1 9 8 9 – 1 9 9 1 (USA)
470 x 30 minute episodes
NBC initially boasted that this in-house production was the first to feature an African-American family, but the achievement was unfortunately undercut by somewhat tasteless ads using that angle which promoted the series as “Black and White – In Colour.”
Set in Chicago, Generations started with the Whitmores with their naughty girl Sam (Kelly Rutherford), who slept with her college biology professor, Rob Donnelly (George DelHoyo).
Vivian Potter (Lynn Hamilton) had once worked for the Whitmores as a maid, and Adam (Kristoff St. John) was her grandson (and Henry and Ruth’s son). Ruth (Joan Pringle) resented the family’s history with the Whitmores, feeling it was demeaning.
Rebecca (Pat Crowley initially, and later, Dorothy Lyman) was an attorney who was rich until her ex-husband wasted the family fortune. By the fall Jason (Anthony Addabbo) was cheating on Monique (Nancy Sorel) with Sam (Kelly Rutherford), and Adam was in jail.
In order to spice up unimpressive ratings, Doreen (Jonelle Allen) gave birth to a child with sickle cell anaemia.
Nonetheless, the show had lost its major star, veteran Pat Crowley, by the end of the year (she had been getting few lines, and her departure was by mutual consent).
Veteran actor Richard Roundtree was introduced in 1990 as a doctor who was accused of a murder that had taken place 15 years earlier.
Later arrivals included Eric Royal (Randy Brooks), who fell in love with Assistant DA Chantal Marshall (originally Sharon Brown and then Debbi Morgan) while she was prosecuting him for the accidental death of a woman, and Martin Jackson (Rick Fitts), who made a revelation destroying Doreen (Jonelle Allen) and Ruth’s friendship.
Yet the couple getting the most airtime was, ironically, Caucasians Sam and Kyle.
On the last week of the series, Doreen and Ruth clashed while Vivian and Henry (played by Taurean Blacque initially, and then James Reynolds) stopped Ruth singing at the local club, Kyle visited Sean in prison, and Jessica tried to discredit Sam.
NBC Chairman Brandon Tartikoff made a cameo as a waiter on the last show, which had virtually no airtime at all in the East and Midwest owing to updates on the Gulf War.
After the show ended its run, the Black Entertainment Television (BET) cable channel bought rerun rights for all 470 episodes and began repeating them in the nighttime in 1991; the repeats went on for a few years.
Taurean Blacque (1)
James Reynolds (2)
Pat Crowley (1)
Dorothy Lyman (2)
Assistant DA Chantal Marshall
Sharon Brown (1)
Debbi Morgan (2)
Dr Daniel Reubens
Lt. Kyle Masters
Robert Gentry (2)
Kristoff St. John
Barbara Rhoades (1)
Linda Gibboney (2)
Vivica A. Fox
Laura Whitmore McCallum