The PJs (1999 - 2001): A Look Back at the Classic PJs’ Show That Still Holds Up Today

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Do you remember the days of Saturday morning cartoons and warm bowls of cereals? Let’s take yet another trip down memory lane as we explore the nostalgia of the beloved ‘90’s TV show, The PJs and how it still continues to capture the heart of audiences both young and old.

Brief Overview of the PJs: A timeless Classic Show Of the ‘90s.

For sure, the PJs is a timeless show, that will continue existing and entertaining kids for a long time. The PJs, a stop-motion animated television show created by Eddie Murphy and Larry Wilmore, first premiered on Fox in 1999 and ran for three seasons. The show was set in the fictional housing project of Wayne Park and followed the daily lives of the residents, particularly the building's superintendent, Thurgood Stubbs (voiced by Eddie Murphy).

One of the most striking things about The PJs is its animation style. The show was created using stop-motion animation, a technique in which physical puppets are moved in small increments between frames to create the illusion of movement. This method of animation was not commonly used in television at the time, and it gave The PJs a unique visual aesthetic that sets it apart from other animated shows of the era.
Another aspect that sets The PJs apart is its subject matter. The show tackled serious issues such as poverty, racism, and crime in a comedic way. It was not afraid to address the harsh realities of life in the inner city, but it also managed to find humor in the everyday struggles of the characters. This blend of drama and comedy is something that is not often seen in animated shows, and it made The PJs stand out in the crowded landscape of 90s television.

The PJs also featured an all-star voice cast that included Eddie Murphy, Loretta Devine, and Ja'net Dubois. Their performances brought the characters to life and made them relatable and likable, despite their flaws.

Despite its critical acclaim, The PJs was not a ratings hit and was eventually cancelled after three seasons. However, the show has since gained a cult following and has been praised for its groundbreaking animation and thought-provoking subject matter.

In a time where most animated shows were targeted towards children, The PJs dared to tackle adult themes and address important social issues. Its unique animation style and talented voice cast helped to make it a standout show that is still remembered fondly by those who were lucky enough to catch it during its original run. The PJs may have been ahead of its time, but its impact can still be felt today and serves as a reminder of the power of animation to tell important and meaningful stories.

Background History of the PJs

Created by Eddie Murphy, Larry Wilmore, and Steve Tompkins, ‘The PJs’ is an American adult animated stop motion black sitcom that depict life in an urban public housing project, drawing inspiration from the Cabrini-Green housing projects in Chicago.
The PJs features Eddie Murphy as the lead character. It was produced by Imagine Entertainment, which was led by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, and was also produced by The Murphy Company and Will Vinton Studios. The show was first aired on Fox network in 1999, after the network’s coverage of NFC Divisional Playoffs. It was also Disney’s first adult animated series and was associated with Touchstone Television during its first two season, and Warner Bros. TV in its third season. The series ended on May 2001, airing its episodes on Tuesday night after King of the Hill. The title of the show “The PJs” is an acronym for “the projects” referring to the show’s representation of life in public housing Highrise.

The Impact of the PJs: Now and Then

The PJs is among the few timeless shows that have stood the test of time. The show was notable for its use of satire to address issues of race and class, and for its use of African American puppets, a rarity in television animation at the time. This made the show stand out from the rest.

Upon its premiere, The PJs received positive reviews for its unique style and its bold approach to tackling social issues. However, it also faced controversy and criticism for its depiction of African American characters and use of language.

Despite all this, the show developed a cult following and is remembered as a trailblazer in its representation of underrepresented communities on TV. Overall, the show was a reflection of the time it was made, it had a great impact on the television industry as a whole, paving the way for more diverse and socially conscious animation in the future. It still gives a nostalgic vibes to the audience as it brings back memories of the 90s era. The PJs is considered a classic in the world of animation and its impact will be long-lasting.

The Legacy of the PJs and How They Took Over TV in The Late ‘90s

About 44 episodes were broadcast over a 2-year, 4 month run. Each episode took more than 2 months to produce due to the time-consuming stop-motion animation technique at the time. It is around this time that the filming technology was undergoing rapid growth.

Eddie Murphy, a co-creator of the show, is credited as the voice of Turgood Stubbs in all episodes, but Actore Phil Morris claims that he also provided the voice of Turgood in some episodes. According to Morris, Murphy was not always available to record the voice of Thurgood, so the producers hired Morris to record the lines in a separate booth. This allowd them to use Morris’ recordings instead of Murphy’s in case Murphy became available later.

The show originally aired on Fox for two seasons before moving to the WB in 2000. However, its high budget and declining ratings led to its cancellation in 2001. The final episodes were not broadcast until2003. It was later syndicated on networks such as Trio, Fuse, MTV2 and Adult Swim.

By the year 2020, the show was no longer being syndicated by other networks but it was made available occasionally on the ad-supported streaming service Pluto TV. The entire series can also be streamed on NBC Universal’s streaming service Peackock.

During its run, the show “The PJs” received several accolades, including three Emmy Awards and one Annie Award. The them music for the show was produces by QD3, which belongs to the son of Quincy Jones and George Clinton.

The PJs Show Characters.

Thurgood Orental Stubbs, also known as “The Super” or simply super is the main protagonist of the show. He is the superintendent of the Hilton-Jacobs project and is known for his short-tempered, impatient, and not very bright character. He suffers from various health issues and is often seen wearing a white short-sleeved shirt, blue overalls, and brown shoes. He has salt and pepper hair styled in a tall fashion similar to that of Don King.

Originally, Thurgood had a black afro, but an accident on his wedding day changed his hairstyle. He is also shown to have a fear of black rats as revealed in “Fear of Black Rat” Episode.

The show’s humor is often derived from Thurgood’s reluctance to fix the run-down projects or deal with the many difficulties that come with leading a community of urban poor. Despite his poor education, he is shown to be kind and a natural leader when the situation calls for it. His diet is another source of humor as he prefers fried foods, red meat, and Forties, which is the likely cause of his big belly and other health issues he complains about.

Thurgood is voiced by Edie Murphy in most episodes, Phil Morris in later episodes, and understudied by Mark Moseley. He uses various interjections in reference to African-American icons such as What on Eartha Kitt? Or Mother Marion Barry!

Thurgood also makes background appearances in other shows like The Simpsons episode Missionary: Impossible as a telethon volunteer, Futurama episodes “I second that Emotion” and “The Luck of the Fryish” and other Fox TV shows. In response, an episode of the PJs featured Futurama character Philip Fry on a missing person poster.

Muriel Stubbs
The character was voiced by Loretta Devine. She is Thurgoods wife and serves as the voice of reason in the show. She is often seen wearing a pink sweatsuit with the words Paris on it, with she obtained during a trip with Don King, along the pastel pink shoes. Muriel has a sister named Bebe Ho, who is also a tenant in the same housing complex.

Muriel and Bebe were likely raised in Alabama during the time of school desegration, as seen in the episodes when Muriel met the governor of her state when she attended an all-white high school, but she mentions that the only reason she go to meet him was because she was blocking the school door.

Florence Nomandie Avery
She is also called Mrs. Avery. She is voiced by Ja’net Dubois. She is a senior citizen who frequently clashes with Thurgood, the main protagonist and superintendent of the Hilton-Jacobs projects. Mrs. Avery is highly critical of Thurgood’s failure to maintain her run-down apartment and often uses her pas as a con artist to manipulate and bully him.

Despite her tough exterior, it is revealed that she suffers from various health issues and had multiple strokes. She is also known to keep a loaded shotgun named Mrs. Jones with her, which she has used in the pas to intimidate others, including Thurgood, the garbage man, the mailman, and a helicopter. However, it is later revealed that her aggressive behavior stems from here loneliness and desire for companionship.

Lucky was the favorite pet of Mrs. Avery, who appears in numerous episodes. He earned his name after being shot three times by Mrs. Avery’s shotgun, once because Thurgood let him in, and twice more to ensure he was “lucky”. Thurgood gave Lucky to Mrs. Avery as a way to avoid taking care of her after causing her to fall down an elevator shaft. Lucky is likely the only being that Mrs. Avery shows any genuine affection and love towards in the entire show.

Calvin Banks
What makes the PJs show stand out is its unique characters like Calvin Banks and Juicy Hudson. They were voiced by Crystal Scales and Michele Morgan. These two young friends who look up to Thurgood as a role model. Calvin is slender and smart while Juicy is overweight and less academically inclined.

Juicy sees Thurgood and Calvin as a substitute family due to his parents being reclusive. He is often made to wear a sign saying “Please do not feed” when he leaves his apartment. Despite his apparent lack of intelligence, Juicy has shown exceptional skills in cooking, painting, and automotive repair. As the series progresses, they both develop a crush on Sharique.

Final Thoughts

The PJs is a show that has stood the test of time and continues to evoke feelings of nostalgia among its audience who remember watching it first when it aired. The show’s unique animation style, relate characters like Thurgood, and sharp humor makes it a must-watch for anyone who loves good comedy.

Additionally, the PJs shines a light on the struggles and challenges faced by those living in the urban poverty, making it a thought-provoking and socially relevant show. Overall, The PJs offer a perfect blend of laughter and reflection, making it a timeless classic that people should definitely watch today.

The sheer ability of this show to address important social issues makes it worthy a reboot. Eddie Murphy has a way of giving relatable humor in a manner that it remains timeless and relevant today. If you haven’t watched this show, I highly recommend giving it a watch. It’s a show that will not only make you laugh but also make you think critically about everything in life.

What do you remember about The PJs?

Who was your favorite character in the PJs Show?