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227

By Wikipedia

227 was a sitcom that originally aired on the NBC network from September 14, 1985 to May 6, 1990. The program revolves around the lives of the occupants of a Washington, D.C. apartment building numbered 227, nearly all of whom are African American. While the neighborhood's location is never mentioned specifically, the opening credits include an altered photograph of a residential neighborhood close to the Washington Monument; such a neighborhood location is impossible, especially in light of the address.

Beginnings

The series was adapted from a play written by Christine Houston about the lives of women in a predominantly black apartment building in Chicago. The setting of the series was changed to Washington, D.C. to allow the producers to feasibly show a completely black neighborhood (Washington, D.C. is 60% black, while Chicago's black population only comprises about a third, comparable to many other cities in the United States).

The show was started as a starring vehicle for Marla Gibbs, who had first shot to fame as the sassy maid Florence Johnston on The Jeffersons, and had starred in Houston's theater adaptation in Los Angeles. This role was similar in nature to that of tart-tongued Florence; Gibbs' character, housewife Mary Jenkins, loved a good gossip and often spoke what she thought, with sometimes not-so-favorable results.

The Group Dynamic

Mary's best friend was Rose Lee Holloway (Alaina Reed), who inherited the building early in the show's run when the previous landlord (whom was never seen) died; Rose had cooked him food on many occasions and he gave her the building because she made the best apple pie he'd ever tasted. Mary took a no-nonsense, old-fashioned approach to life, and Mary and Rose's views sometimes clashed (one time, Rose and Mary got into a fight after Mary chastised Rose for giving her daughter ice cream money before she did homework, and Rose accused her of trying to make everyone "perfect"). Mary especially disliked one of the building's tenants, self-described "man-wise" Sandra Clark (Jackée Harry), and criticized her either behind her back or to her face many times. Over time, Mary and Sandra's relationship cooled to an on-off acquaintance/adversary relationship, and many of Mary's schemes involved Sandra working with her in some way, and vice versa.

Also seen was Mary's husband Lester (Hal Williams) and her teenaged daughter Brenda (Regina King in her first nationwide acting role). Another character seen was Pearl Shay (Helen Martin), who often popped her head outside her window to comment on the various goings-on as related by Mary and Rose. Pearl lived with her grandson Calvin Dobbs (Curtis Baldwin), who was Brenda's first love. Brenda's best friend was Rose's daughter Tiffany (Kia Goodwin).

Backstage tension

As the show went on, Jackée Harry's portrayal of man-hungry Sandra became very popular and, for all intents and purposes, displaced Marla Gibbs as the show's "star." In 1987, capitalizing on her popularity, Harry decided to just go by "Jackée" (in a move reminiscent of Cher, Prince and Madonna), and the publicity stunt (coupled with Jackée becoming the de facto star of the program) offended Miss Gibbs to such a degree that they had a falling-out which lasted several years, although they are on speaking terms today.

Ratings and accolades

The show was high-rated from the beginning (being partnered on NBC's Saturday night line-up with shows such as Gimme a Break!, The Facts of Life, and The Golden Girls), and ranked in the Nielsen Top 30 for the first three of its five seasons (#20 in 1985-86, #14 in 1986-87, and #27 in 1987-88).227 also earned many awards, including the first Emmy award for a black supporting actress (Jackée Harry won for her portrayal as Sandra in 1987).

Throughout the final two seasons, however, several new characters appeared, which threw off the tight-knit dynamic that the show had succeeded in establishing. Actors such as Kevin Peter Hall, Paul Winfield, Lynn Hamilton, and Stoney Jackson were signed onto the program, as well as child actor Countess Vaughn, who expressed an interest in appearing on 227 after winning on Star Search. It was at that time that the ratings declined; the show's producers decided to end the show in 1990, in time for Brenda's graduation from high school.

Continuity errors

One of the show's continuity errors was slowing down Brenda's age; only four years of schooling took place within the show's five-year run ("barely fourteen" years old at the start of the show in September 1985, Brenda only turned 16 in January 1988). Another continuity error occurred when the writers dropped Kia Goodwin from the show's cast in January 1988, suddenly leaving Rose without a daughter, with no explanation given. (see Chuck Cunningham syndrome)

The first season of 227 is available on DVD in Region 1 from Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment. The order of the episodes in the three-disc set proved mildly confusing to former viewers, as the first part of the show's pilot was placed on the first disc, while the conclusion was placed on the second disc. Adding to the confusion was the fact that the pilot didn't even air as the first episode when the show began in 1985; the two-parter aired at the beginning of November sweeps, after five episodes had already been broadcast.

Theme song

The theme song to 227 was written by television songwriter Ray Colcord, who went on to write the themes to The Torkelsons, Boy Meets World, and Promised Land. The message conveyed in the song was the strength of family bonds; titled "There's No Place Like Home," the theme was sung by series star Marla Gibbs.

Syndication

227 can currently be seen twice a day on the TV One network in the United States, in a programming block with fellow African-American sitcom Good Times.

227 on DVD!
227 is now available on DVD! Get it at Amazon.com!
Season One

 

Share Your Memories!

Do you have a favorite episode of 227? What do you remember about the series? Share your stories with the world! (We print the best stories right here!)

Your Memories Shared!

"One of my all time favorite 227 episodes is where Mary invities Brendas Art teacher over, and she ends up stealing Sondra's date ..the congressman."

--Anonymous

"Like I always tell people, the Awesome80s was the best television of time. I'm only 22 now, but in the Awesome80s I was glued to television and in the Awesome80s you had lineups of show that you HAD to watch. 227 was one of my favs. My fav episode was when Lester's boss came over for dinner and Sandra's date was Lester's boss ex husband, and Mary was hiding him in the kitchen."

--Anonymous

"The Writing on the Wall in 1987 [favorite episode]. I thought that was Larenze Tate on that show but it was his brother. Fooled me. Marla is a talented actress and a very caring human being!"

--Anonymous

"Like I always tell people, the Awesome80s was the best television of all time. I'm only 22 now, but in the Awesome80s I was glued to television and in the Awesome80s you had lineups of show that you HAD to watch. 227 was one of my favorites. My favorite episode was when Lester's boss came over for dinner and Sandra's date was Lester's boss ex husband, and Mary was hiding him in the kitchen."

--Anonymous

"Although I'm 37 and just found out that "Calvin Dobbs" is only a year younger than myself. I always thought he was a handsome young man. It's amazing when stars play young roles and they are actually older than the role they play. I use Love to hear Calvin say to his grandmothet (Helen Martin) Pearl "aw grandma" when she would embarrass him, I would like to know what ever happen to him could you please find this information. I would like to see him make a comeback. I thought him and (Regina King) Brenda had a good chemistry. I would like to see them do a movie together. Please if anyone could find this information out concerning him I would greatly appreciate."

--Anonymous

"I remember playing with friends outside and I would tell them I had to go in the house so I could watch 227. Those were the most pleasant times of my life. I loved all the episodes, but the episode that stood out to me was when Mary specifically told Brenda she couldn't go to the school dance because she was too young to date. Brenda defied her mother's wishes and went to the dance with Calvin, only to be caught by her mother as she and Calvin were already embracing each other during a slow song. Brenda was totally mortified."

--Anonymous

"Growing up during this time, everybody had a "run-down" of their favorite shows that came on at certain times, and 227 was at the top of my list. One of my favorite episodes was when the Temptations agreed to perform at a church benefit. This episode was just one symbol attributing to the increase of "singers/actors" that we see so frequently today. "

--Pacnwes

"227 aired first in September 1985 on NBC and became a big hit. The show was about a housewife name Mary Jenkins who lives in a black neighborhood in Washington D. C. in the apartment building 227.

Mary's family included her husband Lester Jackson who was her husband and a contractor. Her daughter was Brenda Jenkins who was 14 and went out with a man name Calvin Dobbs who was Brenda's first love. In the apartment building was Mary's best friend Rose Lee Halloway, who was the sweet one. She also had a daughter Tiffany during 1st and 2nd seasons. Next was the busy body Pearl Shay who lived next door to the Jenkins."

--Anonymous

"Growing up during this time, everybody had a "run-down" of their favorite shows that came on at certain times, and 227 was at the top of my list. One of my favorite episodes was when the Temptations agreed to perform at a church benefit. This episode was just one symbol attributing to the increase of "singers/actors" that we see so frequently today. "

--Pacnwes

 

TV TIDBITS

Aired: September 14, 1985 - May 6, 1990

Cast: Marla Gibbs, Hal Williams

Network: NBC

Genre: Sitcom

Theme song

Image courtesy of NBC


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