US domestic sitcom set in a mostly black section of Washington DC.
116 episodes of 30 minute duration. NBC 1985-90
Following The Cosby Show's tremendous success in 1984, all three US broadcast networks stepped up their output of family-oriented sitcoms. Several of them, like "Cosby", featured a nuclear African-American family. "227" was probably one of the most successful of the genre, even though the comedy was far broader and somewhat less realistic than Bill Cosby's series.
But it allowed Marla Gibbs to play a character who was somewhat different from her best-known role, housekeeper Florence Johnston on The Jeffersons. Its success was due in part to scheduling; in its first season 227 followed the smash hit The Golden Girls on NBC's Saturday schedule; the show later served as a lead-in for the popular gang comedy.
Based on a play of the same name, 227 starred Gibbs as housewife Mary Jenkins, who lived with her contractor husband Lester (Hal Williams) and their teenage daughter Brenda (Regina King) in "227", an apartment building in a mostly black section of Washington DC. Mary's neighbors included best friend and landlady Rose Lee Holloway (Alaina Reed Hall); Helen Martin as elderly Pearl Shay; the gang would get together on the front apartment stoop and gossip about the latest goings-on in the neighborhood. Not surprisingly, much of the gossip centered on Sandra Clark (Jackee Harry), the vamp of "227".
With her Mae West-like mannerisms, her full-figured build and sexy walk, she caught the eye of many a man (and caused headaches for the more settled ladies). Much as Gibbs often stole the best lines on The Jeffersons, Jackee proved to be a scene-stealer in her own right, sometimes overshadowing the other cast members.
Brenda, who was just 14 when the series began, had her own problems with adolescence and boys-in particular, boyfriend Calvin Dobbs (Curtis Baldwin), who happened to be Pearl's grandson.
During the show's five-year run, several new characters made their way to 227, including Julian C. Barlow (Paul Winfield), who purchased the apartment building from Rose and lived in the penthouse. Rose herself found true love in the form of Warren Merriweather (played by Reid Hall's real-life husband Kevin Peter Hall); the two married in the final season.
The show's upbeat theme "There's No Place Like Home", was performed by Gibbs.
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