I’ve got something different for you today! Not necessarily a cartoon in the traditional sense, but animation in the definite sense which was a request of my buddy, The Abominable CPA so I decided, why the hell not?
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I don’t know how many of you are familiar with The PJs, but it was a stop-animation show headlined by Eddie Murphy that aired – I believe – on Sunday nights on Fox. It had a run of 43 episodes, but the final season was on the WB after production costs had just gotten so astronomical due to each episode taking approximately two months to complete.
It focused around Thurgood Stubbs (Murphy) who was the super of a low-income project building that is in a constant state of disrepair and much of the humor is based around the inability or unwillingness of Thurgood to repair such maladies.
The Hilton-Jacobs family, (clockwise from left) Smokey, Haiti Lady, Jimmy Ho, Bebe Ho, Sanchez, Juicy, Calvin, Muriel, Thurgood and Mrs. Avery, pose outside their home, the Hilton-Jacobs projects, in “The PJs.”
I remember the show being OK. Nothing great, nothing horrible. Sometimes you’d get a really good, funny episode and sometimes not so much. I know for a fact I definitely didn’t hate it, but what will I think now? This is definitely something I haven’t even thought to watch since it was on the air so let’s give it a looksie through fresh eyes and see what my experienced vision-gems think now.
The PJs: S.2, E.14: “Robbin’ HUD”
Originally Aired: August 1, 2000
We open with Thurgood falling from a building and hurtling at a high speed towards his imminent peril. We get the classic voiceover of, “I bet you’re wondering how I ended up like this” and chooses to start the story at the beginning. Seems like a solid decision.
After finishing up dinner with his wife, Muriel, Thurgood sets himself up in front of the sink to start washing the dishes while Muriel takes a shower. Turns out the pipes are contaminated and flithy sludge is coming through the pipes. Thurgood decides he better check to see if it’s just his apartment or the rest of the building too and – as he opens his door – is met by an angry, sludge-covered tenant. OK, so it’s the whole building.
As the super, Thurgood knows exactly what to do: go to HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development) and get a new water filter to install. Simple. Except that his building is only allowed one filter every year and the one they have currently is only 9 months old. In HUD’s estimation, their filter is perfectly fine.
The filter he is requesting legitimately costs 39 cents. It genuinely makes me wonder if shit like that goes on for real across New York City or someplace that populated. Nope, sorry, gotta deal with that dirty water for 3 more months before we can give you a new 39 cent filter to rectify the problem. Ain’t that some shit?
Thurgood returns home to tell the tenants and they’re blaming it on a board of directors at HUD that is all white. They decide to go riot and burn down the HUD building for not allowing them their filter to have clean water.
When they get there, the employees try telling them that they don’t even have the filters in stock before sending gas through the vents to knock out all the rioters. As Thurgood is having his body drug out of the office, he’s able to glimpse at an open supply area and sees them: dozens upon dozens of pristine, brand-new 39-cent water filters. Asking nicely didn’t work. Time to rob the joint.
Thurgood assembles a team of the same people he just tried to riot with to go into HUD after-hours Mission Impossible-style to steal the filter. They get through the booby traps and crack the safe to gain access to the filters, but when they turn to leave, Thurgood is entranced by a mountain of toilet paper. Apparently nobody they know has or can afford toilet paper so they make the decision to grab as much of it as they can. They become lackadaisical and trip some of the traps on the way out which lead to them losing two members of the team. They eventually get out and get away before the cops can wrangle them up.
The heist ends up on the news with sketches of the alleged burglars. Thurgood starts living every day in full-on paranoia just waiting to get snatched up for these crimes. He tells Muriel what he’s done since she’s the level-headed one, but she’s entranced by how soft those rolls are. Thurgood sees that he has to destroy all of the evidence himself if even Muriel can be seduced by the soft side.
He flushes every sheet of his own stash and then steals the rest of the hot paper. He heads to the roof to throw it all in the incinerator, but is met by the neighbors who are ready to beat the shit out of him for fucking with their shit tickets.
Muriel races to his defense, but slowly turns telling Thurgood to think about what he’s doing and to join them in the enjoyment of “the white cloud”. Goddamn, I never had even the slightest clue that people in the hood be the hard up for fucking TP. If this is fucking true, someone needs to let me know.
At this moment, a HUD helicopter appears and demands the stolen merchandise. Forced to chose between HUD officers and his angry neighbors, Thurgood throws the whole bag into the helicopter propellers which cut every roll to shreds. Every roll, that is, except one which lands safely back on the roof and is tripped on by Thurgood and sends him over the ledge hurtling toward the sidewalk which is where we first met at the beginning of the episode.
He lands and shockingly isn’t killed, but is brought to the hospital where he’s put in a full body cast. An agent from HUD is waiting as Thurgood wakes up and tells him that for agreeing not to speak to the press, he’ll upgrade Thurgood’s allocation of water filters from one per year to two every 36 months. Thurgood thinks it sounds great so he immediately agrees, takes a happy picture with the HUD agent and we roll the credits.
Pretty outlandish story, but nothing beyond the realm of expectation for a show like this. I didn’t find it overly funny as much as it made me wonder if the toilet paper issue was really a serious deal in the PJs.
I’m still thinking about it. I mean, all fiction is usually based off some kind of reality so is this something that goes on? Kind of like the episode of Seinfeld where Kramer needs the water pressure. Sure, it’s a show and it becomes hyperbole, but, ya goddamn right water pressure is a big deal. I’m currently going through a water pressure struggle myself.
But toilet paper? Jeez. Things must be even worse than I have any handle on if that’s a genuine worry. And this ain’t even fucking Angel Soft they’re clamoring over. This is your standard city issue shit tickets.
I’m at a loss for words. I’m an Angel Soft guy myself. That’s all we use in my house. I can’t believe this crew is so enamored by what has to be such a rough and uncomfortable wipe. I’m sorry…I can’t think about anything else.
Sigh. Other than this whole deal with the toilet paper, nothing really of note. There were a couple of well-placed jokes in here that triggered a raised eyebrow and chuckle, but no big laughs or anything. I actually like the group of characters in this show, but as far as hilarity, this wouldn’t be one of the stronger episodes.
If you want to check it out, you can find some episodes on YouTube and I believe there are DVD sets out there to be had.
So we went a little different today, but thanks for reading. See you tomorrow.