Television Info

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What's Happening

What's Happening!! was an American sitcom that ran on ABC from 1976 to 1979. Originally meant to be a summer series, it premiered in August, ran four episodes, and was brought back that November as a weekly series.

It dealt with the antics of three African-American teens living in the Watts area of Los Angeles. Ernest Thomas played Roger Thomas, Haywood Nelson played Dwayne Nelson, and Fred Berry played Freddy "Rerun" Stubbs. Also featured were Danielle Spencer as Roger's younger sister, Dee, Mabel King as their mother, Mabel, and Shirley Hemphill as Shirley Wilson, the waitress at "Rob's Place", the boys' favorite restaurant. Other recurring characters included Diane Harris (Debbi Morgan), an attractive girl who both Roger and Rerun liked, and Miss Collins (Fritzi Burr), the boys' sarcastic history teacher and the sponsor of the school newspaper, of which Roger was the editor.

The stories revolved around the many schemes that the boys cooked up. Unlike Good Times, not all of their schemes revolved around getting money to leave the ghetto. Many times, the boys schemed to find a date for the dance. Another time, the boys scalped two free tickets to a Stevie Wonder concert in order to buy three seats of lesser value so Roger wouldn't have to choose between Rerun and Dwayne. Predictably, the boys "sold" their tickets to a police officer and were arrested. Yet more schemes involved getting back at Roger's sister Dee, who was known to be somewhat nasty as well as a busybody.

Seen less frequently was Bill Thomas (played by Thalmus Rasulala), Mabel's ex-husband and the father of Roger and Dee. He divorced Mabel, ran out on his family, and became a shady sort of character. When he came back into the lives of his children ten years after he left them, he was viewed with suspicion by all members of the household. When he tried to act authoritarian toward Dee on Christmas, she vented her frustrations at Roger, telling him that she hated their father. Proving that she truly was good at heart, Dee told Roger later that she didn't mean it, and asked him if God was angry at her for saying those mean things.

The show was a modest success in its network run in spite of some serious production problems, and the repeats of the show's 65 episodes did considerably well in syndication. With this in mind, a revival of the show was produced entitled What's Happening Now!! It ran from 1985 to 1988 in first-run syndication.

The first and second seasons, consisting of 21 and 22 episodes, respectively, have been released on Region 1 DVD from Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment. Season 3, of the show's final 22 episodes, is scheduled for an August 23, 2005 Region 1 DVD release.


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