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The Jeffersons happened to be a spin off from All in the Family. I loved the relationship between George's mother played the wonderful Zara Cully who passed away during the series long run and Louise known as Weezy played by the wonderful Isabel Sanford. Then they brought in Florence as the maid played by the hilarious Marla Gibbs, the sparks flew between her and George. Not those kind of sparks but a funny rapport between the two to last for years. The show explored everything like interracial relationships and race with tact and dignity. My most memorable moments from the show were about George being secret Santa to a Harlem family who now lived in his building. But then who could forget George opening the George Jefferon Museum. I am glad to watch this show again one night a week on a local station which pays homage to the seventies shows like the Jeffersons. The show had a stellar supporting cast like Roxie Roker and Franklin Cover as the interracial couple, the Willises, who become dear friends of the Jeffersons. Isabel Sanford passed away about a year ago. She was the first African American woman to win an Emmy for Best Leading Actress in a Comedy Series. She was very worthy to be a pioneer for the rest. The fact that Sanford was twenty years older than Helmsley is fascinating. Isabel always looked fabulous and younger than her actual age. I miss Isabel. She was one of a kind!
One of the best TV sitcoms ever!!! Just like his precessdor Archie
Bunker,you'll never know what George Jefferson may come up with next.
Very uncanny. Sherman Helmsley was the true professional actor is the
utmost sense of the word. He played George down to the tilt!!! Was the
most watched show in television history during its 11 year run on CBS
that produced 253 episodes from its premiere on January 14,1975 until
the last episode of the series on July 23,1986....the longest running
African-American sitcom in television history.
The other tenants including Tom and Helen Willis,and there daughter Jenny; Mr. Bentley,Ralph the Doorman,and the housekeeper Florence whom George always teases but she gets him right back in front of his wife Louise!!!! In case you wanted to know about the shows theme song: A friend told me this that it was sung by Janet DuBois,who was Willona on another CBS sitcom "Good Times". Interesting point about this show: There were two actors who played the Jeffersons' son Lionel on the series,but only one was married off during the show's final season with Jenny and also had a baby girl. One of the best ever!! Several episodes from "The Jeffersons" do stand out as brilliant including one two parter episode that was filmed on location in Hawaii.
If there were a "Sitcom Hall Of Fame",for brilliance, the television
series "The Jeffersons" would surely have a cherished spot as one of
the best situation comedies of the 1970's. For the eleven and a half
years that it ran on television,the series became one of CBS'
longest-running shows of all time,right up there with
"Frasier","Cheers",and even "M*A*S*H" and "Happy Days" for its
longevity. From its premiere episode that aired on January 14,1975 to
the final episode of the series on July 23,1986 it is amazing that the
show survived during its astounding run on the air. The series cranked
out more than 254 episodes during its run. It is also to note that "The
Jeffersons" also was nominated for several Golden Globes and Emmys
including a historic moment in the history of not only the show,but
television itself. The series won the Emmy in 1981 for Isabel Sanford
who in fact made history as being the first African-American woman to
win for Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series and also for Sherman
Hemsley as Best Lead Actor in a Comedy Series as well,and for Marla
Gibbs too who was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy
It is no wonder that "The Jeffersons" is one of television's top fifty all time programs in the history of television and it is right up there with the best of the bunch of classic television shows. Need I say more? This was a spin off to "All In The Family" by the way since the series was created by Norman Lear,the man who was behind some of the greatest shows of that period including "All In The Family","Maude","Good Times", "One Day At A Time","Sanford and Son",and so much more. Out of all the shows that had a predominately African-American cast of that period,the series "The Jeffersons" was the better show out of the entire bunch. Only Norman Lear's other show "Good Times" comes in a close second. The reason? For one you saw a successful black family doing something positive and for the first time in television history a successful African-American with a successful business and living the high life on TV,but at the same time you got to see not only a white side of bigotry but a black side of that too. Sherman Hemsley's character of George Jefferson was just that.....the opposite side of Archie Bunker,a bigot on the opposite side of racial intolerance. It was kind of a reflex towards the opposite The Bunkers,who basically were still living on 704 Hauser Street in Queens while their once neighbors The Jeffersons were living it up in a deluxe apartment complex on New York's upper rich side toward Park Avenue in Manhattan.
However,the set-up of a African-American family living in the high part of town and having a successful business establishment was something totally different and new when it aired back in 1975 since it was very odd to see this and America was paying very close attention to this as well since African-Americans at that time were making strides toward racial equality during that period. You saw a married couple George and Louise Jefferson(Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford)living the good life with their son Lionel(played by Mike Evans and then by Damon Evans)while making the best of any situation that comes at them with ease,but with hilarious results. The next door neighbors Tom and Helen Willis (Franklin Cover and Roxie Roker)were a interracial couple with their young daughter Jenny(Belinda Tolbert)and also their son Allan(played by Jay Hammer during the 1978-79 season)whom The Jeffersons also had another neighbor across from them as well,like the British neighbor Mr. Bentley(Paul Benedict)and others that were in the same tenant building as well like George's overbearing mother(played by Zara Cully during the 1975-78 season)who comes by for a visit and causes chaos for Louise and others like Mr. Whittington and so forth like the doorman Ralph or Charlie the bartender whose bar is downstairs but in the same building. The best part of this series and basically who could give George a run for his money in a scolding match would be the Jeffersons' housekeeper Florence Johnson(Marla Gibbs). This is what kept the series going strong because of the brilliant comedy chemistry that Sherman Hemsley and Marla Gibbs had and the sparks flew within a funny rapport that kept audiences laughing hard. Oh yeah,I forgot that Isabel Sanford kept the laughs provided too as Louise and George get into one predicament after another. But the series showed its darker side too right along with the laughs and insults as well as the series explored issues that were relevant to the day's topics from interracial relationships,racism, women's rights,and civil rights were the order of the day and other issues were added in that at the time were too intense for television but they were handled with tact and dignity.
Several brilliant episodes of this series come to mind that were memorable including the one where The Jeffersons go to Hawaii;George being a secret Santa to a Harlem family who lived in his building;The night the Jeffersons remember the riots that engulf a nation back in 1968 during the looting of his store over the death of MLK;Louise and Helen opening a health center for a lonely girl who commits suicide;and the marriage of Lionel and Jenny,which George disapproves. The proudest moment of the series came during the arrival of Lionel and Jenny as parents and George & Louise become grandparents to a little baby girl.The saddest moment of the series when George learns the death of his beloved mother.
Speaking of this series,it is to note that five of the show's cast members have passed away but will be fondly remembered. Actor Sherman Hemsley who played businessman/family provider George Jefferson passed away in 2012. Zara Cully,who played Mother Jefferson;Roxie Roker who played Helen Willis;Isabel Sanford who played Louise Jefferson,and most recently Franklin Cover,Paul Benedict and Mike Evans.
For the first few years, this had to be one of the funniest shows on C.B.S.. It pretty much took the concept of the show it came from, "All in the Family", and moved it uptown and instead of a bigoted middle class white man, we have a bigoted rich black man. George Jefferson proved that bigotry comes in all colors and sometimes his big mouth got him in trouble. However, just like Archie, beneath that gruff exterior was an old softy. I especially loved the episodes that showed that side of George. This show will always be one of the all time classics.
Very funny comedy of an affluent black family living the American dream
in achieving success in their dry good business.
Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford provided terrific chemistry as the husband and wife team. Sanford always knew how to crack those one-liners at a vulnerable but lovable Hemsley. Militant son Lionel was always good for a laugh and as the mother-in-law, Zarra Cully, proved that having the typical mother-in-law to deal with wasn't only an Italian or Jewish problem.
Franklin Cover and Roxie Roker successfully showed that with understanding, inter-racial marriages could work.
If the Television Hall of Fame selected television programs as a whole
to win a gold plaque similar to Cooperstown N.Y. for MLB, or Canton
Ohio for the NFL, "The Jeffersons" would be there front and center.
The long running CBS sitcom which aired from 1975 through 1985, won several Emmys, including Isabel Sanford for Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. To me "The Jeffersons" is one of television's top fifty All-Time Programs, and the best one with a predominately African American cast, better than "The Cosby Show" and "Sanford and Son". As a child it was a thrill to be able to watch this program when schoolwork or bedtime did not get in the way.
I now own the first two seasons of "The Jeffersons" on DVD, and I enjoy the performances of all the characters. The show is of course centered around bigoted and avaricious George (Sherman Helmsley), and his long suffering wife Louise "Weezy" Jefferson (Isabel Sanford), but the performances of the character actors are also well above par. Paul Benedict as George's goofy, bizarre neighbor, Ned Wertimer as the not so modest or polite (when it comes to tips) doorman, Mike Evans as wisecracking son Lionel, and Marla Gibbs as wisecracking live-in-maid Florence, and of course the interracial couple who are usually the butt of George's racist jokes, Tom and Helen Willis played by Franklin Cover and Roxie Roker. And of course don't forget going way back in the day when people born in the 1890's were alive, well and entertaining us all, Zara Cully as George Jefferson's quick witted Mother, Olivia. She was hilarious when seeking attention from George and Weezy she intentionally tackles herself to the ground in a season 2 episode.
But "The Jeffersons" at least the first two seasons centers around George and his vices, which often outweigh his virtues, similar to the Archie Bunker character introduced in the early 1970's. Like Archie George is set in his ways, avaricious, sometimes crude, and often bigoted. Like Archie he is a bigot without a mean streak. He is a lovable bigot, and his racist views are played out for laughs, but George is not a carbon copy of Archie. They're not twins. Archie makes fun of everyone that is not his race, religion creed, or sexual orientation. George sticks to the basics. Just make fun of whitey, and those whites that don't offer him anything in return for his efforts.
There are some whites like Wittendale, the banker who holds the key to George's future of a dry cleaning monopoly. George always wants to pander to this guy. However George has no use for "honkies" like Tom Willis and his black wife Helen. Like Archie Bunker he despises mixed marriages. (Although Archie is all for Irish marrying Italian). Mostly because Weezy has him on a short leash, George reluctantly accepts Tom and Helen Willis as neighbors and in-laws.
One major reason why Archie's ethnic and racial slurs often spiral out of control and George's doesn't is the nature of the women they're married to. Edith is tolerant, dingbatty, and naive, while Weezy is sharp, quick witted, and as shrewd as George. She puts her foot down faster on George, than Edith does on Archie. Edith tends to push Archie in the direction he's going, with some first class dingbat punchlines added in.
George is a little bit of a thing, with an obsession for power and control, much like Danny DeVito in the movies. He lusts for money and power, and he's got it, a wife a family and a full chain of cleaning stores. Archie doesn't have all this. Archie needs to shut other people down to better his own situation. George doesn't. George has money and power. However, like Archie he is set in his ways, and his lack of modesty always gets him into trouble.
What this show was missing was a crossover appearance by Archie and Edith from the slums of Flushing to the penthouses in Manhattan. Carroll O' Connor and Jean Stapleton never appeared on "The Jeffersons." "The Jeffersons" was not the greatest TV sitcom. "All in the Family" along with "Seinfeld", "The Honeymooners" and "Cheers" were better. However there was a certain charm with this show that lasted from the Gerald Ford through the second half of the Ronald Reagan presidency. This was one fine show.
If I'm up late once in a while I might catch The Jeffersons. I find this
show very well written with good comedic timing. (Especially with George and
The one thing that is kind of nice is that it is a spin-off of All in the Family. The Bunkers would crack on touchy subjects like the different races and all that, so know it's kind of a reflex towards the Bunkers.
The set up of a black family living in the high part of town is a little different for the time it was aired because it WAS quite odd. Anyway, I love the background given to The Jeffersons, but most of all I like the characters and actors that portray them. Louise, Bentley, Helen, and Tom do a great job as mixed races living in the same apartment building. (Which isn't that important but its nice to see that sort of thing.) The two characters that I like the most are George and Florence. The actors that play them are very talented, and like I said earlier, they work well with mixing their comedic talents together. The verbal conflicts and caps on each other are very funny and always bring a chuckle out of me.
For its time and even for today, its great to see an episode of The Jeffersons every once in a while. Like All in the Family, this is one of the older shows that I like. It's a little touchy and that's okay, but the cast and crew do a superb job.
Movin on up, (moving on up) to the east side, (moving on up)to a deluxe
apartment in the sky. We're moving on up to the east side (moving on
up) we finally got a piece of the pie. Fish don't burn in the kitchen,
beans don't burn on the grill, it took a whole lot of trying just to
get up that hill. Now we're up in the big leagues taking our turn at
bat and as long as we got you and me baby there ain't nothing wrong
with that so we're moving on up, (moving on up) to the east side,
(moving on up) to a deluxe apartment in the sky. We're moving on up,
(moving on up) to the east side, (moving on up) we finally got a piece
of the pie.
Even though the Jeffersons started a year before my time I found it to quite an entertaining little show. The chemistry between Sheryman Helmsley and Isabel Sandford was absolutely magical to me. Roxie Roker's character was one of my favourte characters of all time because at the time an interracial couple on TV was unheard of. I just wish that the Jeffersons had a proper send off than what happened. Maybe we could have seen Lionel and Jenny have kids and grow old gracefully together? The show, I think, had limitless possibilities for it's time and if it hadn't fallen prey to cancellation at the last possible second syndrome I think it might just have lasted a bit longer than it did.
This was a great sitcom. The show had great writing and great actors/actresses to perform it. Above everyone else, Sherman Hemsley was the funniest. With all these characters and great writing, could anyone be surprised that this show lasted for ten years? I would think not.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I must admit that I am not that familiar with its predecessor, All In
The Family, seeing as I wasn't born when it was originally released,
but neither was I familiar with The Jeffersons either. It wasn't until
later on one of the episodes of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air back in the
90s that I saw George appear on the show for the first time. And so
from then on, I caught up with The Jeffersons, thanks to the brilliance
of the web and sites such as You Tube, seeing as they had hardly shown
this sitcom in the UK.
George and Louise 'Weezy' Jefferson are arguably one of the funniest sitcom couples ever; as different as they are in terms of personalities, and despite their arguments and fall- outs, like all couples they have managed to stay together and see things through regardless, no matter how much they get on one another's nerves. Sherman was just excellent as the outspoken, no- nonsense George- who has a bit of a short fuse, whilst Isabel was marvellous as the care-free, down-to earth and less pessimistic Weezy. The couple live together in an apartment block along with their son, Lionel, and their mother would occasionally drop- by, much to the Jefferson's surprise, whilst their neighbours were a Caucasian man named Tom and his Afro-American wife, Helen- which, for a inter-racial couple appearing on mainstream TV- was a rarity to see back in those days. The other characters on the show were the (somewhat) likable and pleasant Mr Bentley, Ralph and Florence, the sarchastic maid.
The Jeffersons was a humorous, fun and enjoyable comedy, which ran for an astonishing 11 seasons between 1975-1985. Some of my favourite moments include George taking part in a boxing contest- I couldn't help but laugh my socks off, what with George jogging all over the ring and his movements had me in stitches - and when George, Tom and Helen are trapped in George's bathroom and the situation is further complicated when 1) Weezy is having her hair done; unaware of the predicament her husband and her friends find themselves in and 2)they realise that the door can only operated from the outside, and not whilst they are inside the bathroom! In one scene and to make matters worse, the door handle even falls off! Not to mention 'Brother Tom' when Tom tries to act Black, much to his wife's embarrassment, in an attempt to fit in with the other Black folks, of whom included George and Louise.
Even though the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Diff'rent Strokes and The Cosby Show got plenty of air time, here in the UK, it is a bit of a shame that this sitcom was never actually televised in this part of the world because as I mentioned The Jeffersons is a great show, which deserved to be seen by its audiences.
Nevertheless, this was one of CBS's fewest hit sitcoms that managed to hit the big time and sustain a longevity that rivals the likes of NBC's other long running comedies, Frasier, Friends and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
Catch it if you can
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