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, January 29

The Goldbergs - "Geoff the Pleaser" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Adam questions his career path of filmmaking when “the other Adam” moves back from Los Angeles and warns him making it big in Hollywood isn’t easy. Meanwhile, the JTP house is in shambles, and Geoff becomes the home manager as they know how much he loves to please and can’t say no.

Schooled - "Titanic Love" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
The hit film has love on everyone’s brain, and Lainey has a realization about CB. Meanwhile, Principal Glascott uses the season’s bad football team to teach Coach Mellor how to be both a good winner and a good loser.

Modern Family - "Tree's a Crowd" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
The Dunphy house is bursting at the seams when Dylan’s hippie mom moves in and Claire’s lonely stepdad, Jerry, wants to pay them a visit. Meanwhile, Jay and Gloria attempt to help Manny get over his big breakup with Sherry.

Single Parents - "Yarn and Pebbles" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
While Graham joins Derek at Ratso’s for a day of father-and-son bonding, a jealous Angie enlists Douglas to help her make sure they don’t bond too much. The twins and Rory eat all the food in Douglas’ house to save his life, and Poppy and Miggy try to help Will with a dating situation named “Kay,” only to have it backfire.

Last Man Standing - "Yours, Wine and Ours" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Kristin entrusts Mike with her gender reveal party.

Outmatched - "Pilot" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Kay and Mike cope with raising three high-IQ children.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of January 27)

Wednesday, January 29

  • Lakeith Stanfield (Atlanta) - Watch Lakeith on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Jameela Jamil (The Good Place) - Jameela visits The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Kristen Bell (The Good Place) - Kristen appears on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Kumail Nanjiani (Bless the Harts/Silicon Valley) - Kumail drops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Dan Levy (Schitt's Creek) - Dan is a guest on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Tom Lennon (The Odd Couple/Sean Saves the World/Reno 911!) - Tom appears on a repeat of A Little Late with Lilly Singh at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Aisling Bea (Living with Yourself) - Aisling is a guest on a repeat of A Little Late with Lilly Singh at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family/The Class) - Jesse stops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Ilana Glazer (Broad City) - Ilana chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Billy Ray Cyrus (Still the King) - Billy Ray appears on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Tommy Davidson (Between Brothers) - Tommy talks about his new book Living in Color on NBC's Today in the 9am hour, on Tamron Hall (check your local listings), on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET and on the BUILD Series at 4pm.
  • David Alan Grier (The Cool Kids/The Carmichael Show/Bad Teacher/Life with Bonnie) - David is in the kitchen making brisket and dishing on his new Broadway show A Soldier’s Play on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Kelly Ripa (Hope & Faith) - Kelly is a guest on E!'s Pop of the Morning at 11am and on People Now at 12pm.
  • Tim Robbins (The Brink) - Tim talks about VHYes on a repeat of Access Daily, so check your local listings.
  • Busy Philipps (Vice Principals/Cougar Town) - Busy talks about the Hotel Tonight travel app on a repeat of Access Daily, so check your local listings.
  • Danielle Fishel (Girl Meets World/Boy Meets World) - Danielle is a guest on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (November/December/January)

Step by Step - The Complete Fifth Season The Big Bang Theory - The Twelfth and Final Season The King of Queens - The Complete Series (Mill Creek) Fuller House - The Complete Fourth Season My Three Sons - The Fifth Season - Volume One

11/05 - The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang - The Complete Animated Series
11/05 - Laverne & Shirley in the Army (Animated Series) - The DVD Edition
11/05 - Letterkenny - Seasons 1 & 2
11/05 - Step by Step - The Complete Fifth Season (WBShop.com)
11/12 - The Big Bang Theory - The Twelfth and Final Season (Blu-ray)
11/12 - The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Series (Blu-ray Limited Edition)
11/18 - The Guest Book - Season Two
11/19 - The King of Queens - The Complete Series (Mill Creek) (Blu-ray)
11/19 - The Kominsky Method - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
12/03 - The Simpsons - The Nineteenth Season
12/03 - The Simpsons - Seasons 1-20: Limited Collector's Set
12/06 - 9JKL - The Complete Series
12/10 - Family Guy - Season Seventeen
12/17 - Atlanta - Season 2 - Robbin' Season
12/17 - Fuller House - The Complete Fourth Season
12/17 - Hogan's Heroes - The Complete Series (2019 Release)
12/17 - The Other Two - Season 1
01/02 - My Three Sons - The Fifth Season - Volume One
01/02 - My Three Sons - The Fifth Season - Volume Two
01/14 - Veep - The Final (Seventh) Season ((Blu-ray)
01/14 - Veep - The Complete Series (DVD)
01/21 - Hangin' with Mr. Cooper - The Complete Third Season (WBShop.com)
01/21 - The Mindy Project - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
01/28 - Ballers - The Complete Fifth and Final Season
01/28 - Ballers - The Complete Series
01/28 - The Mindy Project - The Complete Series (DVD)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

01/28 - The Good Place Finale Post Show Special; Guy Fieri Is Up for a Food Network Face-Off
01/27 - New Punk'd Gets Host; Comedic Game Show Renewed Through 2023
01/26 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of January 27, 2020)
01/25 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Pilot Season in Full Swing; Katey Sagal to Play Role Inspired by Erin Brockovich in ABC Drama Pilot
01/24 - Fri-Yay: Sitcom Line-Ups - A Thing of the Past?; Adult Swim Comedy Returns Feb. 23
01/23 - The Conners Celebrate Grand Opening of Lanford Lunch Box with Contest; Lifetime Celebrates 30 Years of Original Movies
01/22 - HBO Max Gets Animated with Royals Comedy; Netflix Announces Premiere Date for Sophia Lillis Comedy
01/21 - TCA Winter 2020 Press Tour: Hulu - a Comedy with Steve Martin and Martin Short, the Renewal of Dollface
01/20 - TCA Winter 2020 Press Tour: More Cable; 26th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards® Winners
01/19 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of January 20, 2020)
01/18 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Punky Brewster Reboot Officially a Go; Freeform Renews Pair of Series
01/17 - Fri-Yay: Sitcoms in 2020; Peacock Streaming Services Programming Update
01/16 - TCA Winter 2020 Press Tour: Cable Day 2 - American Dad! 2 Season Renewal, Tacoma FD Season 2 Premiere Date
01/15 - TCA Winter 2020 Press Tour: Cable Day 1 - Comedy Central, Amazon, Paramount Network and More!
01/14 - TCA Winter 2020 Press Tour: Showtime and Pop; Will Smith & Martin Lawrence Talk Hit Sitcoms
01/13 - TCA Winter 2020 Press Tour: NBC and CBS Includes The Rock Comedy at NBC and The Price Is Right at Night on CBS
01/12 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of January 13, 2020)
01/11 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Saved by the Bell Reboot Gets More of Original Cast; ABC Expanding Game Show Empire
01/10 - Fri-Yay: Top Sitcoms of the Decade, Part 2; PIX11 Celebrates 45th Anniversaries of The Jeffersons and Barney Miller
01/09 - TCA Winter 2020 Press Tour: ABC Includes Modern Family Finale, The Conners Live and Return of Millionaire
01/08 - TCA Winter 2020 Press Tour: Fox; 13 Series Renewed for 2020-21 on The CW
01/07 - E! News Gets 3rd Host for Midday Show; Freeform Schedules Valentine's Day Comedy TV Movie
01/06 - 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards Winners; Fox Animated Comedies to Air After NFL Divisional Playoff
01/05 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of January 6, 2020)
01/04 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Netflix Loses Streaming Rights to Friends; Networks Prepare for Midseason
01/03 - Fri-Yay: Top Sitcoms of the Decade, Part 1; Modern Family Heads to Paris for Episode
01/02 - Fox Orders New Animated Comedy; Netflix Leslie Jones Comedy Special Premieres Jan. 14
01/01 - Happy New Year! Binge on Merry Happy Whatever, A New Holiday Sitcom
12/31 - New Year's Eve 2019 and New Year's Day 2020 TV Marathons
12/30 - In Memoriam: Remembering the Sitcom Stars We Lost in 2019
12/29 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of December 30, 2019)
12/28 - SitcomsOnline Digest: The On-Going Feud Between Bill Cosby and Eddie Murphy; Writer of Friends Theme Song Dies