US sitcom centered round religion.
NBC 1986 - 1991.
Amen was one of the few US sitcoms centering on religion. It was also star Sherman Hemsley's second major TV hit-though his Deacon Ernest Frye had much in common with Hemsley's best-known role as pushy, arrogant George Jefferson.
The show centered on the First Community Church of Philadelphia, which had a mostly African-American congregation. For years, Deacon Frye (who was also an attorney) had run the church after taking it over from his father. But his deal-making and aggressive manner was put to the test with the arrival of a new, younger pastor, the Reverend Reuben Gregory. (He was played by Clifton Davis, who was himself a minister in real life. During "Amen's" run, Davis was assistant pastor of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Loma Linda, California.)
The comedy centered largely on the differences between the Deacon and the younger Reverend. For the most part, the Deacon's half-baked ideas caused trouble for the church until Gregory stepped forward to clean up the mess. At home, the Deacon had to deal with his child-like adult daughter Thelma (Anna Marie Horsford), a 30-year-old woman who was awkward in social events but had a crush on Reverend Gregory. (The two eventually dated and married.)
Other characters included church members Casietta and Amelia Hetebrink (Barbara Montgomery and Roz Ryan). Also in the cast was elderly church board member Rolly Forbes (Jester Hairston), whose sage advice was something Deacon Frye usually ignored to his peril. Hairston, who was in his 80's when the show began, had been a regular on the 1950's television version of Amos 'N Andy and was the singing voice for Sidney Poitier in the film "Lilies of the Field"; he died in January 2000.
The sitcom's final season had Deacon Frye become a judge as well; in the last episode, Frye put on a telethon to save the financially-troubled church as Thelma gave birth to his first grandchild (when the Deacon imitated the legendary soul singer James Brown, his screams provided the counterpart to Thelma's cries as she went into labour).
Not surprisingly, Amen had a gospel theme ("Shine On Me"), written by Andre Crouch and performed by Vanessa Bell Armstrong and the Christ Memorial COGIC Choir of Pacoima, California.
A rather predictable but likeable comedy, Amen's success was largely due to its placement on NBC's Saturday night schedule (it followed the top-ten Golden Girls for at least part of its run) and the fact it was produced by the company owned by Tonight Show host Johnny Carson. If it didn't satire religion the way some British comedies such as Father Ted managed to do, Amen took its own gentle jabs at the church and still managed to keep a sense of humour in the process.
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