TITLE: GOOD TIMES - THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON
DVD Release Date: February 15th, 2005 (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
color/approx. 602 minutes
Number of discs: 3
Number of episodes: 24
Languages and subtitles: English, Closed Captioned
Special features: 3 Previews for Sony DVD Releases of White Chicks,
King of Queens, and Classic Comedy
At the start of the Fourth Season, it's Good Times... and bad times. For the Evans
family, life has always been a combination of both, but when family
patriarch James (John Amos) is killed in an auto accident, Florida (Esther Rolle)
is left to support herself and their three kids - Michael (Ralph Carter), Thelma
(BernNadette Stanis), and J.J. (Jimmie Walker) - on her own. Neighbor Willona
(Ja'net DuBois) does her best to help, as good friends do. Times are tough but if laughter
is the best medicine, then J.J. must be the doctor, administering double doses of
hilarious hijinks to everyone. Soon, it seems like the Good Times are back again.
This 3-disc set contains all 24 Dyn-o-mite episodes from the fourth season, all digitally
remastered. Let the Good Times roll!
Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:
At the start of the fourth season (1976-77), James is killed in an auto accident
in Mississippi, where he was working as a partner in a garage. John Amos
had been fired from the show. The memorable 2-part episode
"The Big Move" opened the season. This was probably one of the most powerful episodes
of the series with Florida's "damn, damn, damn" line. In the 2-part episode
"J.J's New Career," J.J. gets a job as a numbers runner but tells Florida he's working
a legit job. Thelma begins a romance with an African exchange student, which starts
to become serious in the 2-part episode "Thelma's African Romance." The season ended
with another 2-part episode called "Love Has a Spot On Its Lung," in which Carl
decides that he wants to marry Florida. This would be Esther Rolle's final appearance
until she returned in the 6th season.
Notable guest stars included Helen Martin ("227") as Wanda in "The Big Move, Part 2." Shirley
Hemphill (Shirley from "What's Happening!!") appeared as Rozzie in "Rich Is Better Than Poor...
Maybe." William Pierson (Dean Travers on "Three's Company") appeared as Marty Mitchell
in "The Judy Cohen Story." Moses Gunn makes his first appearance in the recurring
role of Carl Dixon in "A Stormy Relationship."
Season 4 is similarily designed to the first 3 seasons sets of Good Times. The
DVD cover art features a photo of the cast, including Bookman. The set has an overall
light lime green color. The main DVD box slides out from the left of the outer box and
has the same photo on both covers. I'm not sure if the original photo contained Bookman,
or if he was digitally added to the shot. The back of the outer DVD box gives a brief summary
of the show with some highlights of the fourth
season. Opening the DVD set, there is a pocket holder that has a photo of J.J., Thelma,
Florida, and Michael. There is a small booklet that contains an episode guide for the season
with the episode titles and short summaries. As with other Sony releases, it would be nice
if they would include the original airdate and guest stars for all of the episodes. Also
included in the pocket holder is a brochure that promotes some of Sony's
other past and future dvd releases. BernNadette Stanis is on the spine of the box.
Like season 3, the discs have actual photos on them. They have a silver
background. Disc 1 has a photo of Jimmie Walker and has episodes 1-8. Disc 2 features Ja'net DuBois and
Ralph Carter and contains episodes 9-17. Disc 3 shows Esther Rolle and BernNadette
Stanis and offers episodes 18-24. The back of the box has a photo of J.J.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The menu navigation is simple and easy. The main menu features a portion of Ernie Barnes'
classic painting "Sugar Shack," which was shown in the opening and closing credits
on the show. Good Times is written in orange and red letters at the top.
The menus have a white background. There is a Play All Episodes, Episode Selections, and Previews (only on the 1st disc) option.
When you select episode selections, there is a small photo from each episode. The episode
selections sub-menus have a brick background in what looks to be an alley
with a trashcan at the bottom of the screen.
You highlight the episode, and it has a yellow and light blue border which turns
a light red upon selection. The menus have a different color stripe on each disc - disc
1 is yellow, disc 2 is red, and disc 3 is orange.
Video and Audio Quality:
The video and audio quality is similar to the first 3 seasons. The episodes have,
once again, been digitally remastered. Since the show was shot on videotape, it doesn't have
the grain and dust that you typically see with TV shows or movies that are shot on film.
There are no major problems with the audio. It can be heard loud and clear.
The DVD sets are definite upgrades over the VHS tapes Columbia House had released
in recent years. There are chapter stops within the episodes but no scene selection menus.
The episodes are presented in their original airdate order, and all appear to be unedited
running over 24 minutes in length. Closed-captioning is available for
all of the episodes.
Unfortunately, there are once again no special features on this set. This is not
surprising, since there were none on the first 3 season releases. I think most Good Times
fans will just be satisfied with the episodes themselves, as they are in good
quality and are complete. There are 3 previews for Sony Home Entertainment DVD releases
of White Chicks, The King of Queens, and Classic Comedy on the first disc.
Four seasons down, two to go to complete the Good Times series. I thought John Amos was a
big part of the show's success during the first 3 seasons. He is definitely missed here,
but there are still some good episodes in season 4, especially the very moving
opener. Esther Rolle would leave after season 4, as the show was dealt another major blow.
She would return for the 6th and final season. This set offers many laughs at
an affordable price.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):
Video quality: 4.2/5
Audio quality: 4.1/5
Special Features: NA
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.8/5
-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 02/07/05
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