Sanford And Son, Grady, The Sanford Arms and Sanford

Sanford And Son (1972-1977)
Grady (1975-1976)
The Sanford Arms (1977-1977)
Sanford (1980-1981)
Type: Spin Offs
Group 5

   There is a saying that one good turn deserves another. Well, apparently one good sitcom deserves lots of bad spin offs. At least in the case of Sanford And Son. The hill of beans that its spin offs amounted to really only desrves one collective entry.

   Sanford And Son was a really funny show. Based on a Brittish sitcom called Steptoe And Son, Sanford And Son was the story of Fred Sanford and his son Lamont. They owned a junkyard in Watts that sat behind their home. The show center on the fighting that went on between Fred and Lamont as well as between Fred and assorted other characters including Fred's nemesis Aunt Esther, sister of his dead wife Elizabeth. Whenever under stress, Fred would feign a heart attack and begin shouting, "Elizabeth honey, I'm coming ta join ya!" What really made the show though was the prickly relationship between Fred and Lamont.

   In 1975, Fred's friend Grady was spun off into his own very short lived series. Grady was one of the better characters on Sanford And Son. Good hearted and goofy, Grady was truly funny. When Redd Foxx, who played Fred, stopped appearing on Sanford And Son for a time because of a contract dispute, Grady more than anyone else picked up the extra slack the situation caused in the show. In his spin off, Grady moved out of Watts and in with his daughter and her family. She lived in an area a little bit more up scale that also had a wider range of people racially. But the show pooped out after only four months. Just goes to prove, once again, that a strong supporting player doesn't always make for a good central character to build a show on.

   When Sanford And Son ended in 1977, NBC wanted to keep the show going in some form. It hadn't been cancelled for lack of popularity. Redd Foxx had always felt he was being paid less for his work on the huge hit show because he was black. In 1977 perhaps partly due to this, he left the show to do his own variety show. Demond Wilson who played Lamont wanted more cash than NBC was willing to pay him to continue so he was out too. This lead to another short lived spin off called The Sanford Arms.

   On Sanford And Son it had been established that Fred and Lamont had at some point bought a nearby rooming house. In Sanford Arms, widower Phil Wheeler bought up all the Sanford property and tried to turn the boarding house into a hotel. Fred and Lanmont were gone to Arizona. Aunt Esther and other supporting characters were still around but without Fred and Lamont, who cared? Nobody. Cancellation city.

   Then in 1980, Redd Foxx tried to restart the series again. Fred was back at the junkyard (why you would move from Arizona BACK to a junkyard in Watts I'm not sure). Lamont was gone, working on the Alaskan pipeline. The only other hold over from the original show was Lamont's friend Rollo who along with a big fat white Southern guy named Cal were now partners in the junkyard. The addition of Cal leads to one obvious question - What the hell?

   Grady and Aunt Esther reduced from regulars to occassional guest stars? More importantly, no Lamont! Fred arguing with his own son - that was a situation ripe with tension and comedy. Fred fighting with a big fat white guy - that was a situation ripe with "What the hell?" Why was this guy so hot to own part of a Watts junkyard, especially when he fought so much with Fred? Why why why? Sanford ran through the second half of the 1979-1980 season and again for the second half of the 1980-1981 season. Probably didn't earn nearly enough money for a big fat white guy to live on.

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