At age 6,the night this show debuted,my brothers & I had the TV that night. The parents were out and we basically watched whatever. My oldest brother,age 10,made the choice of this show. It sounded like it would be "cool". Of course it was.
I liked Jose Feliciano's opening song and didn't get a lot of the humor but I did understand that Ed Brown (Albertson) was not a nice man. Freddie Prinze was (aside from actors on Sesame Street & Electric Company)the first Latino I had seen on TV,or anywhere for that matter.
I somehow recognized some of his actions as funny because I did laugh at his antics of trying to get Ed to take him on at the garage. Especially funny to find him bathing in a large oil drum in the men's room. We watched this show for about 2 to 3 years,constantly repeating the phrase "looking good" all the time and driving our folks nuts with it.
Then on January 23rd,1977 we headed out west to California and kind of forgot about it somehow. The night after we arrived,Saturday,January 29th,Prinze took his life. I never saw any of the shows with the replacement actors but I did see the TV movie,"Freddie Prinze : Can You Hear The Laughter" over a year or so later and that's how I found out he was gone.
For well over 15 years,I heard nothing about the show,never saw any reruns on TV either. It became a fuzzy memory by the time I was grown up. Then 1999,I saw the pilot show in Spanish on Telemundo and couldn't believe I was actually seeing it! It was almost surreal.
Fast forward to the present day and on the internet's In2TV,I once again saw the debut show,sporadically with the annoying stop & start of "loading". I couldn't "save" it though.
Then 9/13/2008 , I made an unplanned stop at a local 99 Cent store and there on their shelves were dozens of DVD's featuring 6 episodes (pilot included)of "Chico and The Man"! (All DVDs have the same 6 by the way).
I couldn't believe this legitimate WB release,with subtitles included was only $1 + tax! I took it home and watched with my oldest brother who was visiting me. After we watched I checked my copy of "TV Guide Guide To TV" and discovered that I had bought this set on the 34th Anniversary date,Sept. 13th,2008!
One of Prinze's last newly aired show from 1977,"Ed Talks To God",is featured on the DVD. In it,Ed wants no one to throw him a birthday party and Chico gets very mad at him for Ed not wanting his friends to show how much they care about him.
Another included an appearance by Jose Felicinao who sings both "Light My Fire" (briefly) and the show's theme song as well. Feliciano shows he can be almost as funny as the others,as a Latino superstar cousin of Chico who hits on Chico's girl.
In summing up the series overall,I know the show is great,no question. It's sad that Prinze took his life and that NBC didn't have the decency to just let go of the show. "Sanford and Son" and "Chico and The Man" are the two sitcoms people associate with that network in the early 70s,mainly because they had no other "real" successes until "Diff'rent Strokes" & "Facts Of Life" came along after.
Good shows,but they pale in comparison to what this series tried to accomplish. Even sadder,it would be over a quarter century until another Latino had a truly successful series,that being "The George Lopez Show". Between those two is 1982's unsuccessful "Aka Pablo" starring comedian Paul Rodriguez. It aired on ABC for only a few short weeks.
I wont lower my rating of 10 stars because of that final season,ill advised as it was,but will for the memory of Freddie & Jack and even Scatman Crothers give it top mark. In my view the series is a classic,even though it should have at least run until 1980 or early 1981.
Thanks to all who made "Chico and The Man" a reality. (END)
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