Fourteen years after the end of Sanford and Son in 1977 Redd Foxx returned for his fourth and final sitcom – 1991’s The Royal Family.
The CBS series, created by Eddie Murphy, starred Foxx as Al Royal, a recently retired mail carrier living in Atlanta who’s ready to settle into his golden years with his wife Victoria – played by Della Reese. However, just as Al retires, his daughter and 3 grandkids (including Larenz Tate and a wee Naya Rivera) come down from Philadelphia to stay while she goes through her divorce. Those empty nests never stay empty, do they?
As you may recall, Foxx and Reese had just worked together two years prior in another Eddie Murphy production: Harlem Nights. It’s not surprising Murphy would want to put these two together again as their snappy chemistry translated very well to prime time TV.
Having just watched the pilot episode I gotta say the barbs they throw at each other are still funny; I could watch them spar all night. But for all the jabs there’s an apparent love and attraction, which they’d happily act out on if it weren’t for constant interruptions. Overall the show was entertaining and apparently it got high ratings early on.
I found the first 2 episodes. The pilot includes a moment in which Al has to have “the talk” with his grandson, Curtis, when Curtis is caught and brought home by a local cop after taking Al’s truck for a spin.
Sadly, Foxx suffered a heart attack while working on the show and passed away. The powers that be then brought in Jackée prior to going on a break. They decided to continue on with the show but when it came back it didn’t do so well and CBS pulled it after its 13th episode leaving 2 unaired. A very sad ending to what started out as a good series.