|Written by||Maya Angelou
Paul W. Cooper
Earl Hamner, Jr.
Gloria Naylor (Story)
|Directed by||Ivan Dixon
John Cothran Jr.
Oscar Brown Jr.
|Theme music composer||David Shire|
|Opening theme||Performed by Take 6|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||11|
|Executive producer(s)||Earl Hamner, Jr.
Quinnie Martin, Jr.
|Running time||22 minutes|
|Original release||May 1, 1990 – May 30, 1990|
|Preceded by||The Women of Brewster Place|
Brewster Place is a short lived American drama series which aired on ABC in May 1990. The series was a spinoff of the 1989 miniseries The Women of Brewster Place, which was based upon Gloria Naylor's novel of the same name. The series starred talk show host Oprah Winfrey, who also served as co-executive producer.
Set in 1967, the series begin with events following the end of the 1989 miniseries. Mattie Michael (Winfrey) is fired from her job as a beautician, and agrees to purchase a neighborhood restaurant with her best friend Etta Mae (Brenda Pressley). Kiswana (Rachel Crawford), Abshu (Kelly Neal), and Miss Sophie (Olivia Cole) are still residents of Brewster Place, and various other individuals move onto the block as the series progresses.
The series was filmed entirely in Chicago, on the lot of Winfrey's Harpo Productions. It failed to capture the audience and critical acclaim of the miniseries, and was cancelled after a month. However, the full season of 11 episodes has since been released on both VHS and DVD.
Cast and crew
- Oprah Winfrey as Mattie Michael
- Rachael Crawford as Melanie "Kiswana" Browne
- Brenda Pressley as Etta Mae Johnson
- Olivia Cole as Miss Sophie
- Kelly Neal as Abshu Kamau
- Episode 1: 15.3 rating/21.9 million viewers
- Episode 2: 13.2 rating
- Episode 3: 9.7 rating
- Episode 4: 10.1
- Episode 5: 9
- Episode 6: 7.6 rating/11.9 million viewers
Entertainment Weekly: While it's not remotely as good as Twin Peaks, Brewster Place is yet another example of the fact that ABC is trying things no other network would attempt. In this case, we have a half-hour drama featuring a black cast that tries to show the strength and difficulties of lower-middle-class family life.
One of the show's executive producers is Oprah Winfrey, who also reprises the role she had last year in the TV-movie version of Gloria Naylor's award-winning novel The Women of Brewster Place. As Mattie Michael, Winfrey is the show's wise, kindly centerpiece, and Mattie's luncheonette, a neighborhood gathering place, is where each week's story begins.
So far, the Brewster Place stories have been gentle cautionary tales, occasions for Winfrey to rumble in a voice-over, Little did I know what a test this day would put us to. . .
There's something warm and comforting about Brewster Place, and something complacent and artificial as well. It didn't surprise me at all to learn that another of the show's executive producers is Earl Hamner, who oversaw The Waltons — Winfrey's all-seeing, all-knowing voice-overs are very reminiscent of the ones Hamner himself used to intone at the start of a Waltons tale.
So far, the scripts have been lightweight. But, filled with solid actors of all ages, Brewster Place could become an urban version of The Waltons-not a bad idea at all. Grade: B-