Welcome back to my reviews friends and fans. We got another two-parter here called “The Gang”. This is where J.J. is forced to join a local street gang and gets shot when he refuses. Hope you enjoy the review.
J.J. came out of the elevator with two friends, who are members of a street gang called The Satan Knights, and are known as Neck Bone and Sweet Pea. It turned out J.J. was recruited by the gang leader, Mad Dog, who refused to take no for an answer. That evening, they were going up against a rival gang, The War Lords. They also stated they were coming by with Mad Dog to get him so he can take part in the fight. Florida came out of the elevator and addressed the guys by their real names of Tyrone and Sylvester. They, in turn, greeted her politely and claimed they came by to invite J.J. to a dance. After she went inside, they reminded J.J. about the fight and warned him to be ready when they showed up with Mad Dog that evening.
J.J. came into the house dejected and James stated that he seen accident victims look happier than him. Florida thought he was trying to decide what girl he would bring to the “dance” that night. J.J. announced he was going stag. Florida then questioned if they would be drinking, J.J. answered they were having a lot of “punch”. James asked Florida what was on the dinner menu, she answered ‘lobster newburg’, which was a translation for corn bread and greens. James protested that they usually have meat on Saturday (in “The Checkup’ episode, J.J. said the only time they had meat was when Chicken Delight made a wrong delivery). Florida replied that all the meat in the store was brown and corroded. As they were discussing the lousy food and high prices at the store, Florida showed James a tie she bought him for $1.75. They were going to a function to honor a neighbor who just opened his own law office. J.J. went into Thelma’s room, where she and Michael were playing monopoly. Michael called Park Place Liberia, since he knew nobody who owned property on Park Place. Thelma noticed how quiet J.J. was and asked what was wrong. He confided to her and Michael that he was in the gang, but basically has been avoiding them. Florida and James were out in the kitchen discussing the success of their friend and suddenly realized how well their kids were turning out, although James admitted he used to be a little worried about J.J.. Meanwhile, J.J. was discussing how the Satan Knights were going against the War Lords, which had 500 members while the Satan Knights only had 100 members, therefore, J.J. wouldn’t stand a chance. Michael and Thelma were telling J.J. about how mad James would be and how much it would break Florida’s heart if they found out he was in a gang. However, the Satan Knights would kill him if he went against them. During dinner, the kids talked Florida and James into going to the movies that night, that would get them out of the house before Mad Dog and the other guys arrived.
At 8 p.m. that evening, the guys showed up with Mad Dog, a towering young thug with a huge Afro. He made fun of Michael and Thelma before demanding J.J. come out to join them. J.J. came out feigning the flu and that he couldn’t go out. Mad Dog had Neck Bone come over to check his temperature and found it was 98.6 (the same as his weight). Mad Dog said he only had chicken fever and told him to get over it fast. Then he pulled a gun out and threatened to make it fatal if he didn’t. J.J. went back inside to change and Mad Dog started playing with the parents’ belongings. Michael told him not to since Florida and James didn’t like people playing with their things. Mad Dog seemed a bit surprised their father still lived with them, since his father left after he was born, prompting a ‘I don’t blame him’ from Thelma. Michael asked him if he ever heard of Black Unity. Mad Dog joked it was a rock group from the South Side. He reasoned that they wouldn’t get anywhere if they don’t stop fighting and that they should call it off. They claimed that fighting made men out of them. J.J. came out in his Satan Knights jacket along with a bandana and pretending to use karate. He then tried to stall them by claiming he had a plan devised to sneak into the War Lords territory, opposing to Mad Dog’s plan. He finally stated he didn’t want to go but the guys grabbed him and dragged him out.
In what was probably the only scene that was taped outdoors, James and Florida were returning from the movies when they ran into J.J. and the gang. She questioned why he was dressed like that and why they were holding him. When they discovered the situation, James demanded they turn him loose. Mad Dog disrespectfully refused, stating he was the gang leader and Florida questioned if that was something big and important. James repeated to turn J.J. loose, he was going to no gang fight. A scuffled ensued and Mad Dog shot J.J. with a bullet apparently meant for James. They all ran off and when Florida asked J.J. to speak, he replied with ‘somebody got shot’, then fainted. James went to call an ambulance and demanded help from bystanders.
Originally aired November 12, 1974
Written by Eric Monte, Alan Mannings, Jack Elinson and Norman Paul
Directed by Herbert Kenwith
Guest Stars Oscar DeGruy, Michael Roberts and Douglas Grant
Willona does not appear in this episode
One of the more critical, yet excellent, episodes. It demonstrated the harsh reality of ghetto life and the unfortunate existence of street gangs. Very few funny scenes. Next we have the conclusion to this episode “The Gang Part 2”.