Welcome back everybody. Here we have a treat for you. The first Christmas episode of Good Times. Florida’s teenage niece comes to visit and Thelma discovers she has a serious drinking problem. Hope you enjoy the review.
Thelma and J.J. were decorating the tree when Florida came in with a wreath and singing ‘Deck The Halls’, with J.J. joining in with ‘Kid Dyn-o-mite is cute and dolly’. She asked J.J. to put the wreath on the door, he agreed but with a lock and key, protesting the robberies that took place in the area recently. She questioned where their visiting cousin Naomi was. Thelma answered she was in the bathroom. Florida suggested that they try to get along better with her but Thelma admitted she was strange, she laughed at almost everything. Michael came in complaining that a homely girl named Charlotte McDaniel (who had the same name as one of the assistant producers) lured him over to her, and then whipped out a mistletoe and kissed him. James came out dressed up and ready to go to a Christmas party at the car wash he worked at. He asked Florida to come but she was busy making dinner for the family, Naomi, and her parents, who arrived later. He also hoped he got a good bonus, as opposed to the envelope he got the previous Christmas, which said he was terminated.
Michael needed to use the bathroom but Naomi was taking her time in there while Willona came over with presents and decorations. She started joking about instead of receiving a bonus from her job she got a button that stated WIN (we in need). Naomi finally came out of the bathroom and Michael was waiting to get in there when Naomi realized he forgot something (her bottle). Michael was crossing his legs and prancing, showing every sign of desperation until at last she emerged. Florida urged J.J. to take her out and show her around, but he felt embarrassed to appear to be dating his cousin. Florida and Willona went out for some last minute shopping and as soon as they left, Naomi sneaked a glass of vodka in her system. Thelma came in the kitchen and noticed it.
Thelma stated that the water in Chicago had many things but it wasn’t eighty proof. James came home announcing he received a $25 Christmas bonus and bought a bottle of Jack Daniels. Naomi laughed at the joke he made about setting another place, as she did with every other lame joke that was told. James, Florida and Willona sat down and made a toast to their new friend Jack. They ended each toast with ‘I’ll drink to that’. Thelma started getting upset with all the drinking and toasting going on and went inside to help Michael wrap some gifts. Florida went inside to talk to her but James said she’d be fine. Then they realized all their wine bottles were replaced with water, and Florida noticed J.J.’s glass was put away unwashed and smelled like it had liquor in it. Willona stated she read an article that maintained you can stop if someone’s been drinking by displaying forgetfulness, defensiveness, lack of co-ordination and exaggeration of their own importance. J.J. walked in and yelled the holiday season just begun and there was their favorite son. When they asked where he was he said just out messing around but couldn’t remember the details. When Florida asked him again. he questioned why they were picking on him and then he almost tripped on a loose tile. James asked him if he had been drinking. He answered he and a friend combined their jugs of Kool-Aid.
Bonnie’s parents, Oscar and Millie arrive. (Oscar was played by Albert Reed, who later had a recurring role as alderman Fred Davis). Thelma came in to remind Naomi and again spotted her drinking. she tried giving Naomi a talking to but she kept making a comeback. She stated she was getting into the holiday spirit, Thelma stated to her everyday was the holiday spirit. Naomi replied she didn’t like waiting till the last minute. Thelma then reported that many kids in the neighborhood wound up getting hurt by drinking, Naomi laughed at the fact that she didn’t live in the neighborhood. When Thelma stated about half a million young people in the country were addicted to alcohol, Naomi replied she didn’t like to drink alone. When Thelma said the family was waiting for them, Naomi answered ‘here’s one for the road’.
Thelma and Naomi came out to join the family for dinner. James made a speech at being thankful for the feast, but not to forget those who are hungry, and thank you for our health, but don’t forget those who are sick, and thank you for our friends and family, but not forget the lonely ones. Oscar made a toast to have the youngest ones to drink first but Florida and James refused to let Michael drink, stating he’ll have milk. Oscar and Millie stated they let Naomi drink since she was a little kid, especially on Sammy Davis Jr.’s birthday (which was on December 8, just a scant two and a half weeks before Christmas). Suddenly Naomi passed out from too much drinking, causing the family to realize what trouble she was in.
The epilogue had Michael waking everyone up early on Christmas morning to start opening presents. When James had everyone state what they were hoping for, Thelma said she hoped Naomi would get the help she needed.
Originally aired December 10, 1974
Written by Larry Markes and Norm Liebmann
Directed by Herbert Kenwith
Guest stars Bonnie Banfield, Albert Reed, Margueritte Ray
This was the first Christmas episode on Good Times. It also sent an excellent message about teenage alcoholism. It also displayed how it can affect one’s health and personality. It also went to show that in spite of the Evans family not having much money, they at least had food and a good family. That was worth much more than any monetary fortune could bring.