In our fifth episode, we get a very weak plot that involves Michael getting suspended from school for a very lame reason and Florida and James making a much bigger fuss than it deserves.
The episode begins with J.J. painting a picture of a basketball player and Thelma eating an apple. She goes over to J.J. and takes a loud bite and then comments that the arms on the player were too long for the body. Florida came out and chat sized Thelma for bothering J.J. while he’s painting, then also commented about the arms being too long for the body. J.J. pointed out a movie he saw about Vincent van Gogh, the artist with one ear. He proclaimed that van Gogh cut it off because his mother and sister were always making dumb comments about his paintings. Florida exclaimed he kept the other ear so his mother could slap it when he sassed her. Florida asked Thelma to get the clothes off the beds but she complained that it was J.J.’s turn. Florida asked herself sarcastically if she can do it, when J.J. went to do the chore, she said never mind because she liked seeing him paint. Willona dropped in with a magazine for Thelma on Billy Dee Williams. She then stated Thelma would be disappointed that it’s about his happy marriage(obviously to Teruko Nakagami, since they are still married to this day.). Florida said she had that same crush on Errol Flynn. Thelma protested he was white but Florida claimed they were the only stars to dream of at the time (this was 1974, you know). When she asked Willona if she agreed, Willona jokingly expressed that she couldn’t remember anything before the Korean War. Florida reminded her she knew her age and threatened to reveal it to the kids if she messed with her. Willona stated she also knew what Florida weighed so they’d be finking on each other, this quickly shut Florida’s mouth. when Willona noticed J.J.’s painting, she stated the body was too short for the arms, lol.
Michael came home a couple hours before expected and Florida asked him why he was so early (wait a minute, why weren’t Thelma or J.J. in school? Why did they have the day off and not him?). He stated he got suspended for calling George Washington a racist (oh please, how can someone get suspended for that? Why couldn’t he beat up another student for getting a better report card than him or something like that?). Florida asked him, then later told him, to apologize to his teacher for his statement, but Michael refused. James was due home soon from his night shift and the rest of the family took him inside to try and hide him. Florida told Thelma and J.J. to keep him in Thelma’s room even if they need to sit on him. Michael still protested he did nothing wrong, (like he really did). Florida then told Willona she felt like she was in California, as if an earthquake was coming but had no idea what to do. In came James and Florida kissed him weakly, he protested that was no kiss for a man who worked all night, when she gives him a more passionate one, he stated that was more like it. Florida tried getting James to bed but he insisted on a beer first, despite Florida’s warning that he’d be up before he’s down but he said he’d take a chance. Thelma came out and required if James had gone to bed yet, making him suspicious. J.J. turned around for a minute and Michael got away. J.J. yelled for him to come back and chaos erupted, James questioned why Michael was home so early and he told him he was suspended. Florida said a special prayer, stating it was top priority and they needed help and very quick.
James berated Michael for badmouthing Washington and ordered he, J.J. and Thelma go back inside so he can discuss the matter with Florida. Michael decides to stick around since he’s the subject of argument but James demanded he gets inside. James began the argument with demanding to know everything that went on the house while we was at work, detail by detail. Florida stated what time she got up and made breakfast, then went shopping and what she bought. James then stated he wanted to talk about solving their problems and she stated shopping can be a serious problem. Then he stated how difficult working at the car wash and as a dishwasher are so stated he didn’t want to hear about petty problems since he had enough of his own. She said that’s why she didn’t tell him about Michael. That reminded James that they should have been arguing about him in the first place and how to get him reinstated. Florida said she wanted him to apologize and retract his statement about Washington but he was too stubborn to do so. James called him outside and stated the next day he would take the morning off from work so they can go down to his school so Michael can apologize ( wait a minute, James was always griping about they couldn’t lose any hours pay, why couldn’t Florida go with Michael?). When Michael refused, James chat sized him for disrespecting him and asked him if that made sense, Michael said it did. James made him go inside and gave him 10 minutes to change his mind. He then told Florida he didn’t like Michael disrespecting Washington or his teacher or himself. Thelma and J.J. stated they had that same teacher in sixth grade and she was just as bad then. Willona even stated she had her as a kid too. Florida asked how long was the teacher in that school and Willona claimed the teacher even taught the Indians. James still wanted Michael to apologize and warned him with a whipping if he didn’t change his mind.
While inside, J.J. and Thelma tried desperately to get Michael to change his mind but he wouldn’t budge. J.J. even stated that Washington made his farewell speech and Michael wasn’t ready to give his yet. Thelma stated for once J.J. was right. Then they tried giving him pointers on how to handle the whipping. Thelma said he could try crying while J.J. said it wasn’t manly to cry but he could try groaning a little. Michael protested to suffer in silence. Thelma said if James said this will hurt me more than you to get him to believe it, then kissed his cheek for good luck. While James went inside to deliver Michael’s whipping, Florida prayed to make his belt softer and Michael’s butt tougher. When he came inside, Michael got on his knee right away and James said don’t rush me. Michael protested to get it over with James then explained that he had to do it because he didn’t want Michael to have calluses all over his hands like him so he took no excuses when Michael messed up in school. Michael got back on James’s knee and he exclaimed what his big hurry was, Michael explained Crispus Attucks didn’t wait for his turn . James questioned who was Crispus Attucks and Michael defined him as the first black casualty in the Revolutionary War. James was amazed that a black man fought and died in such an old war. Michael then taught him about Peter Salem, the hero of Bunker Hill. He then brought up Daniel Hale Williams, who was the first black man to perform open heart surgery in America, then Pedro Alonso Niño, who was a pilot of one of Columbus’s ships. James then predicted he would take the following Columbus Day off. Florida walked in the room and was surprised to see James and Michael joking together instead of a whipping in progress. Michael then stated a black man helped discover the North Pole. Florida then claimed that Michael would not have learned this in the black Encyclopedia if he hadn’t found anything wrong with his school books She re-explained it as school may not be perfect but has a lot of good and that he should take that good and use it. James then stated that Michael couldn’t drop out because they hadn’t even dropped in yet. He then apologized to Michael for wanting to whip him (glad he finally came to his senses). Michael than claimed if he can do that he can apologize to his teacher (wrong move on his part).
In the tag scene, Michael looked everywhere for his black history book, needing to return it to the library the next day. He asked Thelma and she uptightly remarked how she was upset over reading about Billy Dee Williams’s happy marriage, while J.J. was still working on the painting of the long armed basketball player. James then came out with it, arguing that Michael needed to get it extended. He then marveled to Florida that Alexandre Dumas, author of the Three Musketeers, was black. J.J. then stated he blew it, since he should’ve name his characters, Jimmy Brown, Shaft and Super Fly.
Originally aired March 8. 1974.
Written by Eric Monte
Directed by Herbert Kenwith
A sub-title for the episode was The Militant Midget Strikes Back
This was the first episode to feature no gust stars
What I don’t understand is how could they come up with a plot like this. If I had a kid who got suspended for something like this, I’d be down there protesting. First off, Washington has been dead well over 100 years when this episode came out and second, Michael had a right to his opinion. Why couldn’t his teacher just explain to him that back then many people, especially white rich men in the south, owned slaves. It was not considered a racial act at the time. (I asked my father if it was a crime to call Washington a racist and he said of course not, the man is dead). On the plus side, I’ll admit it was an educational episode. it taught who George Washington was exactly (The 1st President, father of our country, the man who appears on the $1 bill). It also taught us about Crispus Attucks and other great black people in history. Tune in for my next entry ‘Junior Gets A Patron”.