A Different World (1987–1993): Season 5, Episode 21 - Do the Write Thing - full transcript

Lena is losing her engineering scholarship until she writes a moving story about her father, which later is proven to be fabricated. It earns her a journalism scholarship and brings her closer to her gambler father. Whitley jeopar...

So the idea
is to take the homeless
and the unemployed

and find a way to marry them,

so my back on your feet
program will take
one of your empty buildings

and convert it
into a temporary shelter

and a job training center
for those in need.

What about chesapeake bay?

It's supposed to be a waterway.

It's a cesspool.

The e.P.A.
Has agreed

to train the homeless
and unemployed to help
in the cleanup.

Don't start on mammals.

I have crusaded for the rights
of the southeastern shrew.

You are an eloquent spokesman.

That's right, because
my little friends
are in danger.

I'm sorry I'm late.

How are you?

Tell me that's not a real fur.

I would...
But I'd be lying.

Hi, honey.

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I only wear real furs.

Mama said imitations
are limitations.

I used to be like you.

I had a mink, a lynx, a sable.

I'm still working on the sable.

Then one day,
I was on a fox hunt.

The creature was cornered.

Our eyes locked.

Suddenly, my own hounds
turned on me

"leave our brother alooone."

He bit me.

But that's what made me

the woman you see
before you today.

What a wonderful story.

Maude Mitchell
does not give money

to friends
of mass mink murderers.

Good night.


Keep up the good work,
okay, whit?

People like her
give the wealthy a bad name.

Batty old coot.

That batty old coot
owns the building

I've been trying to get
for my job training program.

Oh, I'm sorry, Byron.

How could you come here
wearing a fur?

It was cold outside.

So is the funding environment.

I said I was sorry.

Do you want me
to go crawling back to her?

I'll have to do that tomorrow.

Whit, it's not just you
and I going out to dinner.

There's two sides to my life.

If you're going to be
part of the political,
you'll have to step up.

I'll just squelch this desire
I have to jump on the table

and do my fan dance.

Well, at least
that would be helpful.

Lena, even if you got a's
in all of your finals

it wouldn't be enough
to pull your average up

to maintain
that engineering scholarship.

Who can keep a b+ average
and hold a job?

I'm a freshman.

Let me ask you this, Lena...

What is the most
appealing thing
about engineering to you?

The scholarship.


The scholarship.

Miss James, this is the
toughest part of my job

but I think you're going
to have to find a department
more suited to your talents.

Whatever those are.
Thank you, colonel Taylor.

Ah, the procrastinatory
miss James.

I'm looking forward
to your biographical essay

on the person who has
most influenced your life.

This one, I trust,
will be on time.

Yes, I'm working on it.

Good. You know my motto...
Better never than late.



Hi, Byron.

I was going to call you.

Before you say anything,
I just want to say I'm sorry

for being rough with you
last night.

Campaigning makes me crazy.

I thought I'd bring by
some popcorn, some champagne
and a little jazz.

But you're right.

If I'm going to attend
political affairs

I have to be
on top of everything.

Now that is an excellent idea,
and I think we should
discuss it

somewhere between the champagne
and breakfast.

I was reading in the paper
about taxes.

I'm not really clear
on your position.

Well, quite frankly

I'm not clear on my position
all the time, either.

I don't understand
the correlation

between economic growth
and income tax.

Well, theoretically,
a reduction in income tax

encourages spending
and stimulates the economy.

The problem with the present
tax structure in this country

is that over the last ten years

the average middle-class family

has only seen an income
increase of about 4%.

Therefore, the benefits

accrue to only the wealthiest
1% of our population.

I get it.

Whit, I got that information.

In a couple of hours

you will be an expert
in ozone depletion.

You don't mind, do you?

What's more important

than the air we breathe,
right, my brother?

Right, my sister.

Ooh, champagne.

No, no, no, no.

"And when I was ten,
he took me to Washington.

"As we stood in front
of the Vietnam memorial

"I saw my father cry
for the first time.

"I asked him what was wrong.

"He picked me up in his arms

"and pressed my hand
against the cold marble.

"Under my fingers were the names

"of the buddies
he had lost in the war

"in the name of freedom...

"freedom that was not waiting
for him when he returned home.

"My father's life is my lesson.

"I have the power
to create my own destiny

and the responsibility
to make my name count."

Ooh, I'm so emotional, girl.

I'm going to call my daddy.

Excellent work miss James.

You have captured the essence

of your relationship
with your father so eloquently.

- Like you said...
- As I said...

As you said

"let your heart speak,
and the truth shall be heard."

Yes, yes.

Miss James, I was so moved
by your work

that I took it upon myself
to submit your essay

to the Walter white journalism
scholarship committee.

Today, I learned
that you have been nominated.

- All right!
- Hey!

All right!


I will see you
at the ceremonies tomorrow.

And now you may all exeunt.

Um, excuse me, professor foster

you forgot to read my paper.

No, I didn't.

- Professor...
- Fish no more from my
lake of compliments.

Look, um...

This essay about my father
is kind of personal.

The first tenet of journalism
is the right to know.

Yeah, I know that, but, um...

I'm not sure I feel
too comfortable about this.

About what?

The responsibility of greatness?

Public acclaim?

Or the $5,000 prize?


I've been your roommate
for a year.

You never told me
your father
was a black panther.

Vietnam, political torture,

It doesn't come up
in everyday conversation.

It does in mine.

Lena, you know,
there could be a market

for your dad's image
on a t-shirt...

And I do dabble in silkscreens.

Think it over.

Ladies and gentlemen
please take your seats.

Without further ado

it is my pleasure
to introduce to you

the nominees for hillman's
Walter white scholarship award.

Marvin bowser...

Gina Deveaux...

That's me!

Without you, I'm nothing.

So true, so true, so true.

Lena James...

And Courtney Johnson.

And this year's recipient is...

I love this moment.

Lena James.

I'd like to thank everybody
for coming out tonight.

I'd like to thank the awards
committee for selecting me...

Coming through.
Coming through.


Grover, why are you here?

I told him about the ceremony.

I was on my way
to the dog races
so I thought I'd drop by.

I'm so proud.

Winnifred Brooks.
It is a pleasure
to meet you.

Share with me what it was like

to be a black panther...
Those f.B.I. Surveillance...

Excuse us, Freddie.

- We have a lot
of catching up to do.
- Yeah, we do.

What's going on?

Hold it right there young lady.

Mr. James.

Barnabus foster,
head of the English department.

Grover James, proud father.

Man, that's a nice piece.

- Thank you.
- How much did it
set you back?

Set me back?

Very witty, your father.

At some point, I'd love to read
your journals from attica.

Yeah? Me too.

I mean, uh...
I want you to.

My, uh, riot journals.

I'm a bit
of a rabble-rouser myself.

I can tell.
You know, prof

prison is the definition
of man's inhumanity to man.

But our newest
supreme court justice

finds nothing inhuman
or unusual
about these conditions.


Oh, I see where Lena gets
her colloquial eloquence.

Yeah, and she got my eyes too.

Uh, professor foster,
he just flew in.

- He's a little tired.
- Of course.

Lena. Lena James.

Oh, congratulations.

- Thank you, colonel.
- Oh, Lena,
I read your essay.

It was beautiful. I cried.

Well, lately, honey,
you cry at hockey games.

Well, they're very moving.

I got to... excuse me.

Well, soldier

colonel Bradford Taylor,
e company, an khe.

As in nam.

Oh, nam, Vietnam.

Yeah, well, you know, sergeant

I have a hard time
talking about that.


No, memory loss.

Um, if you don't mind,
I'm feeling a little thirsty.

Can you excuse me, major?

So, Lena, what year was
your father in Vietnam?

I don't even remember.

I guess I was
about two or three.

My bad.

I wasn't even born yet.

- Memory loss.
- Yeah.

- Memory loss.
- Memory loss.

Ted, I'd like you
to meet whitley Gilbert.

No introduction necessary.

Ted spelman, c.E.O.
Tetrascope communications

b.a., Morris brown, '70

Stanford university '75.

And your corporation

is pushing the envelope
on fiber optic development.

I'm so sorry about the divorce.

That's all right.

She talked too much.

Would you excuse me?

I am on it.

Mmm, speed.

Take it easy. You don't
have to recite resumes.

Too many personal details?

- Yes.
- Got it.


Well, if it isn't miss
shoot 'em and wear 'em.

It's very nice
to see you again, ma'am.

We didn't meet
under the best circumstances.

There were no circumstances

just that atrocity
you called a coat.

Maude, why don't we funnel
this understandable outrage

into a social program
I know you'll
find constructive.

I came to vent, not to funnel.

Byron, there's someone
I'd like to introduce...

To you.

Uh-huh. Excuse me.

Byron has a wonderful plan

to help the unemployed
and the homeless.

With your help, it can happen.

He's also an advocate
of animal rights.

When he's not dating you?

I'm asking you
to support Byron, not me.

You can tell a lot
about a person
by the company they keep.

Miss Mitchell,
I already have a fur

so you can get off my back.

I beg your pardon?

Yes, I have a fur, I own a fur

and that is my business.

I'm sure Mr. Mitchell
didn't let you get

out the house wearing that hat.

He hates this hat.

Good for him.

Byron hates the fact
that there are hundreds
of people out there

destitute and homeless
with nowhere to go

or don't you care about people?

So how are you two doing?

Byron, you'll be hearing
from me in the morning.

Oh, maude...

Know which building
you're interested in using.

I already do.

He hates the hat.

I am working this room,
working it.

Miss brunmeir,
let's talk day care.

Good night, guys.
Thank you.

You were wonderful.

Well, Byron, no one
will ever accuse me

of being just a showpiece again.

You can say that for sure.

Take a look around you.
What do you see?

An empty room.

Well, I see an opportunity...

To show you how important
you are to me.

- I am?
- Yes, you are.

And I think we should take
advantage of this rare moment.

Good move, senator.

Hey, baby girl.

Hey, grover.

Look, I just want
to explain the essay tonight.
I didn't...

You did what you had to do
to stay in school.

You never would
have won any awards
writing about me.

I didn't say that.

You didn't have to.

I may not have been ward cleaver

but I wasn't Eldridge either.

What was
that black panther stuff?

Well, like you said
I did what I had to
to stay in school.

I guess it's just getting by.

Baby girl I'm so proud.

And I have to be moving on

so I just came by
to give you this.

Where did you get that...
The track?

Hey, don't ask questions
you know the answer to.

Well, I don't see the point
in taking it.

You'll just call me in two weeks

in trouble again
and ask for it back.

It seems like both of us
get into sticky situations
from time to time.

When does it end,
the hustling, the gambling?

I am so sick and tired
of wondering where you are

what you're doing, and who's
going to catch up to you.

Grover, you can't keep living
like this.

I can't keep living like this.

Baby, we always got by.

Yeah, well,
I'm sick of getting by!

I scammed my way
into this school

with that
engineering scholarship
and I got caught!

I'm busted!

And I'm tired of lying.


Then why did you accept
the journalism scholarship?

Because I'm just like you.

Baby, you don't
have to be like me.

Lena, what did you say
in that essay?

Something like

create your own destiny
and make your name count.

Baby, if you can make that up,
you can make it true.

It's easier said than done.


I hope I taught you more
than three-card monte.

It's on you, baby girl.

Hey, take care, huh?

And look, look, look, look.

I'll call you in a couple
of weeks, all right?

You know, you my one and only.

I love you.

I love you, too, grover.

Professor foster,
can I speak to you
for a second?

I don't really know
how to say this, but...

- Make it your own.
- Yeah.

Guess that's what
I'm trying to do.


My father wasn't in Vietnam,
and he was never a panther.

And he never wrote
any riot journals.

No, just bad checks.

But I don't want you to have
the wrong idea about my father.

He didn't do things
the way other people did

but he was there for me,
and he did the best he could.

Have a seat, miss James.

Children begin
by loving their parents.

As they grow older,
they judge them.

Sometimes they forgive them.

So, we find ourselves
on the horns
of an ethical dilemma.

Yeah, what you said.

Look, professor,
about the scholarship

I know that I put you
on the line and I'm really
sorry about that.

Miss James, you did write
the essay, didn't you?

Of course I did.


That's not a point I would push.

Miss James, you lack veracity

but you have a great deal
of creativity.

The challenge is
to cure you of the one

and not do damage to the other.

Which is why
I am about to exert
my considerable influence

to find a scholarship award
within your new major...


English? Really?


All right, professor foster.

You are the man.

"And miles to go
before I sleep."