Nollywood comedy shows are a shot in the dark. Sometimes, they hit the target; most times, they fail. “The Johnson” hit the target and for the past ten years and with more than 270 episodes cutting across eleven seasons, it’s up there as the longest-running sitcom in West Africa. It kept me arrested on my TV screen nearly every night since 2016 when I bought GoTV.
Today, the cuffs are broken and “The Johnsons” is no longer a big deal for me and there’s a method to my madness.
Half of the original cast is gone.
Spiff played by Samuel Ajibola has left the show.
Susan Pwakok who played Blessing is no longer in the show
Emu Johnson played by Ada Ameh is no more.
Jennifer Johnson Okoli is now played by someone else who’s not doing a fine job trying to imitate Seun’s mannerisms.
No one is bigger than the show, an exasperated director once said. But can you imagine anyone who’s not named Kit Harrington playing Jon Stone on HBO’s “A Game of Thrones” or Jack Bauer not played by Kiefer Sutherland? There are dozens of examples and Spiff is one of them. And Ada Ameh is irreplaceable.
The show’s quality has fallen
But it’s not just about the cast leaving the show and getting replaced on the set but not in our hearts, although this is a sizeable issue; it is more than that.
The Johnsons reached its peak between seasons 5 and 8. Season 9 wasn’t bad but it wasn’t as good as eight. Season 10 was the worst. The main cast was largely absent which proves that they are the true showrunners. Zebrudiya and co who featured heavily in the season gave their all but it just wasn’t Johnson enough.
Season eleven returned with the actors of Jennifer and Blessing changed.
Ada Ameh was practically the shoulder that carried the season. She was an old face in a strange land and a steady hand among unsure scripts.
It turns out this is her last season. Her demise coincides with the lowest ebb of the show and it is difficult to look forward to season 12 without her energy.
We need new comedy shows
Africa Magic’s original comedies can be painfully counted. We have The Johnsons, My Flatmates, and My Siblings and I. This is not good enough seeing we have over 30 dramas in the last six years – Tinsel, Battleground, Riona, Ojoche, Brethren, Halita, Eve, Unmarried, Movement Japa, Unbroken, Enakhe, etc. Every one of them was not a hit and I believe they cost more to shoot and produce.
You can hardly fail with comedy if you have strong actors and powerful writers behind it. Serious drama can get out of hand as we show with Brethren, Unbroken, and Enakhe. If there are no more funds for a fourth comedy series, Eric Ossai should pat himself on the back for a job well-done, then go on to create another comedy series. In fact, he could create two new comedy series on a limited basis – forty episodes per season for a start and let the reception decide which one to pursue.
What did they say about when the ovation is loudest?
They say this when an actor leaves the stage. The ovation was loudest for The Johnsons in season eight. If this adage was true many powerful seasons wouldn’t have been made. But what happens when you begin to force the loudness of the ovation as The Johnsons began to do in season 10?
You retire the show and channel the energy into making new one(s).
And really what has “The Johnsons” not done for us? It introduce new actors to us such as Seun Osigbesan, Samuel Ajibola, Olumide Oworu, Susan Pwajok, rebranded old ones such as Charles Onochie, Chinedu Ikedieze, and Adah Ameh, and gave us slang such as “akpo”, “eweleke”, “boys thinking deep”, and countless memorable moments.
Eric Ossai, Rogers Ofime, Native Media, Multichoice, the choice is yours, and the decision is yours to make, you can choose to continue the show, give it one last seasonal push or call it a good day and pause it. You can do no wrong in our eyes even if you choose to continue the show (we love The Johnsons that much) but we may no longer pay attention.
Image source: DStv