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 / Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows

Monday, July 22

Bob Newhart: A Legacy of Laughter

Bob Newhart: A Legacy of Laughter (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)

CBS announced a new Entertainment Tonight special, Bob Newhart: A Legacy of Laughter, to air Monday, July 22 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network, and streaming on Paramount+ (live and on-demand for Paramount+ with Showtime subscribers, or on-demand for Paramount+ Essential subscribers the day after the special airs)*.

Hosted by Entertainment Tonight’s Nischelle Turner, this one-hour tribute honors the late comedian with a look back at his 70-year career, featuring never-before-seen interviews, and his final interview from his home in Los Angeles. The special takes an in-depth look at his journey from accountant to comedian to Hollywood icon, with rare behind-the-scenes footage of Bob on the set of his sitcoms and feature films, from the Entertainment Tonight vault. Included are new and archival interviews with some of Bob’s closest friends and co-stars, including Jim Parsons, Will Ferrell, Reese Witherspoon, Jason Bateman and Michael Weatherly. The show takes an intimate look inside Bob’s personal life and his marriage to the love of his life, Ginnie, with newly revealed stories about how he changed American culture through comedy.

Bob starred as Chicago psychologist Robert Hartley on the CBS television series The Bob Newhart Show from 1972 to 1978, and then as Vermont innkeeper Dick Loudon on Newhart from 1982 to 1990, also on the Network. He had two other sitcoms on CBS in the 1990s, Bob and George and Leo. Bob played the recurring role of Professor Proton on the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory from 2013 to 2018, for which he received his first Primetime Emmy Award.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of July 22)

Monday, July 22

  • Lamorne Morris (Woke/New Girl) - Lamorne guest hosts Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Sebastian Maniscalco (Bookie) - Watch Sebastian on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Gillian Jacobs (Love/Community) - Gillian appears on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Ryan Reynolds (Two Guys and a Girl) and Hugh Jackman (Human Resources) - Ryan is a guest on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC. E! News has interviews with Ryan and Hugh at 11pm on E!. They also talk about Deadpool & Wolverine on ABC's Good Morning America some time between 7-9am. Ryan appears on Live with Kelly and Mark, so check your listings.
  • Tony Hale (Veep/Arrested Development) - Tony stops by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Keanu Reeves (Swedish Dicks) - Keanu appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Jesse Plemons (No Activity/Bent) - Jesse is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Joe Mantegna (The Simpsons/Soap) and Laci Mosley (iCarly/Single Parents/Florida Girls) - Joe and Laci are guests on a repeat of After Midnight at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Ken Jeong (Dr. Ken/Community) - Ken drops by Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen at 10:01pm on Bravo.
  • Elizabeth Gillies (Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll/Victorious) - Elizabeth talks about Spread on CBS Mornings some time between 7-9am.
  • Sutton Foster (Younger) and Michael Urie (Krapopolis/Partners) - Sutton and Michael talk about Once Upon a Mattress on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
  • Rob Delaney (Catastrophe) - Rob talks about Deadpool & Wolverine on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
  • Nat Wolff (The Naked Brothers Band) - Nat and Lucy Hale are telling Drew all about their new rom-com Which Brings Me to You on a repeat of The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.
  • Whitney Cummings (Whitney) - Whitney is a guest on a repeat of The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.


New on DVD/Blu-ray

Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) Too Close for Comfort - The Complete Series Check It Out! - The Complete Series The Jeffersons - The Complete Series (2024 Release) Welcome Back, Kotter - The Complete Series (2024 Release)

02/13 - Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
02/27 - The Really Loud House - Season One
03/12 - Ghosts (UK) - The Complete Series
03/12 - Looney Tunes Collector's Choice - Volume 3 (Blu-ray)
03/12 - Rick and Morty - Season 7 (Blu-ray Steelbook) (Blu-ray) (DVD)
04/03 - Too Close for Comfort - The Complete Series (VEI)
04/08 - Check It Out! - The Complete Series (VEI)
05/21 - Frasier (2023) - Season One
06/11 - The Jeffersons - The Complete Series (2024 Release)
06/11 - Welcome Back, Kotter - The Complete Series (2024 Release)
07/05 - Letterkenny - Season 12 (Final Season)
07/30 - Ted Lasso - The Richmond Way (The Complete Series) (Blu-ray) (DVD)
09/17 - Bewitched - The Complete Series - 60th Anniversary Special Edition (Blu-ray)
09/24 - Friends - The Complete Series (4K Ultra HD)
09/24 - Young Sheldon - The Complete Seventh Season / The Complete Series
10/08 - Curb Your Enthusiasm - The Complete Twelfth Season / The Complete Series

More Recent and Upcoming TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


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