There was a marathon on TV One today.
Mike Evans was the hotness. Talk about fine. Damon wasn't bad, but Mike was on another level.
Weezy got very glamorous and upscale as the show progressed. But she also got very short tempered and snippy. She lost some of her likeability and earthiness.
Did they ever show the Help Center?
Why did Florence wear those old rags all of the time and those shoes? Granted, she was a maid, but couldn't they have gotten her a better wardrobe.
Anyone else think that Sherman was cute? I've always heard he was family.
And ten years on the air, and they never had a final episode? Terrible.
Do you think MERYL should have a go at "THE MOTHER JEFFERSON STORY?"
[Q]Weezy got very glamorous and upscale as the show progressed. But she also got very short tempered and snippy. She lost some of her likeability and earthiness. [Q]
So true. In the early episodes, she was like a neighbor you'd want to be friends with.
R2, to quote you just put the word quote (all lower case) in brackets
One of these [
And one of these ].
One of the funniest things I saw on there and used to quote with my ex all the time was when someone (I guess George or Louise) had spilled wine on their carpet and and were worried that it wouldn't come out, and Tom said something to the effect that it was nonsense and he had spilled red wine on he and Helen's carpet and she was able to get out, right, Helen? How did we get it out, honey? and Helen said, deadpan, "We moved." I thought it was hilarious and ex and I used to say that about our carpet as things would spill on it and we did move.
I wonder how the show would have ended if the network had allowed for a proper series finale.
One of my favorite lines, apropos of nothing:
GEORGE (looks at Florence): That's the door!
FLORENCE: It sho is! (Turns and walks away)
I'm pretty certain they showed the Help Center in at least two episodes. As a kid I always thought Weezy was saying "Health Center."
Ha - now that you mention it R7 as a kid I thought it was Health Center as well.
I liked Florence, but Mother Jefferson was the perfect foil for Louise, and she kept George and Louise a little more connected to their roots.
The actors were all pretty good, and there were some funny episodes, esp. earlier on, but the writing got weaker as it went on and the characters got more clownish. It is too bad that the writing was not a little bit sharper throughout.
Mike Evans was definitely the hotter Lionel, and more charismatic as well. He was good in his small scenes with Archie on All in the Family.
Actually, it's the Help "Centah"!
[quote]Why did Florence wear those old rags all of the time and those shoes?
My white mother was pretty much the spitting image of Florence. Those were the preferred comfort shoes. The housecoats sometimes looked identical and the hairstyle the same.
When I see reruns today, especially of the earlier seasons, it is still laugh out loud funny. The jokes still hold up (not the zebra ones, but the ones about George being an ass) and nowadays the maid would have had an annoying catchphrase instead of just being funny. Norman Lear made the best sitcoms of all time. He is still alive and I wonder what he thinks of the horrible crap on tv today.
I hate that they got screwed out of a proper finale. Viewership only dropped when they got their show switched to a crappy time slot. I doubt anything on the fall line up for 2013 is as funny or will have the staying power of this show.
Does anyone remember an episode where they are looking after a dog? George throws a tennis ball over his shoulder for the dog to fetch and it bounces in the air and over the balcony and the dog runs after it and leaps over the balcony to its death. The audience (or canned laughter) was full of huge laughs and clapping. Of course that was the intention but I thought it was pretty grim!
r13 is Debbie Downer. You must be a hoot at parties.
I like the little things about that show that you don't see on tv- everyone but Florence is always impeccably dressed, especially Helen Willis, and George is always seen taking a tray of drinks to his guests, even the ones he doesn't like. I saw episodes that refer to Helen as being older than Louise but she looks amazing on the show. George is always in a suit and Weezy is always in a dress or suit, no one on that show ever wore a t-shirt.
The earlier seasons, when Norman Lear was still involved, were quite good and hold up well because the episodes were more character-driven and similar in tone to AITF. The team that would later go on to write/produce Married With Children became the show runners during the early'80s, and they took the show in a more sitcom-ish/cartoonish direction.
What was the intended purpose of the railing near the front door of the apartment?
[quote] Mike Evans was the hotness. Talk about fine. Damon wasn't bad, but Mike was on another level.
Still not as fine as John Amos and his massive corduroy bulge....
r15 Do you think Helen looked that good when she was raising little Lennie?
LOL r20, I have no idea. I saw her on Aresenio Hall on a youtube clip when Lenny was the guest and she was suffering from breast cancer at the time and still looked glamorous. I am sure she looked fine as a young mom! I love Lenny as well.
Why did Mike Evans leave?
I think he went to Good Times.Janet DuBois from GT sang the Jeffersons theme song. I am not sure if Norman Lear created Good Times. I did not think it was as good as The Jeffersons.
I wonder why CBS shat on The Jeffersons and the cast had to read about its cancellation in the paper?
The show was teetering on the brink of cancellation its last season, and the final decision to cancel wasn't made until after they wrapped the season. The show was a goldmine for CBS for many years, especially from around 1980-1985, and deserved a respectful send-off. I don't think Alice ever had a series finale episode either.
The show was criticized for having all white writers.
Really R25? I did not know that. Back then, just like now, I am sure most writers were white men. I am betting very little has changed since the 80s in that regard.
"Alice" did have a final episode, though it was pretty lame. One the very day Mel decides to sell the diner to make room for an airport runway, Alice gets a job as an on the road singer, Vera announces she's pregnant and Jolene decides to open a beauty parlor. There were a bunch of flashbacks and that was that.
Oh I forgot about that. Thanks, r27. And while we're on the subject of "Alice," Linda Lavin kept glacing off to the cue cards the last couple of seasons. It was very distracting. Did she have problems remembering her lines?
"The Jeffersons" is a show I like a bit more after it left Norman Lear mode. I thought the entire Lionel/Jenny storyline was boring.
Yeah, it became more sitcomish but I loved the mystery cruise and the Halloween episode where Louise saw the man in the rabbit suit.
And kudos to the apartment for looking like an Upper East Side apartment would look- right down to a small kitchen. People say the apartment wasn't all that but I think it was perfect.
How would The Jeffersons have been different if Joseph Cotten had played Allen Willis, Tom & Helen's son?
r30 Patricia, you little devil you, I knew you'd sneak in here. Care to go for a train ride with your brother?
When the show was first popular, I believe the National Enquirer had an article about Sherman. It said he was living in a "Bachelor"
apartment with 2 white actors. (Yes, race was specifically mentioned). The interviews with him on you-tube are informative, he describes the swagger in the credits and mentions a friend in Philly who was named Louise but they all called her Weezy, that's why he started calling her that nickname, and it stuck.
Oh Charles [insert flighty giggles]. Judging by what I've read about you on this site, it would be illegal for us to even board a train together, much less be in the same compartment [insert flighty giggles].
I didn't know Roxie Roker was Lenny Kravitz's mother.
She sure was hot in her day
The concept of a Help Center seems so vague. In what ways did they help, precisely, and who was helped and for what reason? How did those who needed help know to go the Help Center if they didn't know whether they were catered to by said center? What if a person showed up and said, "I need help", and then explained his or her particular situation, and the response was, "Oh, we don't provide that sort of help; you have to go to the Help Center on 221st and 13th"?
I wish the show got more recognition and respect. It was syndicated in NYC when I was very young and I loved it. I didn't get all the jokes at the time but I understand enough and loved it. So many sitcoms from that time are really cheesy and don't hold up but this one does. If you took out the zebra jokes it could be remade today. Of course, in today's economy it would be less believable that a poor person made it that big!
Lenny Kravitz has talked about the kids at school assuming Tom was his real life dad :).
Wow, Roxie had a crazy figure. If that photo was taken today everyone would assume it was Photoshopped.
I read that the Help Center plotline was created because Isabel Sanford did not want the character to be seen as a rich layabout with no direction. Pretty cool.
I had no idea until SH died that she was so much older than him. Everyone on that set got along, which is amazing considering the ego that could have come out with Florence being the breakout star and SH becoming so famous.
Wow, they're all dead except for Damon Evans, Berlinda Tolbert, and Marla Gibbs. Yet most of the Alice and MTM cast still roam the earth.
Why did Paul Benedict leave only to come back?
Was the name "BENTley" some sort of inside joke.
"But Mother Jefferson, we have fruit here."
"Yes, Louise, but I like fresh fruit."
OP, they did show the help center a few times. It seemed to be a place people stopped by to talk with different counselors. They had an especially silly episode where Florence pretends to be a countess to attract the psychiatrist working there, who thinks this means Florence has schizophrenia. Sitcom hijinks ensue.
Did Florence live with them?
Loved The Jeffersons when I was a kid, and yes it still holds up. Like the above poster said, so many of those 80s sitcoms (Family Ties, anyone?) are unwatchable today, but The Jeffersons is still funny, particularly the bickering between George and Florence. Sad to think that Marla Gibbs is the only main cast member who is still with us - all the others are gone now.
And yes, the apartment really looked like one you would see in that type of building on the UES. One of the few instances I can think of where a NY aparment actually looked realistic and not some set designers' fantasy.
The building used for exterior shots of the Jeffersons' apt. building is on 85th St. and 3rd. Ave. and it looks exactly the same. I live not too far from there and to this day everybody in the neighborhood refers to it as "the Jeffersons building," even people who were not even born when the show was on the air.
[quote] kudos to the apartment for looking like an Upper East Side apartment would look- right down to a small kitchen. People say the apartment wasn't all that but I think it was perfect.
As a non-New Yorker I appreciate this insight, as I was just thinking about how their apartment was kind of lame for being "deluxe" and was wondering what the set would look like today if the show was being made.
R43, the building used for exterior wide shots is the one you've stated, but a building in L.A. was used for the shots when George and Louise actually go through the entrance to the building.
Florence didn't live with them at first and wasn't even a regular. Eventually, they asked her to move in when she was evicted.
r43 is so right about Family Ties. I was excited to see it streaming on NetFlix and could barely make it through an episode. That show was definitely a time capsule for the 80s. I am glad the original Jeffersons building is still around and was not demolished for a Starbucks. It is crazy that the Jeffersons was shown in the 70s and broke so much ground, and nowadays Modern Family is considered edgy. Was the 70s far more liberal? I cannot see a show like Soap being on network television today. I know it got boycotted but I feel like the network would pull it after one season and Soap stayed on a few years.
Most of the 80s sitcoms are unwatchable. Cosby, Family Ties, Night Court are hard to watch. The Wonder Years is absolutely unwatchable. I LOVED Kate & Allie and Newhart growing up, but even they have really aged. I think Cheers holds up very well and is timeless. All the 70s Norman Lear shows up really well, even One Day at a Time, but shows from the Garry Marshall factory do not--Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Mork & Mindy are not easy to get through.
r46 was this after Mother Jefferson died? I think I read that Florence was brought on to be a foil after Zara Cully's death. If Mother Jefferson had lived longer, would Florence have been that big of a character? You can tell the older seasons by how little she was in the episode. The later seasons it is practically her own show.
Zara Cully looked so frail and weak that last season. Even watching the show as a kid, I could tell she wasn't well at that point. She was a riot and a great foil for Louise.
The only 80s sitcoms that still hold up and are still funny are the Jeffersons, Cheers, Newhart and of course the Golden Girls. I would also add The Facts of Life but not because it's all that funny, but because of the kitsch value. The rest have not aged well at all and are unwatchable today. Even the Cosby Show.
Back to the Jeffersons: George uses the "n" word to hilarious effect. What show on tv today could get away with this?
Yes, how could I forget the GG's. I so badly wanted Newhart to hold up, because it was one of my favorite 80s shows, but it just doesn't do it for me. I think we can agree that Wonder Years is borderline cringeworthy and that Murphy Brown is another show that doesn't hold up well.
On a related note, I wonder how many people know that Isabel Sanford (Weezie) did an earlier turn as the maid Tillie to Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy in "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner". She has one memorable moment on screen, with a young, shirtless and impossibly beautiful Sydney Poitier. It is a great moment, and shows that "don't take no shit from nobody" quality that in later years added to the wonderful character of Weezie.
Remember: Beans don't burn in the kitchen. Beans don't burn on the grill. Took a whole lot of trying. Just to get up that hill.
I forgot...did they even address or allude to Mother Jefferson's death? Memory is hazy, but I don't recall any tribute episode or even an "in memory of..." tag at the end of a random episode.
My fave was the Billy Dee Williams episode. Florence's reaction when she found out he was for real was priceless.
In a very special episode for 2013, George throws down with Putin to allow gay people to live their lives freely in Russia.
Seriously, even that bigot GG would not approve that law.
omg this thread is a LONG TIME coming...that show was so damn funny...Sherman Helmsley was hysterical. I loved the whole Bentley-George conflict. Flo wasn't as funny to me as she was to a lot of people, but in the same way Archie Bunker anchored All In the Family by ridiculing his cartoonish bigotry, George was hilarious in his indignation.
They could never make that show today, or half of those great 70s sitcoms.
Am I only the one who remembers--and actually liked--the Florence spin-off "Checking In," where she went to work as head of housekeeping at a swanky NY hotel? It was short-lived...I don't think it lasted more than six episodes. Anyway, they probably saw a gold mine in a spinoff. CBS scheduled it to anchor its Thursday night lineup, but that timeslot didn't work. I'm glad it didn't work out, because ultimately I think she was essential to The Jeffersons, probably more so than any of the other characters spun off from the Norman Lear shows. I think George and Weezie hired some forgettable maid Carmen to replace Florence.
Yes, a big MARY! post
Yes, the actress who played Carmen then played the Ewing maid Teresa on "Dallas" for several years. ("Phone call for you, Mr. Ewing.") There was a different Teresa every episode until she came along.
Remember the episode during the height of the "Who Shot JR?" frenzy where Florence had her own "Dallas" whodunnit dream? It was actually pretty hysterical.
R58 Sherman Helmsley was gay. A guy I grew up with was his bodyguard in Ca. He said he was a great guy.
Loved the Hawaii multiparter, if only to see Weezie in a bathing suit and new feathery wig.
"You think this is crowded? You should have seen my living room when the Jeffersons went to Hawaii. Those were the worst three weeks of my life. I hate George Jefferson."
George made a reference to Mother Jefferson's death briefly when he said something to the effect that he had a tough time after Mama died.
Mother Jefferson: George's father never had a stomach ache in all the years we were married.
Louise: No, all you did was give him a pain in the neck and you're giving me a pain somewhere else.
Mother Jefferson: I don't have to stand for that.
Louise: Then SIT DOWN!
The only time in the series that Louise put Mother Jefferson in her place.
Later, they had her nemesis as the snooty Mrs. Van Morris.
Never did like the show-just too "loud" for me-much like All in the Family. I preferred comedies that relied on dialogue a bit more like Cheers.
[quote]Remember the episode during the height of the "Who Shot JR?" frenzy where Florence had her own "Dallas" whodunnit dream? It was actually pretty hysterical.
Tom Willis was the whitest white guy that ever whited. He was the perfect honky foil for George. Great casting all around for the show.
The actors who played the Tom and Helen at Lionel's engagement party in the All in the Family episode would never have worked on "The Jeffersons." I think the actress who played Helen on that one-off AITF episode would later play some snooty character on TJ.
Anyone remember when Jay (Fletcher Reade) Hammer was a regular?
I think you mean Chandler Hill Harben, r71.
R71 Yes Jay (Dreaming Death Fletcher Reade) in very tight blue jeans. He had a really great ass.
I just watched a clip of Jay Hammer on The Jeffersons and he looked pretty uncomfortable.
I wonder how they described the casting call for the Allen Willis character. The first actor they had looked like he could pass for biracial, but Hammer certainly couldn't.
I only remember Jenny, I didn't know they had 2 kids. Was he on a lot?
The British guy Bentley was great too.
R74 I watched and episode with Hammer the other day. I'm not sure what you mean by "he looked pretty uncomfortable".
R75 Hammer was the only actor who played Alan Willis. What are you talking about? You also said Hammer couldn't pass for biracial. Why can't he?
How many cigarettes did Isabel Sanford smoke in the course of a day? Her voice was like gravel and so raspy.
I remember reading an article about Marla Gibbs, who was working as a travel agent when she got the part of Florence.
She'd spent so many years as an actress looking for work that she didn't feel comfortable quitting her day job, so she worked on "The Jeffersons" (in a smaller role than she eventually had) for the first season or two while she continued working as a travel agent. Even after the show was a huge hit, she kept the other job for a while.
r75, actor Andrew Rubin played Allan Willis in one episode before Hammer became a regular. Tall, skinny, lanky guy.
r80, I absolutely love that story because it's what any practical person would do until they got a regular gig. People even started to recognize Marla's voice on the phone.
I always thought there should've been a spin off called The Help Center!
Meant to direct that to r78.
"Mr Piano Man" and "Louise vs Jenny" are my two favorite episodes.
It was freaking hysterical whenever Florence had to wear her maid uniform for George's parties. She was extra pissed off and made sure George knew it!
The funniest was when Florence dressed up as a slave to get back at George.
Some trivia about Andrew Rubin: he used to fuck Debra Winger. I remember a long ago People magazine article about Winger that featured a photo of them. I don't know how long they were together but in the article Winger stated they were at present "splitsville."
He was quite cute back in the day and hasn't aged too badly. I wonder why he wasn't brought back to continue playing the role of Allan Willis. He seemed quite right for the role.