As 2009 officially closes out this Thursday, I was going to post my top 10 music CD’s of the year for jazz, rock, soul, and best of the year. But as I got closer to my deadline and procrastination of the holiday season, I did something that I said I wasn’t going to do or partake in. I visited the website Fancast and noticed the A & E Network posted the first two episodes of “The Jacksons: A Family Dynasty.” I clicked on the pilot episode and after the first ten minutes of the show, I was hooked! In the weeks leading up to the premier, the reviews were stellar and many claimed it was “must watch television.” Those who know me can tell you I don’t watch much television, but as I completed the the pilot episode, I had to watch the second one.
This year we lost one of the most prolific music and video icons of the last 50 years next to Elvis Prestley and Frank Sinatra. Michael Jackson made his transition on June 25th, 2009 to a fatal cardiac arrest attack in his California home at the age of 50. Unlike myself, and tens of millions of music fans that were impacted by his music and his presence, Michael’s death still is a shock to many, and many still love and adore his contributions to popular music. Not only that, but The Jackson 5’s legacy stopped the world at a time when the Beatles were about to break up and British glam rock was about to explode here in the states. These five young African-American boys from Gary, Indiana caused havoc on all the world with their message of love and dancing with slick and innovative R &B tunes. Of course there were other family groups like The Sylvers and The Osmonds, but The Jackson 5 had a shrewd marketing and fan base that was over the top.
The Jackson’s agreed to make this show for A & E during the middle of last year but it was the sudden death of Michael and the brother’s 40th Anniversary that generated a lot of buzz for it’s recent premier. Right now, The Jacksons and Steven Segal’s reality shows are the highest rated cable shows on right now beating some of the top rated news shows in their respected time slots. The timing of Michael’s death has many wondering if the Jackson’s are doing this for the money, but in episode two, the viewers will get a full and unscripted answer from the brothers.
In the pilot episode, The Jacksons revisit their roots and go back to Gary, Indiana where Jackie’s sons get a feel of where the origins began. It’s in this episode we get caught up with Marlon, Tito, Jermanine, and Jackie 40 years later. All of them have become successful parents and we see this recurring theme of family throughout the episodes. There’s a scene where the brothers play basketball with their nephews and elder Jackson’s argued during the whole game ticking off the nephews where they eventually walk off the court saying “are you going to play basketball…or argue the entire game.” After the brothers realized their faults, they decide to come together for a meeting to decide if they’re going to do the 40th Anniversary Tour.
Most of the buildup of this episode is the last 10 minutes of meeting with Jermanine, Tito, Jackie, and Marlon. There were many personal issues that the brothers hadn’t resolved when Jermanine left the group in 1975 and he had to come clean after 30 years. The viewer is allowed all access to the Jackson’s recording material for the new record as well as how they function as brothers when it comes to handling their personal decisions as parents and business as a group. At times, it can be real personal, but that’s what makes this program work. We get to see a side of one of the most revered music family in history.
The second episode focuses on the death Michael Jackson and how the brothers are dealing with losing their sibling. Also, due to Michael’s untimely death, the brothers are being sued because they contractually agreed to perform a tribute concert and they must decide whether they’re going to perform or pay out of court. We see the Jacksons working with producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (produced 6 of sister Janet Jackson’s multi-grammy winning albums) on ideas for the new record. One of the most compelling scenes is when Tito meets with his sons the group 3T. 3T is a very popular singing group overseas and Tito was very instrumental in putting the group together and managing them when they first started. Their debut disc was executive produced and released on Michael Jackson’s label MJ Records. Michael even sang on two of their songs. The meeting between Tito and his sons was somber and disappointing. The group is in the middle of recording their new album and are at an emotional low point due the passing of their Uncle Michael. Tito realizes the boys look like they’re on the verge of breaking up and gives the sons encouragement to carry on his legacy.
Finally, the Jacksons finally agree on doing the anniversary tour and begin putting the tour planning in action.
The Jacksons: A Family Dynasty is an interesting look inside of the “Black Kennedys” and how these brothers have gone from cultural icons to devout businessmen and fathers. Family is what the Jackson’s bond is all about and Tito praises his father Joseph while visiting the family home in Gary. Tito adds “I respect what Joseph had to do to instill a better life for us. If he wasn’t as tough as he was, we couldn’t achieve the success we’re accomplished.” Despite the love/hate relationship Joseph has with the family and press, this show doesn’t sensationalize Michael’s name nor the family. Instead, we see how the Jacksons deal with being an everyday person while honestly bring out each of brother’s individual personality.
Viewers find out Marlon is the comedian and jokester, Tito is stern and gruff (a lot like his dad), Jermanine is sensitive, Jackie is the level headed and business-mined of the group.
Randy Jackson decided not to be involved in the show because of personal issues and Michael’s death.
This is must see television if you have 50 minutes to waste on mindless entertainment. This isn’t by any means C.S.I or Breaking Bad, but The Jackson’s show is something that’s about to become something big. Fans really do care about the Jacksons because of their impact on many musically around the world and it seems perfect to see how these men have adapted to living life outside the limelight and being reintroduced to another generation of fans.