S5 E16 Where There’s Smoke

Welcome back friends and fans. Thank you for joining me in another review for GT. This episode was about the Evanses sofa catching fire and they all explained how it happened in Rashomon style. Hope you enjoy the review.

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Penny and the Evanses were putting out a fire that caused their sofa to burn down. Willona came over to pick up Penny and when she sat down, the hole in the cushion caused her to almost fall off. She demanded to know what happened and J.J. said he didn’t want to bore her with details (lol). She insisted that they bore her. When they all spoke at the same time,  she interrupted them and suggested they tell her one at a time.  When she asked Michael, he stated it all started when he was working on a chemistry experiment and Penny asked if he can play house with her and her doll. Thelma was cooking dinner and J.J. came home with his girlfriend, Mandy. Michael claimed that Mandy was very smitten with him and she pulled out a cigarette and J.J. said “allow me”. When he struck out with the match, Michael lit her cigarette for her. J.J. announced that Mandy had to go home to change for their date that night to go to a dance. She said if Michael would be home, she could change their plans, while J.J. carried her out to the elevator. Michael promised to play house with Penny after they had dinner, then excused himself to wash up. J.J. came back fuming that Michael kept stealing his girlfriends. The phone rang and it was one of Thelma’s boyfriends stating that Thelma’s recipe made his sister very sick. Then she put her plate on the sofa and that was how the fire got started.

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When Thelma told the story, she stated that Michael was rude when Penny asked him to play house. J.J. came home with Mandy but she ignored Michael and complimented Thelma’s casserole. Thelma confided to her that her secret ingredient was powdered chicken lips. J.J. and Mandy went over to the couch while Mandy took out a cigarette and J.J. offered to light it for her. Michael also tried to light it but Thelma was the only one who successfully lit it for her. Mandy requested to stay for dinner but J.J. reminded her she had to go home to change for their date. She asked Thelma to put some food in a doggy bag for her. Michael excused himself to get washed for dinner and Thelma put the plate down for a minute to answer the phone. it was one of her many boyfriends and J.J. came back in wishing he had the same luck with women as she had with men. When Penny marveled on how she was such a great cook (yeah right) and had lots of boyfriends. She answered “what can I say”, Michael answered they can say the sofa was on fire. She stated she remained calm while everyone else was in a panic, just as Michael did when telling his story.

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Thelma blamed the fire on the match J.J. tried lighting for Mandy’s cigarette. J.J. then told his version of the story. His version had the family giving him a huge reception and Mandy was all over him. When Penny asked him to play house, Mandy reminded him he promised to play house with her. Michael asked J.J. to help him with his chemistry experiment and he got it on his first try, while Michael tried it all day. When Mandy pulled her cigarette out, J.J. successfully lit it for her. Thelma asked Mandy if she wanted to stay for dinner, J.J. said she had no blue cross. Also, she had to change for their date that evening and she could hardly wait. The phone rang and it was a last minute dating service for Thelma. She said she was looking for someone with a cast-iron stomach (lol). The rest of the family marveled on how smart he was and how great he was at everything else. He concluded that the fire was from Michael’s chemistry experiment. Thelma suggested that it could have been Mandy’s cigarette that caused the fire.

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Now it was Penny’s turn to tell a story. This one turned out to be the truth. Michael was working on his chemistry experiment and the water turned green when it should have turned red. Thelma was cooking soup for dinner and offered Penny a taste but she declined, stating she had a perfect attendance record and wanted to keep it. J.J. came home with Mandy and when he tried lighting her cigarette, she took her lighter out and got it. Penny asked him to play house with her but he said he preferred to play house with Mandy. Thelma invited Mandy to stay for dinner but J.J. said she had to go home and change and she added they were going out dancing that night. When he went to walk her to the elevator, Penny tried to smoke the rest of Mandy’s cigarette and imitate her. J.J. came back and told Penny he broke it off with Mandy because he hated women who smoke. A dejected Penny stated “now you tell me”. After Michael came back from washing up, he asked Penny if she tried Thelma’s cooking and got sick, Thelma said he wouldn’t get any dinner. Michael joked “is that a promise?”. Suddenly they noticed the sofa was on fire and tried putting it out but Penny grabbed Thelma’s soup and put it out. Therefore, Penny was the culprit in causing the fire. That caused Willona to say how cigarettes can kill you one way or kill you another (hey, remember when she went to the singles bar with Florida?, she smoked a cigarette in there). Penny apologized and promised to never do it again. J.J. said the bright side of it was they didn’t have to eat Thelma’s dinner.

Original airdate January 25, 1978

Written by Bruce Kalish and Philip Wickham Taylor

Directed by Gerren Keith

Guest star Brenda Sykes

Bookman did not appear in this episode

This was one of the funnier episodes. it was excellent Rashomon style, although a little overplayed. The re-enactments basically displayed their personality and characters.  I didn’t understand how J.J. would date a woman who smokes. It was all pretty funny how Penny, who was the most animated of all of them, told the story just the way it was.


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