Recap: Jo is eager to leave for the train station to visit her Uncle Sal and her cousins, then reminisces about how the best years of her childhood were spent at Sal's gas station. And speaking of Sal's gas station, it's off to the Bronx we go for another failed Facts of Life spin-off attempt..
Sal Largo (hey - it's Dutch from Soap!) is barking at his son Bud about how the gas station doesn't need a sandwich machine. The two try to involve in their argument the person who's working under the hood of a car...and we're led to believe it's another Largo brother until we see it's a prepubescent tomboy who's appropriately named Terri. Terri sassily reminds her father and brother that they've been fighting over food/no food at the gas station since forever and urges them to either shut up about it or be prepared to compromise. Sal stubbornly barks, "No sandwiches!" so Terri suggests they add soup to the coffee machine and call it a day...and Sal says he can live with that. Bud later argues to Terri - in an exaggeratedly fake sounding Italian-American Nooo Yawk accent - about how their pop can't see the big picture...whereas he would like to expand the gas station's services and increase its potential. Another brother (Pauly) enters the garage while dribbling a basketball, and Sal admonishes him for not being home this morning to help Terri with her engine repair...then reminds him that today is her birthday. Pauly confesses to Terri that he had detention for starting a food fight in the school's cafeteria, and proudly says he loves to throw chow mein 'cause of the way it hits the wall and slides down. Whatever floats your boat, weirdo.
Jo arrives at the gas station and exchanges warm greetings with her uncle and cousins. She tells everyone she's excited about Terri's birthday dinner and asks if they're all going bowling (as they usually do). Bud says he'd prefer to throw Terri a proper party with music and balloons and invite people beyond just family members. He says it's time Terri started to socialize with kids her own age, and Jo scrunches her face in confusion and goes, "You mean date?" Sal looks queasy at the thought of his daughter going out with a bonehead like either of his sons, and Pauly just laughs and says he can't picture his undeveloped sister getting all kissy-face with a boy. To needlessly emphasize his point, he puckers his lips and makes bizarre looking fish faces, which prompts Terri to snap, "Go eat worms!" Sal orders Pauly to stop teasing his sister and declares that Terri can start dating when it's time...then hastily adds, "It's not time yet."
A blonde, feathered hair hunk named Tony Velentti bursts into the garage, mistakes Terri for Pauly while she's bent over the engine of a car, and slaps her on the ass and cackles, "I made out like a bandit last night!" Terri giggles blushingly and introduces Tony to Jo in a way that makes it obvious she has a giant crush on the leather clad dreamboat. Tony asks Pauly if he wants to go with him to "check out the new chick at McDonald's", then cackles about how "she deserves a break today". Pauly says that while he'd love to cruise by the fast food joint and leer at a total stranger, he can't 'cause his family is having a special dinner to celebrate Terri's birthday. Tony says that that sounds super fun...but when Sal invites him, Terri reminds him that birthday dinners are supposed to be just for family. Her brothers point out that Tony is Pauly's best friend and is therefore practically family, so Terri pretends to mull that over, smiles smirkingly at Jo, and says she guesses it's OK if Tony comes. Tony puts an arm around Terri's shoulders and thanks her for the invitation, but she insists it was her menfolks' idea. Jo chuckles knowingly while a hapless looking Sal scrunches his face in perplexion.
Upstairs in her bedroom, Terri holds up a fugly blue pioneer dress and asks Jo what she thinks. [Little House on the Prairie was the first thing that popped into my head.] Jo's just like, "It's a dress. So what?" so Terri explains that she bought it to wear to a school dance, but didn't end up going 'cause she went bowling with her brothers instead. Jo asks her if all this dress angst has something to do with Tony being invited to dinner...then says it was brillliant, the way she made her brothers and father think it was their idea. Terri gushes about how gorge Tony is, then gets angst-ridden about how clueless she is when it comes to applying makeup and gussying herself up. Jo says she can't be of any help 'cause she has no knowledge of personal grooming beyond brushing her teeth, and what they really need is an expert...as in, someone who spends all day looking at herself in the mirror. Cue Blair, who answers a call from Jo in the next scene. Jo tells her she has a glamor emergency, so Blair asks her if the face in need is heart shaped or egg shaped, and Jo studies Terri and says it looks more like an apple. Jo asks Terri if she's absolutely sure she wants to do this, and warns her that her family may not be ready to see her looking girlish. Terri insists she is, then pronounces, "Ready or not, here I come!" The audience, which didn't look like it realized that this punchline was leading into a commercial break, starts clapping tepidly.
The Largo brothers are setting the table for Terri's birthday dinner, bickering in their phony sounding Italian-American Nooo Yawk accents...and for some reason Bud has his bright red shirt sexily unbuttoned halfway to his navel. LOL. Sal orders them to shut up and behave...and a few seconds later, Tony arrives looking dreamier than ever in his leather jacket and tight jeans. Once the table is set, Pauly bellows at Terri and Jo to come downstairs for dinner.
Terri and Jo descend the stairs...and Terri is all glammed up in her 1860s prairie dress. She shyly says hey to Tony - who checks her out, whistles, and exclaims, "Look at you! I nevuh knew you could look this good!" Bud and Pauly emerge from the kitchen and gasp at how dolled up Terri is...but then decide she looks terrific. A smitten looking Tony takes it one step further and declares, "She looks dynamite!"
Everyone seats themselves at the table...and Jo subtly alters the seating arrangement so that Tony ends up sitting next to Terri. Tony gushes about being sooo lucky to get to sit next to the gorgeous birthday girl, and Terri beams with joy and coos, "You say the sweetest things!" Tony then makes a lame joke about how he has "a weak back that started a week back" and Terri chuckles delightedly at his wit. When Tony gets chivalrous about passing Terri plates of food and opening her soda can for her, her scowling brothers make it clear they don't like it one bit - but Sal just barks at them to shut up and eat. Jo tells Tony that they're all going bowling later...and when Tony offers to give Terri a ride on his motorcycle, she eagerly accepts and says she'll have to take her dress off (meaning she'll change into a pair of pants, I will assume). Sal's all, "Wha-a?!" and wigs out as he envisions his naked daughter clinging to Tony on the back of his motorcycle - LOL - and gets so upset that he starts choking on his food. Easy there, Dutch. He orders Tony to get out of his house, and the Largo brothers pile on and concur...and a bewildered Tony snarks back that they're all crazy. Jo steps in and asks Tony to step outside with her for a minute and show her his motorcycle so that the Largo family can have an opportunity to awkwardly bond over Terri's coming of age.
Terri tells her menfolk that they have, indeed, all gone crazy. Bud tells her that nice girls don't throw themselves at guys, so Terri throws it in Bud's face that he messes around with a lot of girls...and points out that those girls are someone's sister or daughter. Sal puts his somber face on and tells her that when her mother died, no one thought he'd be able to raise a daughter by himself...but somehow he managed to, even though it's been relatively easy 'cause up until now she's been largely functioning as a boy. Terri declares that she'd suddenly like to start acting more girlish and do all the things that other fourteen year old girls do. Sal tells her there's nothing wrong with that; however, since she's decided it's time for her to become a woman, she's going to have to conform to her gender's stereotype, which means no more basketball, taking shop in school or working at the gas station. Instead she'll take home economics, cook dinner for the family, and darn their socks whenever they need darning.
Jo re-enters the house and finds Terri clearing up the dinner dishes (even though no one actually finished their meal). She urges Terri to forget about stereotypes and just be herself, but Terri says her family isn't making it easy to find out who she is. Jo tells her that Tony headed off to McDonald's (probably to check out that chick he was raving about earlier)...but when the phone rings a few seconds later, Jo answers it and tells Terri the call is for her. Terri looks excited as she walks over to the phone and picks up the receiver...and her brothers and father hover over her, ready to eavesdrop on the conversation. And since this is where the writers decided to abruptly end the episode, which then failed as a spin-off attempt, we'll never know for sure if it was Tony on the other end of the call.
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