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Good Times - The Complete Fifth Season



DVD Release Date: August 23, 2005 (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
MSRP: $29.99
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 24
Running Time: 607 minutes
Total Run Time of Special Features: N/A
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English, closed-captioned
Special Features: None


J.J.: "Chello?"
Announcer: "J.J., did you know the fifth season of your classic sitcom is coming to DVD via Sony Pictures Home Entertainment?"
J.J.: "Well, you know, what can I say? I'm just DYNO-MITE!"

The fifth season of Good Times is the only season of the show where the kids — J.J. (Jimmy Walker), Thelma (Bern Nadette Stanis), and Michael (Ralph Carter) are on their own. With James already dead and Florida gone on her extended honeymoon, they are left on their own, with Willona (Ja'Net Du Bois) to look after them. Willona herself becomes a parent when she adopts an abused girl, Penny (Janet Jackson). Sure, without Florida, the fifth season wasn't the greatest season of the show, but it does have its good qualities, and for it to be one of the worst seasons of the show, it is still a very good season with great episodes throughout.

Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

The fifth season may not be the greatest season of Good Times, but there are still many great episodes in the fifth season. We start off with the four part episode, "The Evans Get Involved." In these episodes, we first meet Penny (Janet Jackson), and then Willona discovers the truth about Penny—and must decide what she can do about it to make things better for Penny. Alice Ghostley of Bewitched and Designing Women makes a guest appearance in the fourth part. Gordon Jump makes a guest appearance on "Willona, the Fuzz," an episode in which Willona becomes a store detective. In "Breaker, Breaker," Michael finds a new friend over the CB radio, but is surprised when he learns that she is a paraplegic. The Evans family petitions to have Bookman fired in "Bye, Bye, Bookman." Benson's Robert Guillaume makes a guest appearance in "Requiem for a Wino." Alice Ghostley returns as the social worker in Penny's Christmas, an episode where Penny gets caught shoplifting—will it prevent Willona from adoption her? There is a couch fire in "Where There's Smoke," but there are three different stories as to who caused the fire, so what are they trying to hide? In the bizarre episode "I Had a Dream," we get to see how things would be if JJ was white. The season concludes with "That's Entertainment, Evans Style," where Gary Coleman makes a guest appearance. In this episode, Willona has to host a benefit to help fund a daycare center. We also get to see Janet Jackson perform in this episode when Penny and Michael go on stage and perform together, but there is no Justin Timberlake in this episode, so there is no need to worry about any, umm, wardrobe malfunctions.


The outer box looks just like the other Good Times DVD sets, only this time, the packaging is yellow. And of course, the box art includes a picture of the cast from that season, which did NOT include Esther Rolle. Inside, there is a digipak that holds the discs. This particular set uses a three panel digipak rather than a four panel one, which means that the inserts are held on the back of one of the panels. The episodes are spanned evenly throughout the discs, with 1-8 on Disc 1, 9-16 on Disc 2, and 17-24 on Disc 3. Additionally, the previews for other DVDs are contained on Disc 1. The discs themselves even look nice, with pictures of cast members on them. The booklet that is contained within the set isn't the greatest episode guide for a DVD set, but it serves the basic function for which it was intended, to tell which episodes are on which disc and a brief description of each episode.

Menu Design and Navigation:

Once again, we have the basic (and typical) no-frills menus that we are so used to with Sony. Essentially, you have the Good Times logo and something that appears to be from the mural on the closing credits on the main menu, and the options include Play All and Episode Selections. Of course, Disc 1 has an option for Previews. When you go to Episode Selections, you get (as you would imagine) the episodes for that disc. Just like other Sony DVDs, you get a snapshot from each episode on the menu.

Video and Audio Quality:

This set does very well on audio and video quality. Every episode on this set is 25:30, so the episodes are presumably uncut (although the recaps on "The Evans Get Involved" Parts 2-4 are missing). The video quality isn't incredibly sharp, but it is still about what one would expect for a show that is nearly 30 years old. The audio quality, though, is the most surprising thing about this set. The audio is presented in mono, but it STILL sounds great. In fact, I can't think of a single flaw with the audio, and the set doesn't even have the "low volume" problem that many Sony DVD sets tend to have. I only wish all DVD sets had such a low number of flaws in these areas.

Special Features:

There are trailers on Disc 1, but that is all that is included in this set. The trailers included are Classic Urban Series (1:27), Bewitched TV series (1:00), The Partridge Family (1:00), Guess Who? (2:10), and Hitch (2:25). I don't understand why there can't be some sort of special features on this set… this is one of the more well-known shows in television history (even people that have never watched it probably recognize J.J.) and it has no commentaries or anything. I'd really like to see some commentary or interviews, at least from the actors that played the children (don't expect Janet Jackson though).

Final Comments:

Well, you know, what can I say? This set is definitely barebones, completely lacking special features, but if you are after the episodes, this is a great set to own, especially after the great recent success the show has had on TV Land. Sure, uncut episodes of Good Times are available on the cable network TV One, but the ones on the DVD are nicely organized and the episodes are a lot cleaner looking than the ones on TV One. I'm pleased to see how far this show has gone on DVD considering that many shows are only on their first or second season. Good Times should be wrapping up fairly soon on DVD (provided everything goes right), so if you want to own the entire series on DVD, you can get the first four seasons as well as this one, and you'll be on your way to own the entire series…that is just dy-no-mite!

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

Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 5/5
Special Features: 0/5
Menu Navigation/Design: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

-- Reviewed by skees53 on 08/03/05

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