There's been some hate surrounding "The Jacksons: A Family Dynasty" (A&E, 9 tonight), and that's a shame.
Yes, it's true Michael was the the star of The Jackson 5/Jacksons, but the brothers aren't hacks. They could all sing and dance and write; Jermaine was big enough, at one point, to be paired with Whitney Houston to help launch her career.
They just happened to have a brother who was extraordinary. That doesn't make them coat-tail riders. And don't think this reality show is all about exploiting MJ's memory; it's clear from the first episode that the show was shopped with the idea of celebrating the Jackson Five's 40th anniversary, and then tragedy struck.
Having said all that, "The Jacksons" is kind of just OK, and yet, it is still oddly interesting. In my memory, I have a childhood full of fan magazine compiled information about the J5 (Jackie's real name: Sigmund Esco) and I've watched the TV mini-series "The Jacksons: An American Dream" a gazillion times, but the truth is, I, and you too, don't know anything substantive about them. This show, produced by them, does not change that much. Yet just seeing them talk, interact, play, with their families -- well, that feels new.
Marlon is easy-going and the jokester. Tito, no-nonsense, but not in a Joe way; he seems to be a loving father. Jackie seems like a soft-hearted big brother. Jermaine is a Diva; missing appearances, going rogue at a whim. (He even had to be photoshopped into that picture.) More appalling, he won't kiss his wife (he actually cringes) because of her lipstick. And this is a woman who caters to him to the extent that in one scene she actually puts on his shoes.
The Jackson brothers have some really good-looking children. It's sort of startling just how lovely child after child is.
Until this show, they'd apparently never talked over the whole Jermaine leaving the group to stay with Motown incident. REALLY?! That moment was even portrayed in their mini-series, and by the description on the show, pretty accurately. It was a major split and they NEVER talked about it? As a friend said, "I guess they are just like every other family."
Joe gets some love. They admit he was stern, even hard, but the brothers are grateful, they say, they understand the challenge of raising a whole lot of kids in a poor town. Wonder if MJ came to that conclusion too.
Randy, at least in the first two episodes is nowhere to be found; it's true he's not technically a Jackson Five member but still, his kids are around and so is saintly mother Katherine. What's up with that?
How close does Janet get to this show? Voice on the phone.