Times weren't always so good on the set of Good Times
, according to those who worked both on camera and behind-the-scenes of the hit '70s sitcom.
"I left that show very ashamed of the fact that I had worked on that show," says writer Judi Ann Mason on an upcoming E! True Hollywood Story (Aug. 20, 9 pm/ET). "And I think everybody was feeling the same thing. There was so much pain, not only in saying good-bye, but just in realizing that maybe we had done something wrong. The attempt to present realistic black life had failed."
The show's evolution from socially relevant topics to silly plots centering around lanky Jimmy Walker (J.J.) and his trademark line "Dyn-o-mite!" also didn't sit well with series stars John Amos and the late Esther Rolle, whose previous work on Maude inspired the series.
"Esther was very disturbed about that because this was her show," recalls Mason. "It was a spin-off based on her character, and then all of a sudden America is embracing this nonactor, this stand-up comedian who did not have the experience that she had; nor did he look to her with any great degree of respect."
Series regular Ralph Carter (Michael) says the show's poorly written scripts were an insult to a man of Amos's intelligence. "If everything was going to be waiting for a gag or your quota of 'Dyn-o-mites!' in every script," he sighs, "it was going to have to be about a little bit more."