Sunday, August 16, 2015

A modern classic: Amen (1986)

Sherman Hemsley made his career playing weasels.

It wasn't long after The Jeffersons had ended its run before Hemsley landed another series gig. Amen, set in Hemsley's hometown of Philadelphia, and produced by Johnny Carson's production company, cast the actor as a variation on his iconic alter ego of George Jefferson. Instead of owning a dry cleaner in New York, Ernest Frye (Hemsley) was the deacon of the First Community Church in Philadelphia, and a practicing lawyer. Hmmmmm. Makes one wonder if the wackos in a certain Kansas "church" got their ideas from Deacon Frye.....!

Counter-balancing Frye was Rev. Reuben Gregory (Clifton Davis, ex-That's My Mama), who ultimately became the show's moral center, and married Frye's daughter, Thelma (Anne Marie Horsford) at the end of season 4. In real life, Davis is now an ordained minister himself, and has frequently served as host on TBN's Praise The Lord through the years, perhaps even during Amen's run.

The late gospel singer Andrae Crouch composed the show's theme song, "Shine on Me", and served as musical director. Co-producer Peter Noah is the son of game show producer Robert Noah. Casting director Ruben Cannon doubled as co-producer, perhaps to help Carson save money on staffing.

Amen enjoyed a healthy 5 season run on NBC (1986-91), virtually all of it on Saturday nights, which would give viewers some motivation to head off to services the next day.

Following is a sample episode:

Most recently, reruns have aired on Up (formerly Gospel Music Channel), among other places.

Rating: A-.

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