Diff'rent Strokes

Season 1 Episode 1

Movin' In

Aired Unknown Nov 03, 1978 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (4)

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out of 10
35 votes
  • Movin" in (A.KA. pilot)

    First of all i love this show. plot: A wealthy businessman Phillip Drummond takes in 2 african-American boys from Harlem(8 yr old Arnold Jackson and 13 yr old Willis Jackson.) Arnold loves the new place but Willis not so much and plans to leave in the a.m. But in the end Mr. Drummond convinces him otherwise.

    Cast: All the cast was great but gary Coleman was the best right next to Todd Bridges(Willis) and Charlote Rea(Edna Garrett) i think the cast delivered very well.

    Final thoughts: Very solid for a pilot Rating: 10/10
  • Having agreed to the death-bed wish of his housekeeper, wealthy businessman Phillip Drummond takes in two boys from Harlem, 8-year-old Arnold and 12-year-old Willis. Arnold loves the new surroundings, but proud Willis plans to leave. Decent first ep...

    This review contains moderate spoilers.

    The phenomenon that is 'Diff'rent Strokes'. Hard to think it first appeared on US screens over 30 years ago now.

    Surprisingly, for me (who usually loved anything like that), I actually saw very little of 'Diff'rent Strokes' when it was run by my local ITV region (Thames) here in the U.K. The various regions ran it in their own slots, but most of them, such as Thames, showed it in a 5:15pm weekday slot (days varied over the run), when I was usually too busy watching 'Blue Peter' or 'Grange Hill' on the other side! If it had been showed in a different slot that had led me to "discover" it more, I know I would have loved it.

    So for me, I didn't really discover the wonder that is 'Diff'rent Strokes' until satellite station $ky One ran the series through several times in the early 1990s. I didn't have $ky (still don't), but I am a huge fan of 'The A-Team' (I even run my own detailed website for it – shameless plug), and Mister T features in the sixth season episode 'Mr. T. and mr. t'. My best friend at school, who had cable TV at the time, caught it by chance and recorded (most of) the ep for me. Not only did we love the 'A-Team' connection, but really took to the series, and the sensation that was Gary Coleman. Before long, I was feeding him videotapes on a weekly basis (often traipsing into town after school to by new blank cassettes – there's dedication for you!), so we could attempt to record the whole series (in the days long before the internet, and had no idea how many seasons / episodes there were). After he'd filled a tape, we'd often meet at the weekend and have a marathon of episodes shown that week ($ky One showed it in a weekday 5pm, later 5:30pm, slot).
    We ended up with nearly the entire series on tape (he started recording in the later seasons, and the show later cycled 'round so we could get the early ones). I have nearly all of the episodes, except for the seventh season (including, ironically, the Mr. T episode, which we taped over, excepting to get a full copy later), and a few episodes each side, after my friend moved away to another school and I saw little of him (how selfish of him!).

    As a result, for a couple of years in the early 1990s, 'Diff'rent Strokes' was one of my favourite things in the world. But I have to confess, for many years since I've found the series very hard to watch. Not because it's dated, but, considering the various fates that have befallen its various young stars, it kinda feels a bit creepy to watch. But with the first two seasons released on DVD a coupe of years ago (as with many other vintage TV releases, there sadly seems no sign of later seasons being released), I recently decided to buy them, and relive the spectacle of DS. I've still got all of those other episodes sitting on VHS at the back of my old wardrobe at my parents' house (I must be about 25 episodes short of the entire series), which I play to try and put on DVD, so I can watch (as close to) the whole series as I can, for the first time in many years.

    Anyway… this first episode. Wow, it looks dated. But not in a bad way; just a way that shouts "Seventies!", with the various styles (flares, Mr. Drummond wearing a cravat, etc.), and the staging is also very dated. I feared that it may have dated so badly that it wouldn't be much fun to watch, but to be totally fair, it's still an engaging view, with many sharp lines (most, but not all, coming from Arnold). In a way, I'd actually forgotten how good the series was.

    Of course, the star of the show is Gary Coleman, and far from just being a pint-sized novelty, he really has a knack for delivering amusing lines, which I think some people have come to overlook. As older brother Willis, Todd Bridges equally puts in a respectable performance, with some believable bickering between the pair. Conrad Bain's performance as Mr. Drummond was always tricky to sum up, but he's about the same here as the character would ever be, with bad puns and the odd "emotional" speech to the boys, which goes down better on some occasions than it does others. Veteran performer Charlotte Rae is great fun as Mrs. Garrett (the first of three resident housekeepers seen in the series). The only one who does feel to slightly be trying too hard, is Dana Plato, as Kimberly. Her performance is fine, it doesn't spoil the show, but she does feel to go slightly "over-the-top" a couple of times; maybe this can be put down to her youthful inexperience at this stage.

    On the whole, this Pilot episode is very enjoyable. The only sequence that doesn't really work, feeling rather childish and forced, is the whole "family fun time" thing (where Drummond tries to win the boys over with a mass of toys, and a pony). But this is made up for by the rest of the episode, with some sharply delivered dialogue, and mostly good performances.

    One thing I did notice, was just *how much* the audience politely clap at everything. At Conrad Bain's first entrance, at the end of *every damned scene*, and when anything of note takes place. I guess that was the style of TV sit-coms at the time, but even in DS, this would soon be toned down.

    The ending, where Mr. Drummond finds Willis in the hot tub the next morning, having decided to stay, does feel a little awkward, if only for having two (almost) naked young boys in a bath and Mr. D smothering and kissing them. It is all wonderfully innocent, but I doubt this kind of scene would take place on the TV of today.

    All-in-all, I actually enjoyed this first episode a lot more than I feared I might. I tried to put the tragic fates of several of the cast at the back of my mind, instead taking the characters for what they are on-screen. Although nothing like the "streetwise" humour that later shows (such as 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air', with which DS shares several ties and links) would give, there is a definite charm to the series, and one has to admire some of the morals it promotes (even long before the many famous "very special episodes"). For being a decent Pilot, I give "Movin' In" a very respectable 9.5.
  • You take the good, you take the bad ... oh, wrong show! But it still applied here.

    I recently watched this episode again, for the first time in over a decade. I found Kimberly very annoying in this episode (not so much in the ones that followed). It was as if she was being directed to be \"over the top\". The dialog just didn\'t seem \"real\". Even the character of Drummond had dialog that seemed stilted. It almost looked like Conrad Bain wanted to jump out of his skin in a few scenes - as if he did not like the dialog. It would be interesting to hear from the actor and see what he thought.

    But, Gary Coleman and Charlotte Rae definitely saved the show. The two of them were perfect in their acting and the dialog for the characters really fit.

    Overall, the episode was not one of the best in the series.
  • Perfect. A Perfect way to start this wonderful series that made TV history. Adorable Arnolds famous line 'Watchoo talking about Willis' stole everybodys hearts, this episode was so hilarious and is still funny 30 years later. I didn't like Kimberley in th

    Perfect. A Perfect way to start this wonderful series that made TV history. Adorable Arnolds famous line 'Watchoo talking about Willis' stole everybodys hearts, this episode was so hilarious and is still funny 30 years later. I didn't like Kimberley in this episode though, too annoying. Willis, Drummounds were good.