Amen (TV series)

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Amen
Amen (TV series - title card).jpg
Genre Sitcom
Created by Ed. Weinberger
Starring Sherman Hemsley
Clifton Davis
Anna Maria Horsford
Roz Ryan
Jester Hairston
Barbara Montgomery (1986–90)
Rosetta LeNoire (1987–89)
Bumper Robinson (1990–91)
Elsa Raven (1988–90)
Tony T. Johnson (1988–91)
Montrose Hagins (1989–91)
Theme music composer Andre Crouch
Opening theme "Shine on Me" by Vanessa Bell Armstrong
Composer(s) Bruce Miller
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 5
No. of episodes 110
Production
Executive producer(s) James R. Stein
Bob Illes
Lloyd David
Arthur Julian
Ed. Weinberger
Producer(s) Jim Geoghan
Marilynn Loncar
Peter Noah
Bob Peete
Location(s) NBC Studios
Burbank, California
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time 24 minutes
Production company(s) Carson Productions
Stein & Illes Productions (season 5)
Distributor MCA TV
NBCUniversal Television Distribution
Broadcast
Original channel NBC
Audio format Stereo
Original run September 27, 1986 (1986-09-27) – May 11, 1991 (1991-05-11)

Amen is an American television sitcom produced by Carson Productions that ran from September 27, 1986 to May 11, 1991 on NBC. Set in Sherman Hemsley's real-life hometown of Philadelphia, Amen stars Hemsley as the deacon of a church and was part of a wave of successful sitcoms on NBC in the 1980s which featured predominantly black casts. Others included The Cosby Show, A Different World, and 227.[1]

Overview[edit]

The series stars Sherman Hemsley (of All in the Family and The Jeffersons fame) as Deacon Ernest Frye, of the First Community Church of Philadelphia. Frye, who works as a lawyer, is often dishonest and frequently gets into trouble with his many harebrained schemes. The series demonstrated Hemsley's abilities to do physical comedy in many episodes from dealing with animals, children and other people. Anna Maria Horsford played Deacon Frye's 36-year-old single daughter, Thelma Frye. The Reverend Reuben Gregory, played by Clifton Davis, was the new, young pastor of the First Community Church, and also the object of Thelma's affection. The two eventually married during the fourth season, despite the fact that Reverend Gregory and Deacon Frye often butted heads.[2] In the series finale, Thelma gives birth to the couple's first child.[3]

The show often addressed issues of family and community in a humorous manner. Storylines included guest characters dealing with teenage pregnancy, suicide prevention, jealousy and others. The issues were dealt with in a non-preachy manner. The 1980's was a period of preachy television with shows doing many 'special episodes' or cast commentary on a social issue at the end of the day. Frye's legal career was the subject of many jokes and clients had storylines. A few episodes dealt with Frye defending the church or other main characters in legal battles.

The cast also included Jester Hairston as high-spirited and lively senior citizen Rolly Forbes, who often acted as the voice of reason. Davis and Hairston had previously worked together, playing Clifton and Wildcat on the 1970s sitcom That's My Mama. The show also starred comedienne Roz Ryan and Barbara Montgomery as Amelia and Cassietta Hetebrink, a pair of chattering sisters at the church. Also appearing on the show was Leola Henderson (played by Rosetta LeNoire), Rolly's love interest and eventual wife. After portraying Leola Forbes for two seasons, LeNoire left the show to star in the successful sitcom Family Matters as Grandma 'Mother' Estelle Winslow. LeNoire was replaced by Montrose Hagins who played the character from 1989 until the series' end in 1991.

For the third and fourth seasons, joining the cast were Elsa Raven as Swedish housekeeper Inga and Tony T. Johnson as Chris, a young boy that lived next door to Deacon Frye. In a running gag, Chris would visit the Frye home for various reasons and would say something outrageous that would cause one of the adults to pick him up and carry him out of the house. The character of Inga was dropped from the show in 1990, with no explanation given for her disappearance. Barbara Montgomery left the series in 1990 to star on ABC's Married People, but there was no explanation of her character's absence on the show. These characters suffered the Chuck Cunningham syndrome as in the fifth season, it was like none of them ever existed. No references or mentions made about them. Also, in the fifth and final season, Bumper Robinson joined the cast as Clarence, a young street kid and protégé of Deacon Frye. During that season, NBC launched the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air that involved an urban youth (Will Smith) moving in with relatives for mentoring and educational opportunities. Robinson's character was brought on to the series in an effort to rebound ratings but the series was cancelled in 1991.

In the 1997-1998 television season, UPN aired the series 'Good News' which was created and produced by the same people who were behind 'Amen.' Roz Ryan appeared on the show in a similar role to what she played on 'Amen.' This time the series focused on the pastor was younger and had to deal with reviving the church. Like 'Amen', it was semi-religious playing off religious themes but also incorporated comedy. 'Good News' didn't utilize physical comedy or feature a Deacon character. The series was cancelled due to low ratings.

Cast and characters[edit]

Notable guest stars[edit]

Episodes[edit]

Ratings[edit]

Syndication[edit]

Amen was sold into syndication shortly after finishing its run on NBC and Universal Pictures' MCA Television unit was awarded the syndication rights. Those rights are now in the hands of Comcast through its NBCUniversal Television Distribution division.

The series has aired on BET, TVOne, Centric, TBS, Gospel Music Channel and local stations over the years.

Reruns currently air on Encore Black.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "A Look At New TV Season". Ebony (Johnson Publishing Company) 41 (12): 145. October 1986. ISSN 0012-9011. 
  2. ^ Collier, Aldore (February 5, 1990). "Clifton Davis and Anna Marie Horsford Tie Knot On TV's 'Amen'". Jet (Johnson Publishing Company) 77 (17): 60–61. ISSN 0021-5996. 
  3. ^ ""Deliverance" Episode Ends Fifth Season of "Amen"". Jet (Johnson Publishing Company) 80 (4): 60. May 13, 1991. ISSN 0021-5996. 
  4. ^ ClassicTVHits.com: TV Ratings > 1980's
  5. ^ ClassicTVHits.com: TV Ratings > 1980's
  6. ^ ClassicTVHits.com: TV Ratings > 1980's

External links[edit]