1 9 8 5 – 1 9 9 0 (USA)
116 x 30 minute episodes
227 first aired in September 1985 and ran for five seasons on NBC before its final episode in July 1990.
Based on a play of the same name, this situation-comedy was set around an apartment building (number 227) in a racially-mixed neighbourhood of Washington DC.
Featuring an ensemble cast including Marla Gibbs, Hal Williams, Alaina Reed, and Jackée Harry, 227 succeeded in becoming a top-rated television programme, surviving criticisms and early comparisons to other television programmes with predominantly African-American principals (In its earliest episodes the show was criticised as being too much like The Cosby Show).
The original play had been performed by Marla Gibbs’ own Cross Roads Academy, a local community theatre troupe in Los Angeles. After its successful theatrical debut, 227 was soon adapted and produced for television by Lorimar.
Most episodes took place within and around the apartment building, from the front steps, to the laundry room, to the individual apartments. Mary and Lester Jenkins were one of the families struggling to survive.
Mary (played by Marla Gibbs who had been the feisty, verbally aggressive maid Florence on The Jeffersons) was a mother of one, juggling the numerous responsibilities of household, family and personal life with humorous results.
Lester (Hal Williams) was a small-time contractor struggling to stay on top of his own family and job responsibilities.
Together, Mary and Lester had their hands full with daughter Brenda (Regina King), a studious, talented, and mostly well behaved young adolescent.
Other important characters included Rose Holloway, the landlady of the building who often sat with Mary on the front steps laughing and gossiping about various other residents; sexually outspoken tenant Sandra Clark (the building’s resident tramp); and Pearl Shay, an older woman who often leaned out her front window to comment on Rose and Mary’s discussions.
Rose Lee Holloway
Toukie A. Smith
Julian C. Barlow
Kevin Peter Hall