S1 E11 The TV Commercial

Florida was chosen to appear in a commercial for a health tonic which turned out to be a fraud. Hope you like this review.

Our episode begins with James figuring out his bills for the month. He sorted them in different piles. One of which he would pay, another one he would stall. The next one to argue and then put in the funny papers. He got rather appalled when he saw the electric bill. Michael suggested they all get together and send protest letters to Washington. James said it would never work since they raised the price of stamps. (Please, how much was a stamp in 1974?). Thelma and Michael offered to get part time jobs after school but James assured them to just focus on their studies, although he appreciated the thought and maintained how grateful he was to have some wonderful kids. Out came J.J., who inquired for $18 to get a set of barbells. James then added ‘2 out of 3 ain’t bad’. Then James found a phone bill with a toll call to Ode Park. J.J. admitted this expense by claiming he met a classy chick and didn’t want to look cheap (he told her he was head of Motown). James told him if it happened again they’d be going to Knuckle Junction.

Florida came out of the elevator and met Willona. She then shared the exciting news that a man approached her and asked her to appear in a commercial (I never knew Florida yearned to become an actress). When she shared it with the family, they were all having various fantasies on what it will be like. J.J. pictured her wearing a long gown standing on a high mountain and say ‘Mmm, that’s good’. J.J. mentioned again how he needed a new set of barbells (he explained he was looking for a summer job as a lifeguard and didn’t want to look like just a tee in his t-shirt). Thelma referred to him as ‘skinny Sam the gimme man. The phone rang but Florida was too nervous to answer so when James did and he yelled ‘FLORIDA IT’S FOR YOU’. The commercial turned out to be for a health tonic called vitabrite and was gonna pay her up to $5,000. (Big wow, the Evans’s really must have been dirt poor since that was chump change even for then).

While Florida was rehearsing her script, she was so overwhelmed with anxiety that the family went to help her. J.J. even put on a scenario where James had very slow blood and wouldn’t bleed for days when he cut himself shaving. James added to it as his blood was so fast he bled all the time. J.J. used the closing remark that ‘vitabrite is dyn-o-mite’. Thelma reminded Florida that she needed to get into character, think of herself as a common housewife with a husband and children. Florida then reminded James that the money she makes gets put away for the kids education and for their retirement.

A man came over to deliver the script and tonic to Florida. She had second thoughts by his appearance, wondering if it was from using the tonic. Her misgiving increased when the script said for her to say she used the product when she never even heard of it. The family tried explaining to her that it’s all part of selling. They pointed out to Redd Foxx playing the part of a man who sells junk, as well as other shows or commercials. They explained it was nothing more than a white lie, Florida responded that she was color blind when it came to lying and as much as she wanted them to have all they wanted, including J.J.’s barbells but didn’t want them to have it as a result of her lying.

The family decided to try it out to see how it was. However, Florida read the contents and noticed that aside from Vitamin C and Vitamin D it also contained 18% alcohol, vitabrite was really nothing more than vita booze. 11 year old Michael got badly affected and that totally ended her desire to do the commercial.

The epilogue had the family watching a cereal commercial starring a British actress. Florida announced that the government banned vitabrite from sale. she then joked that Dean Martin would have made a better candidate to star in that commercial anyway.

Original Airdate April 26, 1974

Written by Simon Muntner, Lou Derman and Bill Davenport

Directed by Herbert Kenwith

Guest star Ernest Morrison

Here’s another episode that teaches about morals. As much as Florida and the family jumped at the chance of making $5,000 (probably a small fortune for ghetto people in the 1970s), she would not wish to make it if it meant lying or ruining the lives of young children. J.J.’s repeated insistence on buying a set of barbells was rather unnecessary, unless they were using it to keep the episode humorous. the funniest part was Willona repeating how Florida had a plain, ordinary, everyday face, then saying it couldn’t be more beautiful. I’m not exactly sure if they should have displayed a young kid Michael’s age getting drunk like that.


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