What a difference an impeachment vote or two can make.
It’s not that tonight’s Live in Front of a Studio Audience: All in The Family & Good Times was bad, it was actually “pretty great,” to quote Norman Lear, and Marisa Tomei’s Edith Bunker is just comic genius – but it just wasn’t where the real drama was for America.
Back less than seven months after Lear and Jimmy Kimmel first dropped their original Live in Front of Studio Audience, the second installment of the ABC airing throwback franchise was buffeted around Wednesday by Donald Trump becoming the third President in American history to be indicted by the House of Representatives.
Unlike the surges and stumbles of the All in The Family and The Jeffersons’ efforts that went out live on the Disney-owned network on May 22, this slicker, smoother and somewhat holiday themed effort lost its pace against political realities – as late-night maestro Kimmel acknowledged.
“We are here when the House of Representatives has impeached the President of the United States, we have the best timing,” Kimmel declared to the studio audience and those at home in introducing the Tomei and greatly improved Woody Harrelson-led All in The Family “The Draft Dodger” episode that first aired on Christmas Day 1976. “Amazing timing,” agreed 97-year old Lear, laughing.
In a performance free of the occasional stunted mishaps and missed lines of the rehearsal I attended yesterday on the Sony lot, that impeachment shout out was actually the second time tonight Kimmel had to shift to realpolitik
Jolted by a surprise guest appearance by original Good Times Dad John Amos and an inspired round of the Dozens, the otherwise erratically paced Viola Davis and Andre Braugher-led “The Politicians” episode kicked off with a warning of interruption from Kimmel – after a slate warning against the “jarring” language of the original shows.
— ABC (@ABCNetwork) December 19, 2019
In a night when no one missed their marks or had a nationwide flub like Jamie Foxx gloriously did as George Jefferson earlier this year and Patti Labelle, black-ish’s Anthony Anderson and a choir enthusiastically sang the Good Times theme song, it was a required alarm.
Less than 20-minutes into the new version of the Eric Monte and Mike Evans created Good Times, ABC shifted to George Stephanopoulos informing viewers that the abuse of power article against the ex-Celebrity Apprentice host had passed the Nancy Pelosi-run House. The GMA co-host added that obstruction of justice was on the docket next before sliding back to IFOASA. At 5:52 PM PT, the former Bill Clinton sidekick was once again back as the House voted on party lines for that second article on the seemingly Ukraine strong arming by Trump for dirt on 2020 contender and former Vice-President Joe Biden.
Three minutes later it was a whirlwind back to the other live event of the evening.
And both suffered because of it, even with the addition of more top-notch talent to the troupe like When They See Us’ Emmy winning Jharrel Jerome, Kevin Bacon, Jesse Eisenberg, One Day at a Time’s Justina Machado and an interstitial appearance in by original Good Times cast Ja’Net DuBois, Jimmie Walker and Bern Nadette Stanis
Aiming to serve two gods, ABC took the wind out of a potentially very powerful depiction of a divided America penned by Jay Moriarty and Mike Milligan in the aftermath of the disastrous Vietnam War from four decades ago. Simply put, with a winning formula in the returning LIFOASA, muscular performances and the desired surprises, there was no way ABC could win tonight – impeachment is too big, even if we are all willing to bet Trump will be acquitted in the GOP run Senate next year.
“On behalf of all of us, we wish you a Merry Christmas, a happy holiday and a much much better new year!” Jimmy Kimmel said closing out the night, surrounded by Lear and cast past and present.
But perhaps the last word should go to John Amos as re-election seeking Windy City Alderman, at least in this era of Trump and the coming year of election. “You are a real smart dude with a lot of fancy talk, you like to strut,” the multi-Emmy nominee told his young rival, played by Jerome. “But when it comes to politics, you don’t know your head from your butt.”
Happy New Year America, looks a lot like the days of All In The Family and Good Times.