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Roc Emerson (Charles S. Dutton) was a hard-working garbage man in Baltimore, just trying to make enough money to provide for his family.
He had a good heart and good instincts, even if he wasn’t too bright – when confronted with something he didn’t understand, his usual response was “I ain’t worked that out yet”.
Living with Roc were his loving wife Eleanor (Ella Joyce), a nightshift nurse whose work schedule was not doing their love life much good; his freeloading kid brother Joey (Rocky Carroll), an unemployed trumpet player with a penchant for gambling and other fast-buck schemes; and his opinionated father Andrew (Carl Gordon), who distrusted white people and attributed almost everything of consequence to black people.
Roc’s buddy Wiz (Garrett Morris) – so named because of a bladder problem – was a regular at the local bar where Roc hung out during his spare time.
After successfully airing an episode live in the spring of 1992, the producers of Roc decided that the entire 1992-1993 season would be broadcast live rather than recorded on tape. The regular cast members were all experienced stage actors and felt that performing live would give the show more energy.
At the start of that season, Joey was living in the fancy apartment of a musician friend who was on tour and formed a jazz trio with bass player Curtis (Wally Taylor) and pianist Miles (Oscar Brown Jr). When the friend for whom he was house sitting returned, Joey moved back into Roc’s house and got free room and board for working as the superintendent for Roc’s properties – an apartment house along with the adjoining row houses.
Roc had gone into hock to buy them when his landlord decided to sell and move south. At the end of the season, Eleanor got pregnant.
In 1993, with the series back on tape, 11-year-old Sheila Hendricks (Alexis Fields), whose father, Calvin, went to prison in the season premiere, moved in with the Emersons. Eleanor gave birth to Marcus Garvey Emerson in November (viewers were given a 900 number to call and pick the name for the baby).
With both a new baby and a young girl living in their home, Roc and Eleanor became more involved with quality-of-life issues in the inner city. During that season there were more serious themes, including Roc’s unsuccessful run for city council (with Joey as his campaign manager) on a clean-up-the-crime-in-the-neighbourhood platform and his periodic confrontations with local drug dealer André Thompson (Clifton Powell).
Star Charles Dutton, who had himself been in prison before becoming an actor, was very concerned about the types of role models presented on Roc. In 1993 he won an NAACP Image Award for Best Actor.
Charles S. Dutton
Oscar Brown Jr
Ann Weldon (1)
Jenifer Lewis (2)
Crazy George Stevens