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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Good Times: The Complete Second Season
Good Times: The Complete Second Season
Columbia/Tri-Star // Unrated // February 3, 2004
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Matthew Millheiser | posted February 23, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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The Program

Good Times was yet another successful spin-off from the All In The Family genetic line (it actually was a direct spin-off from Maude), and indeed proved that Norman Lear was - other than the future anti-Christ to many self-righteous Americans - a mighty force to be reckoned with when it came to socially-relevant situation comedies of the 1970s. Think about it: with one fell swoop, Fell created the aforementioned All In The Family, a milestone in the history of television sitcoms. From there, Lear developed and/or spun-off Sanford and Son, Maude, Good Times, One Day at a Time, and the madly brilliant Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. The man simply had the Midas Touch when it came to cranking out the hits.

Good Times, which ran from 1974 to 1979, featured Esther Rolle as Florida Evans, the strong-willed matriarch of the Evans family, John Amos as the hard-working father James Evans, their three smart-ass kids: J.J. (Jimmie Walker, in his signature role), Thelma (Bernadette Stains), and Michael (Ralph Carter), and their wacky, sassy neighbor Willona (Ja'net DuBois). The struggling family lived in the Chicago projects, and despite their lack of money and constant struggle, they consistently maintained their pride and sense of humor.

I might as well get it out the way right now: I've never been a fan of Good Times. In fact, I outright dislike the show. It has nothing to do with the writing, the acting, the cast, the storylines, the setting, or anything like that. Ever since I was a kid, I just simply couldn't watch the show without running away screaming. I had the same reaction to M.A.S.H. and Barney Miller (although I did like the Fish spin-off, for whatever reason). My dislike of Good Times was simply some kind of genetic anomaly. Watching the various episodes of Good Times: The Complete Second Season did little to assuage my feelings on the matter. Objectively speaking, I can say that fans of the show will generally be satisfied, while casual viewers definitely might want to screen it first.

The following twenty-four episodes are included on this three-disc set:

Disc One:

  1. Florida Flips
  2. Crosstown Buses Run All Day, Doodah, Doodah
  3. J.J. Becomes a Man, Part I (J.J. Is Arrested, Part I)
  4. The Man I Most Admire
  5. J.J. Becomes a Man, Part II (J.J. Is Arrested Part II)
  6. The Encyclopedia Hustle
  7. The I.Q. Test
  8. Thelma's Young Man

Disc Two:

  1. Florida, The Matchmaker
  2. The Windfall
  3. The Gang, Part I
  4. The Gang, Part II
  5. Sometimes There's No Bottom in the Bottle
  6. Florida's Big Gig
  7. Florida Goes To School
  8. The Nude

Disc Three:

  1. The Family Business
  2. The Debutante Ball
  3. The Dinner Party
  4. The Houseguest
  5. My Girl, Henrietta
  6. The Enlistment
  7. Thelma's Scholarship
  8. The Lunch Money Rip-Off

The DVD

Video:

Good Times: The Complete Second Season is presented in its original fullframe aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The quality of the video is seriously flawed, which can be somewhat understood by the age of the source material. The picture is consistently soft and fuzzy, generally lacking sharpness and definition. Contrasts are shallow and flat. Color levels are inconsistent: often they look faded and drab, while flesh tones are reasonably reproduced. Other times I noticed a subdued but pleasant chromatic presentation. While the video is certainly watchable and looks no worse than what you might see on cable television, the overall weakness of the picture is slightly disappointing.

Audio:

The audio presentation of Good Times: The Complete Second Season is workable if unremarkable. This is a mono presentation, firmly rooted in the front of the sound stage. Dialog is adequately reproduced, with satisfactory clarity although there are noticeable levels of clipping and distortion. While the overall audio is nothing to write home about, the presentation is definitely serviceable and does not detract from the experience.

Extras:

The only extras on this set are trailers for other Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment releases of television on DVD, including Sanford and Son, The Jeffersons, Soap, What's Happening, Good Times, Barney Miller, All in the Family, The King of Queens, The Steve Harvey Show, Dawson's Creek, Designing Women, Married With Children, My Big Fat Greek Life, Mad About You, The Larry Sanders Show, The Critic, The Tick, and Dilbert.

Final Thoughts

Good Times benefits from the greatest theme song in theme song history. It whips butt on The Jeffersons, utterly demolishes and destroys Gilligan's Island, and obliterates from existence Hello Larry. Let's be real: for whatever you think of the series, the minute you hear the opening bar to Good Times's theme song, you drop everything to sing every last verse. Every last verse. You gotta respect that.

Now, back to the DVD. The quality is unfortunately limited. Shoving 8 episodes onto each of the three discs results in an excessive amount of compression and a hampered presentation of the source material. As I've said in this space many times before, this doesn't necessarily make the show look worse than you've ever seen it before. In fact, the presentation is just as good as you've seen it on TV zillions of times before. The problem is, it should be better.

I'm not a Good Times fan, but fans of the show will be pleased this DVD anyhow. Extras are non-existent, and the presentation of the material is definitely hampered, but if you are a big fan of Good Times you are getting an exceptional value for your money. For the more casual viewer/fan, definitely procure this as a rental first.

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