NEW BLOG: Hangin' at Tyler Perry's House of Payne


August 8, 2007
"'Sadly Mistaken'"

Guess there really is a first time for everything as this week's House of Payne reminded me. For starters, the show opens with Calvin bringing home books to study for his midterms. Calvin? Study? Y'all better get ready because the end must really be near. Luckily, it's clear he hasn't changed as much as we thought - he has four midterms in two days and is just cracking open the books.

The phone rings and that whole first time for everything strikes again as a frantic Aunt Ella calls because she's been arrested for bouncing $5,000 worth of bad checks. I know it's wrong but am I the only one who would have liked to see that one?

While Uncle Curtis goes to straighten everything out, Calvin gets a little desperate and asks Malik and Jazmine for help with the midterms. Malik's street hustling analogy for Pythagorean's Theorem does the trick and definitely takes me back to the geometry days.

When Aunt Ella gets home she's fuming and rightfully so. You see a whole other side of her when she starts going off on how Janine stole her checks after she's been the one defending her and telling C.J. and Curtis not to press charges for her breaking into the house. You know Tyler Perry has the "angry Black woman" scenes down to a science and I really felt Aunt Ella's anguish. Throughout her tirade, Uncle Curtis took it to church and held down the amen corner by echoing her sentiments with several heartfelt "amens."

Ella says she's ready to press charges but the next morning she's had a change of heart and instead heads to the crack house with one of her girlfriends to confront Janine. Well, her two drug addict friends who helped her break into the Payne house last week are there selling stoves, microwaves and all types of appliances. Ella's friend can't even focus on what they came for and wants to know how much for the smoothie maker. We all definitely have that friend.

Janine comes in and Aunt Ella goes off on her. Though she looks worse and still doesn't want to go to rehab, it is good to know she didn't steal the checks but her blond friend Beverly did.

Back at the house Ella tells Calvin and Curtis everything that happened and convinces Curtis to go down there everyday with her until they get Janine to go to rehab - and that so-called friend of Ella's just wants them to grab the food processor for her. They head back to the crack house the next day and Ella prays with Janine.

Ella and Curtis head home and when Calvin comes through the door everybody yells congratulations for all his studying and completing his midterms and even have a cake to celebrate. Nice, right? Well, Calvin then breaks it to them that he got his days mixed up and his midterms were the day before. Some things never change.[BR][BR]

"'And Justice For All'"
The second episode of the night opens with Malik and his friend checking out their myspace pages and taking new pictures for their profiles. As soon as Malik adds one of him trying to look swole a girl named Stephanie, who they find cute, wants to be added as a friend. I see you Malik!

Uncle Curtis is selected for jury duty and this man has skirted serving in the past with some crazy excuses from thinking he was related to the defendant because they had the same first name to saying he was pregnant . . .with twins. This time he tries to use his clout as fire chief and calls the police chief, who ends up being no help. Turns out the chief is at jury duty. Ha!

The Payne's nosey neighbor Claretha comes by. She's happy to have jury duty and after snooping through their mail already knows Curtis has it too. Somehow, both of them are picked to serve on the same trial.

Back at the house, Malik and his friend are still on Myspace. When CJ comes out to head to work, Malik's friend has to leave. Glad to know I'm not the only one who couldn't have company when no adults were around. And just like some of us, as soon as CJ gets good and gone Malik's friend slides back into the house through the backdoor. The boys are back to cyber-macking and they tell Stephanie that Malik is home alone so she can come over.

At the courthouse Curtis, Claretha and the rest of the jury are deliberating o the verditct of a man found with pounds of marijuana in his trunk and said it was his 87-year-old grandma's. Claretha believes it really was the grandma's causing Curtis to think his name is Johnny Cochran. He presents his case, arguing the guy’s 37 bag of chips, the Dr. Dre "The Chronic" CD, and even his initials, AGH (Always Gets High), all prove he's guilty. Claretha, enjoying her foreman duties, and is the lone holdout juror.

Getting ready for company Malik lays on the cologne reminding us how young he is. The doorbell rings and Malik opens the door to a middle-aged man looking a young Mr. Rogers who says, "I'm Stephanie." Wow. So not what he expected and my jaw is on the floor. Malik is shook and when he calls out to his friend to prove he's not home alone his friend runs out the back door. Where's Chris Hansen when you need him?

The creep who still calls himself Stephanie starts quoting all the things Malik said online and proceeds to race around the couch to try and grab Malik. Right when I'm ready to jump in the TV and handle this guy myself C.J. and Calvin bust in and commence to giving ole Stephanie a good beat down. The police show up and after it's all over C.J. lets Malik and his friend know how disappointed he is.  It’s about time someone addressed this issue with kids spending time online and getting on myspace younger and younger.

Curtis is finally home after closing the case and shares how they convicted the guy for the marijuana and he's going to jail. Right as he's feeling all smug for doing his civic duty there's breaking news that a 87-year old woman heading out the country was found with ten pounds of marijuana on her at the airport. Uh-oh. Maybe grandma has glaucoma? Hmmm.


August 1, 2007
"'Cracking Under Pressure '"

True to the Tyler Perry way, the pun is definitely intended in this week's  "House of Payne" episode, “Cracking Under Pressure.”

Calvin kicked off the show by signing up to run a 25-mile marathon. Why, with his out-of-shape self, would he do this? To try and get a little closer to his new crush, of course. We already know this isn’t going to end well from jump. Instead of keeping it real, this fool has signed a check his narrow calves can't cash.

And speaking of cash, you know CJ's estranged and drug addicted wife, Janine, came around asking for some. When Aunt Ella opened the door to a tattered and uncombed Janine, Auntie went off! After being told to get out before hew children saw her crackish state, Janine offered to come back later to repay her rehab debts -- not before asking for $5, though. She may be on drugs, but even she knows inflation has driven the price of the bus up.

Once Janine is gone, Calvin comes home from marathon training to introduce Aunt Ella to Taleah, his latest infatuation. The PYT isn’t gone from the room more than 5 seconds before Calvin is on his knees in pain. That’s what he gets for fronting like he could hang running five miles in preparation for the race. As he moans and groans in pain from his cramps and charlie horses, all I can do is laugh. This “grown” man has to have his parents carry him to the tub, which just goes to show it doesn't pay to lie!

Janine gets lucky later in the episode when she and two of her drug addict friends come home to an empty house. The trio makes off like a bandits, taking everything from the TV and toaster to the paintings on the wall. When the family comes home to discover they’ve been “robbed,” Janine becomes the prime suspect. The scene plays out like a twisted remix of Goldie Locks: when Jazmine discovers her toothbrush has disappeared and Aunt Ella notices the pot roast is missing, I'm just waiting for Uncle Curtis to yell his porridge is all gone. CJ, Calvin and Uncle Curtis head to the crack house to reclaim their belongings and by the time they get back to the house, CJ and Curtis are ready to press charges. Aunt Ella suggests intervention one last time, but surprise surprise, Janine is non-responsive to CJ’s pleas to get help.

The show closes with Calvin and his new girl, Taleah, returning home after the marathon. You know something is up when Calvin isn't winded – or even sweaty – after “running” 25 miles. Taleah is clueless, though. She doesn't catch on until Calvin hands her her car keys and gives her his cab receipt, as well. Yup, that perpetrator caught a cab to the end of the race! And let us all remember, cheaters never prosper... Taleah throws Calvin the deuces.

What advice would you give Calvin? Better yet, what advice would you give the whole Payne family for dealing with Janine’s addiction? That situation’s got to be…trying, to say the least. Share your thoughts on this episode below.


"'Club PCP'"

The second episode of the night began with Calvin bringing home the hood's dumb and dumber duo, Peanut and Pookie. (Don't even front, we all know a Peanut AND a Pookie!) With the rest of the family in Florida visiting Jazmine and Malik's grandparents, the three stooges quickly get down to business: turning the house into a money-making party spot. After nixing Peanut and Pookie's request to cut costs by hiring low-budget strippers with bullet holes and stretch marks that “look like lightning in the right light,” Calvin has other business to attend to. Namely, his job! Short staffed with CJ and Curtis out of town, the guys at firehouse tell Calvin he's needed aboard the truck if there’s a fire. Calvin, being the savvy negotiator he is, pulls the college card and heads home to “study.” Mmm hmm, riiight…

Back at the house, the party kicks off and their money making scheme is off to a good start. It all starts to go downhill when Calvin has steps away from the front door and Pookie and Peanut refuse to let Calvin’s straight-laced college buddy, Joel, into the party. Calvin comes back in the nick of time – Joel was about to find out how problems are handled where Pookie and Peanut come from – and is at the door to greet Casey, a “nice wholesome girl.” Peanut and Pookie quickly pocket their attitudes in favor of trying to holla at the college girl. Well, Miss Casey opens the next scene with folks taking body shots off her on the kitchen table. Seems the quiet, wholesome girls are always the ones to watch. As if “Girls Gone Wild” wasn't bad enough, Calvin, Joel and the rest of their Omega Alpha Kappa Fraternity brothers start stepping in the middle of the floor. Something tells me this isn’t going to end well.

Back at the firehouse, the night’s been pretty quiet and the squad is bored blowing bubbles and playing cards. That is until a call comes in about a restaurant fire. Calvin leaves Peanut and Pookie in charge of his house and the party (bad idea!) in order to help with the fire and now I know something is going down. He comes back to find the house destroyed! His parent's bed in the back yard and there’s Jell-O in the tub. I'd do anything to see Uncle Curtis's face if he saw that house. But Uncle Curtis is the least of Calvin’s worries when the cops come knocking after calls of loud music and underage drinking. Sure enough, the three boys get arrested.

Somehow, because let’s not forget this is TV, Calvin gets out of jail and, with the help of a cleaning crew and the firefighters, he gets the house back in order. Just when we think Calvin might actually away with his crazy scheme that leaves him $600 in the hole, Uncle Curtis calls to let his sneaky son know he's caught the whole charade on a hidden web camera. Gotta love that slick Uncle Curtis!

Were you ever crazy enough to throw a party like Calvin while your parents were away? Or were you one of the party-goers that messed up "other" people’s houses? Share your stories below.


July 25, 2007
Paternity and Fraternity

Peer pressure is the darndest thing. It can make some of the weakest and most unsuspecting individuals lose all their common sense. This week on House of Payne, Malik falls prey to becoming a follower instead of a leader. The show kicked off with CJ's big baby boy Malik trying desperately to pull the okey-doke on his father, uncle and aunt by lying and saying he had try-outs for the football team, when we clearly learn from his convo that he doesn't know a thing about tackling the field. (By the way, is it just me or does Malik look like the "Mini-Me" version of one of my favorite actors, Anthony Anderson?) Instead, Malik and his boy Kevin creep back to the Payne household with two of the cool guys to smoke weed. When Auntie Ella returns home early, Malik's get-high scheme foils and him and his nerdy partner-in-crime decide to step up their street cred by stealing walkie talkies from a store. They  get caught and detained and he has to face CJ who has to pick him up from the police station. Okay,...walkie talkies? What about upgrading to some mobile or mp3 device? Not that I'm encouraging anyone to get sticky fingers, but I'm just sayin' make sure if you're gonna steal  that it's something more valuable.
But the absurdity doesn't end there. While CJ is working hard at the fire house, he is visited by a young girl named Jazmine, who not only shares the same name as his baby girl, but also shares an uncanny resemblance to her. That's right, you guessed it -- baby mama drama. Apparently, some sister CJ linked up with in high school claims she got pregnant and this 14 year-old girl is his offspring. That's the way episode one ends and the second episode picks up where it left off.

Paternity and Fraternity II

The second episode picks up with CJ reprimanding his son Malik. Although it was a serious matter, I was rolling when Pops found out about Malik's Tom Foolery and comes back with a belt to show CJ how he needs to handle his fatherly business. With a belt in tow, Pops insists that CJ talk and "whoop" Malik simultaneously to ensure that his message gets across. (Okay now, no need to call children and family services because there was once a time that it was okay to believe that if you "spare the rod you spoil your child" and most of us who grew up with those parent-believers turned out okay). Man, Pops is hilarious.

After much awkwardness, CJ invites his new found daughter and her mother back home to share the news. Upon hearing it, Pops and Auntie Ella start cuttin' up and tag team CJ in the kitchen. Between Pops addressing all of CJ's shortcomings -- bad credit, single parenthood, crack-addicted wife and homelessness -- and Auntie Ella smacking CJ in the back of the head, I was rolling. You can't help but kee-kee because we all have that relative who will read you unapologetically like that. I've decided that Pops is my favorite character especially when he's using hip-hop friendly terms like "thug life" and "ya hurrrrrrrrrrrrrd mey!" towards his troubled nephew Malik. Trust me, straight hilarious. [BR][BR]

These episodes brought back so many memories of those days when I was caught up in the matrix, getting out of line, and my mom let me know she wasn't having it. One specific time I remember dodging my mom by running around a rack of clothes in Alexander's (only ol' school heads remember that New York bargain department store) because I sucked my teeth. While she didn't have a belt, Ma Dukes could pinch my arm in a way that felt like a cross between a cigarette burn and a bee sting.
"I know some of you out there have some stories about the day you almost followed the wrong crowd or got out of line and your parents set you straight. I feel like laughing today so 'fess up and take it to the boards below."

July 18, 2007
'Wax On, Wax Off'

After hearing and reading so much about "Tyler Perry's House of Payne" on TBS, I was looking forward to "bringing on the pain" (pun intended) and experiencing the brilliant mind of Perry in primetime myself. I caught my first -- and second episode since TBS serves up a double feature of new episodes each Wednesday -- tonight.

For the first half-hour, I watched the episode entitled "Wax on Wax Off," which centered around C.J. Payne's (Allen Payne) son, Malik (Larramie "Doc" Shaw) growing up and going through puberty. If you didn't catch it? You can watch the full episode on TBS, but here's the breakdown: Malik battles his raging hormones by spending an excessive amount of quality time in the bathroom, where we can only assume (with the help of carefully planted sexual inuendos) that Lil' Man is coming into his manhood, so to speak. He is trying to keep it on the D.L. by taking multiple long showers. Naturally, all those cold showers makes his Auntie Ella (Cassie Davis) hot because she needs to get in the bathroom her doggone self. Although this right of passage into self-gratification is understood by all the male elders in the Payne household -- and the folks at the firehouse -- Malik's "Mr. Clean" transformation has thrown Ella and her girlfriend Claretha into a panic. In true sitcom fashion, Ella remains concerned and clueless until the end of the episode. She even thinks she has had an epiphany when a mock talk show explains her

While the fellas chaulk up his behavior to a growing boy's right of passage, it was funny to see the difference in how both genders dealt with the same issue. While I have brothers, I can only imagine that many women like Ella don't understand how common Malik's little scrub-a-dub routine is. I wondered to myself: how do single moms who are raising young boys alone handle this situation in real life? Lawd, if I could be a fly on the wall when that conversation jumps off!

"In fact, if this happened to you, I want to know how you dealt with it? Hit me on our boards below to tell me."

'Head of the Class'

The second episode of the night, "Head of the Class," centered around C.J.'s baby girl Jazmine (China Anne McClain) and her run for school president. (Did you catch cute little China and her real-life sisters in Perry's "Daddy's Little Girls"?) Like any proud and protective dad, C.J. takes his kindergartner's mock election a bit too seriously and goes as far as enlisting himself as her campaign manager. He writes her speeches, campaign slogans and even tries to improve her "presidential" posture. Finally, Jazmine let's her daddy know that he has driven her batty and drops out of the race only to gets back in once he apologizes and she fires him. I gotta say that I like her style. Don't waste time on raggedy folks, kick 'em to the curb girl! What's love got to do with anything? So what if he brought you in this world and can probably take you out. At the end of the day, she did the Payne family proud by becoming Madame President, complete with a suit and sunglass clad Malik a la "Men in Black " heading her Secret Service detail.

One thing that confused and bothered me a bit was that after Jazmine's sweet victory she thanked everyone in her family except her dad. Now, I know he worked her last nerve, but I was waiting for it to end like all sitcoms end where the protagonist learns the error of their ways with some huge moral revelation. In this case, it would have been that despite C.J.'s overzealous nature, his intentions were pure -- to help his baby girl. I wish Jazmine had acknowledged her father's help and fervor in helping her win the race. But I suppose it was more real because in life, we don't always receive a pat on the back  for the contributions we make.
Meanwhile, Ella wants Curtis "Pops" Payne and her to reconnect as a couple and spend more time together. I know I can relate, like anyone married or single can, when you've been in a relationship for awhile and feel like you're not getting that QT (quality time) with your man even when you see him every day. Pops agrees to take an art class with her, but isn't feeling it. In the end, Ella finally gets her man. In what was the highlight of the episode, Pops came out of his bedroom draped in a "freakum" getu--black robe, matching cowboy hat and boots -- to retrieve a saddle and I believe some chaps from the kitchen to "model" for her. In the name of stirring up some sexual healing his wife, that fool pulled out a few pseudo strip moves and clicked his heels and bucked like he was riding a horse. "Maaaan listen", that had me kee-keeing into the show's ending credits.

I suspect that Tyler's new show, like many other new shows, is still working on gelling the cast and scriptwriting. Still, there were several things that I truly appreciated on my maiden voyage into the "House of Payne".  First off, thank you Tyler, for bringing back actor Allen Payne. We've missed him so since his days on "The Cosby Show " as "Lance" (and I say that only in the most nasal voice I can muster like his then-onscreen boo Charmaine would say it), his captivating "New Jack City" role as Gee Money alongside Wesley Snipes, and what sister can forget his buns of steel in "Jason's Lyrics"? (Sorry, I digress.) Second, what I appreciate most about Tyler's show is his courage to take a chance with a relatively unknown cast. Taking a page from Spike Lee's book, I enjoyed his recasting of actors and actresses LaVan Davis and Cassie Davis who have appeared in his other popular plays and movies. I don't know about y'all, but I get sick of seeing the same Black actors in every sitcom -- and movie for that matter. Not only that, but Tyler's faith in new talent is something that the industry desperately lacks and needs. Finally, I love turning on the TV and "seeing a cast" that looks like some of my peeps. Plus-size sisters like Ella and stocky brothers like Pops are a reality in our community and, like his plays and movies, Tyler reflects that beautiful diversity on the small screen too. So what if the "House of Payne" cast isn't as seasoned as some actors and actresses in La La Land; at least they don't look like models picked from central casting. Do you or any of your people wake up looking like a supermodel who only snacks on hummus and celery sticks all day? Ya feel me? Okay then. I'm all for giving folks a chance, so Tyler keep being fearless and trying something

"What do you think of the casting of 'Tyler Perry's House of Payne'? Which character is your favorite? Tell me on our boards below.'

Check back to see which cast member I'll catch up with later this week. Get more from the cast and "check out our photo gallery of pictures from  "House of Payne"

July 17, 2007
"Welcome to the Hangin' at the House of Payne Blog"

We can't get enough of the new TBS sitcom,"Tyler Perry's House of Payne" (Wednesdays at 9 p.m. (ET). Starting July 18, we'll be blogging about our favorite moments from the previous night's episodes on this hilarious new show, sharing our exclusive photo galleries, interviews with the cast, video highlight clips from the episodes and even messages from Tyler Perry himself.

Don't know about "Tyler Perry's House of Payne" on TBS?  This half-hour comedy series follows the lives of a multi-generational family forced by circumstances to live under one roof.  Allen Payne ("Jason's Lyric"), LaVan Davis ("The Gospel Truth"), Cassi Davis ("Daddy's Little Girls"), Lance Gross ("The Bernie Mac Show"), Larramie Doc Shaw ("Nobody Loves Me"), China Anne McClain ("Daddy's Little Girls") and Demetria McKinney ("Why Did I Get Married?") star in the ensemble comedy that comes to TBS from creator Tyler Perry ("Daddy's Little Girls, Diary of a Mad Black Woman and Madea's Family Reunion"). As in many of his projects, Perry is wearing several hats, this time serving as director, executive producer and writer on the show. We also loved his guest appearance in the first episode as his now-legendary character Madea.

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