RERUN: The Eight Best THE JEFFERSONS Episodes of Season Seven

Welcome to a new Sitcom Tuesday! This week, I’m happy to begin a vacation that will last for most of July. This means Laverne & Shirley coverage is being deferred until (most likely) August. But don’t worry — I’ll keep offering new posts (reruns and clip shows) that can add to our study, without requiring as many hours spent in front of a computer screen… So, for this entry, I’m excited to resurrect a forgotten segment from this blog’s eight-year run. As before, I’ll provide a link to the original piece and then offer a bit of updated commentary. But please be gentle; this early article is from a while ago, and my standards have changed as I’ve changed — I’ve improved as a thinker, a communicator, and a television-watcher.

This week, let’s revisit… The Eight Best THE JEFFERSONS Episodes of Season Seven:

The Jeffersons has come up a lot lately (see here), so I apologize if this seems like overkill. But I couldn’t help myself from rewatching a handful of episodes from the series’ seventh season — one of the last years, if not the last year, that’s reliably gem-producing — for I wanted to study how it manages episodic success amidst lowering standards of logic, a mounting reliance on idea-led gimmicks, and the ongoing caricaturization of nuance-losing characters. And, since I tend to think of Laverne & Shirley as having similar issues (though with less of a high point of contrast), I thought this could be a valuable reference. As expected, what I viewed corroborated my recent analysis of the series at large: The Jeffersons “offers strong characters and well-defined relationships . . . making it more possible to maximize comedy and drama, regardless of whether the thesis is explicit every week.” That is, although some entries clearly don’t work — like the awful Hawaii tetralogy — the leads’ depictions, and their premise-rooted relationships, are able to channel humorous ideas and give dramatic heft to the more serious ones, letting plots stand out with a boldness that feels erratic and extreme like the “Very Special Episode Era” but more earned than most sitcoms’ VSE contributions, all the while countering this progressive character heightening (which, yes, reaches a point of no return after Seven) with results that often serve as justification… Now, although Laverne & Shirley doesn’t worry about dramatic heft, it’ll still be interesting to see how (or even if) it’s able to support its big comic ideas with help from its leads; I’m not optimistic, but we’ll find out soon… In the meantime, I revisited my list for Seven, and if I was drafting it today, I’d make no changes except for picking a full ten, bumping up “And The Doorknobs Shined Like Diamonds” and “God Bless Americans” (two forced offerings that nevertheless appeal to the series’ thematic identity), for even though only 20 outings aired (due to the Actors’ Strike and Checking In) and I initially limited my choices accordingly, this is a year that can warrant having 50% of its output highlighted. Plus, I’d keep the Honorable Mentions slim, with only “All I Want For Christmas” (a decent seasonal entry that’s just not as classic as past holiday efforts)… So, with all that said, the proverbial record on The Jeffersons is further settled, and I’m even more ready for Laverne & Shirley next month…



Come back next week for more sitcom fun! And stay tuned tomorrow when I announce the next few sitcoms you can expect to see here after Laverne & Shirley!