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Thurgood's Family

Eddie Murphy's unique brand of comedy comes together with the stop-motion animation expertise of Will Vinton Studios in Imagine Television and Touchstone Television's new comedy "The PJs." Shot in "foamation," this cutting-edge satire takes a look at the pitfalls and hidden pleasures of life in a big city housing project.

As superintendent of the Hilton-Jacobs Projects, Thurgood Stubbs (Eddie Murphy) watches over his beloved building with pride. He handles complaints from a colorful cast of characters in a decidedly gruff manner, but the Super's tough exterior just masks how much he cares. He may not be able to put his feelings into words, but he sure can plunge a toilet.

Muriel (Loretta Devine) is Thurgood's wife of 26 years. The salt of the earth, Muriel is the calming force in their household as well as the voice of reason. While she and Thurgood don't have kids of their own -- he has weak sperm, she too willingly tells people -- they act as surrogate parents to 10-year-old Calvin (Crystal Scales) who looks up to the Super.

Calvin and his portly pal Juicy (Michele Morgan), whose parents are so obese they aren't able to leave the apartment, are good kids although they do get into their share of scrapes. Always looking out for them, Thurgood is alarmed to see the pair skip school one day and sneak into the movies. When Thurgood catches Calvin he decides to teach him a lesson about the importance of going to school and has the boy tag along with him for a day to see what his job is really like. His plan backfires when Calvin decides to be a superintendent just like Thurgood, leaving the Super to find a way to "deglamourize" his job -- demoralizing himself in the process.

While Thurgood and Muriel are happily married, they have their ups and downs just like any couple. When Muriel is sick in bed with a horrible flu during the fierce "El Negro" storm, she relies on Thurgood to nurse her back to health. He may know what to do to fix a running faucet but a runny nose is a whole different story. Tired of her constant demands, he heads down to the boiler room to watch his beloved "Wheel of Fortune" in peace and promptly dozes off. After waking up from his slumber hours later Thurgood returns to their apartment but instead of finding his wife he discovers his brother-in-law Jimmy (Michael Paul Chan). He tells Thurgood that Bebe (Jenifer Lewis), Muriel's older sister, took her to the hospital for proper care. Thurgood gets a frosty reception from his wife when he finally shows up at the hospital. But he gets the chance to redeem himself by forging out into the storm to try and retrieve his wife's diary when she realizes that it has been lost along the way.

Always a source of frustration for the Super is the combative Mrs. Avery (Ja'net DuBois), a 73-year-old tenant who harbors an abundance of hate toward Thurgood. Nothing he does is ever good enough for her and the old woman's anger typically induces a stroke which she naturally blames on Thurgood. In spite of their history of mutual-hate, the Super spearheads a building-wide fundraising effort to subsidize her rent when he suspects the septuagenarian has hit hard times. When Mrs. Avery discovers what he's done she hits the roof and his good deed turns into disaster. But when all is said and done, Thurgood winds up learning something about the seemingly independent tenant and is able to help her in the end.

Haiti Lady (Cheryl Francis Harrington) is the resident voodoo expert and shares Mrs. Avery's displeasure with the Super. Equipped with her juju stick and a curse for every occasion, Haiti Lady has a solution to whatever problem facing the building. When Thurgood installs a brand-new door for the building, she recommends a curse to protect it from theft that would turn the lungs of anyone who came near it black as coal. The Super quickly points out one little problem with her idea -- none of them would be able to get in or out of the building! Provoked by his smug attitude, Haiti Lady sticks another pin in the Thurgood voodoo doll that is always close at hand.

Thurgood enjoys playing chess with Sanchez (Pepe Serna), although his friend's endless droning on about his late wife Esperanza easily wears on Thurgood's nerves. His Korean brother-in-law Jimmy's constant assertions of his own "blackness" never fail to get under Thurgood's skin, but nothing sticks in the Super's craw more than the bureaucratic red tape he fights each time he has to deal with the seemingly omnipotent Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

But for all the trials and tribulations the Hilton-Jacobs "family" faces, they never lose their strong sense of community. They may not have a lot living in the projects, but they always have each other.