The first season did feel a tad forced, but it also gave us \"Black Jesus\". Each epsiode was thought provoking, and noble... especially the 1st season story where the school wants to shove JJ forward, and Florida and James see to it that JJ stays behind to get a proper education. This is great stuff!
Season 2 is when things started to slide. \"Dyn-o-mite\" became \"Kid Dyn-o-mite\" and Jimmy Walker hammed up his stringbean body at every opportunity. It\'s funny, and this season has quite a few things to say, but JJ overtook the show and, in retrospect, it suffers for it - even if his antics were riotiously funny at the time. The social context, which John Amos and Esther Rolle wanted and dervered was somewhat diminished.
Season 3 only continued the diminishing path despite a strong season opener where James buys a gun... and it became easy to tell when John or Esther walked out of an episode. Oh, it often dealt with meaty subjects, but the dynomite duds were still there.
The show also had John saying the N-word. While the scene (lacking Michael) in season 2 where JJ wants to take a rich neighbor to the prom and James Sr confronting her haughty parents feels natural... his doing it again in season 3 was just an empty ratings grab. (I don\'t recall the episode either except he gets to say it in a bar and it\'s easy to tell he\'s getting the line over as quickly as possible.)
John was ultimately fired and killed off in season 4\'s opener, leaving Florida alone. This is the situation Esther Rolle did not want from the start: A single mother scenario, she wanted a full family.
A lot of the dialogue in the series (all 6 seasons) didn\'t seem like \"authentic black dialogue\" either. (the quote came from a cable tv special from a few years ago.) There were times when I could spot this, mostly because it\'s a typical one-liner from JJ.
The only thing is, I felt the VD episode (which had John and Esther walking out) was a worthy one.
The first three seasons are all worth viewing, no argument there at all. But JJ does grate and once John Amos is gone, the show flounders.