Assured that the character played by her co-star Jimmie Walker, brash, budding inner-city artist J.J. Evans, had become more mature and responsible during her year-long absence, actress Esther Rolle agreed to return to the role of J.J.'s mom, Florida Evans, as Good Times launched its sixth season. Conspicuous by his absence was Moses Gunn as ...
Assured that the character played by her co-star Jimmie Walker, brash, budding inner-city artist J.J. Evans, had become more mature and responsible during her year-long absence, actress Esther Rolle agreed to return to the role of J.J.'s mom, Florida Evans, as Good Times launched its sixth season. Conspicuous by his absence was Moses Gunn as Florida's second husband, Carl Dixon, whom she ostensibly married at the end of season four -- and with whom she'd been living in Arizona while "missing in action" throughout season five. When Florida made her comeback to the Evanses' tiny Chicago apartment, it was minus Carl, with no explanation given as to what had happened to him; indeed, it was if Carl had never existed. The series' scripters contrived to bring Florida back into the Evans fold by having her invited to the wedding of her daughter, Thelma (BernNadette Stanis), and up-and-coming, award-winning football flash Keith Anderson, played by new Good Times regular Ben Powers. It was hoped that Keith's impending contract with the Chicago Bears would enable the Evanses to at last leave the Projects and move into more attractive surroundings. Alas, no sooner had Thelma and Keith said "I do," than Keith tripped and broke his knee, thereby effectively squashing any hopes he had for a pro football career. Thus did Keith move into the increasingly crowded Evans apartment, contributing to the family's meager finances by working as a cab driver. Since Keith could only work a few hours a day, and J.J. had just been fired by the ad agency where he worked, former maid Florida had to go job-hunting, landing a part-time position as a school bus driver. J.J.'s efforts to make ends meet caused him to cross paths more than once with brutish neighborhood loan shark "Sweet Daddy" Williams, played by Theodore Wilson, a formerly recurring character who graduated that season to semi-regular status. As for the other cast members, younger brother Michael Evans (Ralph Carter) continued to seek out his niche in the world; neighbor Willona (Ja'net Dubois) was relatively content in her new role as single adoptive mother to the precocious Penny (Janet Jackson); and usurious landlord Bookman (Johnny Brown) continued to pinch as many pennies as possible in maintaining the Evans apartment. Beginning the season in a "death" time slot opposite NBC's Saturday-night league leader, CHiPs, Good Times continued to lose viewers at an alarming rate. Having already gone on a brief hiatus in November 1978, the series left the air entirely in December, resurfacing in May 1979, only so that the remaining episode could be played off, thereby avoiding a total loss of CBS' investment. In a Wednesday-night time slot that was no more beneficial than its previous Saturday berth, the series died a quiet death on August 1, 1979, with one of the most outrageously unrealistic "happy" endings in TV series history: To make a long story short, everything turned out all right. Only 21 of the 24 episodes filmed for the 1978-1979 season were telecast by CBS; the three "orphaned" episodes would not be seen until Good Times entered local syndication in the fall of 1979. Hal Erickson, Rovi
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