S3 E24 The Rent Party

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Hello again friends and fans. Welcome back as the close the third season of Good Times. In this episode, “The Rent Party”, the Evans’s elderly neighbor, Wanda, is being evicted because she can’t afford to pay rent so they throw a rent party to raise money for her. Hope you enjoy the review.

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Florida made a vegetable stew and James liked it so much he asked for seconds. She kept it warm for James, who worked overtime to pay for J.J. to take a trip to St. Louis for an art show. James marveled how carried away Florida got with how worried she was and she got him to admit he was just as worried. He stated he was but didn’t make a scene like she did, like when he got on the bus she tried to stow away. Thelma accused Michael of breaking her album while he claimed she pushed him into it, causing it to break. Thelma argued she was dancing. Michael responded she still had Gladys Knight and still had the Pips, they just wouldn’t be singing together anymore. She told him he owed her $4.95 album (that little, I remember record albums costing close to $10). Michael stated he wouldn’t give her one penny for the album but a stern look from James changed his mind in a hurry. Florida stated that with J.J. gone, she thought they’d have a peaceful weekend. Willona came in and announced that she was held up at the clothing boutique she worked at. A tall, white man with an afro pulled a gun on her and demanded all the money in the register. The phone rang and Michael answered. It was one of J.J.’s girlfriends and he didn’t want them to think he was out of circulation, so he imitated J.J. to let her know there date was still on for after he came back.

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Michael went to answer the door and it was Bookman (in his second appearance). He came to answer Florida’s long overdue complaint about a leaky faucet, in which James had already fixed. Bookman threatened to report him, for tenants are not supposed to fix things themselves. Florida also stated that tenants are not supposed to live in a lake. Willona then complained to him about a broken light switch in her living room. He answered he would squeeze that into his schedule. James asked him to squeeze his lard out the door. Their friend Wanda came in and asked to borrow some candles. She claimed she had a date that night for dinner and wanted to make it into a candlelight. After she left, Willona stated that the real reason was they turned her lights out and just received an eviction notice, for she was two months behind in her rent. Florida then reasoned that she received social security, James responded it wasn’t enough to live on, but enough to die on ( for the record, I live in subsidized housing and my rent is 30% of my monthly income, just like with my neighbors, unless they didn’t have that law at the time to protect elderly and disabled people). Florida started to ponder what they can do to help her, Willona said ‘don’t ask me, the bank don’t cash my check anymore, they just look at it and laugh.’. When Florida asked James if they had anything left from paying their monthly bills, he answered ‘more bills’. Then Florida and James decided on a rent party (they throw a party and charge admission, them give it to the person in need). Willona said after 10 minutes on the phone she will have a room full of party guests. Thelma said she can help with the cooking and they can rent the recreation hall in the building. Then James realized that Wanda was a proud woman and would never let them throw her a party (stands to reason, considering she didn’t tell them the real reason for the candles). Florida stated they just needed food, drinks, entertainment, then James added adhesive tape, for Willona so she can keep from telling Wanda.

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The family was in the recreation room with their neighbors and friends. Michael called James over because Wanda insisted on paying like everybody else. James told her that senior citizens got in for free, but then Wanda demanded that they let her pay. Wanda asked James who the party was for, he said she couldn’t answer right away because he needed to introduce the first act. He got up on the platform and introduced Michael, who sang “When You’re Young And In Love”, followed with a large standing ovation. Thelma reminded Florida and Willona that they were the next act.

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Bookman showed up and threatened to shut the party down, he stated it was illegal to have a party and charge admission. He then persuaded James to let him perform and then he’ll allow the party to continue. James asked him what he can do besides eat, lol. Bookman entered the platform and made several voice impressions, including Harry Belafonte, Wolfman Jack, and others, followed by some upbeat 50s music. Michael marveled on how much money they took in. James answered there many kind people in the projects and they all cared about Wanda. After Bookman stepped down, he went to announce the next and final act. Florida, Willona and Thelma came out as The Supremes, performing “Stop! In The Name of Love”.

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After they were finished, the Evans family and Willona brought Wanda up to the platform with them and announced the party was for her. Wand refused to accept it so James announced that Florida would take it to the rent office for her. Wanda stated she wasn’t happy taking handouts. Florida told her they all did that for a selfish reason. They all loved her and didn’t want to see her leave their project. Wanda tearfully thanked everyone for their love and generosity. James asked her for a dance and told the piano player to hit it. After a few steps, Wanda told him to really hit it, which he did. Wanda danced so well James couldn’t even keep up with her.

Original airdate March 2, 1976

Written by Roger Shulman and John Baskin

Directed by Herbert Kenwith

Guest stars Helen Martin (3rd appearance), Johnny Brown (2nd appearance)

J.J. was not in this episode

This was the last episode to feature James

A good episode, but would have been better with J.J. (For unexplained reasons, Jimmie Walker did not appear in this episode). The episode also marked the decency of people no matter what financial status they were in. Although Wanda was down on her luck, she was still in high-spirit, instead of being bitter. On the dark side, it also depicted how some people can be cruel and heartless. Bookman didn’t seem to care that the reason they charged admission was to raise money to help Wanda out. Like James said to him, “don’t you have any heart underneath all that blubber?”. As mentioned before, this was James’s last episode. John Amos was let go due to creative differences with the producers. This led to James being killed off in the next season.

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