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South Central

Filmed around L.A. by Slick/Mac Prods. and Twentieth TV. Executive producers/writers, Ralph Farquhar, Michael J. Weithorn; producer, William E. Baker; director, Stan Lathan; "South Central," latest sitcom about an urban black family struggling against terrible odds, plays like the summation that finally gets it right. Straightforward, touchingly human and funny, the series depicts tough breaks laced with hope, and involves people worth pulling for.

With:
Cast: Tina Lifford, Larenz Tate, Tasha Scott, Keith Mbulo, Paula Kelly, Clifton Powell, Ken Page, Earl Billings, Terrence McNally, Jennifer Lopez.

Filmed around L.A. by Slick/Mac Prods. and Twentieth TV. Executive producers/writers, Ralph Farquhar, Michael J. Weithorn; producer, William E. Baker; director, Stan Lathan; “South Central,” latest sitcom about an urban black family struggling against terrible odds, plays like the summation that finally gets it right. Straightforward, touchingly human and funny, the series depicts tough breaks laced with hope, and involves people worth pulling for.

Joan Mosely (Tina Lifford), South Central L.A. deserted mother of three, has already lost one son to gangs, and she doesn’t want teenage son Andre (Larenz Tate) following that path.

Andre, daughter Tasha (Tasha Scott) and foster son Deion (Keith Mbulo) don’t know that Joan was laid off work a month ago and can’t find another job — not exactly a stingingly new plot idea, but one that’s worked for all its traditional worth.

Lifford is authoritative but ingratiating, even when she takes her frustrations out on suitor Dr. McHenry (Ken Page). When close friend Sweets (Paula Kelly) offers to help, Joan can take a breather.

Playlet, written adroitly by exec producers Ralph Farquhar and Michael J. Weithorn and ably directed by Stan Lathan, has things to say people will be listening to. Storyline’s simple and direct, but Lifford makes Joan a rich study of a near-desperate womanwho won’t give up. A scene in a co-op market run by Deavers (Clifton Powell) and cranked up by a checker shows Joan’s dilemma and her fortitude.

The pilot’s actors, including distinguished Kelly, know what they’re about. Sitcom’s based on the human condition, not just on one-liners. “South Central,” if the signals are right, says honest things without going mawkish about courage , patience and love. It faces an uphill battle but could catch on.

South Central

Production: Fox, Tues. April 5, 8 p.m.

Crew: Camera, Ken Peach; editor, Andy Zall; art directors, Roger Fortune, Bill McAllister; sound, Brent Walton; music, Kurt Farquhar. 30 MIN.

With: Cast: Tina Lifford, Larenz Tate, Tasha Scott, Keith Mbulo, Paula Kelly, Clifton Powell, Ken Page, Earl Billings, Terrence McNally, Jennifer Lopez.

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