ABC’s Live in Front of a Studio Audience franchise returned Wednesday night with nostalgia, laughs, and several surprises.
Hosts Norman Lear and Jimmy Kimmel kicked things off by introducing a re-creation of a 1975 episode of Good Times titled “The Politicians.” Kimmel noted that no changes were made to the script.
The storyline centered on a divided Evans family as they faced off over the candidates in a local political race – a fitting theme on the night President Donald Trump was impeached by a divided House of Representatives.
Kimmel mentioned the political theater playing out in Washington and warned the audience that the special could potentially be interrupted by breaking news.
Once it was time to start the show, Patti LaBelle and Anthony Anderson belted out the iconic Good Times theme song with backing from a gospel choir.
Award-winning actors Andre Braugher and Viola Davis stepped into the roles of James and Florida Evans. Jay Pharoah, Asante Blackk, and Corinne Foxx (Jamie Foxx’s daughter) played the Evans children — J.J., Michael and Thelma. Tiffany Haddish stopped by the family’s apartment as their neighbor, Willona Woods.
The actors turned in impressive performances, although a few of them briefly flubbed their lines. The low point of the night was SNL alum Jay Pharoah’s over-the-top performance as J.J., which was far from dy-no-mite.
The highlight of the remake came when Braugher opened the front door, and in walked John Amos, who played James Evans, Sr. on the first three seasons of Good Times.
Amos, 79, portrayed Alderman Fred Davis, who was running for re-election. Jharrel Jerome played the alderman’s 26-year-old opponent, Jimmy Pearson.
The appearance by Amos was even more remarkable, considering he was fired from the show over creative differences with Lear and the writers.
— ABC (@ABCNetwork) December 19, 2019
Amos was the only original cast member with a role on the remake.
But just as the episode ended, fans got another treat — Kimmel brought three original Good Times stars on stage — Jimmie Walker, BernNadette Stanis, and Ja’Net DuBois who played J.J., Thelma and Willona, respectively.
The remake was followed by a re-creation of an episode of All in the Family titled “The Draft Dodger,” that saw Woody Harrelson, Marisa Tomei, Ike Barinholtz, and Ellie Kemper reprise their respective roles as Archie Bunker, Edith Bunker, Mike “Meathead” Stivic, and Gloria Stivic.
New additions to the cast included Kevin Bacon, Justina Machado and Jesse Eisenberg.