Thursday, January 02, 2014

Remembering James Avery of Fresh Prince; Episodic Review: Community - "Repilot" & "Introduction to Teaching" Airing Tonight on NBC

James Avery

Yesterday we first mentioned to you on Twitter of the passing of sitcom star James Avery and now today we will pay tribute to him. James Avery, who laid down the law at home and on the job as the Honorable Philip Banks in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, has died. His publicist, Cynthia Snyder confirmed that Avery died Tuesday (Dec. 31, 2013) in Glendale, CA, following complications from open heart surgery. Alfonso Ribeiro confirmed the passing on Twitter as well. Avery, who stood more than 6 feet tall, played the family patriarch and a wealthy attorney and judge on the popular TV comedy that launched the acting career of Will Smith as Banks' trouble-making nephew. The sitcom, which aired on NBC from 1990 to 1996, was set in the Banks' mansion, where Smith's character was sent from Philadelphia when things got tough in his own neighborhood. Fans came to know the imposing Banks as "Uncle Phil." There was a brief reunion in late 2011 where the cast reunited at a charity luncheon (see Will Smith's photo).

Avery liked to say that the way to be an actor was to act, and he had a busy and diverse career before, during and after Fresh Prince. His TV credits included MANY TV guest stints on Grey's Anatomy, Harry's Law, Sherri, Eli Stone, The Closer, All of Us, That's So Raven, Girlfriends, My Wife & Kids, NYPD Blue, Charmed, That '70s Show, All About the Andersons, Soul Food, Crossing Jordan, Reba, The Division, Judging Amy, Dharma & Greg, The Jamie Foxx, Two Guys and a Girl, CSI, Sparks, In the House, Roc, LA Law, Amen, A Different World, The Hogan Family, 227, Webster, The Jeffersons, Hill Street Blues and Dallas, and among his many films were Fletch, Nightflyers and 8 Million Ways to Die. His voice alone brought him many jobs, notably as Shredder in the animated '80s and '90s TV series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

According to Snyder, he will be seen in the film Wish I Was Here, directed by Zach Braff and scheduled to premiere later this month at the Sundance festival. He was recently seen on two TV movies that aired on Lifetime: Hunt for the Labyrinth Killer and Call Me Crazy: A Five Film. Avery grew up in Atlantic City, N.J., and served in the Navy in Vietnam in the late 1960s. After returning to the states, he settled in California and studied drama and literature at the University of California at San Diego. He is survived by his wife, Barbara, and stepson Kevin Waters. As of now, no on-air tributes or marathons of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air are scheduled, but if and when they are, we will be the first to let you know, so stay with us. Mr. Avery was only 68 (or 65 according to some sources).




On the next...Community (NBC, Thur 8:00pm):
By: Vincent

NBC's ensemble comedy lead by Joel McHales returns tonight for its season premiere and airs Thursdays at 8:00pm and we have just watched the two episodes that air tonight (Jan. 2). In the first episode airing tonight, "Repilot," Jeff (Joel McHale) returns to Greendale to help his former law partner gather evidence for a lawsuit, thinking Jeff is planning to help save the school, Dean Pelton (Jim Rash) calls the study group back together. In the second episode airing tonight (8:30pm), "Introduction to Teaching," Professor Hickey (guest Jonathan Banks) helps Jeff (Joel McHale) settle into his new job at Greendale, while Abed (Danny Pudi) convinces the study group to take a class focused on Nicolas Cage.

I'm not sure I've ever been as relieved at a television show as I was when I watched the first two episodes of Community's fifth season. After a turmulous string of events that included the firing of series creator Dan Harmon and the departure of cast member Chevy Chase, the show returned last season a far weaker show than it had been in the past. Other than a select few episodes, the fourth season felt like the show desperately trying to recapture the magic it had under Harmon's run and falling flat on its face. In a surprising turn of events, Harmon was re-hired as showrunner for the shows' 5th season, perhaps because of rallying cries from both the fans and the cast members. But was it too late? Had the damage already been done? If the first two episodes of the season are any indication, then the answer is a confident "no". Community's fifth season feels refreshingly like the show of the old, delivering the big laughs and cutting depth that made us fall in love with it in the first place.



There are lots of interesting things to discuss with these two episodes, but what I found most compelling was the way Community managed to incorporate the feelings of change and uneasiness that viewers have felt with it over the past few years into the show itself. The show has always been aware of how its viewers perceive it, and it uses that awareness to its benefit. That's never been more apparent than in these early Season 5 episodes, which serve as a relaunch for both its viewers and its characters. Significant time has passed in the shows' universe since we last visited (seemingly over a year), and in that time, the study group has graduated and gone their separate ways. This allows the viewers' reunion with the characters to also serve as the characters' reunion with each other, and it allows both the viewers and characters to adjust to the idea of a "repilot" at the same time. This makes it much easier for us to approach some of the more significant dynamic changes that have occurred in the show this year, from the reasons that all of the characters have chosen to re-enroll at Greendale, to Jeff's new teaching position, to new character Professor Nichols (a kind of/sort of Pierce replacement played brilliantly by Jonathan Banks). This realized sense of relaunch, combined with the refreshed dynamics of the show, make the fifth season feel like almost an entirely new show at points. And yet, it still feels far more like Community than anything that aired last year. A-


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Wednesday, May 22

Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s "All in the Family" and "The Jeffersons" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Kerry Washington joins “Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s ‘All in the Family’ and ‘The Jeffersons,’” the live sitcom special coming from late-night host Jimmy Kimmel and television icon Norman Lear. Washington is set to play Helen Willis in the special, airing live WEDNESDAY, MAY 22 (8:00-9:31 p.m. EDT), on The ABC Television Network. This historic event will take viewers down memory lane, recreating an original episode from each of the Emmy® Award-winning series “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons.” This legendary night of television will be hosted by Lear and Kimmel, directed by 10-time Emmy winner James Burrows and produced by Sony Pictures Television.

Previously announced stars include Woody Harrelson (Archie Bunker), Marisa Tomei (Edith Bunker), Jamie Foxx (George Jefferson), Wanda Sykes (Louise Jefferson), Ellie Kemper (Gloria Stivic), Will Ferrell (Tom Willis), Justina Machado (Florence Johnston), Ike Barinholtz (Meathead), Sean Hayes (Mr. Lorenzo), Amber Stevens West (Jenny Willis Jefferson), Jovan Adepo (Lionel Jefferson), Anthony Anderson (Uncle Henry), Stephen Tobolowsky (Mr. Bentley) and Jackée Harry (Diane Stockwell).

All About "All in the Family" and "The Jeffersons" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
After the star-studded live sitcom special “Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s ‘All in the Family’ and ‘The Jeffersons,’” “Nightline” will take a special look at the cultural and historical significance of the two iconic series. Participants in the live sitcom special along with modern-day comedians, television stars and journalists reminisce about each show’s groundbreaking impact and legacy.“Nightline” Presents “All About ‘All in the Family’ and ‘The Jeffersons’” airs WEDNESDAY, MAY 22 (9:31–10:00 p.m. EDT), on The ABC Television Network.

The prime-time special features interviews with “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons” creator Norman Lear; host and executive producer Jimmy Kimmel and stars Anthony Anderson, Ike Barinholtz, Jackée Harry, Ellie Kemper and Kerry Washington; comedians and actors Raven-Symoné, David Alan Grier, Lil’ Rel and John Amos; original “The Jeffersons” cast member Marla Gibbs; and journalists Deborah Roberts, Chris Connelly, Marc Lamont Hill and Joe Levy.

What We Do in the Shadows - "The Orgy" (FX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Tensions run high as the vampires prepare to host the Biannual Vampire Orgy.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of May 20)

Wednesday, May 22

  • John Travolta (Welcome Back, Kotter) - Watch John and his daughter Ella Bleu on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Kaitlyn Dever (Last Man Standing) - Kaitlyn appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. She also talks about Booksmart on the BUILD Series at 1pm.
  • John Lithgow (Trial & Error/Twenty Good Years/3rd Rock from the Sun) - John stops by Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Beanie Feldstein (What We Do in the Shadows) - Beanie is a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC. She also talks about Booksmart on the BUILD Series at 1pm.
  • Elizabeth Banks (Scrubs/30 Rock) - Elizabeth visits The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Bradley Whitford (Happyish/Trophy Wife) - Bradley drops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Billy Ray Cyrus (Still the King) - Billy Ray appears on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Logan Browning (Dear White People/Meet the Browns) - Logan is a guest on Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Lisa Kudrow (Friends/The Comeback/Web Therapy) - Lisa stops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Tracy Pollan (Family Ties) - Tracy appears on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family) - Eric chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Kevin Hart (The Big House/Undeclared) - Kevin talks about The Secret Life of Pets 2 on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am and in the 10am hour and on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Tom Hanks (Bosom Buddies) - Tom appears on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Jenny Slate (Married/Parks and Recreation) and Patton Oswalt (A.P. Bio/The Goldbergs/The King of Queens) - Jenny and Patton talk about The Secret Life of Pets 2 on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
  • Ed Asner (Dead to Me/Center of the Universe/Thunder Alley/The Mary Tyler Moore Show) - Ed and his son Matt are guests on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (March/April/May)

Hangin' with Mr. Cooper - The Complete Second Season Alice - The Complete Ninth Season The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Fifth Season Evening Shade - The Complete Collection Perfect Strangers - The Complete Seventh and Eighth Seasons

03/05 - Hangin' with Mr. Cooper - The Complete Second Season (WBShop.com)
03/12 - Alice - The Complete Ninth Season (WBShop.com)
03/26 - The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Fifth Season (WBShop.com)
04/02 - Archer: Danger Island - The Complete Season Nine
04/09 - You're the Worst - The Complete Fifth Season
04/12 - Evening Shade - The Complete Collection
04/16 - The Big C - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
05/07 - Baskets - The Complete Season Three
05/13 - My Three Sons - The Third Season - Volume One
05/13 - My Three Sons - The Third Season - Volume Two
05/14 - The Donna Reed Show - Seasons 1-5
05/14 - Petticoat Junction - Seasons 1-3
05/28 - Perfect Strangers - The Complete Seventh and Eighth Seasons
05/28 - South Park - The Complete Twenty-Second Season (Blu-ray)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

05/22 - Los Espookys Premieres June 14 on HBO; NBC's 5th Annual Red Nose Day Special Brings Out the Stars
05/21 - Nightline Primetime Special Profiles All in the Family & The Jeffersons; Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader Premieres June 10 on Nick
05/20 - Comedy Central Heads to the South Side This July; Catch the Big Bang Finale Again Tonight
05/19 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of May 20, 2019)
05/18 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Broadcast Network Fall Lineup at a Glance; Rick & Morty Returns in November
05/17 - Fri-Yay: Big Bang Ends With No Hype?; ABC to Air Farrah Fawcett Documentary
05/16 - The CW Upfront 2019-20: Fall 2019 Schedule; Notes from TBS and TNT Upfront
05/15 - CBS Upfront 2019-20: Fall 2019 Schedule; Remembering Doris Day and Tim Conway
05/14 - ABC Upfront 2019-20: Fall 2019 Schedule; Disney Channel Sets Premiere Dates for Raven's Home and Bunk'd
05/13 - Fox Upfront 2019-20: Fall 2019 Schedule; Antenna TV's Father Knows Best Father's Day Marathon
05/12 - NBC Upfront 2019-20: Fall 2019 Schedule; Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of May 13, 2019)
05/11 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Looking at Sitcom Cancellations Ahead of Upfronts; Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Returning for Interactive Special
05/10 - Fri-Yay: Upfronts 2019: Questions for Sitcoms; getTV Celebrates All in the Family Ahead of ABC Live Special
05/09 - More Pre-Upfront Pick Ups from NBC, ABC and The CW; Fox Schedules BH90210
05/08 - NBC Picks Up 2 Series Before Upfront; FX Gets 2nd Season of What We Do in the Shadows
05/07 - AXS TV's The Very VERY Best of the 70s; Who Do You Think You Are? Returns to NBC with More Celebs
05/06 - Kevin Hart Bounce Series Debuts Tonight; Set Sail with Kimmy Schmidt
05/05 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of May 6, 2019)
05/04 - Pluto TV Adds Special Versions of Popular Viacom Channels; Perfect Strangers to Finish on DVD
05/03 - Fri-Yay: Ramy Gets 2nd Season on Hulu; ABC Orders black-ish and Spinoff mixed-ish for 2019-20
05/02 - Hulu 2019 Upfront; Suits and Spinoff to Air Back-to-Back
05/01 - Fox Gets Unique Fred Savage Series; BH90210 Gets Shannen Doherty for Revival
04/30 - CBS Announces Big Bang Special on Finale Night; Showtime Gets 2nd Season of Black Monday with Don Cheadle
04/29 - Disney Channel's Just Roll With It Premieres in June; Alyssa Milano Launches Podcast
04/28 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of April 29, 2019)
04/27 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Santa Clarita Diet and Wrecked Both Cancelled; Remembering Dallas Actor Ken Kercheval
04/26 - Fri-Yay: Status of Sitcoms on Disney+; Gabriel Iglesias Sitcom Launches June 21 on Netflix
04/25 - Lifetime's Book to Screen Titles in June; The CW Renews Four More for 2019-20
04/24 - MeTV Network Brings Back The Dick Van Dyke Show; The Detour Returns for Season 4 in June
04/23 - Antenna TV's Hazel Mother's Day Marathon; Netflix Celebrates Laugh-In's 50th Anniversary
04/22 - Last Man Standing Renewed for Season 8; NBC Moves Tuesday Series Timeslots