S1 E9 The Visitor

Hello again fellow Good Times fans. In this episode, Michael wrote a letter to the paper about the poor conditions the family had to endure in their building. This resulted in a member of the Housing Authority coming to visit.

J.J. was painting a picture of Thelma and she was dancing to music in her head (instead of having a walkman). J.J. had a hard time without her standing still. When he finished she turned out 7 feet tall. while they were arguing, Florida came in the apartment from shopping and was breathing hard and maintained that the elevator had broken down and had to climb seventeen flights of stairs. She told Thelma to put her food in the refrigerator but it also had broken down. J.J. then maintained that the heat had gone off and so the food wouldn’t spoil. A frustrated Florida yelled out ‘Damn’, then asked the Lord for forgiveness, but conceded that unfortunately that was the nicest word she could think of saying. Florida went to call the project manager but only got the answering machine. J.J. put on a threatening message claiming he was Mayor Daley (the incumbent Chicago mayor at the time) or Muhammed Ali, whichever name would shake them up the most. Willona came in from the laundry room and said the only machine she found tore her clothes. The same pattern took place while Florida and Willona were discussing the problem James came in from work stating about the elevator out of order and had to climb up seventeen flights of stairs. Florida asked James for a kiss, he stated he was so angry he may bite, but Florida took her chances. When she went to make some tea for everybody, she discovered the water wasn’t running. Willona decided to go back home and watch the 4 o’clock news, which was even sadder than their building. Florida then sent J.J. to get some water from the nearest hydrant. The lack of heat in the apartment reminded Florida of a woman James dated that weighed 300 pounds, making him sorry he didn’t marry her. lol. J.J. returned with the bad news that their buckets got ripped off.

Michael came in and announced a letter he wrote to the paper had gotten printed. He then went and read what he wrote which stated the conditions in the building were disgraceful and becoming a slum and complaints were being ignored. Suddenly the family became disgruntled at Michael for writing such a letter. Florida then reminded him that before they got in that apartment they lived in a flat with a bathroom in the hallway and no heat at all. The phone rang and James answered. It was from a member from the housing authority, who planned to come over and speak to them about the letter. Florida then berated Michael that they would end up living on the street. (Since when would somebody get evicted just for reporting unsavory conditions).

When the man, Mr. Stonehurst, from the housing authority arrived, Michael babbled about showing unity. James threatened to unify his behind with his belt, prompting an ‘Amen’ from Florida. Mr. Stonehurst commented that the letter caused a great deal of commotion at the office and that Michael should be more discreet. When he referred to Michael as a boy  he repeated his signature line about that as a white racist word. Stonehurst corrected himself with young fellow. He then explained that they just needed to keep the projects in the black (bad move on his part). Willona came in and announced the Warlords and the Dukes had a gang fight and the cab that Stonehurst got (after an extremely hard time getting others) took off on three wheels. this made him stuck at the Evans’s apartment and Willona tried to make light by commenting that maybe Bob Hope would come and entertain the gangsters.  Florida invited him to stay for dinner but cautioned him not to expect top sirloin as they were having corn bread, fat back and turnip greens. He then got excited about trying soul food. When he called his wife, he translated their soul food menu as fat greens and turnip fats (lol). Then he requested an aspirin for a tension headache he was suffering. Because they couldn’t give him water, James offered him muscatel. He then made a toast he used at his country club ‘under the teeth and over the gums, look out stomach, here she comes’. During dinner, Michael said the blessing and bitterly stated that their meal of 5 turned to 6. Stonehurst claimed he had every right to be angry since they shouldn’t be subject to such disgraceful conditions. He then stated he was one of the top men and can get things done and promised that first thing the following morning he would get to work on improving conditions in the projects. When Florida asked him how long it would take, he responded no more than 13 or 14 months. The family returned to the dinner table and mimicked his translations of green backs and turnip fats.

In the epilogue, Willona came in and announced the rumble was over (perhaps the vice squad came and broke it up?) so Stonehurst decided to leave. Florida and Thelma were clearing off the table after dinner while J.J. went out to get some more water (with what? did he get the buckets back?). they planned to wash the dishes after he returned but just then the water came back on. James announced that in spite of no heat, he can still take a bath in his overcoat and trade Florida in for 300 pound Emmeline Watson.

Originally aired April 5, 1974

Written by Bob Wolterstorf, Allessondro R. Veith, Thad Mumford, Norman Paul and Jack Elinson

Directed by Herbert Kenwith

A sub-title for this episode was The Tenant Group

Guest Star Richard B. Shull

A good episode. This one tells about the difficulties of living in a housing project It also helped to have a write breaded dork who was alien to ghetto life. Willona’s humor about the 4 o’clock news being sadder than the building or when Stonehurst inquired about the gang rumble, she answered with ‘well they’re not having a block party’. or the phrase about Bob Hope coming to entertain really helped make a rather depressing episode funny. Join me next time for “Springtime In The Ghetto”.

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