S1 E12 The Check-up

Welcome back friends. We bring you to this episode where the family thinks James is suffering from hypertension, bringing him to the clinic for a check-up. Here’s how the story goes. Have fun.

Thelma and J.J. were dancing in order to impress a girl he was dating. He told her he was a great dancer. When she asked him if he always lied to his girlfriends like that, he replied with ‘except when I tell them how handsome I am’. Thelma answered with he looked like a piece of spaghetti with a meatball on top. lol. J.J. then yelled at her to teach him how to dance. Then he apologized and figured he was picking that up from James. Thelma answered that the reason James yelled was because he was frustrated at being overworked and underpaid. Thelma got a phone call from McDonald’s where she applied for a part-time job saying she was hired. Only catch was her hours were 7-11 p.m., which didn’t set well for her parents. Florida came in and wondered if they were stamping out roaches. Florida just bought pork chops to try to lift James’s spirits and Thelma concluded that he may have been suffering from hypertension.


James came home and Thelma told him the news about her new job. A skeptical James wondered why she was so happy to see him home. The only question he asked was ‘what are your hours?’ When she mentioned 7-11 p.m., he refused to let her take it. He didn’t want her on the streets that hour of the night, especially in their neighborhood. He even turned down J.J.’s offer to pick her up when she got off. Michael came back from the library and he and Thelma came to the conclusion that he had hypertension (high blood pressure). Florida refuses to believe any of this. Thelma reminded her about James’s constant yelling and uptightness, also complaining of headaches. Willona came in with a bottle of wine for Florida and James in order to lift his spirits. James came out and apologized to Thelma for yelling at her about the job, not that she can have it, but because he was so rough in turning her down. He asked J.J. to get him an aspirin for his headache. Thelma tried to urge him to get a physical check-up, while Florida reminded him of his uptight behavior but James starting yelling some more and when J.J. returned with the aspirin, James told him to take him because he no longer needed them. When Florida tried getting him to calm down, it just elevated his mood and concluded with him shouting ‘I ain’t sick or nervous and I ain’t upset’, then picked up a chair and threw it into the wall.

The next morning, James’s boss called to say he was laid off for a couple of days. Florida was overwhelmed with worry about telling him considering how upset he would get. Willona compared it to telling President Nixon they added an extra $100,000 to his tax bill. (wait a minute, presidents never pay taxes). Florida then called an employment agency about getting a job as a maid (the only time it was mentioned that she was Maude Findlay’s former maid). James woke up angry that he overslept and believed he was late for work. While Florida was trying to bring herself to tell him, he kept interrupting and tried to hurry but she blurted out he was laid off. The phone rang from the agency offering Florida a job but James answered. He dismissed any job Florida would have in anyone’s kitchen, prompting another reference to Florida’s days as Maude Findley and how dignified it made her feel. James insisted that he was the only one who would bring home the bacon (please remember, this was 1974). James then maintained that if he did have hypertension, the family gave it to him with their constant nagging. They tried again to get him get a checkup. They stated that not many black people take physical examinations, he answered that not many of them can afford to take one, causing  a great round of applause by the audience. They assured him he can get a free one at the local clinic. Thelma and Michael also stated he may have something wrong with him and not know it. This prompted another outburst from James and lifting of a chair, causing him to blow a blood vessel.

Florida and James were at the clinic after James’s examination. He joked it nothing like when he went to Korea, the last check-up he had. He said when he could open the door, they just let him in. The kids came down to see him and when they asked how they got there, it turned out they hitchhiked (say what, parents like James and Florida would absolutely kill them for that, especially in a city like that). The doctor came out with the results and the family follows him to his office. The doctor says the office wasn’t big enough but decided they can talk right out there. Michael inquired if James had hypertension. The doctor was impressed by Michael’s knowledge of the matter but disclaim that James was negative. However, he had a high cholesterol level and needed to cut down on foods with too much grease and fat as well as fried food. He did recommend cottage cheese, that it was cheap and low on cholesterol. Then he requested James come back the following year for his annual check-up. On the way out, he asked Florida where they can find a place where they can get barbecued cottage cheese. lol.

The epilogue had the family enjoying their usual soul food dinner with cottage cheese on the side. When J.J. and Thelma started insulting each other and fighting. James raised his chair, stating that his new child silencer.

Original airdate May 3, 1974

Written by Kurt Taylor and john Donley

Directed by Herbert Kenwith

Guest Star Dean Santoro

A subtitle for this episode was James Goes Down

A good episode that explains reality. Mainly on how hypertension is the #1 killer of blacks. Also on James’s claim that many blacks didn’t get physical exams because many couldn’t afford it (did health insurance discriminate then?). Many comedic lines brought a little light to an intense topic, such as J.J. blurting out ‘I’m glad he didn’t get upset’ after James threw the chair. Or Willona’s jokes about the wine and her remark about Nixon’s tax bill. This was also the only episode which referred to Florida’s job as a maid or even about appearing on Maude. Tune in next time as we delve into our final season 1 episode ‘Our Son, The Lover’.

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