Recap: This dull-as-fuck episode is The Facts of Life's second attempt to turn a pilot into a spin-off series titled "The Academy" ... and it's really too bad the producers didn't throw in the towel after the first try, 'cause yikes. That said, let's begin..
Alfred Webster, a dorkish cadet at the Stone Military Academy, calls up Natalie and reminds her that he was her date at his school's military dance in Season 3. Natalie looks less than thrilled to hear from him, and somehow refrains from laughing out loud when he informs her that he's decided to take their relationship to the next logical step...and by next logical step, he means he's inviting her to the Academy to watch him compete in a boxing tournament. Natalie says she'll need to check her schedule, then covers the phone receiver and looks pleadingly at Mrs. Garrett and the rest of the Facts gals for some kind of helpful advice. Jo tells her she'd consider a boxing tournament a fun date...and Blair rolls her eyes and says, "You would" - but urges Natalie to go, if only 'cause she'll be one of a few females among hundreds of handsome cadets. Natalie perks up at that desirable ratio and eagerly tells Alfred she'd be delighted to stop by the Academy and cheer him on.
Alfred is in his dorm room, immersed in a book about boxing. His roommates - Buzz, Chip, and Hank - bust a gut laughing when he tells them he entered the upcoming boxing tournament...then look slightly impressed when he brags about how his girl Natalie is coming to watch him. He then admits that the real reason he entered the tournament was to please his father, who was once a heavyweight boxing champion. Alfred's friends worry he may not be physically up to the challenge (well d'yuh), but things look less dire after Buzz checks out the list of entrants in his weight division and decides there's a chance he won't get completely pummelled. The three all offer to help whip Alfred into shape.
Alfred is alone in the dorm room, struggling to make it past ten pushups when his roommates suddenly burst in. The four banter about boxing...blah blah...and Buzz, Chip, and Hank simultaneously give Alfred various tips for the tournament. Buzz insists that the key to victory is loading up on carbs, while Chip argues that he should be building muscle by lifting weights. My personal advice would be for the kid to spend less time gabbling with his friends in his dorm room and more time training in the boxing ring - but, who knows, maybe that's been happening off-camera.
Major Dorsey enters the Academy's gym, where the boys are working out in advance of the tournament. An attractive female lieutenant, Barbara Burton, tells Major Dorsey she's concerned about the less muscular boys getting injured in the ring, but Dorsey assures her there's no danger of anyone getting hurt...however, when he scans the list of participants and sees Alfred's name, he quickly takes that back. He pulls Alfred aside and asks him if he fully understands that he's entered a boxing tournament, and Alfred confirms that he does, and that he's mostly doing it so his father will pay attention to him and give him the all-important approval he seeks. Dorsey solemnly nods and tells him he's looking forward to meeting the General. From that I guess we can assume that Papa Webster is a bigwig in the military hierarchy.
Alfred learns that his first match-up will be with a skinny nerd named Grusky, the same actor who played uber-dork Eugene in Grease. George Knight, the douchebag cadet no one seems to like, struts inside the gym and brags to everyone that he's coaching a boxing phenom named Michael "Mongo" Moran...and then parades the muscular, tough looking Mongo around the gym. George teases Alfred about his paunchy little body, and then a bunch of cadets take bets on who they think is going to win the tournament.
Major Dorsey is on the phone with General Webster, pleading with him to not cancel his plans to attend the boxing tournament, and tells him that Alfred only entered the tournament to impress him. When it's clear that the General doesn't give a rat's ass about throwing his son a bone, Dorsey snappishly tells him to break the bad news to Alfred himself...then hangs up and mutters about how shitty it is when parents neglect their kids.
After loading up on too many carbs, Alfred weighs in at 140 lbs, which means he's officially in the welterweight category and will likely be matched up against Mongo. Alfred stares at the scale, and then at his friends in horror.
After the commercial break, Buzz, Hank, and Chip strategize [in vain] about how Alfred might defeat Mongo in the ring. When Natalie arrives at the Academy, Alfred is all, "Ack!" and tells her she doesn't have to stay for the tournament...but she tells him she's all into it now 'cause she wants to write about it for the school paper. A few seconds later, Mongo enters the gym, and Natalie looks impressed at his toned bod. Alfred motions at Mongo and tells her he's going to be matched up with him, and Natalie bursts out laughing...but then stops when she realizes he's being serious. Alfred tries to laugh it off, but admits he's pretty freaked out. Natalie advises him to drop out of the tournament asap, but Alfred says he can't back out 'cause his father is traveling 300 miles to watch him box. He then warns her that the match could get ugly, and that she should feel free to step outside the gym, or at least shield her eyes.
Mongo looks all muscular and no-nonsense as he lifts weights and pummels the punching bag...and Alfred, Hank, Chip, and Buzz exchange concerned and - in Alfred's case - terrified glances. Hank rushes over to Lieutenant Burton and tells her that Alfred has suddenly come down with something...but when Major Dorsey enters the room, Alfred changes his mind and says he feels just fine. He tells the Major he's excited about his dad coming to watch him box, and Dorsey makes an oops face and tells him they need to talk in private.
Dorsey informs Alfred that he spoke to his father on the phone, and was told he won't be able to make the boxing tournament after all. Alfred looks bummed and grumbles about how his father never makes the time to come to his stuff. He decides to enter the tournament anyway, and Dorsey commends him for his bravery, but urges him to do it solely for himself.
Seconds after the tournament gets underway, Grusky gets knocked out in the first round and is carried out of the ring. Natalie begs Alfred not to go through with this and jokes that she prefers him to be in one piece. When Mongo enters the gym, Buzz hatches a last-ditch plan to spare Alfred from total humiliation and asks Mongo if he's taking physics this semester...and when Mongo says he is, Buzz tells him that Alfred is the best physics tutor at the academy. Mongo furrows his brows as he contemplates that, then enters the ring with Alfred. He lets Alfred get in a few good punches, presumably so he doesn't burn his bridges with the school's best physics tutor...but when George Knight gets upset at his protege's lacklustre performance, Mongo gives Alfred a hard punch to the head and knocks him down. To wrap the episode up quick, Mongo is declared the winner of the tournament...but he makes a point of complimenting Alfred for his gutsy performance and hopes there are no hard feelings. He then looks hopeful as he chirps, "See you in physics class!" and scampers off. Natalie rushes over to Alfred to make sure he's still fully intact...and Major Dorsey gives him a thumbs-up and says, "Nice fight." Alfred nods proudly and says he did it for himself - but, that said, he hopes to never enter a boxing ring again.
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