Welcome back y’all. This episode deals with a reluctant Michael being bused to a better neighborhood on the other side of town. Hope you enjoy my review
J.J. and Thelma came home from the store with Thelma carrying all the bags. Florida threatened to take care of J.J. for making her carry them. He did admit to carrying the chewing gum, Florida stated he was so lazy he’d probably want them to chew it for him. Thelma then said they both carried what they were worth. Michael came home from a protest march about his school being closed for the second day in a row due to the broken boiler. He had a sign that said ‘If you could read this sign, you didn’t go to Harding Elementary School’. Florida questioned what his teacher would say if she saw him with that sign. J.J. said he didn’t have a thing to worry about since she probably couldn’t read it. Michael then stated their biggest problem was providing 40 kids with 20 books. Thelma stated when she was there they always had a problem getting books in good condition. She would often try to get the ones J.J. had since they were never used. This led to another J.J./Thelma hassle and James came home in time to end it. Florida came to him with the problem Michael had with missing school. Thelma suggested complaining to the school board but James said it would do no good at all. Florida whined about how unfair it was but James exclaimed you can drive a truck between what they had and fair. J.J. then offered to sacrifice school the next day to take Michael to the movies. A picture called Son of Blacula in which a vampire goes around town and gives ladies hickies. He rated it D for Dyn-o-mite while Florida rated it F for forget it. lol.
Michael’s principal, Mr. Pierson (played by Ron Glass, who later played Harris on Barney Miller), paid the family a visit. The purpose was for Michael to participate in a busing program to a school in Rogers Park, one of the most respectable neighborhoods in Chicago. He did, however, receive a letter with their signatures stating how opposed they were to bussing. Of course, Michael wrote the angry letter and tried to slip away by pretending to use the bathroom but James stopped him. James and Florida assured Mr. Pierson that Michael would be on the bus. After he left, Michael protested his opposition, claiming he wanted to be in his own neighborhood with other black kids. James and Florida tried convincing him this was a stop in the right direction for him. Florida even stated how many other kids would kill for the chance Michael had. In one funny scene Michael went out in the hall and yelled that any kid wanted to ride to that school he would give them his seat. He then protested he would never sit on that bus. James told him he was half right, he’d be on the bus but wouldn’t be sitting, as he was removing his belt while Florida tried to stop him.
That evening, J.J. was watching a western and Florida turned it off. Michael needed to go to bed early to get up in time to catch his bus. Michael was still having misgivings about the new school, while Florida reminded him that James put some sense into his head, while Michael he was working at the wrong end ( I guess James beat his butt after all). After he and J.J. went to bed, Michael let on to him how worried he was, J.J. tried giving him pointers on how to act, albeit very silly ones. 6 a.m. the next morning, the alarm clock went off while J.J. was dreaming of his girlfriend Henrietta. He noticed Michael was gone and sent himself and the rest of the family in a panic. James was ready to rush outside to find him while Michael came back in. He went for a walk to ponder the situation. Florida was having second thoughts about the busing and Thelma even said it was tough for Michael, leaving his friends and meeting new ones, some of which may not like him. James pointed out that if he were get a good job and double his salary, but suppose it was on the other side of town and he needed to take a bus and subway and walk a mile. He clarified that if it were that good, it was worth the trouble of getting to it. Michael decided to get up and get the bus. He did turn around to tell James and Florida he knew they were reverse pysologying him by questioning that he was scared, although he maintained he wasn’t.
Michael came home from school in the epilogue and stated he really had a lot of fun. He then told J.J. was he was wrong in predicting that rich, white people ate spare ribs and coffee. He did mention that they believed fatback was someone who played between a quarterback and a fullback.
Originally aired October 1, 1974
Written by Roger Shulman and John Baskin
Directed by Herbert Kenwith
Guest Star Ron Glass
Willona does not appear in the episode
A good episode with a touch of relevance. This was a time when integration was happening in several major cities. Michael was understandably afraid to go to a school with white kids, believing they would harass him. He also demonstrated his image of black pride by stating he wanted to stay with his own kind. The funniest scenes were the sign he made and when he yelled out in the hall. J.J.’s wisecracks even made a serious episode like this sound funny.