If you’re a child of the 70’s & 80’s specifically, and you loved R&B then there was one boy band who set your heart a flutter. New Edition. Credited for laying the foundation for which boy bands such as Hi-Five, Boyz II Men, Soul 4 Real, Backstreet Boys, New Kids on the Block, N-Sync, Jodeci and more were built upon, New Edition soundtracked our teenage into adult years.
They grew up with us as children known for classic tracks Candy Girl, Mr Telephone Man, Cool it Now then as young men Can You Stand The Rain, If it Isn’t Love, and THEN as grown men Hit Me Off and more… and finally, after much talk, their epic rise to superstardom has been captured on screen in a biopic series about their lives.
Brought to us by BET, the three-part series which attained 30million+ viewers when it aired in America, visualises New Edition made up of Ronnie Devoe, Bobby Brown, Ricky Bell, Mike (Michael) Bivins, Ralph Tresvant and later Johnny Gill’s beginnings as young boys from Boston to world domination. Shedding light on how they were brought together, and how hormones, ego, love, mis-management and fame changed them forever, and of course the biggest controversy surrounding the band, their tumultuous relationship with Bobby Brown including the heart breaking decision to replace him with Johnny Gill.
So, is it any good! In a nutshell YES!!! Those 30milli viewers weren’t wrong. Invited to a preview screening of the first episode where the adult cast blessed us with their presence, an intimate crowd was treated to wonderful trip down memory lane. First of all the casting is brilliant. They really worked hard to get as close to the real thing as possible…
The first episode focuses on New Edition as the childhood friends who form this epic boy group. So it’s mostly the young cast we watch to take us through this stage of their journey. I challenge anyone to not fall in love with the boys. On screen they ooze cheeky charm and act well beyond their ages. Massive round of a applause to the director Chris Robinson (ATL), The New Edition story manages to avoid the soppiness and cheese that go with the usual made for TV movies and series. There’s a hard reality to the story, the cheese is how mushy gushy you will get when the boys sing and dance. That Jahi Winston as young Ralph and his damn soprano!!! Jeeze!
Alongside known faces Wood Harris (The Wire, Creed), Duane Martin (Real Husbands of Hollywood) and La La Anthony (Think Like A Man) the cast playing New Edition is mostly made up of fresh new talent –
- MICHAEL BIVINS – Empire star, Bryshere Y. Gray – adult Michael; Dante Hoagland (30 Rock) – young Michael.
- RICKY BELL – Elijah Kelley (Red Tails, Hairspray) – adult Ricky; Caleb McLaughlin (Stranger Things) – young Ricky.
- JOHNNY GILL – R&B singer Luke James
- RALPH TRESVANT – Algee Smith (Earth to Echo) – adult Ralph; Jahi Winston (Freed the Beast) – young Ralph.
- RONNIE DEVOE – Keith Powers (Straight Outta Compton) – adult Ronnie; Myles Truitt (debut acting role) – young Ronnie.
- BOBBY BROWN – Woody McClain (Training Day) – adult Bobby; Tyler Williams (debut acting role) – young Bobby.
Wood Harris as Brook Payne, New Edition’s first manager, is brilliant. He’s slick, he’s tough, you forget, kinda, that you’re seeing Avon Barksdale in a jheri curl wig, chain smoking as he teaches the boys tough routines, providing them the love, discipline and support they all seem to missing in a father figure. Another face from The Wire, that you may not like so much is Sandi McCree who plays Bobby Brown’s mother Carole Brown, she basically reprises her role as the hood-tastic-better-gimme-my-money mum she played in The Wire. No wonder Bobby was so darned bad! But even then, her character works in the set up. She’s just a mother protecting her son, from the ruthlessness of the music business.
But I’ll leave it there; without revealing too much, The New Edition story is a must watch. The series has been co-produced by all the original New Edition members – including Bobby Brown, their former manager Brooke Payne and exec-produced by BET and Jesse Collins Entertainment (Real Husbands of Hollywood). As a result there’s an authenticity that underlines its success.
The New Edition Story airs as follows on BET International:
- Thursday 2nd March, 9pm – Episode 1
- Friday 3rd March, 9pm – Episode 2
- Saturday 4th March, 9pm – Episode 3
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