Monday, January 6, 2014

Old School Lane's Nickelodeon Tribute: Just Jordan

The year is 2007. Little Miss Sunshine, Pan's Labyrinth, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and Spiderman 3 were released in theaters. Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, Jon & Kate Plus 8, Greek, and Mad Men debuted on TV. With 2006 having only 1 preschool show and 1 teen sitcom starring puppets debuting on Nickelodeon, 2007 has 6 Nickelodeon shows and 1 preschool shows were featured. With that said, this tribute starts with a show starring  Lil' JJ. Similar to Kenan Thompson,  Kel Mitchell, and Nick Cannon, Lil' JJ was an African American cast member from All That who had featured in numerous Nickelodeon shows and movies such as Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide, Romeo!, Yours, Mine, and Ours, and Brainsurge. He was shown in a few commercials for Nickelodeon and, similar to Romeo Miller, his popularity grew more. Eventually, he would have his own show called Just Jordan making this the final All That spinoff series starred by a previous cast member.


The show is about the Lewis family consisting of Jordan (played by Lil' JJ), his younger sister Monica (played by Kristen Combs), and their mother Pamela (played by Shania Accius). Pamela had recently divorced her husband and moves her children from their home in Arkansas to live near her father in Los Angeles. Her father Grant Cunningham works at a local diner where eventually Jordan works at. Jordan meets his eventual best friends Tony (played by Justin Chon) and Joaquin (played by Eddy Martin). Jordan and his friends partake in crazy and wacky situations while he tries to fit in in his new school and home. Whenever a crazy situation happens, Jordan uses a device to freeze the moment and comment on what happened.

The show was created by Alison Taylor, who was a co-producer and writer of shows and movies such as Hanging with Mr. Cooper, Sister, Sister, Lizzie McGuire, and the first Cheetah Girls movies. "Just Jordan is not preachy, but finds the lessons in everyday situations, the contradictions between what life should be and often is not. We're not doing some high concept, over-the-top idea where he runs a toy company. The premise of the show is the idea that when you're an adolescent, you think, 'I know how life works if my parents would just stay out of the way', she replied in a 2007 article in the New York Times. 

The show only lasted for 30 episodes and was eventually cancelled on April 5, 2008 due to the 2007-2008 Writer's Guild of America strike that occured. Some of the actors went on to do different projects while others faded into obscurity.

Lil' JJ went off to do TV shows such as The Secret Life of an American Teenager, Men of a Certain Age, and The Rickey Smiley Show. 

Eddy Martin is a musician and has been in various TV shows and movies such as Dexter, Glee, The Shifting, and Our Boys. 


Justin Chon has been in movies and TV shows such as the Twilight movies as Eric Yorkie, 21 and Over, The O.C., House, and New Girl. 

Overall, when watching the show, I felt that this was the point that Nickelodeon were running out of ideas for their live action shows. Just Jordan felt like a copy/paste of previous Nickelodeon live action shows and put together into one. The characters are bland and cliche, the situations are generic and nothing special, and the episodes are very forgettable. While I'm well aware that Lil' JJ is originally from Arkansas and moved to Los Angeles to be a comedian and singer in real life, the other characters in the show such as his mother and sister don't even have a Southern accent and it feels a bit off. Even Lil' JJ doesn't have his accent anymore. I felt that it should have been the other way around with the family living in Los Angeles moving to Arkansas since it doesn't take its setting to its advantage. I also felt that you don't see Jordan struggling to fit in with his new surroundings as well as Caitlin from Caitlin's Way. As soon as he works in his grandfather's diner, he makes friends with Tony. As soon as enters school, he makes friends with Joaquim and Tamika. The teenage girls portrayed in the show are mostly shallow and stupid. It's a real embarrassment, especially since Nickelodeon has been known for creating great female characters. While Just Jordan is not unwatchable or even bad, it just comes across as stale and playing way too safe.

Just Jordan makes me very sad for two reasons. One is that this was the very last Nickelodeon live action show on Nickelodeon that has the simple premise of a kid living an everyday life. All the other shows from here on out have concepts based on being famous, popular, or situations that a real kid cannot relate to in any way, shape, or form. It's such a shame that with Nickelodeon being well known for shows based on real life such as Clarissa Explains it All, The Adventures of Pete & Pete, Caitlin's Way, Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide, etc, their last one would be something this generic and forgettable like Just Jordan. The second is that Nickelodeon is having an upcoming show this year named Twang that has the exact same concept of Just Jordan, except that it's a family who moved to Los Angeles from Tennessee and work on a diner. Yeah, that makes it original. Plus, the creator of Twang is Andy Gordon, the man behind True Jackson: VP. Oh don't you worry, we'll get to that show soon enough and I have a lot of things to say about it.

To conclude this review, I don't recommend checking Just Jordan out. It's generic, bland, and does nothing new to the previous shows that Nickelodeon had released over the years.

That's all for now. Hope to see you around Old School Lane soon. Thanks for reading.


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