‘Good Times’: What Fans Had to Say About ‘Live in Front of a Studio Audience’

Riding on the coattails of the success of “Live in Front of a Studio Audience” with All in the Family and The Jeffersons, ABC decided to go all in for another round. With Jimmy Kimmel and Kerry Washington as co-executive producers, viewers were treated to a live version of Good Times on Wednesday night.

Fans looked forward to the television event in the hopes that it would stir up feelings of nostalgia and do justice to the original. Did it bring the laughs and the heart that viewers wanted?

'Good Times' reboot with Viola Davis, Tiffany Haddish, Corinne Foxx
Viola Davis, Tiffany Haddish, Corinne Foxx in ‘Live in Front of a Studio Audience, Good Times’ | Eric McCandless via Getty Images

Which episode of ‘Good Times’ was performed live and who was in it?

As was done with the spring production of “Live in Front of a Studio Audience,” one episode of Good Times was recreated. This 30-minute special took the audience back to season three of Good Times when “The Politicians” aired in 1975.

Anthony Braugher and Viola Davis played James and Florida Evans, Jay Pharaoh stepped into the role of J.J. Evans, while Corinne Foxx appeared as daughter Thelma and Asante Blackk as youngest son Michael. Tiffany Haddish was cast as Willona, their neighbor and Florida’s best friend.

In the episode, James and J.J. support one candidate in a city election while Florida, Willona, and Thelma plan to vote for the opposition, a candidate named Jimmy Pearson (Jharrel Jerome). The opposing views cause friction in the family and things escalate when the women decide to help Pearson with his campaign against the slick-talking Alderman Davis. Remember him?

There were a few surprises for ‘Good Times’ fans

Before the episode kicked off, Jimmy Kimmel welcomed Jimmie Walker, Bern Nadette Stanis, and Ja’Net DuBois to the set, and Stanis slammed the door on Walker the same way Thelma did it to J.J. back in the day. That opener was fun for longtime fans of the show. Kimmel also took the time to acknowledge that the show was created by Eric Monte and Michael Evans.

Besides appearances from some of the original cast members, the theme song was performed by legendary soul singer Patti LaBelle alongside actor Anthony Anderson. However, those weren’t the only surprises.

When Alderman Davis knocked on the door during the episode, fans saw it was John Amos playing the part. Amos was James Evans in the original and seeing him made viewers cheer.

Twitter was alive with commentary on ‘Good Times’

Eyes were glued to the TV to see how this version of the beloved Norman Lear classic would fare. Opinions were mixed, and many of the comments on Twitter were aimed at the casting. While the appearance of John Amos caused a celebration and people loved Davis as Florida, some of the other performances were criticized.

One user wrote, “Casting is off – James is too civil, Thelma is too light (and can’t act), Willona is too Tiffany, Michael is too dry, and JJ is trying too hard. The whole thing is just a complete mess except for Viola and John Amos.” Another commenter said “They not saying their lines funny, they saying them too serious.”

One viewer compared Braugher to Shakespeare and would have preferred more grit in his performance. Some fans were happy to be taken back in time but thought that a different episode should have been chosen.

Others complained that the timing was off. Many are willing to watch if they try to do Good Times again, saying that All in the Family was better on this second run.