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The Wayans Bros. aired from January 1995 until September 1999 on The WB.
Shawn and Marlon ( Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayons) were two brothers living together in this physical comedy. Shawn, a driver for the APS overnight delivery service, was the more serious brother, hoping to get promoted or find a new career that would give him enough money to marry his girlfriend, Lisa ( Lela Rochon), a college student whose father was a successful physician. Marlon, his free-spirited kid brother , worked part-time in the kitchen of their father's small Manhattan diner, Pops' Place, located adjacent to the lobby of the Neidermeyer Building. Happy-go-lucky Marlon always seemed to be getting himself and his brother in some kind of trouble. Pops ( John Weatherspoon) wanted to be proud of both of his sons, but Marlon's antics didn't make it easy. Benny ( Benny Quan) was the short-order cook at Pops' Place and Lupe ( Joanna Sanchez)the waitress who also worked the register.
In the fall of 1995, Shawn was laid off and bought the newsstand in the lobby of the Neidermeyer Buiding with money he borrowed from his dad. Marlon worked bussing tables at the diner and helped out at the newsstand. Added to the cast was Monique (Paula Jai Parker), a sexy woman from a rich family whose financial reverses had forced her to take a job as a clerk in the hotel's card shop. She and Shawn sparred verbally while Marlon had the hots for her. Lou ( Jill Tasker) was the feisty but petite security guard at the Neidermeyer Building, replaced late in the year by hefty Dee ( Anna Maria Horsford). Two recurring characters were bumbling White Mike ( Mitch Mullany) and T.C. ( Phill Lewis), a con man forever looking to make his big score.
During the 1997-1998 season Marlon tried to get work as an actor. In the season finale an electrical fire destroyed Shawn's newsstand, but that fall he rebuilt it. Marlon got a regular role on the NBC sitcom Everybody Loves Everybody and Shawn became his business manager-for fifty percent of what he earned.
Shawn and Marlon, two of the younger members of the talented Wayans clan-their older brother Keenan, had been the creative force behind In Living Color on which they both had appeared-were the creators of this series.
A Review from Variety
January 15, 1995 11:00PM PT
The Wayans Bros.
By Tony Scott
Taped at Warner Bros. Studio Facilities by Next to Last Prods., BabyWay Prods. and Warner Bros. TV. Exec producers-writers, Billy Van Zandt, Jane Milmore; co-exec producer, Eric L. Gold; producers, Adam Markowitz, Matt Ember, Mary Ellen Jones; creators, Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Leslie Ray, David Simon; director, Shelley Jensen; First of three new entries on the startup Warner Bros. network sets up Shawn Wayans and Marlon Wayans (real-life brothers of Keenen Ivory and Damon) as stop-at-nothing go-getters who don’t get much. Driven mostly by energy, the sitcom demands as little as it offers.
The likable twosome play New Yorkers Shawn and Marlon Williams, sons of a diner owner (John Witherspoon), who are ready to cash ideas into bucks.
Initial scheme involves an infomercial (backed by Pop’s $ 600) to hawk homemade Goop Hair-It-Is. They try ringing in Garrett Morris as their TV guest, but he’s too quick; undaunted, they trot out Gary Coleman, but the writers hand him thin material.
Program, penned by exec producers Billy Van Zandt and Jane Milmore, depends for most of its humor on the brothers’ enthusiasm, since the situations ring few bells.
Morris gets in some funny moments, but Coleman is left high and dry except for a smoking toupee. Lela Rochon limns Shawn’s g.f. Lisa, but she’s strictly a straight woman. Comedian Witherspoon huffs and puffs as their dad, but to little comic effect.
Both brothers have zest, but director Shelley Jensen doesn’t dig out any real comedy timing. Sitcom presents no real humor, only clowning, and few laughs.
Next stanza may settle into a funnier mode, but so far, it’s stuck in the goop. WB hasn’t put its best foot forward — we hope.
The Wayans Bros.
Production: WB, Wed. Jan. 11, 8 p.m.
Crew: Camera, Jo Mayer; editor, Marc Lamphear; art director, Beala Neel; costume designer, Valari Adams; audio mixer, Evan Adelman; video, Jean Mason; tech director, Dick Woodka; music, Tom Rizzo; main title theme, Tribe Called Quest, Alan Cohn. 30 MIN.
With: Cast: Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, John Witherspoon, Lela Rochon, Gary Coleman, Michael G. Hagerty, Garrett Morris.
An Article from the LA Times
The Wayans Ought to Give It a Rest
January 23, 1995|GARY PHILLIPS | Gary Phillips is a free-lance writer and co-director of the MultiCultural Collaborative, a nonprofit group focusing on how media, education and economics impact underserved communities in Los Angeles.
There's a hit movie playing around the country called "Dumb and Dumber." I'm not exactly sure what the movie is about, except I gather there are these two feckless goofs who are more ignorant than Forrest Gump and who manage to get themselves into one zany predicament after another.
There must be some kind of trend the bright boys and girls of Hollywood have stumbled on: the fool as the metaphor for the redemption of innocence in this age of compassionless conservatism.
Yeah, that's it. There must have been this nobler purpose in mind when the executives at the new Warner Bros. Television Network heard the pitch for the Wayans brothers' idea for a show. Or maybe the designer-water types were swayed by the symbolism of having a show that has the same initials as their network. Although in the case of "The Wayans Bros." show (and for that matter the rest of the comedies that premiered Jan. 11 on the new syndicated channel) it must stand for the Without Brains Television Network.
Marlon and Shawn are the younger brothers of Keenen and Damon, and their show proves that comedy is not genetic. The basic premise of the sitcom is two brothers--one dimwitted and the other a schemer, and both would-be hustlers--who live in New York with their dad (played by the funny John Witherspoon), the owner of a diner.
On paper, that sounds all right. In the hands of bright, talented writers, that framework could provide an interesting underpinning to look at black male relations--even given that the show is supposed to be a comedy.
But what the Wayans brothers, the writers and producers did to the concept was a tragedy. The plot of show No. 1 has the stupid brother coming up with a homemade pomade for hair straightening. It's a bargain-basement Jheri Kurl in a jar that they call, Goop! Hair It Is.
And the reason the slower brother is so obsessed with getting his hair conked has to do with him not getting into a club. It seems the doorman wouldn't let him in, but two of his partners were admitted because their hair was greased up, their locks flying.
With that sound motivation intact, the rest of the episode deals with the brothers trying to find a celebrity to endorse their product on an infomercial for cable access. This includes putting a bag on Garrett Morris' head and forcibly bringing him to their apartment. Now that's supposed to be funny.
Anyway, Garrett bows out (after a joke is made about a real-life incident in which he was shot on an Inglewood street last year), and Gary Coleman becomes the spokesman for Goop! Hair It Is. There are other forgettable bits from the Wayans brothers, then finally the day arrives for their broadcast.
As one might suspect, the pomade ignites Coleman's processed hair, and the end of the scene has a frantic Coleman crawling along the floor, trying to put the fire out on his head by rubbing it in the carpet.
And if you thought the first show was just working out the rough spots, check out these highlights from the second episode last week. In that installment, we have Marlon--the knucklehead--putting a sandwich to his mouth with his toes, having to strip naked to get through a metal detector, and telling a kid who has blown the brothers' latest scam, "Boy, I'll send you to Michael Jackson's house."
It's bad enough blacks can't get the lead in dramas, that we're in the comedy ghetto of television. Must we then dig our hole deeper by acquiescing to do electronic minstrel shows? Even the old "Amos 'n' Andy" TV show wasn't this demeaning to African Americans.
Give me ABC's "Me and the Boys" any day. Steve Harvey, who plays the dad, is funny, provides insight, and the program displays positive relationships among black males. The creators of the Wayans' show should watch a few episodes of Harvey's show and maybe pick up a few tips. Better yet, why not pull the plug on the Wayans and the ones responsible for the fiasco, and bring back the thoughtful "Frank's Place."
An Article from The New York Times
If Whites Can Be Silly ...
By JOHN J. O'CONNOR
Published: April 19, 1997
The subject of ''Black and White TV,'' a brief documentary on MTV, is the ghettoization of television. Ratings lists of what whites watch bear little resemblance to what blacks watch. And now that the new networks, WB and UPN, are intentionally revving up the competition with black-theme shows, the divide seems even more daunting. This program, to be broadcast tomorrow night at 10:30, pushes all the familiar buttons but with some interesting variations.
It's not all, so to speak, black and white, as some black performers are learning. Shawn and Marlon Wayans of WB's ''Wayans Bros'' have been attacked by black groups for their broad humor and, it's charged, the perpetuation of negative stereotypes. The brothers wonder, quite justifiably, why white characters like Kramer on ''Seinfeld'' can get away with similar slapstick. LL Cool J, starring in UPN's ''In the House,'' talks about the ''subtexts, the subtleties that exist in certain cultures.''
In the end, it comes down to people wanting to see themselves. In interviews, young viewers, black and white, are quick to acknowledge that ''not all of us are the same.'' It's a new era of viewer choice that, if all's right in the world, may eventually end up with interracial crossovers. JOHN J. O'CONNOR
To watch clips from The Wayans Bros. go to https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=the+wayans+bros+tv+show
For more on The Wayans Bros. go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wayans_Bros.
To watch the opening credits go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDCINv3zY5c and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cx26DSnx6Ng
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