Judge Brett Cullum expected more from an Oscar winner.
Francesca: Don't worry Little Nelson. If Little Homies closes down, I'll
Jamie Foxx won a well-deserved Oscar for his performance in Ray, which probably makes people interested in The Jamie Foxx Show—The Complete First Season. Too bad—because after 22 episodes from the show's first (1996-7) season, you may be screaming "Don Cheadle was robbed!" After all, he never appeared in a really bad sitcom for UPN called The Don Cheadle Show. If you're a die-hard Jamie fan, you might want to own this set. But if you were hoping for brilliant comedy and funny performances, then you'd be better off checking out the latest In Living Color DVD collection. This is painful stuff, presented in a no-frills package.
UPN is famous for catering to an African-American audience with situation comedies like Homeboys From Outer Space. The success of shows like The Cosby Show, Good Times, and The Jeffersons suggested there was a large black audience out there, ravenous for programming aimed at their demographic. Sitcoms based on stand-up comics, such as Seinfeld and Roseanne, had also proven quite successful. So The Jamie Foxx Show makes logical sense when you think about it. It should work like gangbusters.
So what happened? First off, the set-up was weak. Jamie plays "Jamie King," a struggling young actor who comes to help out his Aunt Helen (Ellia English, Woman Thou Art Loosed) and Uncle Junior (Garrett Morris, Saturday Night Live) at their hotel in Hollywood. He sings, he dances, and he fills in behind the desk when necessary, but mostly Jamie is there to get in the way and annoy two special employees. The first is the very sexy Francesca, a.k.a. Fancy (Garcelle Beauvais, NYPD Blue), who Jamie hits on constantly. The second is Braxton (Christopher B. Duncan, Soul Food), who is Frazier trapped in a black man's body. The humor consists mainly of innuendo and "you ain't black enough" jibes from Foxx, aimed at Francesca or Braxton. Garrett Morris is criminally under-utilized here; maybe Jamie Foxx was keeping anyone who could steal his thunder in the wings. The situation in the show did not lend itself to much comedy. Too bad, because the cast was pretty good.
The humor is borderline vaudeville. I expected a drum roll after every laugh line; instead, I got the modern equivalent—the annoying laugh track. I was shocked to learn the show lasted for four seasons, and some fans assure me the first season was far from the best. Maybe it got better over time, but I felt like Foxx and his cast were largely wasted. Even guest stars seem to flail. Gladys Knight shows up, and seems natural and funny, but never gets a chance to shine. She even only sings in a brief ending duet with Jamie.
I sat through four discs of this show, and all I found for a special feature was a gag reel. The good news is the gag reel is funnier than the whole season! Watching Jamie Foxx improvise his way into horrible messes with the rest of the cast is awesome. I'm glad it was there—it helped me believe that the show had some potential. It really should have been on cable, or they should have just run outtakes each week. The bad news is they bleep all the bad language. The transfers are standard television, as is the sound. Nothing too bad, but nothing to write home about either.
Jamie Foxx is a talented, funny guy. I loved him in Collateral, Ray, and Any Given Sunday. I would buy any set of In Living Color. This show just wasn't my bag. The Jamie Foxx Show—The Complete First Season is something only hardcore fans are going to want to purchase, or even see. It seems like its release is simply a move to capitalize on Foxx's recent success. There are no commentaries from the cast, and no "making of" features. If they were there, it might suggest the project was handled with thought and care. Instead, I think this is just a money grab by Warner Brothers.
I love Jamie Foxx, but The Jamie Foxx Show—The Complete First Season disappointed me. It just wasn't my style of humor, and I found it to be weak even for a sitcom. Give me The Jeffersons—or even Girlfriends—over this tripe. I'd trade this for a collector's edition of Homeboys From Outer Space. Now that's desperation, my friends.
Don Cheadle was robbed!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
• Gag Reel
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