The Facts of Life and Diff’rent Strokes Review

When Jimmy Kimmel Formed Live in front of the studio audience format back in 2019, it was designed as a simultaneous tribute to the great Norman Lear and the unyielding appeal of some classic, boundary-pushing sitcoms.

The first iteration solves the sets of All in the family and The Jeffersonswhile the second pair is paired All in the family and Good times installment.

Live in front of the studio audience: ‘The truth of life’ and ‘Different strokes’

Key point

Talk more about the cast than the material.

Release date: Tuesday, December 7

Cast: John Lithgow, Kevin Hart, Damon Wayans, Jennifer Aniston, Gabrielle Union, Allison Tolman, Kathryn Hahn, Jon Stewart and Ann Dowd


The casting process, although not without a few winks and moves, is mostly pure. Woody Harrelson and Marisa Tomei were and are the 21st-century sensible versions of Archie and Edith Bunker. And, weird cap set aside, Jamie Foxx seems fully capable of being George Jefferson for a new generation. Perhaps Andre Braugher and Viola Davis approached Good times the characters are a bit outside of the traditional multi-light lane, but they’re sky-chosen characters rather than whimsical gambits.

Neither setting is perfect, but they work for a common theme, namely All in the family and its various spin-offs are shows that are decades ahead of their time, boasting sharp groundbreaking writing and topicality that might find a home on today’s broadcast network. There’s no better way to honor Norman Lear than to make it clear that he’s not only the sharpest, sexiest warden on Earth, but that he’s also a creative man possessing a genius transcends the era of its origin.

After two years apart, Live in front of the studio audience came back on Tuesday night (December 7th) as something very different. For this year’s restored favorite pair, Kimmel chose different blows and its spinoff Truth of life, two sitcoms that have been central to my childhood but that way, it’s better to be left in the haze of nostalgia than to experience it with glazed eyes. I didn’t mean to say that Truth of life and different blows bad, but their timelessness doesn’t come from modernity or any particular excellence. They are timeless because they are broad and allow multiple generations of viewers to simultaneously grow up with the characters and their stars.

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Back to the first Direct seasons, you can see how much care has been taken to find episodes that are both representative and impactful that can strike a chord with modern viewers. They aren’t necessarily the “best” episodes of any of those shows, but you can see why the material was chosen.

Am I generous, I mean Tuesday Truth of life The episode – 1982’s “Kids Can Be Cruel” – has an anti-bullying message that, although oddly enough, when you replace social media grudges with defamatory books, still works. A little. And do I understand, I mean Tuesday different blows episode – 1979’s “Willis ‘Privacy” – was chosen because it was a general example of a series in “comedy” mode, as attempting to make one of its very special episodes would lead to disaster. . But in these two episodes of the resurrected TV series, I’m not sure if there’s a clever line or a bold concept. Norman Lear did great shows that changed the media forever and then he made shows through his production banner most of which aim, God forbid, to succeed. .

There’s nothing wrong with that, but when it comes to heavy lifting, a script from All in the family can be counted as doing at least half the job. Because Truth of life and different blowsThe reason is in the two casts – and rather than strategizing to put actors and roles together, it’s mostly “It wouldn’t be fun if…” the stuntman.

There are exceptions, starting with Ann Dowd, who provides the heart and soul of both shows as Edna Garrett. Thanks to Leftovers and The story of the maid, we think of Dowd primarily for her dignified, authoritative looks, but she instantly morphs into the warmth and bun that makes Charlotte Rae so beloved. If you want to bring back Truth of life today – and once The head of the class is back on HBO Max, you know the quality and urgency of the narrative isn’t a factor – Dowd could try to reboot and, in fact, give it more legitimacy than it deserves. That will never happen, because Dowd wants better materials Truth of life reboot will provide. In just one night, she got her lines in a song almost a miracle.

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Also play it straight – and also too good to ever reboot for long – John Lithgow is different blows patriarch Phillip Drummond. A versatile artist when masterfully playing for a rumbling studio audience while immersing himself in rubber for a period film, Lithgow is Direct The actor, if I had to guess, probably hasn’t been published for the longest time. Lithgow looks very comfortable. He mostly has weak punches, but his physical comedy opposite Kevin Hart as Arnold is perfect. As for Hart, he made Arnold angrier than I ever remembered about Gary Coleman. If Coleman is to live up to his teenage charm, Hart has to work harder, but in an often humorous way. At the end of the episode, he and Damon Wayans as Willis created a little sweetness. Snoop Dogg, as Willis’ friend Vernon, probably laughs more than either of them in a forgettable episode.

The audience prepared Hart and Wayans to play children by Truth of life episode, in which the show’s teen quartet is loosely represented by Jennifer Aniston (Blair), Gabrielle Union (Tootie), Allison Tolman (Natalie), and Kathryn Hahn (Jo). Like Hart, all four of the top ladies need to put in the effort to get anything out of the material, and unlike the others. All in the family stagnation, there’s no point where I’ve ever thought the material was the highlight. Still, I appreciate Union channeling Kim Fields down to the cut and braces, Hahn’s unexpected comic intensity, and Tolman’s pitch playing for the crowd. Aniston made me appreciate Blair Warner’s DNA in the first version of Rachel Green, and she made “Ham and Cheese on a Boomerang” my favorite line of the night.

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I don’t know if it’s good or bad, but I like it a lot Live in front of the studio audience episodes, I am much more interested by the classic commercials interspersed in the commercials. Apparently hosted by Kimmel with Ryan Reynolds, and featuring recurring appearances by Alfonso Ribeiro and Jennifer Beals, they rearranged landmark campaigns like “Here’s Your Brain on Drugs”, “It’s Morning in America” ​​and “Nothing Can Stop Me and My Calvins” to plug in Kraft and Aviation gin. They’re smarter than anything A-listers get from their dusty scripts, grabbing my attention during the constant and all-too-frequent ad breaks. Even ABC’s trailers show like Rookies and Queens there’s a grainy VCR ready revision and a miller version of Big sky teasing here looks many times better than the actual show.

So who needs reality shows if a TV critic is entertained by commercials rather than by watching top actors binge-watch middling sitcoms? With better documentation as a starting point, perhaps a happy medium will be found.

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