Tag Archive: friends



And so this week is the first but not definitely not the last week that will be full of movie reviews in this space.

Interesting part of being around as long as I’ve been around: I’m a proud voting member of the guild I belong to, then I have friends who have projects out or on the verge of coming out, I have friends of friends who have projects coming out, and this year I’ll be as open to criticism as anybody I criticize since I have my own short that will be done…soon… (and I’m taking a cue from Beyonce and going fairly tight lipped about my own baby until it’s ready for the world, thus the above pic.)

I like to believe my constructive criticism voice has evolved to the point where I can talk about other films and filmmakers in a way that says ‘not for me’ more so than ‘that sucks’.  But I guess time will tell over the next few months.

In the meantime, the songs will get in where they fit in this week (if at all).

(Fade the theatre lights…)

The Cosby Show, by almost any measure, was the definitive 80s sitcom.  Based on the real life and stand up routine of Bill Cosby, the show revolved around the Huxtable family.  Patriarch Dr. Cliff Huxtable, his lawyer wife Clair, and their five kids.  A show that really doesn’t need much of an introduction, on to the tale of the tape…

Relevance:  While comics like Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx made their name by telling jokes aimed square at the racial differences between us, Cosby’s humor was built more around being a father, a husband, and the ups and downs of family.  I make this point again to say that while we all saw the superficial element, The Cosby Show rarely, if ever, addressed race in a direct way.  The culture was always there from beginning to end, but with the success of the show wasn’t necessarily because of, nor in spite of the family being black.  They just…were.

Legacy:  Where to begin?  Well, the direct ‘legacy’ of course was A Different World, which was impactful enough to earn its own place on this countdown.  On the business side, The Cosby Show turned Thursday nights into “Must See Television”  (not Friends or Seinfeld, The Cosby Show came first.)  Speaking of Jerry Seinfeld, him and many, many other stand up comedians owe him a debt of gratitude for establishing the ‘stand up comedian turning his act into a sitcom’ genre.  There are literally too many to name at this point, but The Cosby Show proved how successful that could be.  Am I missing anything?  Oh yes, in terms of why it stands where it stands on this countdown, for the vast number of black (and white) kids who had never seen a black doctor OR a black lawyer in their lives, The Cosby Show planted the idea in their heads that yes, it’s possible to have a black family like this.  Can not be underestimated.

Craft:  Nobody was ‘looking’ for a show like this, to have the impact it had, when it came out.  Even in reruns and syndication, The Cosby Show holds up extremely well.  I personally will always have a soft spot for the scene where Cliff educates Theo about finances using Monopoly money, but you can look through every season and find all kinds of (clean) and funny segments.  If casting is 80 percent of the battle, then Phylicia Rashad, Lisa Bonet, Malcolm Jamal-Warner, Tempest Bledsoe, and Keisha Knight-Pulliam deserve all the credit in the world.

Crossover:  The undisputed number one show in the ratings for a good five or six years (until The Simpsons came along).  Winner of Emmys, Golden Globes, Image Awards.  Cliff Huxtable still wins polls as the best TV dad ever.  Not best black TV dad, best Dad.  Nuff said.

Apollo:  Come on now…

And on that note, I’m off to find me a woman and start my own Huxtable family.  The most important Black TV show of all time next month.



This one makes me reminisce how good we had it in the 90s.  I can pick up the phone right now and start quoting from this show to put my people into a laughing fit.  For the uninitiated, Martin told the story of a Detroit DJ (Martin Payne) and his comical relationships with his girl (Gina) and their friends (Pam, Cole, Tommy).

Alright, on to the tale of the tape…

Relevance:  The show was set in Detroit, with five black principal characters.  As my militant partner in crime likes to point out, there was a Do the Right Thing poster hanging in Martin’s apartment.  We’ll stop there.

Craft:  I might be a little biased since this show is also a personal favorite, but in my opinion if you want to do laugh out loud comedy that doesn’t get stale with time, you could do a LOT worse than watching Martin. 

Legacy: Everyone who watched Def Comedy Jam knew how funny Martin Lawrence was.  Among other things, this show proved Martin could still be hilarious without ever cussing.  Which opened the door for Big Momma’s House! 

Crossover:  I’m not sure how much Martin’s career hit the mainstream because of this show.  Martin was always up against NBC’s ‘Must See TV’ lineup (Seinfeld, Friends) so I imagine that the ‘mainstream’ people watching Martin were the same types who were watching him on Def Jam anyway.

Apollo:  This could SO easily be its own post.  I’ll list my own personal top five while you reminisce on yours…

5. In the first season, Martin introduced the character of Jerome: a permed out, gaudy jewelry wearing brother with a thick goatee, straight playa.  What made this character so funny to me was I have a second uncle in Louisiana who looked AND acted exactly like Jerome.  One of my cousins picked up on this at a funeral when we were kids and I felt so guilty for busting out laughing in the middle of church.

4. Among Martin’s other characters was a white guy named Bob.  His most notorious moment was probably when he started wilding out a party with Gina and Pam.  “Gina’s outta control, Pam’s outta control, THIS WHOLE FREAKING PARTY’S OUT OF CONTROLLLLLL!!!!”

3. Later in that same episode, Martin (who thinks Gina’s creeping on him) hides under the bed when Gina has the maintenance man fix her ‘clogged vent’.  By the time the maintenance cat says, “When I finally pull this out, you are going to LOVE me!”, I was dying laughing without Martin’s facial expressions.  This is immediately followed by one of the five worst ‘fake beatdowns’ you will ever see.  Martin was a clown!

2. Maybe the greatest ‘little man paranoia’ story ever, had Martin having to stand up to Tommy ‘Hitman’ Hearns.  The whole episode is classic, but when Martin feels slighted and calls out Hearns with the line.  “Hey Tommy, I talked to Sugar (Ray).  He says you’re the Get Hit Man!”  Then he turns around and says ‘What?’ trying to punk some random dude out; that still kills me.

1. Martin’s CD player is missing.  This leads to what to this day is still probably the best New Jack City parody you’ll ever see.  Having everyone dressed in black, Martin plays the Nino role, threatening his friends with a toy Doberman.  This was a taped television show, and you can still clearly see damn near the whole cast bust out laughing throughout the scene.  Oh, and for story purposes, ‘Bruh Man’ borrowed Martin’s CD player.  Remember Bruh Man?

Alright, as I debate whether my need to be objective is preventing me from ranking this show higher, I can tell you another classic sitcom awaits next month…