family Matters Jaleel White

Now let’s get to some trivia about Jaleel White and the character that made him famous, Steven Quincy Urkel:

  • Before being permanently cast, Urkel made a cameo appearance in Full House (1989) in which he helped Stephanie Tanner (played by Jodie Sweetin) feel confident wearing her new glasses in school. He also appeared in an episode of Step by Step in 1991 and Meego in 1997.
  • White revealed apparently, he was originally going to be cast in the role of Rudy Huxtable on The Cosby Show when Bill Cosby decided to make the character a girl. That role was eventually given to Kiesha Knight-Pullam.
  • White had also apparently been considered for a role on Saved by the Bell, likely the role of Screech (given to Dustin Diamond).
  • Voiced Sonic the Hedgehog in the first 3 animated TV series.
  • At the time he was cast as Urkel at 13, he assumed he was out of the business since no one was calling him. Then he was cast for the role of Steve Urkel. Jaimee Foxworth auditioned for Judy Winslow 7 times just so you know. One of them was eventually cut. The other one became a TV Icon.
  • Apparently, Jaleel White had to shave weekly and was told to not work out to maintain his on-screen character. He noticably underwent several growth spurts throughout the course of the show.
  • In a 1999 interview, White revealed he had NBA aspirations when it looked like his acting career would be over. When he was told he couldn’t work out to maintain the Urkel character, that prettymuch ended his hoop dreams. He apparently played one on one with George Clooney during the latter actor’s run on ER since their respective sets were nearby.
  • In the same 1999 interview, White professed his hatred for the Urkel character. He couldn’t find other acting roles similar to Roberto Ribiero for prettymuch the same reasons. He would later walk back those comments in 2011, saying by the time the show’s run ended in 1998 he was just done and wanted to move on. He doesn’t hate the character anymore but has zero interest in doing it again.
  • The character of Stephan Ur’kel–in which White plays himself–gave fans a look at White’s range. The character was used sporatically throughout the series as Laura Winslow’s love interest. When given the choice to permanently have Stefan instead of Steve, she chose the latter because even though she loved Stefan she cared about Steve too. White pitched for Stefan to replace Urkel but was shot down because of the overwhelming popularity of the latter.

 

 

Image result for Steve Urkel and Carlton Banks

 

I opened with these shows mainly so I could now discuss the significance of the non-traditional roles played by Urkel and Carlton as Black Youth on Primetime TV.

This scene involving Carlton sums up what I’m trying to say:

 

Uncle Phil said it best: “When are we gonna stop doing this to each other?”

By “This”, he means the concept projected by Blacks that Blacks who find success outside Sports or Entertainment are sellouts. Blacks who are do not conform to how they think Blacks should be or are but still finds success is a sellout to them.

Carlton and Urkel were both non-conforming Black Young Men and their characters–especially Carlton’s–were introduced at a time when too many Black and Brown Males bought into the unrealistic myth that their only hope of relevance, fame and fortune was Sports of Entertainment and if that didn’t work out, they could turn to crime.

I do not having more sitcoms with a predominantly Black cast in non-conformist roles was a missed opportunity. Tyler Perry tried to bring that back with his studio but he let the fame go to his head. That seems to happen to everyone made famous because of Oprah. Just sayin’.

Movng on. Other sitcoms I watched with a predominantly Black Cast include:

  • Martin (Starring Martin Lawrence)
  • The D.L. Hughgley Show)
  • The Steve Harvey Show (featuring Cedric the Entertainer)
  • The Bernie Mac Show
  • Livin’ Single (Co-Starring Queen Latifah)
  • The Cosby Show
  • Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper
  • Sister, Sister (Starring Tia and Tamara Mowry)
  • Smart Guy (Starry Taj Mowry)
  • The Wayans Brothers (Starry Shawn and Marlon Wayans)

Those are just the ones that immediately came to mind too. I know I missed a few.

Image result for full house

 

…Obviously I was gonna go here. As the only one of the featured shows to actually get a spinoff series, I would remiss not to. The iconic sitcom ran from 1987 to 1995.

I have actually seen every single episode of this TV series. Like Family Matters and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, some of the cast members we already established or accomplished actors. In this case it was Bob Saget and Dave Coulier, who were friends in real life as well as John Stamos (Daytime Soap Opera). Story goes, Stamos got together with Coulier and Saget after the first season and hung out in Las Vegas. The new friendship between Stamos and Coulier was incorporated into the show as well.

Bob Saget was the host of America’s Funniest Home Videos and actually maintained his role as host during the entire length of the show’s run as Danny Tanner. His TV family even appeared in an episode of AMV in the audience in character. Candace Cameron Bure (Then just Candace Cameron before she married)–sister of teen start Kirk Cameron of Growing Pains fame–reccommended his sister audition for the role when she asked him about it. She would later push back against speculation (backed by her cast mates) the only reason she got the role of DJ Tanner is because of her more known older brother. Dave Coulier made recurring appearances on Nickelodeon before he signed on to Full House as well as during the first 3 seasons.

Everyone else including Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, who took turns playing Michelle Tanner were newcomers.  They were not credited as separate people until the final season because the producers didn’t want viewers to know two people shared the role of Michelle (They were credited as “Mary-Kate Ashley Olsen” but written as one name). The problem is as they grew, they became more distinctive in both personality and appearance. Mary-Kate is Right-Handed and Ashley is Left-Handed for example. At Stamos’ insistence they chose not to cut one of the twins and just elected to not address the subtle but obvious differences on air and otherwise. The Olsens, unlike Tia and Tamera Mowry are actually not identical twins.0

I know of two instances in which they both appeared on-screen at the same time. One was in the first season when relatives came to visit. The other twin was cast as a cousin. The other instance I remember offhand was the 2-part finale. Michelle was involved in a horse-riding accident and suffered amnesia. The other twin was cast as her missing memories. They appeared together again in the final curtain call.

There was a planned ninth season but it would have aired on the then new WB Network. The other cast members decided the time had come to end the show when John Stamos and Candace Cameron both announced they would be leaving after the 8th season, which aired between 1994 and 1995 on ABC. Most of the cast went to private life for 21 years after the series finale until the new series, which premeired in 2016. John Stamos and Lori Laughlin (played Becky) continued their acting careers on other syndicated shows.

The Olsens used their status to pursue careers in acting (It Takes Two) and voice acting before transitioning into Fashion and College in New York. The twins were constantly followed by a throng of media everywhere they went and the lows of the Olsens were well documented to put it mildly. When asked, Bob Saget vehemently defended his former co-stars and expressed disappointment at the girls being denied privacy from the media during their lows.

The cast reunited in 2015 in honor of the 20th Anniversary of the series finale. The cast discussed the possability of doing a new show together and most were on board.

 

 

Image result for full house

 

…That new show is Fuller House, which is available on Netflix. Same concept as the original series with a new cast of kids. They even got twos to play the baby again.

Noticably absent from the new series is Michelle Tanner. Her absence is explained on-screen as her just being too busy with her fashion empire in New York. Fans often mistook this as taking shots at the Olsens when it’s anything but that. The Olsens were part of the conversation when the original cast discussed the new series (Co-Produced by John Stamos) but they elected not to make an appearance for now. When asked about the absence from the new series, the other cast members dodged the question and redirected the discussion to the new series.

There is some speculation the reasons ABC (now owned by Disney) didn’t pick up Fuller House is because the Olsens were not part of the cast even in a recurring role and the older members of the original cast–Saget, Stamos, Coulier and Loughlin–wouldn’t have alot of screen time. Netflix offered to run the show and the rest is history. I do think the we will see Michelle Tanner make an on-screen appearance eventually and I also think when is being kept a closely guarded secret.

The new series uses the same premise as the original series: After the sudden and unexpected death of her husband, DJ Tanner is left to raise her three sons by herself. Her sister Stephanie and her best friend Kimmy Gibbler both offer to move in and help her with the kids. Kimmy moves in with her teenage daughter Ramona.

For those who may be wondering “Whatever happened to DJ’s boyfriend Steve?”, don’t worry. It’s covered and no, he wasn’t the one who died. DJ’s Single Mom status is a major plot bunny toward the end of the first season, the end of the second season and the first two episodes of the third season too actually. Kimmy’s ex-husband Fernando joins the cast halfway through though the first season (officially credited as a permanent cast member starting in the second season). The two remarry by the end of the second season. Kimmy’s younger brother Jimmy joins the cast toward the end of the second season. He and Stephanie end up hooking up by the beginning of the third season. One of the more touching moments touched on early in the first season is Sephanie wanting kids but being physically unable to have any. At the end of the third season, Kimmy offers to be a surrogate for her and her brother. In the season 3 finale, Kimmy reveals she is pregnant.

Season 4 is set to premiere later this year. Unlike 20 years ago, the whole season is shot at once. Also unlike 20 years ago, the series is not shot in front of a studio audience (The crowd reactions are pre-recorded). The same sets were obviously used with some noticable modern additions such as cell phones and tablets.

Movng on. Some other sitcoms I watched during the 80s and 90s include:

 

  • Punky Brewster
  • Married With Children
  • Family Matters
  • Home Improvement
  • The Wonder Years
  • Charles in Charles
  • Who’s The Boss
  • Boy Meets World
  • Seinfeld
  • Saved by The Bell
  • Small Wonder
  • Alf
  • Herman’s Head

 

Image result for punky brewster then and now
…You know you’re old when Punky Brewster is pregnant with her fourth child and will be 42 years old next month. Time has been good to Solei Moon Frye, who continued her acting career after the show ended in 1988. Once she hit pubety her freckles faded, she became taller and almost overnight she was no longer the spunky orphan who had captured the hearts of millions on TV. She had a recurring role on The Wonder Years in the early 90s before making her return to doing sitcoms. When asked about a possible series reboot, she said she wants one of her two daughters to play the character she made famous 30 years ago.

Whew.

I think I let this go on long enough. I will do the other three categories over time and will try to do them before the end of the summer. Man, I the nostalgia was something else with this one!

If you have enjoyed this post or other posts I have made on this blog, please consider making a monetary donation via PayPal. Whatever amount you provide would be greatly appreciated.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: