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

Tuesday, April 24

Roseanne - "Twenty Years to Life" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
During the first half-hour episode of the season premiere, Roseanne and Dan adjust to living under the same roof with Darlene and her two children, Harris and Mark, when Darlene loses her job. Meanwhile, Becky announces she is going to be a surrogate to make extra money; and Roseanne and Jackie are at odds with one another.

Roseanne - "Dress to Impress" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
During the second half-hour episode, Darlene’s son, Mark, gets caught with a pocket knife after being bullied on the first day of his new school. Meanwhile, Becky invites Andrea over to meet the family and is nervous to bring her home.

Roseanne - "Eggs Over, Not Easy" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
A crucial moment for Becky’s surrogacy arrangement forces her and Darlene to critically assess each other’s lives. Meanwhile, an animal rescue organization rejects Jackie’s application to adopt a puppy; and Roseanne makes a plan to change their mind.

Roseanne - "Darlene v. David" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
David unexpectedly shows up for Harris’ birthday after being absent for years, forcing Darlene to re-examine their relationship and the rest of the family. Meanwhile, Roseanne and Jackie’s mother, Bev, temporarily moves into the Conner home after an incident at the nursing home prevents her from returning.

LA to Vegas - "Captain Dave's on a Roll" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT)
In a depressed state after breaking up with Patricia, Dave agrees to go gambling with Artem and Colin while the others cover for him when he runs late to do his job; Ronnie has difficulties deciding whether to move in with Bryan or not.

New Girl - "Lillypads" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Schmidt asks Jess to help prepare Ruth for an interview to get into a prestigious pre-school; Nick begins procrastinating with his writing; Winston gets ready to confront his specific fear of appearing in court to testify.

The Last O.G. - "Swipe Right" (TBS, 10:30PM ET/PT)
Cousin Bobby convinces Tray to try a popular dating app; he lands a great match but realizes that he's not emotionally ready for a new relationship.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of April 23)

Tuesday, April 24

  • Kevin James (Kevin Can Wait/The King of Queens) - Catch Kevin on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Hank Azaria (Brockmire/The Simpsons/Free Agents) - Hank is a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Judy Greer (Married/Mad Love/Miss Guided/Arrested Development) - Judy appears on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Zach Braff (Alex, Inc./Scrubs) - Zach visits Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Alia Shawkat (Search Party/Arrested Development) - Alia stops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Kelly Ripa (Hope & Faith) and Mark Consuelos (Alpha House/Hope & Faith) - Kelly and Mark are guests on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Candace Cameron Bure (Fuller House/Full House) - Candace chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Henry Winkler (Happy Days/Monty/Out of Practice/Arrested Development) - Henry speaks about the series Barry on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • T.R Knight (Charlie Lawrence) - T.R. appears on The Real, so check your local listings.
  • Aubrey Anderson-Emmons (Modern Family) - Aubrey is a guest on Access Live, so check your local listings.
  • Jason Biggs (Mad Love/Drexell's Class) - Jason and his wife Jenny Mollen are guests on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Molly Ringwald (Townies/The Facts of Life) - Molly talks about her new film All These Moments on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
  • Ali Wentworth (Nightcap) - Ali talks about her new book Go Ask Ali on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am and on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
  • Chris Rock (Everybody Hates Chris) - Chris and Adam Sandler talk about The Week of on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
  • Lori Loughlin (Fuller House/Hudson Street/Full House) - Lori is a guest on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Wendi McLendon-Covey (The Goldbergs/Rules of Engagement/Reno 911!) - Wendi cooks up something delicious with Michael Symon on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.


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

Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Seventh Season Green Acres - The Complete Fifth Season Mayberry R.F.D. - The Complete First Season One Day at a Time - Season Two Perfect Strangers  - The Complete Third Season

02/06 - All in the Family - Seasons 1-5
02/06 - Bosom Buddies - The Complete Series
02/06 - Women of the House - Complete 12 Episode Series
02/13 - Broad City - Season 4
02/13 - Three's Company - The Complete Series - Come and Knock on Our Door Collection
02/27 - Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Seventh Season
02/27 - Green Acres - The Complete Fifth Season
02/27 - Mayberry R.F.D. - The Complete First Season
03/06 - Atlanta - The Complete First Season
03/06 - Curb Your Enthusiasm - The Complete Ninth Season
03/13 - The New Adventures of Old Christine - The Complete First Season
03/27 - One Day at a Time - Season Two
04/03 - Ballers - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
04/03 - 90's Sitcom (Just Shoot Me!/The Larry Sanders Show/Wings) Starter Set - Season 1 & 2 Bundle
04/10 - Vice Principals - The Compelte Series
04/17 - Perfect Strangers - The Complete Third Season
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