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Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Retro Review: What's Happening!!

Duration: 1976-1979 
No of seasons: 3
Release date: (US) 5 August 1976  
DVD release by Mill Creek Entertainment
Produced by Bud Yorkin Productions and ABC  
Cast: Ernest Thomas, Haywood Nelson, Fred Berry, Danielle Spencer, Shirley Hemphill, Mabel King

What's Happening!! follows the lives of 3 working class African - American teenagers living in the Watts section of Los Angeles, California. Another in the long line of African- American situation comedies of the 1970s era, What's Happening!!' debuted alongside 'Chico and the Man' and 'Good Times'. 

In stark contrast to The Jeffersons and Good Times, What's Happening!! only rarely scratched the surface when it came to social issues. Instead, the show's episodes focused on the boys' teenage life and their struggles and successes, as well as things such as meeting girls, finding work and planning for the future. This trio of boys consist of Raj, Rerun and Dwayne. 

What's Happening!! was loosely based on the 1975 movie, ''Cooley High'', which was also penned by the same writer of the TV series, the late Eric Monte. He was previously the co-creator and writer for Norman Lear's other African- American sitcoms, 'Good Times' and 'The Jeffersons'. Along with producer Bud Yorkin - who gave us 'All In The Family' and 'Sanford and Son' - the show premiered on ABC a year later after the movie.  

The one thing that didn't make it into the series was the drug and crime references and mentions. There was no hint or appearance of that on 'What's Happening!!', a prime-time, family -orientated sitcom. 

It lasted three seasons and later spawned the follow-up, 'What's Happening!! Now'. 

Raj is also known by his full name Roger Thomas: a bespectacled teenager who lives with his single parent mother, Mabel and younger sister, Dee. He is intelligent and articulate, who finds himself at loggerheads with sibling, Dee. Not to mention getting himself in bigger trouble, much to the chagrin of Mabel. Freddy 'Rerun' Stubbs is overweight, wears a beret on his head and matching suspenders. Surprisingly, he is also a very good dancer and therefore takes part in dance contests. Rerun is the joker of the pack with a crazy sense of humour. He dreams of making it as a dancer or showbiz entertainer. In an episode, Dwayne answers the question why he was nicknamed Rerun, and he replied with because he did so poorly academically at school, every summer he would go back to school to rerun all the stuff he failed at. Dwayne Nelson is the youngest of the trio, who becomes the centre of attention by girls, due to his cute boy-ish looks. He also comes across as being very shy and timid and often endures bullying. His trademark phrase is, 'Hey, Hey, Hey!', which is up there with Good Times' JJ Evans' 'Dy-no-mite!!' and George Jefferson's 'Zebra' in the sitcom ranks. Mabel Thomas is Raj's sweet and caring mother with a 'don't mess with me' exterior, whose role diminished later on, leading to her exit from the series. Dee is Raj's younger sister and a brat to boot too. She is the typical annoying little sister, who is an overbearing big mouth and pain- in- the- ass to deal with, and throws tantrums and often blackmails her brother and threatens to tell their mum what he has been up to. Just to get him into trouble. Almost all sitcoms have one sarcastic character throughout the series, and on ''What's Happening!!', it was Dee of whom fit that bill. Last but not least, Shirley is a waitress at the restaurant that Raj, Rerun and Dwayne regularly visit. She is the brash, no-nonsense type who often clashes with Rerun and the pair trade verbal exchanges with one another. Shirley also eats a lot as well, even going as far as sampling a taste of the customers' orders! 

What was strange was Rerun making fun of Shirley and calling her fat, when he too was, ahem, fat. This was a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Still, I couldn't help but raise a chuckle, especially when Rerun would head straight out of the restaurant after making his remark, before Shirley tried to catch him. 

Raj and Dee's father occasionally appeared during the first 2 seasons of 'What's Happening!!'

The main heart of this show was the boys ever -growing friendship and being there for another through the good times, as well as the bad times, whilst trying to do the right thing, which for them it's not, or be it wasn't easy. 

Compared to Good Times, What's Happening!! has a lot more things in common with the prior sitcom, than 'The Cosby Show'; besides the class thing they both share, what with the Evans's and Thomas's families being lower working- class, Raj and Dee are brought up in a one- parent family.'What's Happening!!' was a lot more positive and encouraging, in stark comparison to the moody and somewhat sober overtones of 'Good Times'. Good Times was a good show too - but I do understand the heavy themes and darker tone did turn people off. 

This show has a 'feel- good', young vibe going for it; it's fresh, easy-going in nature and doesn't take itself too seriously. I like how with 'What's Happening!!', it chooses to be different from all the other sitcoms out at the time; there are times where you just want to sit back, relax and watch a sitcom that is fun and enjoyable and for the show to not focus on being too political or socially conscious all the time. Underneath all that slapstick and quirky humour, What's Happening!! emphasized the importance of friendship as well as family, morality and good etiquette but it does it in a way that doesn't become socially and politically overbearing, as well as sugary and preachy. Even if it means dealing with a bratty sister along the way. 

It may not be as socially- driven as the other sitcoms of the same era, - or as deep as some viewers want this show to be, but that doesn't mean 'What's Happening!!' lacks heart; this show doesn't (and thankfully isn't) constantly shoving one social problem to another down our throats; it just presents a different approach and angle to sitcoms, whilst still retaining its humour and feel-good vibe. 

From Rerun's dancing, Dee consuming burgers in the episode, 'Burger Queen', Dwayne's 'nice guy' attitude and Raj's money- making, get- rich- quick antics, the kids on this show are never short of ideas, and entertainment. The humour is an essential component in sitcoms and none more-so than on this show, which was very offbeat and carefree. The show's story-lines and development allows for the characters to gradually grow as individuals and develop and change for the better that makes us want to root for them to be happy. 

There are many teen sitcoms that have been released over the years, but this was a teen-based sitcom with a difference, as well as the first African- American teen sitcom to air on US TV: ''What' Happening!!'' was and is profoundly funny and entertaining to boot. 

And frankly, you just can't ask for any more than that. 

By Waiching 

Season ratings (out of 10)

Seasons 1 to 3:  8

Overall: 8 out of 10

sources: DVD Talk 

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

If TV Shows Were Black..... Hot In Houston

Above: Houston skyline 

Plot:  centers on 3 middle aged, has -been entertainment industry veterans who find their lives changed forever when their plane heading to Mexico from Los Angeles, makes an unexpected landing - in Houston, Texas. When they discover that they are hot in Houston (hence the title), they decide to stay.

They rent a house that happens to come with a feisty caretaker named Silvia. 

Above: the original cast of Hot In Cleveland (L-R Wendy Malick, Valerie Bertinelli, Betty White and Jane Leeves) 

I asked myself what would an all-Black cast look like if I were to cast a set of alternative female leads in the roles of the characters for this iteration of the sitcom. Well, it would look like this..... (*character descriptions the same as they were on 'Hot in Cleveland')

Main characters and my ideal casting: 

Melanie originally played by Valerie Bertinelli 

renamed as Hope played by Debbie Allen 

Recently divorced mother of 2 children after 35 years of marriage. When the plane makes an emergency landing in Houston, Hope falls in love with the city and decides to stay. Just like her name, she is always the optimist & is fiercely loyal to her friends. Also has a sister named Patricia (played by Phylicia Rashad). 

Image credit: Paras Griffin/contributor, Getty Images 2015

Joy originally played by Jane Leeves 

renamed as Alexa played by Judy Reyes 

A never married beautician who counts Oprah Winfrey and Ryan Seacrest as her clients. Is judgmental & calls people out as she sees them. On the surface she is cynical and pessimistic - yet inside vulnerable and a romantic. Has a strong dislike towards caretaker, Silvia. Is 4th generation Afro- Latina, whose parents emigrated to the States in the late 1960s. 

Victoria originally played by Wendy Malick

renamed as Loretta played by Jenifer Lewis 

6- time divorced Emmy and Oscar award winning soap opera actress whose long- running show was cancelled. Loves to be the centre of attention, she can't get enough of the compliments and is delightfully vain. Now in her early 50s, she may be self - obsessed, but she's always there when her friends need her. 

Ella originally played by Betty White 

renamed as Silvia played by Cicely Tyson 

Caretaker whose judgmental retorts to the other women in the pilot episode reveal a tough demeanor & allude to an illustrious life. A widower in her 80s, she is opinionated and outspoken and has a strong dislike towards Alexa. Also cooks food for the ladies. 

Sunday, 17 May 2015

35 Things American Multi- Cam Sitcoms Have In Common

1. They have a will- they/won't- they romantic plot line 

(above: Whitley and Dwayne from A Different World) 

2. Characters fall in and out of love with other characters, until they eventually settle down with the one, who is (usually) a supporting/secondary character on the show

(above Will and Grace season 5, 2002)

3. End - of - season cliffhanger - a plot device that features a main character in a precarious or difficult problem or is confronted with a shocking revelation at the end of the last episode. The cliffhanger leaves viewers wondering what happens right after the episode. 

(above: The Jeffersons)

4. Recurring cast of characters and the developing relationships of those characters - helps maintain the continuity, fluidity and familiarity of the plot, & the storylines so viewers can tune in at any stage and still follow the action. 

(above: Frasier) 

5. They are ongoing and unlike a movie it has no ending

6. Traditional multicamera sitcoms run for 30 mins including adverts, ad breaks cut today's 30 min sitcoms down to just 22 mins

7. Sitcoms draw on real-life experiences, so that the audience can connect with the action and relate to the fictional characters - the characters may not be real, but a lot of the situations that take place depict real -life. If anything, one could see sitcoms as a way of analysing how characters find themselves in a dilemma and how they manage to resolve that problem in the end. 

8. Magicom (60s) - sitcom that fuses elements of magic with the real world. An example of a Magicom is 'Bewitched'.

(above: The Fresh Prince of Bel Air)

9. Main characters - characters who carry the show on a regular basis but it tends to be led by one character

(above: Different Strokes' Arnold, Willis, Kimberley, Phillip and Mrs Garrett)

10. Supporting characters - support the main character and act as foils 

(above: Lucy Liu on Joey and Neil Patrick Harris on Blossom) 

11. Transients - the guest star, walk on characters, supporting guest stars

12. Setting/location: work place, school, at home

13. Problem arises that has to be resolved by the end of the episode 

14. A & B story lines: 'A' story line is the main story line of the episode; it runs throughout the show and doesn't resolve until the final scene, 'B' story line is the secondary story line. It acts as nothing more than a slight diversion away from the A story line & sometimes it adds extra tension. 

15. The comic trap - term referring to the situation of the sitcom, it's the physical, psychological environment that creates the humourous exchange of banter and ideas

16. Teasers - short scene that appears before the opening credits

17. Binary oppositions - relationships between the characters on the show defined by their opposite qualities; male/female, optimist/pessimist, sarcastic/courteous, young/old

18. Family sitcom/the nuclear family - examples include The Cosby Show, Family Matters, Full House 

19. Running gag/joke - funny situation or dialogue that reappears in an episode or series of episodes 

George Jefferson slamming the front door in The Jeffersons and Jazz getting thrown out of the house by Uncle Phil on the Fresh Prince of Bel Air are 2 prime examples of the running gag 

20. Use of slapstick - slapstick is a style of humour that involves exaggerated physical actions or movements. Very few American sitcoms rely on slapstick but the few that come to mind include Mork and Mindy, The Parkers and Police Squad 

21. Spoken word dialogue 

22. Limited sets

23. Sitcoms all have an opening theme song/tune, but for the exception of 'My Wife and Kids' 

24. Multi - camera sitcoms have either canned or audience laughter 

(above: Will Smith on the Fresh Prince of Bel Air)

25. The wisecrack - likes of make fun of others or finds humour in situations 

(above: Karen Walker from Will and Grace) 

26. The bully/charmer - is not technically a bully per se, but a jerkass or a jerk with a heart of gold 

(above: Will Truman from Will and Grace) 

27. The square - straight person, straight as in character whose funny lines mostly come from their reactions to situations. That's not to say s/he is unfunny or gets no amusing lines, but rather that they are serious most of the time. 

(above: Steve Urkel of Family Mattters) 

28. The dork/geek

(above: Phoebe Buffet of Friends and Synclaire James of Living Single)

29. The goofball - typically filled by a ditzy character. The goofball is a character whose defining characteristic is stupidity or silliness 

(above: Joey Tribiani of Friends) 

30. The charmer - Casanova, the lover and player

(above: C.C Babcock from The Nanny)

31. The stick - uptight and stuffy, pessimistic, is usually humourless 

(above: Phillip Drummond of Diff'rent Strokes) 

32. The sage - older person who acts as a mentor to the other characters giving advice 


(above: Carla of Cheers and Louie from Taxi) 

33. The big mouth - often gets on people's nerves, is a know- it- all and becomes very talkative  

(above: Olivia Kendall of The Cosby Show)

34. The precocious - youngest member, the child 

35. Most of the sitcoms main settings take place in either the home environment or work environment - In some cases, the home environment also doubles up as a working environment and so the character would sleep in the spare room of the house they work in, so that they don't have to travel to go to work. 

Source: TV Tropes 

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Retro Review: Ugly Betty

Duration: 2006 - 2010 (ABC)
No of seasons: 4
Release date: (US) 28 September 2006
DVD release by Buena Vista Home Entertainment/Touchstone 
Produced by Touchstone Television and ABC Studios
Cast: America Ferrera, Eric Mabius, Tony Plana, Ana Ortiz, Becki Newton, Michael Urie, Mark Indelicato, Vanessa L. Williams, Judith Light, Ashley Jensen, Chris Gorham, Freddy Rodriguez 

'This show wasn't ugly... rather it could have, and should have been so much more'

It's incredible to think that almost 10 years ago, a brand new show called Ugly Betty debuted on our screens with such hype and excitement generated by ABC and programme executives, thanks to its array of eccentric and colorful characters in a cartoon-eque way. 

Ugly Betty is a fish-out-of-water tale of a young Latina woman from Queens, New York named Betty Suarez (America Ferrera), who lives with her older sister Hilda (Ana Ortiz), father Ignascio (Tony Plana) and nephew, Justin (Mark Indelicato). She lands a top job at fashion magazine, MODE. Betty is young, smart, hardworking, down-to-earth; however, she is not attractive and thin, like the models that grace the front covers of MODE & becomes the butt of jokes as well as a target for abuse by her co-workers. With editor and boss Daniel Meade (Eric Mabius), she helps him navigate through the shark infested waters of the fashion world. 

The first season had a couple of wonderful episodes to speak of; my favourite being 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' when Marc, with the help of Betty acting as his girlfriend, pretended to be straight in front of his homophobic mother. It was a brilliant episode with some humourous moments such as Marc kissing Betty and washing his mouth out with water afterwards, and sad ones such as his mother rejecting him completely, after he tells her the truth. Marc St James (Michael Urie) alongside Amanda Tanen Sommers (Becki Newton) were my favourite characters from seasons 1-3. 

But after the first season - which was and still is the best season by a long mile: funny, heartfelt & poignant in places, well written-, for the general public Ugly Betty became a passing trend and fad; after the hype and excitement during 2006 for its debut season, most of the audience had moved onto other shows.  

From season 2 up until towards the last 5 episodes of the last season, the show was more about Betty and her love interests, rather than her career progression at MODE. The show diverted from the original premise of the plot and the longer it went on, without any major improvements, Ugly Betty had lost its way. 

Season 2 was my most loathed season out of the 4 for many reasons; far too many celebrity guest cameos, after a good start it later descended into a right mess, and the show turned into one that was more about the writers trying to outsmart each other to see who had the better and most outrageous story line. It was one absurd idea to another. Yes, it is based on the original Telenovella 'Yo Soy Betty', which was wacky and over-the-top in places, but still, Ugly Betty's plot twists in season 2 became ludicrous. I liked Wilhelmina, but her hooking up with Bradford was icky, and that whole baby story line involving Christina and how it all unfolded, got out of hand completely. The one saving grace from it all was the baby turning out to be Christina's in the end, and that she got a deserved send-off in season 3. 

The love triangle that long persisted throughout season 2 between Gio and Henry over Betty, was at most nauseating and tedious. I liked Gio, he was all right, but the manner they handled the Henry character after season 1 by Silvio Horta and the writers, was woeful. And though this is a dramedy, the humour in season 2 was childish in nature, rather than well done in the first season.  

As for season 3, it is still regarded by most fans of the show as the worst of the 4 seasons - back when it originally aired, I was regularly defending it against a set of fans, who didn't enjoy it, as I enjoyed most of the episodes and was happy that the Betty/Gio/Henry love triangle ended. Reflecting back on it now and my thoughts on it today, it's not as good as I said it was back in 2008. There were a couple of not so good episodes, but neither was it as bad as others have made it out to be. 

The writers did not go far enough to develop the characters properly; Marc and Amanda for instance had so many scenes together in seasons 1-3, yet whilst season 4 focused on those characters individually with their own storylines, as a partnership and friendship, we didn't see a lot of it. Most of the laughs on the series were also generated by this pairing; so when they weren't together for most of season 4, the show took a massive nose dive & became less funnier as it continued. 

Its potential left unfulfilled, Ugly Betty was anything but ugly, rather it could have and should have been so much more. 

In season 4, right after the 'terrible' Nico story-line came to an end, the show then became shockingly unfunny and dull. I know some fans have said Ugly Betty was cancelled, just as the writing was improving in that last season. But during the time ABC had announced they had pulled the plug on the series, I just wasn't getting the feeling season 4 was getting better as the series went on. With each passing episode, I was hoping and expecting they would be funnier; instead, the show dragged on and on with no big improvements made. I didn't laugh much. One of the core strengths of the show during the first season especially was the humour and comedy -, and season 4 just wasn't funny enough. But for the Weiner episode, it was devoid of fun.  

Betty glammed up, and as her appearance changed, it was no longer Ugly Betty, but beautiful Betty the manager with the braces gone, hair looking more shinier, bangs gone & dressing smartly.  

The show's cancellation - as painful as it was to many Ugly Betty fans - was indicative of how much Ugly Betty fell from grace so quickly. 

It's worth mentioning that during the pilot episode, Daniel's father Bradford Meade hires Betty as Daniel's assistant; Daniel has a penchant for attractive looking young women. Therefore, by hiring a less physically attractive female worker, it would result in Daniel focusing less of his attention on her appearance and that whatever feelings he had for Betty, it would be not physical, rather he liked her for who she is on the inside than be it on the outside. I'd like to add also that were it not for the show's cancellation, Betty's promotion would have been put on hold until the latter half of say season 5 or 6. 

It is such a shame the show ended so prematurely. If we did get that fifth season, I might have enjoyed it more than seasons 4 and 2. 

If there was one character that made the most progress on Ugly Betty in terms of character development, then arguably it would have to be Vanessa Williams's Wilhelmina Slater; yes she was evil and terrible and the villain of the piece, but it was interesting to see the different layers of this character unveiled. She has a dark side for sure, but like Marc she can be human & sympathetic, whenever and however she wants to be. Out of all the characters on the show, Wilhelmina was the one that made the biggest strides of all. Even if they weren't always in the best interests of other people. 

Other than that though, Ugly Betty's demise was sad and the manner in which the show had spiraled downhill, ever since season 1, was disappointing really. 

Even to this day, us fans can continue to blame ABC for cancelling the series outright (, and quite frankly it is something they shouldn't have done). But one must be kidding themselves into thinking this show was beyond perfect by any stretch of the imagination..... because it just wasn't. It had its flaws and the writers and the creator, Silvio Horta has to take responsibility for them.

I'm not going to take anything away from the performances of the cast; they all did a superb job in their respective roles. But insofar as to where I stand, for all its promises, programme-wise, Ugly Betty just didn't deliver the goods - and for that, its potential has been left unfulfilled. 

At best, this show is average or above average.

By Waiching

Season ratings (out of 10)

season 1 : 10
             2 :  4
             3 :  7
             4 :  5

Overall: 6 out of 10 

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Retro Review: The Nanny

Duration: 1993-1999 (CBS) 
No of seasons: 5 
Release date: (US) 3 November 1993
DVD release by Shout! Factory 
Produced by: High School Sweethearts, Sternin & Frasier Ink
Cast:  Fran Drescher, Charles Shaughnessy, Daniel Davis, Lauren Lane, Nicolle Tom, Benjamin Salisbury, Madeline Zima, Renee Taylor 

Fran Fine (played by Fran Drescher) is a nasal voiced cosmetics seller from Flushing Queens, New York, who was fired from her previous job. To make matters worse, she is also dumped by her boyfriend. Fran then finds herself selling cosmetics in upper Manhattan and living under the roof of her new employer: a Broadway producer from the UK, widower Mr Maxwell Sheffield (British actor Charles Shaughnessy, who was known to U.S audiences on the soap opera 'Days of Our Lives'). And interestingly, in Max we have one of the few leading characters of a US sitcom, who isn't American. He hires her to be his nanny to his 3 children, Maggie, Brighton and Grace and from there on wards, Fran becomes quite attached to the kids & over time, she changes theirs and their father's lives in a positive way. 

This plot and the show's nanny premise follows in the same footsteps as NBC's first 2 seasons of 'In The House' and ABC's 'Who's The Boss?': here we have a person who had a previous job in an earlier life, only for it to be cut short in unforeseen or unfortunate circumstances. S/he is then turning their attentions to babysitting, or to put it another way - looking after the children, whilst the parent is out working. In addition, to save rent costs, they would live in the same house as the employer. They would sleep in a separate room. Notice that with The Nanny, In The House and Who's The Boss?, 2 striking similarities they all share, is that first of all, the relationship between the parent and babysitter, is always male and female driven. Rarely in nanny sitcoms are both the characters of the same gender; Tony and Angela, Marion and Jackie, Fran and Max. 

The other similarity they have is the nanny employees work for their employers, who have a) been divorced from a previous marriage or b) their partner died or passed away. Here with nanny sitcoms, we don't see plots where the set of parents, hire the babysitter and for them to take care of their kids. It's been mostly single parent characters. 

In contrast to In The House and Who's The Boss?, The Nanny sees the main female character operating as a nanny, as opposed to the male character on the other shows. 

The Nanny is the better sitcom compared to the other 2 shows. Why?, well because whilst I really enjoyed In The House and Marion and Jackie's camaraderie and interactions, I felt that by looking at it from a show's standpoint in terms of the direction, In The House should've stuck with the nanny theme throughout the series and kept Debbie Allen on board for the entirety of the show. They didn't and the show tanked afterwards. With 'Who's The Boss?', looking at it today, it was sort of cheesy and dated but it was also nice. It played it too safe for my liking and it lacked the cutting edge & silliness The Nanny had. 

The Sheffield household is finally completed with CC and Niles (the other Niles who is not from Frasier); CC is Max's business partner who becomes smitten with jealously over Max and Fran's developing friendship as employees and friends, whilst Niles the butler is the show's very own Geoffrey of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air/Florence Johnston of The Jeffersons with his brand of deadpan & acerbic humour and sarcastic wit, as well as digs at CC. The pair of whom continually snipe at each other at every given opportunity. 

Fran's mother Sylvia (played by Renee Taylor, who was on a season 2 episode of Caroline In The City) treads a fine line between wacky and subtle and understanding and supportive of her daughter's decisions. Fran's family and friends form the backbone of her Jewish upbringing & roots, and this translates well into the humour too. 

The formula on this show is very old school: it has a whiff of 'I Love Lucy' blended with 'Who's The Boss?'. People have complained about Fran Drescher's Queens 'New Yoik' voice as being too nasel-y and grating, but with a premise like this, and the way the show is presented to the audience, I think this works to Fran's advantage and it gives character to Miss Fine. 

One may aptly sum up The Nanny as the Jewish 'Who's The Boss?'; because that is what it is, and it is like I said earlier better than 'Who's The Boss?'. What made this show tick was its approach to the traditional multicam sitcom that was old school in nature but it also felt fresh, edgy and inviting in its delivery. Whereas everyone dressed and looked so conservatively with their dark suits and attires, Fran would come out wearing a red dress or leather outfit. Or dress and look & act like a man in the hilarious episode, 'Stock Tip' from season 2 (see image below).  

A lot of viewers today may not appreciate the traditional multicamera situation comedy with the audience laughter in the background; which is a type of programme American television today is sorely and desperately lacking today. But for those who do appreciate multicam sitcoms, The Nanny was and is a really good show.

There aren't too many complaints about it, but if I have to have 2 tiny gripes in regards to The Nanny, it is that the final season wasn't as good as the earlier seasons and though I enjoyed the romantic chemistry between Max and Fran, the show was less amusing and funny during the last season. Though I'm glad it didn't last more than 6 seasons and that The Nanny had a good send-off. 

Fran and Max's relationship was handled really well by the writers; even when they got together and were eventually married, it held up on its own and didn't crack and disintegrate into pieces like other sitcom couples' post-will-they-won't-they relationships, due to the poor writing and change of direction of the shows. Usually, when 2 people get together, it signals a jump-the-shark moment and the downfall of a sitcom; not with The Nanny. My favourite episode, which also best typifies their relationship and love they have for one another, is when Fran and Max are stranded on a desert island on the season 6 opener 'The Honeymoon's Overboard', right after getting hitched

Overall, The Nanny is one of the most interesting and underrated sitcoms of the 1990s alongside heavy hitters such as Friends, Frasier.  

Personally speaking, it is better than the previous decades' 'Who's The Boss?', The Nanny is an example of how to do the nanny sitcom (no pun intended) justice, without making it corny and schmaltzy. Entertaining, amusing to boot with some really great characters you'd root and cheer for, if you're a fan of multicam sitcoms and don't mind a bit of romance on the side too, then The Nanny is worth recommending. 


Season ratings (out of 10)

1 to 5 - 9 
6        - 8
Overall: 9 out of 10 

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Why Are Black Male X-Men Superheroes Treated So Badly By Marvel?

For a comic book super hero franchise lauding diversity and the X-Men being signifiers of the oppressed and disadvantaged groups and communities ostracized in society, it is rather telling that the strong, male Black mutant hero has been one of the number of issues Marvel have not only overlooked, but it is also one that they have failed to tackle properly on a consistent basis. 

Whereas with The Avengers, they have no qualms making the Falcon/Captain America and Nick Fury bad - ass, integrating them into the team. It's one rule for the Avengers, and another for the X-Men. If you are going to make this occurring for one franchise, then you ought to do the same for the other franchises as well. 

So why does Marvel Comics treat the Black male superhero X-Men characters with little contempt, especially given with Storm, they did such a good job with a Black female superhero and making her a key asset to the team? Their track record with the former is undeniably poor. 

New X-Men, Vol 11, #141 (cover by Phil Jimiez) 

Bishop (see above) could have been, and ought to have been an interesting character to fill the anti-hero role left void by Wolverine after his death by making him a permanent team X-Men member. Despite the fact, he tried to kill a baby. Sadly though, with Marvel, fans saw the self-destruction of this character. Once he fell from grace, he lost everything that made him a hit in the first place. 

And what about Black Panther? He was married to Storm and I think he would have fit in well with the team & become a valuable team member.

The problem with Marvel is with the X-Men, all the non-white male Black characters are a) killed off after 2 or 3 years existence & b) written as the stereotypical 'Angry Black man', who wants vengeance against 'Whitey'. 

Jesse Bedlam, Tag, Prodigy, Maggot, Spike to name but a couple - characters who have such interesting back stories and personalities & of whom could have been potentially great characters - were shafted and/or ended up dead. 

As for Darwin, there was uproar from fans when he was killed off in X-Men: First Class, the live action Hollywood movie. But he was also killed off earlier on by Marvel in the comic book series canon story line. Other than the X-Men comics fans, nobody bat an eyelid when that happened. It was only until First Class that the audience got angry and cried racism. So you're all up in arms because the one and only character got killed off because he was Black, but you don't know how and why it happened and that it was part of the story line in the comic books, even if it was ridiculous? I beg to differ. 

To have so few key male Black superheroes in X-Men in just 30 or almost 40 years since its creation, is diabolical really. Given that Black comic book readers fans, particularly X-Men fans can relate to and understand the social struggles and issues in their search for equality and fighting prejudice and discrimination, not to mention the U.S media's recent attempts to paint young Black males, either as criminals or individuals, who end up on the news as victims of racially-motivated murders, having Black male superheroes would help shatter this myth. 

The mutant struggle is reminiscent of the civil rights movement. 

The writers are left with the option not to touch these characters again, because they were treated badly because of the writing and received terribly by the fans. 

Adding a minority character for the sake of enhancing the racial makeup of the team, is not enough: there has to be a justification or reason as to why they need to be there. Otherwise, it's like saying we have to add a Black or Asian superhero, because of their ethnicity and to fill a quota. Not because they bring something new to the team. 

But right now, and just as they have done during the past couple of years, Marvel comics are coming across as being hypocrites: hypocrites in that they say they are trying to push for more diversity, but only in franchises that a) they have the movie rights to or b) when the fandom is alive and active. That would explain why The Avengers, along with Guardians of the Galaxy are the company's poster child - and X-Men are not. Not just because of the poor sales of the comics, but because Fox currently owns the movie rights. 

The writers have little to no interest developing Black male X-Men characters properly in the long run. They believe that the Black readership of X-Men comics is tiny (which it probably is) and that the rest of them are into their other franchises more so than the X-Men. Which results in these characters being dead, de-powered, or later defect to the Inhumans or Avengers, or go solo. 

(above: former X-man Prodigy, who defected to The Avengers) 

Let's hope that we don't have to wait long for a new creator/writer who creates more Black characters, and that includes Black male comic book characters for the X-Men universe that have the staying power of Storm, and that they don't end up being treated as little more than background characters. 

The X-Men needs more minority superheroes, especially that of colour; for Marvel, that shouldn't be too difficult. They've done it a couple of times, but their failure and inconsistency to develop Black X- mutants in the long run has to change. 

There are no prominent Black male X-Men characters in the team to speak of, whatsoever & the company have made little attempts to address this problem. 

Marvel, you dropped the ball in this area .... now you need to pick it up. 

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