Diff’rent Strokes—Season 2

diffrent strokes season 2 dvd cover episode guide
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

Classic sitcom

Cliche plots and dated jokes

diffrent strokes season 2 episode 6 arnolds hero mohammad ali cast

The Champ says it’s the Greatest!

Willis (Todd Bridges) and Arnold (Gary Coleman) are settling in with Mr. Drummond (Conrad Bain) and Kimberly (Dana Plato)…but things are always changing.  Mrs. Garrett (Charlotte Rae) finds new work at Eastland while the Drummonds break in a new housekeeper in Adelaide Brubaker (Nedra Volz).  Arnold faces a medical challenge while dodging threats from the Gooch.  Willis joins a gang and faces jail.  Plus, things all change for Willis and Arnold when Mr. Drummond decides to adopt them.

Diff’rent Strokes—Season 2 is a family sitcom.  The season ran on NBC from September 21, 1979 to March 26, 1980.  The season features crossover episodes with the spin-off TV series Hello, Larry.

While it is no prize winner, Diff’rent Strokes was my “kids sitcom” growing up.  It was the sitcom that’s jokes and plots were simple enough that almost none of them went over my head, and featured kids (though much older) were at least closer to age to me than most sitcoms.  Rewatching Diff’rent Strokes, the show’s context and time period have to be remembered.

diffrent strokes season 2 episode 14 the election adelaide brubaker nedra volz

Oh, Adelaide…your old person cracks are…pretty old

The stories for Diff’rent Strokes often come down to morality plays for the character.  Almost every show could “teach a lesson” to younger viewers be it about being afraid of doctors, “snitching”, and bullies.  The show continuously plays jokes with the race issue of a wealthy white guy having adopted two African-American children and the mix-ups that occur.  It is low-hanging fruit, but it is also the point of the show.

In that regards the show hasn’t aged well.  A great example is when Kimberly has a boyfriend who doesn’t want his sister to go on a date with Willis because he’s Black (the sister is The Office’s Melora Harding).  To teach Kimberly’s boyfriend a lesson, they decide to have Kimberly go in blackface to the dance that Willis is unable to go to.  It serves a purpose in the story, but it is pretty tasteless (it wasn’t uncommon then…but that doesn’t necessarily make it right).  The boyfriend doesn’t want to be seen with Kimberly (but for whole different reason why he wouldn’t go to a party with her today).

The show loses Mrs. Garrett to The Facts of Life and brings in a new housekeeper in Adelaide Brubaker who is fun but just never was Mrs. Garrett.  It also features two crossover episodes with Hello, Larry and their cast.  The episodes in syndication and collections the Hello, Larry episodes have been folded into the Diff’rent Strokes series.

diffrent strokes season 2 episode 9 father and son day reggie jackson todd bridges gary coleman

Diff’rent Strokes liked their celebrity sports appearances

The cast is solid and in retrospect, while Gary Coleman has the timing, Todd Bridges might have better acting of the core cast.  Guest appearances include Dabney Coleman, Meadowlark Lemon, Reggie Jackson, Melora Hardin, Whitman Mayo, Mary Ann Mobley (who later played the second Maggie), James Hong, and Mindy Cohn, Kim Fields, Julie Anne Haddock, and Molly Ringwald of The Facts of Life stop by.  I also remember more than actual boxing, I remember Muhammad Ali from his guest appearance this season.

The show is standard sitcom.  It is heavy set based and even when they leave the sets, it still a basic set.  It was rather rare for sitcoms at the time to ever go on location and to ever do anything outside of a three camera shoot…Diff’rent Strokes does it well, but it is standard.

Diff’rent Strokes—Season 2 is probably just for those who grew up with it.  The racial issues of the episodes are dated and out of touch with modern times, and the jokes are almost all “dad jokes” wrapped in a kids’ sitcom.  While I can watch Diff’rent Strokes and enjoy it (I vividly remember some of the episodes like the rabies episode), I also can understand how people might find it mind-numbing…but different strokes for different folks.

Diff’rent Strokes—Season 2 Complete Episode Guide:

diffrent strokes season 2 part 1 arnolds girlfriend part 1 alice rachel jacobs gary coleman

“Arnold’s Girlfriend—Part 1”

2.1       Arnold’s Girlfriend—Part 1 Airdate:  09/21/79

Arnold (Gary Coleman) needs his appendix out but is scared until he meets Alice (Rachel Jacobs) who needs her tonsils out.  Alice’s father (Dabney Coleman) is in line for a business deal with Mr. Drummond (Conrad Bain), but Mr. Tanner has an issue with Mr. Drummond’s “unusual family”.

diffrent strokes season 2 episode 2 arnolds girlfriend part 2 dabney coleman conrad bain

“Arnold’s Girlfriend—Part 2”

2.2       Arnold’s Girlfriend—Part 2 Airdate:  09/21/79

With Alice and Arnold not able to share a hospital room together due to Alice’s father, Alice and Arnold are on the run…and Arnold’s appendix is close to bursting.

diffrent strokes season 2 episode 3 feudin and fussin part 1 hello larry adler drummond conrad bain mclean stevenson

“Feudin’ and Fussin’—Part 1”

2.3A    Feudin’ and Fussin’—Part 1 Airdate:  09/28/79

When Mr. Drummond’s tennis partner Ted (Bobby Ramsen) needs a new host for his talk show, Arnold suggests Larry Alder (McLean Stevenson)…leading Larry, Morgan Winslow (Joanna Gleason), and Ruthie Alder (Kim Richards) to make a cross-country flight for an audition…but Ruthie has problems with the new job offer.

diffrent strokes season 2 episode 3 feudin and fussin hello larry talk show kim richards mclean stevenson gary coleman

“Feudin’ and Fussin’—Part 2”

2.3B    Feudin’ and Fussin’—Part 2 Airdate:  09/28/79

Larry’s big talk show hosting gig hits a snag when the main guest Meadowlark Lemon is unable to attend…forcing Arnold and Ruthie to make their big TV debut.

diffrent strokes season 2 episode 4 mrs garretts romance charlotte rae philip charles mackenzie

“Mrs. Garrett’s Romance”

2.4       Mrs. Garrett’s Romance Airdate:  10/12/79

Mrs. Garrett (Charlotte Rae) has new romance in her life from her cooking class, but the family learns that Leon (Philip Charles MacKenzie) is quite younger than her.

diffrent strokes season 2 episode 5 birds and bees mr drummond arnold conrad bain gary coleman

“Birds and Bees”

2.5       Birds and Bees Airdate:  10/19/79

A pregnant neighbor has Arnold confused on where babies come from…but Willis’s pep talk about sex has Arnold mixed up.

diffrent strokes season 2 episode 6 arnolds hero mohammad ali gary coleman todd bridges

“Arnold’s Hero”

2.6       Arnold’s Hero Airdate:  10/24/79

The Gooch is back for Arnold, and Arnold hopes Mohammad Ali can help him…but to get Ali to the house, Willis and Kimberly (Dana Plato) might have to get creative.

diffrent strokes season 2 episode 7 the adoption part 1 jethro whitman mayo

“The Adoption—Part 1”

2.7       The Adoption—Part 1 Airdate:  10/31/79

Mr. Drummond is on the verge of adopting Willis (Todd Bridges) and Arnold…but the arrival of a man named Jethro (Whitman Mayo) who claims to be Willis and Arnold’s real relative could create a problem.

diffrent strokes season 2 episode 8 the adoption part 2 jethro willis arnold gary coleman whitman mayo todd bridges

“The Adoption—Part 2”

2.8       The Adoption—Part 2 Airdate:  11/07/79

“Cousin” Jethro is threatening to take Arnold and Willis away…and Mr. Drummond might not have any options left.

diffrent strokes season 2 episode 9 father and son day willis mr drummond todd bridges conrad bain

“Father and Son Day”

2.9       Father and Son Day Airdate:  11/14/79

Willis enters Mr. Drummond in a Father-Son competition at the YMCA competition to get even with a sore-winner named James (Erik Moses), but James’s father (Mark Davitt) is more than a match for Mr. Drummond…and Willis decides he has to bring in a ringer with Larry (Reggie Jackson).

diffrent strokes season 2 episode 10 thanksgiving crossover part 1 mclean stevenson conrad bain hello larry

“Thanksgiving Crossover—Part 1”

2.10A  Thanksgiving Crossover—Part 1 Airdate:  11/28/79

Larry and his family are visiting for the holidays, but Phil might have bad news on a TV proposal deal by Larry.

diffrent strokes season 2 episode 10 thanksgiving crossover part 2 conrad bain mclean stevenson joanna gleason hello larry

“Thanksgiving Crossover—Part 2”

2.10B  Thanksgiving Crossover—Part 2 Airdate:  11/28/79

Phil’s rejection of Larry’s TV offer has started a war in the Drummond household…can Larry and Phil’s friendship be saved?

diffrent strokes season 2 episode 11 the rivals donniece jackson todd bridges gary coleman

“The Rivals”

2.11     The Rivals Airdate:  12/05/79

Arnold has a new love interest in Lurlene (Donniece Jackson)…but Lurlene is using Arnold to get close to Willis.

diffrent strokes willis arnold thieves gary coleman todd bridges

“Hot Watch”

2.12     Hot Watch Airdate:  12/12/79

Arnold and Willis find a watch hidden in the hallway outside a burglarized apartment, and Willis tells Arnold that being Black will get them arrested.

diffrent strokes season 2 episode 13 the dog story rabies james hong gary coleman

“The Dog Story”

2.13     The Dog Story Airdate:  12/19/79

When Arnold saves a dog from being hit, he might have exposed to rabies.

diffrent strokes season 2 episode 14 the election cast

“The Election”

2.14     The Election Airdate:  01/09/80

Philip is asked by his friend (Charles Thomas Murphy) to run for City Council, but Philip learns that it might not be entirely genuine.  The Drummonds test out a new housekeeper in Adelaide Brubaker (Nedra Volz).

diffrent strokes season 2 episode 15 friendly mate conrad bain vonett mcgee

“Friendly Mate”

2.15     Friendly Mate Airdate:  01/16/80

Mr. Drummond is feeling down and thinking about doing more dating.  When Willis and Arnold decide to get him a date from a computer dating service, the owner Lucielle (Vonetta McGee) expects to meet Willis and Arnold’s father…while one of Mr. Drummond’s coworkers also sets him up on a date.

diffrent strokes season 2 episode 16 poor drummond conrad bain robert rockwell

“Poor Drummond”

2.16     Poor Drummond Airdate:  01/23/80

When the bank loan falls through, Phil learns that he could be pushed to financial ruin…and Willis, Kimberly, and Arnold realize they have to help.

diffrent strokes season 2 episode 17 big business willis arnold gary coleman todd bridges

“Big Business”

2.17     Big Business Airdate:  01/30/80

Willis and Arnold find they could strike it rich with Adelaide’s brownies…pushing Adelaide to the edge.  When the quest for a profit gets too big, Arnold and Willis try to make the brownies themselves.

diffrent strokes season 2 episode 18 return of the gooch karate arnold gary coleman

“Return of the Gooch”

2.18     Return of the Gooch Airdate:  02/06/80

The Gooch is back, and Arnold is paying for it.  When Mr. Drummond gets Arnold in karate lessons, Willis tries to boost his self-esteem by tricking Arnold into thinking he’s better at karate than he said…leading to a showdown with the Gooch.

diffrent strokes season 2 episode 19 valentines day retrospective willis arnold gary coleman todd bridges

“Valentine’s Day Retrospective”

2.19     Valentine’s Day Retrospective Airdate:  02/13/80

It’s Valentine’s Day, and Willis, Arnold, and Kimberly decide Mr. Drummond is their Valentine, but Willis and Arnold find themselves accidentally locked in the storage room.

diffrent strokes season 2 episode 20 skin deep or true blue dana plato todd bridges melora hardin

“Skin Deep or True Blue”

2.20     Skin Deep or True Blue Airdate:  02/20/80

Kimberly has a new boyfriend named Roger (Grant Wilson) and his sister Emily (Melora Hardin) is interested in Willis…but Roger objects to Emily dating someone who is Black.

diffrent strokes season 2 episode 21 teachers pet mr drummond conrad bain mary ann mobley

“Teacher’s Pet”

2.21     Teacher’s Pet Airdate:  02/27/80

Mr. Drummond meets Arnold’s teacher Ms. Osbourne (Mary Ann Mobley), and Arnold finds himself in a difficult position when Mr. Drummond starts dating her.

diffrent strokes season 2 episode 22 the slumber party facts of life cast

“The Slumber Party”

2.22     The Slumber Party Airdate:  03/12/80

Kimberly has her friends Molly (Molly Ringwald), Cindy (Julie Anne Haddock), Natalie (Mindy Cohn), and Tootie (Kim Fields) over, but she runs into a problem when Willis has his friends over…which could ruin Mr. Drummond’s date with Valerie (Carol White).

diffrent strokes season 2 episode 23 arnold faces fatality abraham fish funeral

“Arnold Faces Fatality”

2.23     Arnold Faces Fatality Airdate:  03/19/80

It is Arnold’s fish Abraham’s birthday, but when Adelaide finds Abraham dead, the family decides they must cover-up Abraham’s death.

diffrent strokes season 2 episode 24 the squealer willis gang tarantulas todd bridges jail

“The Squealer”

2.24     The Squealer Airdate:  03/26/80

Willis is excited because he’s been offered membership in the Tarantulas…but the Tarantulas have criminal intent.

Related Links:

Diff’rent Strokes—Season 1 Review and Episode Guide

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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