Or, as it must have been known back in the day, “The One with all the Black People.” Aside from the occasional Voodoo witch, TFTC has been whiter than a Seinfeld reunion. Our politically-correct betters in Hollywood remedy this by gerrymandering all the African Americans into one episode whose key elements are a basketball and sneakers. On the bright side, no watermelons were injured in making this episode.
The episode opens on the Thorntonberry Funeral Home. For some reason, the owner is credited as Ezra Thornberry. Bobby Thorntonberry’s parents have been killed in a car crash, so he has come to live with his uncle. Ezra reluctantly takes him in, also as an employee offering only room and board. He begins immediately showing him the tricks of the trade by prying open the lips of his latest customer. She is sporting a gold tooth — naturally.
Ezra further displays his cost-cutting practices by embalming a corpse with tap water. Actually, he very reasonably points out that the dead man doesn’t know the difference and the chemicals cost money. I’m kind of on Ezra’s side. This slab of beef is going in a vault in the ground, who cares.
When the wrong type of casket is ordered, Ezra blames Bobby and beats him with a tire iron. The medical bills start to mount up so Ezra sells Bobby’s Air Jordans to cover some of the cost. He tells Bobby, on crutches, that he doesn’t need shoes. Bobby threatens to go to the police. As Bobby is struggling to climb the stairs, Ezra nails him with his own basketball, knocking him down the stairs and killing him.
Ezra gives him the water embalming and plops him in the misordered coffin. Being one of the Chinese coffins, and Bobby being tall kid, his feet are hanging out of the end of the box. Once again, Ezra has a solution and breaks out the power saw, cutting Bobby off at the ankles.
The night after Bobby is buried, Ezra is awakened by a knocking. No one is at the door. He thinks his disapproving former organist is doing this to him — until he sees a ball slowly bouncing one step at a time, down the stairs, rolling to a stop at his feet, just like in The Changeling — except with a basketball cause, you know, he’s black. There really is a satirical level to the scene, which I can’t imagine they intended.
A pair of Air Jordans with bloody fresh cut-off feet in them kick Ezra in the ass. Fortuitously, he is standing at the top of the basement stairs and falls down the same stairs where Bobby died. Then he sees the bloody shoes hopping down the stairs; followed by the footless zombie-Bobby crutch-walking down them, footless legs dangling like Bobcat Goldthwait’s dummy.
Moses Gunn is great as the hateful old mortician. Jon Clair, the nephew, had a pretty short career, but effectively pulls off his role as a naive well-meaning kid. Another good one.
- Hey, how’d those Chinese guys get in the shot? Oh, I guess if you order merchandise from Taiwan, Chinese guys deliver it.
- It took three people to write this — this is the only writing credit for two of them. The third writer, Don Mancini wrote several Child’s Play / Chucky movies.