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Good Times - The Complete Sixth Season


TITLE: GOOD TIMES - THE COMPLETE SIXTH SEASON


Info:

DVD Release Date: August 1, 2006 (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Color
MSRP: $29.95
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 24
Running Time: Approx. 580 minutes
Total Run Time of Special Features: N/A
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English, closed-captioned
Special Features: Sony Bonus Previews


Introduction:

In the final season of Good Times, one of the first African-American sitcoms, the Evans family grows and the laughs continue. Florida (Esther Rolle) returns from Arizona for the wedding between her daughter Thelma (Bern Nadette Stanis) and football player Keith Anderson (new cast member Ben Powers). She finds J.J. (Jimmie Walker) teaching art so he can help support the family. And brother Michael (Ralph Carter), neighbor Willona (Ja'net DuBois), Willona's adopted daughter Penny (Janet Jackson), and building super Bookman (Johnny Brown) are also on hand for the best season yet! Look for Gary Coleman (TV's "Diff'rent Strokes") and Kim Fields (TV's "The Facts of Life") in special guest-star appearances. This three-disc set contains all 24 Dyno-O-Mite episodes from the sixth season, all digitally remastered and on DVD for the first time!


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

TV's beloved Evans family returns for the last time. The series features a 12-year-old Janet Jackson, comedian Jimmie Walker as the Evans' wise-cracking son J.J. (whose "Dyn-O-mite" became a popular '70s catchphrase) and Ja'net DuBois (Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle) as the Evan's neighbor and best friend Willona. This season also marks the return of Esther Rolle as the Evan's family loving and wise matriarch, Florida. No mention of the fate of Florida's second husband, Carl Dixon, is ever made. Other regulars in the last season were Johnny Brown as Nathan Bookman (aka "Buffalo Butt" and "Booger"), Ben Powers as Keith Anderson, and Theodore Wilson as Sweet Daddy. Good Times' final original episode aired on CBS on August 1st, 1979. A total of 133 episodes were produced over the six season run. The series won three Golden Globe Awards.

After a sub-par fifth season, there were a number of memorable sixth season episodes. The season began with a 4-part episode, "Florida's Homecoming," that aired over 3 weeks. Thelma falls for football player Keith Anderson, and he proposes to her in Part 1. Florida worries about the wedding and J.J. loses his job, so he borrows money from loan shark Sweedy Daddy Williams in Part 2. Keith seriously injures his leg at the ceremony after tripping over J.J. in Part 3. Sweedy Daddy Williams comes to collect on the money that J.J. borrowed to pay for the wedding in Part 4. A fierce snow storm forces Florida and the kids from her bus to take shelter in an abandoned building in "The Snow Storm." When Larry, a student on Florida's bus, gets picked on by the other kids, Florida suspects he may have a hearing problem in "Florida's Favorite Passenger (Part 1)." Larry's mother asks Florida to take her son to get his hearing tested, but things get more complicated when Larry tells Florida he wants to come live with her in "Florida's Favorite Passenger (Part 2)." Willona's new boyfriend is really an actor working for Penny's brith mother, trying to make Willona look like an unfit mother in "A Matter of Mothers."

Notable guest stars included Bubba Smith as Claude in "Florida's Homecoming (Part 3)" and "The Witness." Gary Coleman appeared as Gary James in "Florida Gets a Job." Hal Williams played Frank Mitchell in "J.J. the Teacher." Howard Morton guest starred as Jim Crebbins and Nancy Morgan was Cindy Crebbins in "Michael's Decision." Sheryl Lee Ralph appeared as Vanessa Blake in "J.J. and the Plumber's Helper." Kim Fields played Kim in "The Snow Storm" and "The Physical." Kathleen Bradley (one of Barker's beauties on "The Price is Right") was the Nurse in "Blood Will Tell." Helen Martin made her final appearance in the recurring role of Wanda in "The Physical." John Witherspoon appeared as Officer Lawson in "A Matter of Mothers."


Packaging:

I like that the packaging has remained consistent throughout all six seasons. The DVD cover art features a nice season 6 cast photo that includes all the regulars. Good Times is featured in orange and light blue in a large font at the top of the box. Michael is featured on the spine of the box for the first time. The main DVD box slides out from the left of the outer box and has the same photo on both covers. The back of the outer DVD box has a red and orange striped background and gives a brief summary of the show, with some highlights of the sixth season. There are 3 small photos of the cast members from the episodes. Opening the digipak, there is a pocket holder that has a photo of Sweet Daddy Williams and J.J. on it. 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. There is also a brochure that promotes some of Sony's other TV DVD releases. On the back of the digipak, there is a nice wedding photo of Florida, Keith, Thelma, J.J., and Willona.

This set uses a three panel digipak. The inside panels have a red and orange striped background. Each disc holds 8 episodes. They have a silver background, with photos of the cast members on them. Disc 1 features Florida, J.J., and Michael and holds episodes 1-8. Disc 2 has Willona and Penny and contains episodes 9-16. Disc 3 has a photo of Thelma and Keith and rounds out the set with episodes 17-24.


Menu Design and Navigation:

The menus are very basic and easy to navigate. The main menu features the same photo as the cover art, but it is cropped a bit. Good Times - The Complete Sixth Season is at top in orange and light blue. The disc number is in light blue. There are options for Play All Episodes, Episodes Selections, and Previews (only on Disc 1). When you select Episode Selections, you go to a sub-menu. The sub-menus have a red and orange striped background. There is a still image from each episode in a red, orange, and yellow colored TV set. The episode number is in an orange circle where the TV dial would be located. When you highlight an episode, the circle turns light blue and finally it turns yellow before the episode begins.


Video and Audio Quality:

I haven't noticed a lot of change in audio and video quality over the course of the six seasons. All of the episodes have 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, surprisingly good for being in mono. 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 some sort of mix of the production and original airdate order. CBS never aired 2-3 of the final season episodes, so "The End of the Rainbow" which was the final original episode to air is at the end. Closed-captioning is available for all of the episodes.

21 of the 24 episodes appear to be unedited, running around 24 1/2 minutes in length. There are 3 episodes that I'm a bit concerned about. Florida's Homecoming (Parts 1 and 2) originally aired as an one-hour episode. These episodes run only 22:12, so they very likely are from syndication prints. There would have been no preview for the 2nd episode at the end of Part 1, or a recap of episode 1 at the start of the second episode. Florida's Homecoming (Parts 3 and 4) aired over 2 weeks. These appear to be unedited. Part 4 has a 1:40 recap before the start of the opening credits. Florida's Favorite Passenger (Part 1) appears to be unedited, running at 24:32. It has the "To Be Continued Next Week..." tag. Part 2 runs only 22:18, and it doesn't have a recap of the first episode so maybe that is all it is missing. Previous Good Times sets have also had missing previews and recaps. Those really aren't that important in the grand scheme of things.

Here is the episode breakdown by disc, including the running times:

Disc 1
-----------
110. Florida's Homecoming (Part 1) (22:22)
111. Florida's Homecoming (Part 2) (22:22)
112. Florida's Homecoming (Part 3) (24:20)
113. Florida's Homecoming (Part 4) (24:27)
114. Florida Gets a Job (24:27)
115. Stomach Mumps (24:25)
116. J.J. the Teacher (24:24)
117. Michael's Decision (24:25)

Disc 2
-----------
118. J.J. and the Plumber's Helper (24:16)
119. The Witness (24:24)
120. The Snow Storm (24:32)
121. The Traveling Christmas (24:32)
122. House Hunting (24:26)
123. Florida's Favorite Passenger (Part 1) (24:32)
124. Florida's Favorite Passenger (Part 2) (22:18)
125. Blood Will Tell (24:31)

Disc 3
-----------
126. Where Have All The Doctors Gone (24:31)
127. J.J. and T.C. (24:32)
128. The Physical (24:31)
129. A Matter of Mothers (24:31)
130. The Evans' Dilemma (24:32)
131. The Art Contest (24:30)
132. Cousin Raymond (24:31)
133. The End of the Rainbow (24:31)


Special Features:

We've been completely shut out of any special features for all six seasons of Good Times. It would have been nice to see some cast interviews, audio commentaries, or a retrospective for this final season. The episodes are the most important thing, but some extras would have added to my enjoyment of these sets.

There are a number of theatrical movie trailers and Sony TV DVD previews found on Disc 1: Are We There Yet? (2:33), Classic Urban TV Series (1:25), Dynamic Duos (2:13), Great TV Families (2:15), Ladies' Night (1:57), Little Man (2:28), The Gospel (1:49).


Final Comments:

That's a wrap for the Good Times franchise on DVD. It is fitting that this set is being released on the anniversary of the last original episode (08/01/79). It took about 3 1/2 years for Sony to release all 6 seasons. The sets have been priced affordably and offered good audio and video quality. The episodes prior to season 6 have appeared to be unedited, except for some inconsequential previews and recaps. On this set, the first 2 episodes appear to be from syndication prints.

I love that Sony has released so many of my favorite sitcoms on DVD, but I have to rant a little bit. There is no excuse for any of their sets to have ANY edited episodes. Sony seems to especially have a problem with the two-part episodes, which originally aired as one-hour broadcasts. We've seen edited episodes on Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete First Season, Archie Bunker's Place - The Complete First Season, The Jeffersons - The Complete Fourth Season, Charlie's Angels - The Complete Second Season, and Starsky & Hutch - The Complete Second Season. Those are just shows with multi-part episodes. Other Sony sets which have had some edited episodes include: Barney Miller - Season 1, The Facts of Life - The Complete First and Second Seasons, Sanford & Son - multiple seasons, Soap - multiple seasons, That's My Mama - The Complete First and Second Seasons, Married with Children - The Complete Fourth Season, and The Partridge Family - The Complete First Season. If Sony owns all of these shows, why can't they release them with all the original footage? If they can release the episodes previously unedited on Columbia House VHS tapes and show them unedited on Comcast's On-Demand service, why can't they release them the same way on DVD? I know Sony is not the only studio that has released edited episodes, but I think they can improve a lot in this area and explain to consumers why some episodes have missing footage. They should clearly state it on the packaging, or stop promoting them as "Complete" seasons. If fans want to see edited episodes, they can watch them on cable. They seem to have done a better job with their sitcoms of the 1960's like Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, Gidget, The Flying Nun, and Hazel.

Now that Good Times has wrapped up, it will be interesting to see what direction Sony goes from here. I think we will likely see the start of two more Norman Lear sitcoms: Maude, which Good Times spun-off from, and One Day at a Time. They have been featured in some of the bonus previews.


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 0/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 07/18/06

To purchase the DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000FSMEBA/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20

Questions or comments about this set? Post on our message board:

http://www.sitcomsonline.com/boards/showthread.php?t=178061


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