Welcome back! This episode revolves around J.J. getting a good report card in spite of lack of study. The family realizes they only wanted to get rid of him so they urge him to repeat the 11th grade.
Florida tried to wake up J.J. and Michael for school. Michael woke up with his usual protest that boy is a white racist word. Florida laments that even in his sleep he acts like a militant. She then complained to herself that she couldn’t get them to go to sleep at night and couldn’t get them up in the morning. J.J. woke up miffed because he dreamt about kissing the Supreme all at the same time. Florida gave him a fact of life that if they loved him they’ll return to his dreams that night. Thelma came out asking where her hairspray was. J.J. commented he wiped out some roaches with it and left it under the sink. Florida then reminded Thelma and J.J. it was report card day and asked what kind of grades they expected to get. Thelma claimed to get mostly A’s and B’s but J.J. said he’d accomplished an A in art but wasn’t sure about his other classes. Florida hoped he did well enough to pass the 11th grade, since he was the tallest student in that class. J.J. then declared that the boy who sat behind him was only 5’4″ and couldn’t pass because he couldn’t see the blackboard. Thelma said he was no better off since he never even looked at a book the whole year. J.J. tried to get Michael to keep her talking so he’d grab the bathroom but Thelma ran in. Michael protested how the ones with the shortest legs has to wait the longest. He then inquired if rich white people have more that one bathroom. Florida replied that whether or not they do, they can only use one at a time.
James came home from night job and shared some sugar with Florida, and with an announcement that he was up for a foreman’s job. Not only would he be a boss and make more money, he’d be back to regular hours and regular meals. Florida added ‘and regular loving’, prompting one of James’s ‘have mercy’s. As Florida prepared breakfast for the family, Michael gives James his report card to sign and stated he got all A’s, James expresses his pleasure. Thelma and J.J. were receiving theirs that day and Thelma said she should get mostly A’s and B’s and when James asked how well he expected to do, he replied with it was his turn to say the blessing and in doing so he asked the Lord to boost some of his grades. Florida reminds him she shouldn’t use prayers for personal favors. Thelma betted him if he didn’t pass he had to do dishes for a month and if he did pass he was in the bathroom first for a month. Florida then stated that in a year from then they’d be going to their first high school graduation. James said he always looked forward to J.J. at the head of his class in his cap and gown but then settled for the end of the line.
Willona came in and commented on the meat being cooked (leftover stew the night before for James). She then told Florida she had a date with an ex-football player she met at a alimony anonymous meeting the night before. Thelma and Michael came home and Thelma showed Florida here report card with all A’s and one B. Florida was pleased as punch with her two genius children. J.J. came in looking upset and faking the family out with his report card. It turned out he received an A an art and all C’s in every other subject. James woke up and Florida shared the good news that J.J. passed. J.J. then repeated his yell about faking the family out. Thelma questioned how he passed without doing any studying. Florida then noticed he got a C in history but failed his final exam. When she asked him and he replied with that he can explain that. She also asked him to explain what happened in the year 1066 (the battle of Hastings). He then stated it by word association, 10 is what a referee said to a boxer who was out for the count. He then added 66 to 76, which was the year the colonies rebelled against England, which gave him Boxer Rebellion. (Wrong!). Florida tried an algebra question. If it takes two men three days to dig a ditch 20 feet to 30 feet, how long would four men to do the same. J.J. responded that he was no ditch digger and didn’t need Algebra since he wasn’t an Algerian. James said he was seeing C’s but hearing F’s. J.J. protested this would be the last good report card he brought home. Florida decided to give him another chance and J.J. confidently responded. She asked him if he knew what a dangling participle was and after going into deep thought and coming up with no answer they decided to run down to his school and speak to the principal to straighten out the matter.
James and Florida came down to J.J.’s school to speak to Mr. Kirkman, J.J. ‘s principal. He first assumed they were there to complain about J.J. failing, they corrected him that he was passing. Mr. Kirkman explained that there were too many students in the school and they they lacked the money and facilities that other schools had. He further explained that if they didn’t let enough students graduate it would dent the school budget. He then decided that J.J. should decide but not without Florida and James reminding him of his pride, he chose to go along with Mr. Kirkman’s system and move on to 12th grade, much to his parents’ disappointment. James came home from his interview and lamented he didn’t get the job. Despite his qualifications and experience, when asked why he felt he was the right man for the job, he couldn’t spell the right words (since when does a foreman need to spell well). J.J. then promised that he would buckle down in his senior year and pay attention in class, study and do his homework. Michael promised to help him if he got stuck. James and Florida then decided to let J.J. move on to his senior year provided he was bound to his promise.
in the epilogue J.J. was studying while Michael and Thelma were watching a cowboy movie. Thelma decided to test J.J. by asking him the same algebra question Florida asked him earlier. He replied with eight weeks. Florida questioned why so long he said because one of those would be Ned the Wino. He then said it take all that time to shovel dirt and pick up Ned.
Originally aired March 29, 1974
Written by Ken Hecht, Lloyd Garver, Lou Derman, Bill Davenport
Directed by Herbert Kenwith
Guest Star Frank Campanella
Another good episode, although it may fall short on plausibility. I guess it would sound more real if J.J. was like the star of the basketball/football team and they gave him those grades to keep him on the team. This was also one of the first episodes to focus on Michael as a gifted student and his militant attitudes, as well as James’s lack of success in finding a well-paying job, due to his limited education. It also stressed the enormous concern James and Florida had for their children’s education.