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

Saturday, July 13

Mind Your Business - "Center Stage" (Bounce TV, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Famous playwright, The Ivory Hill, hosts her production at Lucille's, but when an accident leaves Ivory unable to carry on, the family must decide who will fill her shoes. Meanwhile, Alfonso tries to secure a grant for the business.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of July 8)

Friday, July 12

  • Martin Short (Only Murders in the Building/Mulaney/I'm a Big Girl Now/The Associates) - Martin guest hosts a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Melissa McCarthy (God's Favorite Idiot/Nobodies/Mike & Molly/Samantha Who?) - Watch Melissa on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Nick Kroll (Big Mouth/The League/Cavemen) - Nick appears on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Emma Stone (The Curse) - Emma is a guest on a repeat of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Eva Longoria (Only Murders in the Building/Telenovela) - Eva appears on a repeat of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Eddie Murphy (The PJs) - Eddie is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Jim Rash (Community/Help Me Help You/Thanks/Kate Joplin) and Nat Faxon (Loot/HouseBroken/Disenchantment) - Jim and Nat are guests on a repeat of After Midnight at 12:37am on CBS.
  • John Leguizamo (The Brothers Garcia) - John discusses his thriller series The Green Veil on a repeat of Tamron Hall, so check your local listings.
  • Flula Borg (Pitch Perect: Bumper in Berlin) - Flula appears on PIX11 Morning News on WPIX in New York at 9:30am.
  • Y'lan Noel (Insecure) - Y'lan is a guest on PIX11 Morning News on WPIX in New York at 9:40am.


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


Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

07/12 - FX Premiere Dates; CBS Studios San Diego Comic-Con Plans
07/11 - ABC Fall 2024 Premiere Dates; Remembering Doug Sheehan of Day by Day and Clueless and Benji Gregory of ALF
07/10 - NBC Fall 2024 Premiere Dates; New Paramount+ Series with Billy Bob Thornton
07/09 - Futurama Trailer Released for Season 12; Will You Help Solve a Mystery? Unsolved Mysteries Volume 4 Drops July 31
07/08 - Hulu's How to Die Alone Premieres This September; Prime Video's Cross Launches This Fall
07/07 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of July 8, 2024)
07/06 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Skydance Media Reportedly Taking Over Paramount; Internet Archive Restores MTV News Archives
07/05 - Sitcom Stars Pair Up on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire; TV One Premieres Raising Fame
07/04 - Happy 4th of July; Antenna TV's McHale's Navy Red, White and Navy Independence Day Marathon
07/03 - Netflix Has Baby Fever Again; More Stars Join Sirens
07/02 - Cobra Kai's Final Season Begins July 18; Hell Yeah! Kite Man: Hell Yeah! Premieres July 18 on Max
07/01 - Remembering Martin Mull of Roseanne, Sabrina the Teenage Witch and More; Will Forte Joins Netflix's Upcoming Comedy The Four Seasons
06/30 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of July 1, 2024)
06/29 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Nancy O'Dell to Host New Daytime True Crime Series; NBC to Use AI Clips of Al Michaels' Voice for Olympics
06/28 - Hulu's Hit-Monkey Trailer Drops; Remembering Character Actor Bill Cobbs
06/27 - New Jersey's North to Shore Festival Brings Out the Stars; ABC's GMA Summer Concert Series 2024
06/26 - Fox Nation Taps Kelsey Grammer for Docudrama; Hallmark Channel's Kansas City Chiefs Christmas Movie
06/25 - Watch New Season of The Bear Earlier; NBC's 4th of July Fireworks Special Details
06/24 - Prime Video Orders Riz Ahmed Comedy; New Trio Join Only Murders for Season 4
06/23 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of June 24, 2024)
06/22 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Casting for Everybody Still Hates Chris; Homicide: Life on the Street Headed to Streaming
06/21 - The CW Fall 2024 Premiere Dates; Jimmy Kimmel Live! Guest Hosts for Summer
06/20 - Hallmark's Christmas in July Stunt; Starz's Power Book II: Ghost Final Season Premieres Strong
06/19 - Dark Side of the 90s Returns in July; Resident Alien Moving to USA Network
06/18 - NBCUniversal Renews Access Hollywood Through 2026; Netflix Picks Up More of The Great Indian Kapil Show
06/17 - Hit-Monkey Season 2 Returns July 15; Disney+ Animated Comedy Star Wars: Young Jedi Adventures Season 2
06/16 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of June 17, 2024)
06/15 - SitcomsOnline Digest: NBC Orders Additional St. Denis Medical Episodes; The Tonight Show Renewed Through 2028
06/14 - Paramount+ School Spirits Season 2 Underway; Prime Video Gets Betty la Fea Continuation
06/13 - Prime Video Has a Sausage Party; UnPrisoned Trailer for Season 2
06/12 - CBS Announces Hollywood Squares Host; After Midnight Renewed for 2024-25