Hourlong special, bearing 1990 copyright date and dumped by ABC over the weekend, was designed as showcase for then-emerging Motown Records sibling act the Boys. Some skimping on production values and Boys’ inexperience in front of the cameras notwithstanding, concept and cast were promising.
Plot finds orphaned brothers united by aunt (Beverly Todd) and uncle (Ron O’Neal). Interesting angle is that one of the four youngsters has become a Muslim, providing opportunity for insights into the religion. (Here, it’s covered by the character’s refusal to eat ham and by a joking reference to bean pies).
One of the kids, David (Hakeem Abdul-Samad), has been getting into trouble in school, which winds up in a confrontation between the brothers and a team of young toughs that turns into a dance-rumble out of a Michael Jackson video.
End of show finds Aunt Ruth and Uncle John deciding to keep the kids full-time.
O’Neal and Todd are appealing proto-parents, Hakeem Abdul-Samad reads his lines adequately and remaining brothers aren’t given much of an opportunityto develop individual personalities.
Show incorporates several rather generic song-and-dance numbers, either as background for montages, as expression of kids’ thoughts, or of more conventional dancin’ in the streets variety, including aforementioned rumble.
Former Motown songbird Thelma Houston gets her own bravura number toward the end and Broadway vet Hinton Battle appears as a Venice boardwalk entertainer singing a snatch of Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine.”
Project isn’t likely to top director/co-exec producer Debbie Allen’s resume; even dramatic scenes are characterized by numerous jarringly quick cuts, and dialogue in many locations echoes irritatingly.
Fashions being as timely as they are, Boys’ then-hip hairdos are already out of style, and matching outfits worn in one scene don’t look any less ridiculous now than they must have at the time. Remaining tech credits are OK.