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The Parent 'Hood aired from January 1995 until July 1999 on the WB.
For series star ( and coexecutuve producer) Robert Townsend, whose Townsend Television on Fox the previous season had attempted to stretch the envelope for variety series , this was a pretty pedestrian family sitcom. Robert Peterson ( Townsend) was an outgoing professor of communications at N.Y.U. He and his wife Jerri ( Suzzanne Douglas), who was in law school , lived in a Manhattan brownstone apartment with their four children. Michael ( Kenny Blank), the prankster and Zaria ( Reagan Gomez-Preston) were more interested in friends and dating than in their schoolwork, while Nicholas ( Curtis Williams) was remarkably outspoken for his age and Cece ( Ashli Adams) was just so cute. Others seen around the Peterson household were Mrs. Wilcox ( Carol Woods), their sometimes belligerent housekeeper, who had been Robert's baby-sitter when he was a child; her son, Wendell ( Faizon Love), the handyman; and Derek ( Bobby McGee), Robert's charming childhood friend who was struggling to succeed as an actor.
For a series with a title that implied it would show a " real" black family, there was very little difference between the Petersons and the Huxtables ( The Cosby Show) of the eighties or, for that matter, The Cleavers ( Leave it to Beaver) or the Stones ( The Donna Reed Show) of the fifties and sixties.
During the 1996-1997 season Robert hosted a public access cable show Community Focus, on which he and Wendell were the movie critics -" brothers in the balcony." Many of the episodes included Robert's daydreams , in which the regulars played other people or something prompted him to fantasize about how things might have been different. Michael started a band , and he and the band's singer, Zaria's friend Theresa ( Tasha Scott) were dating. Zaria was dating Shakim ( Nigel Thatch), a politically active senior who rubbed her parents the wrong way. In May 1997 , Jerri graduated from law school.
That fall Michael was away at college and T.K. ( Tyrone Dorzell Burton) joined the cast. He was a tough street kid who Jerri brought into the household to provide the young con artist an environment for which he could straighten out his life.Jerri was working at home trying to build a legal practice and Zaria had a new boyfriend , Gordon ( Cory King). Early in 1998 Wendell was suddenly dropped from the cast without explanation. In the last original episode of the season Robert prevented T.K. from using a gun to get back his stuff from some thugs in his old neighborhood, but at the end, the thugs fired two shots at Robert and T.K. Viewers did not find out what happened until a year later, when The Parent 'Hood returned for an abbreviated run during the summer of 1999. Robert had suffered a gunshot wound , but recovered, and things were back to normal. New to the cast was his well-meaning but ineffectual brother, Kelly ( Kelly Perine). The 1999 episodes were scheduled in an hour-long block, consisting of a rerun followed by an original episode.
A Review from Variety
The Parent 'Hood
By TODD EVERETT
Cast: Robert Townsend, Suzzanne Douglas, Kenny Blank, Reagan Gomez-Preston, Curtis Williams, Ashli Adams, Bobby McGee, Carol Woods, Faizon Love, Doug Kruze.
Filmed in Los Angeles by Highest Common Denominator Prods. and Warner Bros. Television. Executive producers, Andrew Nicholls, Darrell Vickers; co-executive producer, Robert Townsend; producer, Ellen L. Fogle, Pamela Grant; co-producer, Loretha Jones; director, John Bowab; script, Ellen L. Fogle;
Moving from features to new Warner Bros. "network," Robert Townsend buys into conventional black sitcom format, exhuming characters and situations dating back to his youth. The vintage elements in "The Parent 'Hood" are more hackneyed than nostalgic; more insulting than uplifting.
Townsend plays Robert Peterson, a college professor and family man. His wife, Jerri (Suzzanne Douglas), is a law student, and they're the parents of four children: teenagers Michael (Kenny Blank) and Zaria (Reagan Gomez-Preston), and moppets Nicholas (Curtis Williams) and CeCe (Ashli Adams).
The children are more smart-alec than smart, never missing an opportunity for a wisecrack, no matter how inappropriate.
There's the standard-issue friend/neighbor who drops in through always-unlocked doors (Derek Sawyer) -- this is in New York City, mind you -- and an older woman, lusty Mrs. Wilcox (Carol Woods), who irritates everybody. It's the LaWanda Page role from "Sanford and Son," only less funny.
Debut episode finds Michael and Zaria trying to con their parents into giving them permission to take possession of grandmother's automobile by asking for something more severe -- tattoos and body piercing, respectively -- and then bargaining down to the more reasonable car. Robert and Jeru discover the plot and retaliate by taking the kids to a body-piercing and tattoo shop.
Everybody overacts, dialogue in Ellen L. Fogle's script is either trite or stilted. Says Michael at one point, "My first tentative steps toward manhood are being thwarted."
Funniest character, again a cartoon, is Mrs. Wilcox's ex-con son, Wendell (Faizon Love), who is evidently not a regular.
Looking at the bright side, there are only two ways this show can go: up, or out. Townsend, who takes "created by" credit with Andrew Nicholls and Darrell Vickers, is surely capable of better.
A Review from USA TODAY
TV PREVIEW/BY MATT ROUSH
'Parent' is a poor example
In just one week, the new WB Network has gone from disgusting to depressing.
Last Wednesday's WB premieres each tried to outdo the other in vulgarity, sinking to lows previously set by Fox. Tonight, rounding out the quartet of sitcoms launching this misbegotten venture, a different kind of clone arrives: TGIF redux, a Cosby kind of cartoon.
While not as mean-spirited, it's not much better either.
The Parent' Hood finds Robert Townsend ( a Fox castoff last season) succumbing to the Hollywood shuffle he once mocked. A charismatic comic, he's at sea in this domestic wading pool of insult humor (" If stupid was glue, Dad could wallpaper New Zealand") and maudlin life lessons.
The show synopsis describes him as a professor married to a law student, with four kids, living in New Tork. How then to explain the expansive set, which makes the Huxtable brownstone look like a closet.
At least it gives you something to look at, because the jokes are beyond been-there: the sister taunting her brother as " eunuch" or "elf boy"; the hefty baby sitter (Broadway veteran Carol Woods) mugging about her love life: " I haven't had a choo-choo runnin over my tracks in quite a while."
There goes the 'hood.
An Article from the LA Times
'Parent 'Hood' Salutes Black Actors
Television: The sitcom pays tribute to thespian pioneers such as Stepin Fetchit, who were often criticized for perpetuating negative racial stereotypes.
February 20, 1996|JON MATSUMOTO | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
Martin Luther King Jr., James Baldwin, John Coltrane, Alice Walker. . . . There are many gifted and inspirational African American figures who are clearly deserving of praise and recognition.
But Wednesday night's episode of "The Parent 'Hood" asks viewers to consider the worthiness of a group of black pioneers whose contributions are far less obvious: the early African American film actors.
To Robert Townsend, the star and co-creator of the WB sitcom, the talents and contributions of black performers such as Butterfly McQueen, Stepin Fetchit and Willie Best have been unjustly overshadowed by criticisms that they helped perpetuate negative racial stereotypes during an era when there were few if any dignified acting roles for African Americans.
"The problem with Hollywood was balance," observes Townsend. "Those [early black] performers were brilliant. But because it wasn't balanced out with other images of African Americans, they got a raw deal.
"It's like Jimmie Walker gets a bad rap," he continues, referring to the comedian who starred in the 1970s sitcom "Good Times." "Jimmie Walker was very, very funny. But people are like, 'Oh, my god, what he did hurt black people.' Jimmie was being as funny as possible but, because we didn't have Denzel Washington or Wesley Snipes, everybody was like, 'Why does he have to be so stupid?' Jimmie was just going for it like Jim Carrey goes for it."
The new installment of 'The Parent 'Hood" finds Robert and Jerri Peterson (Townsend and Suzzanne Douglas) aghast when their 8-year-old son, Nicholas (Curtis Williams Jr.), decides to portray the hardly heroic character of Buckwheat for his school's Black History Month presentation.
Nicholas is undeterred when his family urges him to select a more gallant and respected figure such as Martin Luther King Jr., Colin Powell or Duke Ellington. The innocent youngster remains unswayed even when his father tries to explain why the character from the long-running "Our Gang" film series (which began in the 1920s and was sold to television in 1951 for release as "The Little Rascals") may be viewed as unflattering to African Americans.
"He talked silly and acted funny," says Robert.
"What's wrong with that?" responds a perplexed Nicholas, who is having a ball dressing the part of the bedraggled Buckwheat, who was played by child actor William Thomas Jr. during the 1930s.
Townsend admits that he too used to be critical of those early black actors who agreed to play sometimes unflattering roles.
"When you see people in movies or on television, you think they have all the power in the world," he explains. "I was like, 'Why did he pick that type of role? I would have picked the Jimmy Stewart part.' But once I got into show business, I understood that they didn't have the power."
Some early black actors were paid well for their work. The popular Stepin Fetchit reportedly made $2 million during the 1930s. But he did so playing comic roles that often portrayed him as lazy or cowardly. Butterfly McQueen, who was best known for her portrayal of the squeaky-voiced young slave in the 1939 classic "Gone With the Wind," temporarily retired from making films in 1947 after tiring of playing sobbing maids. At the age of 64, in 1975, she received her bachelor's degree in political science from New York's City College.
Townsend first came to prominence in 1987 with his independently made film "Hollywood Shuffle." The movie received praise for its comic portrayal of a black actor trying to break through in an entertainment industry still rife with racial stereotypes and limitations.
But Townsend is encouraged by the strides African American actors have made in television and film in recent years.
"With the success of actors like Sam Jackson, Denzel, Angela Bassett, Alfre Woodard, there's much more of a variety [of roles for African Americans]," Townsend says. "Last year there were 14 situation comedies [featuring African Americans]. In terms of [television] drama, there was one ['Under One Roof'] and people didn't really support it. There's still a need for dramatic shows with African Americans.
"But then there are African Americans that are featured prominently in shows like 'ER' [Eriq La Salle] and 'Chicago Hope' [Vondie Curtis-Hall]. I always want more, but we're making progress. So it feels good."
* "The Parent 'Hood" airs Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. on WB (KTLA-TV Channel 5).
To watch clips of The Parent'hood go to https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=the+parenthood+full+episodes+
For more on The Parent 'Hood go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Parent_'Hood
For the Official Robert Townsend Website go to http://www.qasas.com/projectarchives/05/html/biography.html
To read an interview with Suzzanne Douglas go to https://web.archive.org/web/20080214004107/http://www.christianitytoday.com/tcw/1997/novdec/7w6042.html
To read an article from Jet Magazine go to https://books.google.com/books?id=VzsDAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA24&dq=suzzanne+douglas&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiou4TvmfnLAhXI4yYKHX8LAkc4ChDoAQglMAI#v=onepage&q=suzzanne%20douglas&f=false
For a review of The Parent'hood go to https://www.commonsensemedia.org/tv-reviews/the-parent-hood
To watch the opening credits go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jn4eqi5ryLw
� Date: Sun April 2, 2017 � Filesize: 55.3kb, 129.1kb � Dimensions: 666 x 1000 �
Keywords: The Cast of Parent'hood (Links Updated 8/1/18)