Last night, I was watching a film on Netflix called A Fall From Grace. It stars Bresha Webb, whom I recall from the short-lived Marlon, and is now making waves in Run the World on Starz. The Tyler Perry thriller also had notable Hollywood names such as Phylicia Rashad, Mechad Brooks, and the late Cicely Tyson. It also starred Crystal Fox in perhaps the only role I’ve ever seen her in besides that of Luann Corbin. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: the In the Heat of the Night television series.
What it meant to me then? Back then, I was very young and naïve…as I should have been as an adolescent. I didn’t think much of the show aside from the police car chases and the fight scenes with Alan Autry’s Bubba Skinner character.
What it means to me now? Last year, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced almost the entirety of the Main Interior Building population to telework, I watched the series on Amazon Prime Video either from my cubicle or on my tablet at home. I watched all 7 seasons, and I came away with a strong appreciation for the series overall. There were some fascinating storylines in the series that definitely surprised me in 2020…even more so that these were plots in the late 80s and early 90s. From stories to polygamy (“A Necessary Evil”) to police brutality against Blacks (“Prisoners”) to the tragedy of drunk driving (“Fifteen Forever”) to drugs (“A Small War”), there were many different plots that seemed well ahead of their time. I liked the characters as well. Carroll O’Connor’s Bill Gillespie was an astounding character to me: most likely a racist but evolved throughout the series to the point where he married a Black woman. I liked Hugh O’Connor’s Lonnie Jamison and the aforementioned Bubba Skinner. They were no-nonsense in their approach to law enforcement. I really had a fondness for Crystal Fox as Luann Corbin and the other Black officers like Geoffrey Thorne’s Willson Sweet and even C.C. Taylor’s Charlie Peake. Some ancillary characters, like Jimmy Dawes and District Attorney Gerard Darnelle, played pivotal roles in the series. I really felt it well represented a police procedural. It wasn’t always a happy ending either, which added to the realism of it. There were three things that I didn’t particularly like in the series: (1) Sweet essentially disappearing without any kind of mention, (2) the loss of Officer Christine Rankin, and (3) the fallout with Virgil and Althea. Other than that, it was an excellent series. Once I get this VPN stuff situated here in Colombia, I might give it another go.