By the time Good Times had begun its third season on CBS, the program had pretty much given up being a realistic (albeit basically humorous) depiction of life in the urban ghetto, and had evolved -- or, as some would claim, devolved -- into a vehicle for brash African-American standup comedian Jimmie Walker. As the cocksure J.J. Evans, Walker had ...
By the time Good Times had begun its third season on CBS, the program had pretty much given up being a realistic (albeit basically humorous) depiction of life in the urban ghetto, and had evolved -- or, as some would claim, devolved -- into a vehicle for brash African-American standup comedian Jimmie Walker. As the cocksure J.J. Evans, Walker had transformed the exclamation "Dy-no-mite!" into not only a national but an international catch phrase. And even Good Times' occasional forays into serious social comment -- notably those episodes which touched upon such hot-button issues as gun control, drug addiction, and venereal disease -- did not detract from the perception of certain audience members that J.J. was a "typical" inner-city projects dweller, rather than a sitcom exaggeration. The series' nominal stars, Esther Rolle and John Amos, respectively, cast as J.J.'s parents, Florida and James Evans, had both registered protests against what they regarded as a negative image of a black teenager, but to no avail; J.J. was clearly the most popular character on the series, and the producers had no intention of shifting the focus away from his antics. Indeed, the addition of the recurring character "Sweet Daddy" Williams (Theodore Wilson), a neighborhood numbers runner with whom J.J. was destined to have several nervously funny run-ins, only led to the inevitable conclusion that Jimmie Walker's screen time would continue to increase at the detriment of the other actors. It finally reached the point that John Amos could stand no more; at the end of season three, the actor left the series cold, forcing the writers to rethink their strategies for season four (and, incidentally, prompting Esther Rolle to entertain the notion of leaving the program herself, citing the fact that she had originally signed on because of Good Times' positive depiction of a poor but proud ghetto family led by a strong and faithful father figure). The imminent departure of John Amos at the end of Good Times' third season was but one of the headaches plaguing the series' producers. Now that it was going head-to-head with ABC's surprise hit Happy Days on Tuesday evenings, the CBS series had dropped precipitously in the ratings, plummeting from seventh to 24th place. Hal Erickson, Rovi
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