Having posted good, if not spectacular, ratings during its freshman year on CBS, Good Times was moved from Fridays to a more desirable Tuesday-night time slot as it entered its second season. Beyond an added emphasis on the minor character of usurious inner-city landlord Nathan Bookman (Johnny Brown), no significant changes were made amongst the ...
Having posted good, if not spectacular, ratings during its freshman year on CBS, Good Times was moved from Fridays to a more desirable Tuesday-night time slot as it entered its second season. Beyond an added emphasis on the minor character of usurious inner-city landlord Nathan Bookman (Johnny Brown), no significant changes were made amongst the cast members, though it was impossible not to notice that Jimmie Walker, aka J.J. Evans, was emerging as the star of the proceedings despite the actor's third-billed status. J.J.'s weekly exclamation "Dy-no-mite!" had already become a national catch phrase, repeated ad nauseam in classrooms, playgrounds, and AM radio stations from sea to shining sea. And during the filming of the second-season episode "The Gang," actor John Amos (James Evans) broke the tension of a scene in which J.J. was shot down in the street by ad-libbing, "This'll kill us in the ratings if he dies!" Everybody laughed, but everybody also knew that Amos was kidding on the square. While Good Times upheld its delicate balance between raucous humor and trenchant social comment throughout season two (in addition to the two-part episode on street gangs, the scripts tackled head-on such risky topics as alcoholism, teen pregnancy, school busing, and racially biased IQ tests), its unofficial designation as "The J.J. Show" tended to obscure its original intent: to demonstrate how a tightly knit black family could survive and endure despite grinding poverty and deprivation, so long as everyone -- and not just J.J. -- maintained their sense of humor. Also, John Amos and Esther Rolle (Florida Evans) were beginning to lodge complaints that the series' overemphasis on J.J.'s antics was not only diminishing their roles as the Evans kids' parents, but also led some impressionable viewers to believe that no inner-city family was complete without a wisecracking buffoon in attendance. Amos, in particular, was displeased because his character was nominally the head of the Evans household, a status that continued to erode the longer J.J. remained in the spotlight. Be that as it may, Good Times closed out its second season as the seventh highest-rated series in America. Translation: Since J.J. brought in the viewers and the sponsors, the "Dy-no-mites" would continue unabated. Hal Erickson, Rovi
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