The White Shadow

Season 3 Episode 15

A Day in the Life

Aired Monday 8:00 PM Mar 16, 1981 on CBS
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  • Episode Spotlight: A Day in the Life, Season 3, Episode 15, 54th and final episode aired.

    4.0
    From what I have understood, this episode wasn't meant to end the series. The producers were all set to give Kevin Hooks (Thorpe) his directorial debut (as they did with Thomas Carter), and episodes centering around the Jesse Mitchell and Eddie Franklin characters were in the works. But, CBS decided to yank the series anyway. At least two things worked against The White Shadow in Season 3: (1) all filmings got late starts because of that year's (1980) Screen Actors Guild strike, and (2) it was moved to Tuesday nights up against ABC's Happy Days/Laverne and Shirley juggernaut. #2 alone doomed it to failure, plus TWS Season 3 was wrought with some particularly weak episodes.



    We learn of a special alumni game between past Carver greats and the current team. First question, who else would have come back besides Hayward, Reese, Gomez, and Goldstein? Baker? The other guys who never talked? And, these guys were going to play Cool, Rutherford, Thorpe, Salami, At least let Cool or Thorpe play with the alums to give them a fighting chance.



    Homage was paid, albeit very briefly, to the Curtis Jackson character that was killed off in Season 2. Thorpe lamented that he wouldn't be there to play, and Reese and Maxine Jeffries (played beautifully by Ella Fitzgerald) visited his gravesite. Reese called him Jackie, since when was he called anything other than Curtis, Jackson, or CJ?



    A perspective look was taken into the lives of Hayward, Reese, Gomez, and Goldstein a year after leaving Carver. The strongest and most satisfying story by far is Hayward's. After a year of college, he has an opportunity to work for a law firm as a librarian. Carter gives a strong performance here as Hayward looks upon this chance with trepidation, not sure if he's cut out for the corporate world and uncomfortable with leaving the poverty that he's grown up in. I also liked Dennis Holohan's performance as the lawyer who interviewed him. He chose to "sell" Hayward on taking the job, even though he really didn't have to. But, he sees potential and earnestness in Hayward and thinks he will one day make a good lawyer. Hayward's storyline could have been the only one dealt with in this episode and I wouldn't have complained.



    The other storylines fell a little flat for me. For instance, Reese was once headed for a basketball scholarship. Now, he wants to be a singer and he's driving a cab for a living? I guess spending time in the community after stopping a girl from committing suicide over the phone at the Crisis Center didn't work out. Also, he spends the whole time fawning over Miss Jeffries. If he wanted to be a singer, why didn't he sing for her? Yes, he played the piano, but a golden opportunity was missed here.



    A year in the Marine Corps has apparently given Goldstein some newfound confidence to ask a girl out. Again, I never liked the path the show took with the Abner Goldstein character. His growth in Season 1's "Little Orphan Abner" was all but nullified in the second season. I expected a little more here. Also, both active and former Marines watching this episode had to cringe at him being in a Marine dress uniform with longish, greasy hair. They could have given him a regulation haircut and made a more powerful statement about how much he had "changed".



    Finally, what to make of Gomez? No attempt was made to at least give a path to how he ended up where he was. After season 2's "The Hitter", he was supposedly taking care of his mother and kid sister after rescuing them from his abusive dad. What happened to them? Also, what about the girl? Is she actually his wife, or is she a girl he got pregnant and chose to stay with out of obligation? And, when was he ever interested in becoming a mechanic? Throughout his story, he seems unhappy with the way his life has gone. Given the loose ends, it's hard for me to be sympathetic. And, he doesn't end up playing in the game anyway.



    In summary, Hayward's storyline prevents this episode from being below-average to unwatchable. Not a very good way to end the show.