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, August 21

The Goldbergs - "The Wedding Singer" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Barry and Lainey’s wedding date is right around the corner, and Beverly is in her element as she tries to make everything perfect for her schmoopie’s big day. Geoff is concerned about Adam’s shortcomings as a wedding videographer. Meanwhile, Barry begins to have second thoughts.

Schooled - "Be Like Mike" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
It’s 1990-something, and since Lainey still hasn’t achieved rock ‘n’ roll greatness, she returns to William Penn Academy as the new music teacher. Lainey has a hard time adjusting to being an authority figure, but she realizes she might not be so bad at it when she discovers a kindred spirit in Principal Glascott’s niece, Felicia. Meanwhile, Coach Mellor struggles with Michael Jordan’s influence on modern-day basketball.

Modern Family - "The Wild" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Mitch, Cam and Phil crash Jay’s annual hiking trip to find an elusive bald eagle after Gloria asks them to keep an eye on him. Meanwhile, Gloria, Alex, Claire and Haley get together to plan her baby shower.

Single Parents - "Pilot" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Will Cooper has been so focused on raising his daughter, Sophie, he’s lost sight of who he is as a man and has headed deep into the parental vortex. When the other single parents – Angie, Douglas, Poppy and Miggy – at his daughter’s school see just how far down the rabbit hole of PTA, parenting and princesses Will has gone, they band together to get him out in the world and make him realize that being a great parent doesn’t mean sacrificing everything about your own identity.

Younger - "It's All About the Money, Honey" (TV Land, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Liza is shocked to see an unexpected costar in her Infinitely 21 ad campaign. Kelsey and Charles head to Chicago with a plan. Josh considers his options beyond Inkburg.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of August 19)

Wednesday, August 21

  • Donald Glover (Atlanta/Community) - Watch on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • D'Arcy Carden (The Good Place/Barry) - D'Arcy appears on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Selena Gomez (Wizards of Waverly Place) - Selena is a guest on a repeat of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Joe Namath (The Waverly Wonders) - Joe appears on a repeat of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Fred Savage (What Just Happened??! with Fred Savage/Friends from College/The Grinder/Working/The Wonder Years) - Fred is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Jane Lynch (Angel from Hell) - Jane drops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men/Partners/The Famous Teddy Z) - Jon is a guest on a repeat of The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Kevin Hart (The Big House/Undeclared) - Kevin stops by LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Jennifer Aniston (Friends/Muddling Through/Ferris Bueller/Molloy) - Jennifer appears on a repeat of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Iain Armitage (Young Sheldon) - Iain is a guest on a repeat of The Real, so check your local listings.
  • Brian Austin Green (Anger Management/Freddie) - Brian talks about BH90210 on Access Live, so check your local listings.
  • Melissa Peterman (Reba/Working Class/Baby Daddy) - Melissa guest co-hosts Access Live, so check your local listings.
  • Justine Lupe (Cristela) - Justine will be on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
  • Queen Latifah (Living Single) - Queen Latifah opens up about how she balances her personal and professional life and her latest mission to combat the stigma of mental health on a repeat of The Dr. Oz Show, so check your local listings.
  • Valerie Bertinelli (Hot in Cleveland/Sydney/One Day at a Time) - Valerie talks about Kids Baking Championship on the BUILD Series at 2pm.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (June/July/August)

The Brady Bunch - 50th Anniversary The Brady-est TV & Movie Collection Will & Grace (The Revival) - Season Two The Good Place - The Complete Third Season Life in Pieces - The Complete Fourth Season Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Six

06/04 - The Brady Bunch - 50th Anniversary The Brady-est Brady Bunch TV & Movie Collection
06/18 - Will & Grace (The Revival) - Season Two (Blu-ray)
07/08 - Man with a Plan - Season Two
07/09 - Broad City - Season 5
07/09 - Broad City - The Complete Series
07/09 - Life in Pieces - The Complete Fourth Season
07/09 - Speechless - The Complete Third Season
07/16 - Eight Is Enough - The Complete First Season
07/17 - The Practice (1976) - The Complete Series (WBShop.com)
07/23 - Brockmire - The Complete First Season
07/23 - What I Like About You - The Complete First Season
07/30 - The Good Place - The Complete Third Season
08/06 - Caroline in the City - The Third Season
08/06 - Caroline in the City - The Fourth Season
08/13 - I Love Lucy - Colorized Collection
08/13 - Leave it to Beaver - Seasons One and Two
08/20 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Six
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

08/20 - James Corden Gets Extended by CBS; Freeform's Halloween House Returns for 31 Nights of Halloween
08/19 - Silicon Valley Returns for Final Season; Netflix Gears Up for Elvis Animated Comedy
08/18 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of August 19, 2019)
08/17 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Paley Center to Honor TV Legends; NBC Developing St. Elmo's Fire TV Series
08/16 - Fri-Yay: Fall Sitcom Slate Check-In: CBS; E! Gets Reality Sitcom Meet the Frasers
08/15 - Comedy Central Gets Phoebe Robinson Series; Crank Yankers Returns for 5th Season
08/14 - Fox to Air Holiday Comedy Series; CBS and Viacom to Combine
08/13 - The Flintstones Coming to MeTV in Fall 2019; Lifetime Tackles The College Admissions Scandal
08/12 - Freeform Celebrates 30 Days of Disney in September; A-List Stars Visit Fox's Animation Domination This Fall
08/11 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of August 12, 2019)
08/10 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Emmy Awards to Go Without Host; New Caroline in the City DVDs Arrive
08/09 - Fri-Yay: Pop TV: The Next Home for Great Sitcoms?; The Tonight Show Gets 5 Sunday Specials and Premiere Week Live Episodes
08/08 - Archie Bunker's Place 40th Anniversary Marathon on Antenna TV; Mariah Carey to Sing mixed-ish Theme Song
08/07 - FX Orders Atlanta Season 4; Netflix to Turn The Baby-Sitters Club Into Series
08/06 - ABC to Air 2 More Live in Front of a Studio Audience Specials; The Goldbergs Head to Disneyland
08/05 - CW Seed Gets Schitt's Creek Streaming Rights; Adam Scott to Host ABC Comedic Game Show
08/04 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of August 5, 2019)
08/03 - SitcomsOnline Digest: HBO Max Acquires BBC Library; Loretta Devine to Recur on black-ish
08/02 - FX's Baskets to End After This Season; GSN's Catch 21 Returns with Dancing with the Stars Duo Reunion
08/01 - Ovation Airs Classic Episodes of Actors Studio; FX Orders Limited Series Starring Kate Mara and Nick Robinson
07/31 - Netflix Goes Big with New Sitcom; CW Seed Expands to 24/7 Linear Channel
07/30 - A Very Brady Renovation Premieres Sept. 9 on HGTV; Trinkets Gets Conclusion Season in 2020 on Netflix
07/29 - Hulu Nabs Designing Women, More from TCA Tour; Exclusive: Modern Family's Ariel Winter to Guest Star on Law & Order: SVU
07/28 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of July 29, 2019)
07/27 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Brady Kids Reunite; DVDs for The Simpsons and Lucille Ball's Final Sitcom on the Way
07/26 - Fri-Yay: What Sitcoms Can We Expect on Disney+?; National Golden Girls Day on July 30, Event in Florida
07/25 - TV Land Gets Lucky 7 with Younger; The Last O.G. Enlists Keenen Ivory Wayans
07/24 - getTV Acquires Hot in Cleveland in August; Sean Hayes to Roast Alec Baldwin
07/23 - Stars from Fan-Favorite Series Reunite on It's a Wonderful Lifetime; HGTV's A Very Brady Contest
07/22 - FXX Comedy Archer Gets 11th Season; TBS Sets Date for Comedy Game Show with The Good Place Star
07/21 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of July 22, 2019)
07/20 - SitcomsOnline Digest: New Tina Fey Sitcom Starring Ted Danson in the Works; A.P. Bio Gets a Reprieve