Jailhouse Blue is the fifteenth episode of the third season in this television sitcom on Family Matters, which was aired from ABC on January 24, 1992. It was directed by Gary Menteer and written both by Sara V. Finney and Vida Spears.
Harriette's troublesome Detroit cousin, Clarence (Shaun Baker), is sent to live with the Winslows. He quickly proves to be a bad influence on Eddie and gets him and an unwilling Urkel (along with a car-ful of pretty girls) in serious trouble for grand theft auto. Harriette sends an unremorseful Clarence back to Detroit to live with his mother after being fed up with his attitude while Eddie is remorseful for his involvement. While the owner agrees to drop the charge against him, Carl still punishes Eddie to do community service by volunteering at elderly shelters.
Harriette and Rachel's troubled cousin, Clarence, is invited to stay with the Winslows for a few months. His family in Detroit, apparently had enough of the boy's growing police record. They hope that one stay with the Winslows will help him become a person of the law and give up on being a thug. However, Harriette immediately regrets letting him stay with them, especially after she noticed that his "bad-boy" attitude is more than they can handle and he becomes a negative influence on Eddie. She's not the only one who dislikes his bad boy persona. Most of the family and Steve dislike his attitude too. Especially after he first met him and tells Eddie how he truly feels about him. He thinks that he won't amount to anything because he's not cool and is going nowhere in life being a thug. Then, Urkel tries to warn his mother to get inside quickly because of his killer bee experiment. During the evening, Mother Winslow stays with the kids as Eddie and Clarence asks for the family car from Carl, for their joyride to pick up girls. Unfortunately, he refuses and tells them to stay away from it. He, Harriette and Rachel leave for dinner and the boys pondered what to do next. Undaunted, Clarence decides to find a car for the joyride more suitable for them, since he believes that the family car would only pick up old women.
Later on in the kitchen, Eddie is working on a puzzle when Steve shows up and invites him to go to the conservatory for the annual BYOB (Bring your own Binoculars) night. It isn't long before Clarence shows up in the kitchen and brings Eddie and Urkel in the garage with a Porsche and two girls named Oneisha and Halawna. He immediately invites both boys along for the ride, claiming that the owner let him borrow the car and will immediately return it when they're done. Eddie's willing to go but Steve refuses to budge and suspected that Clarence had stolen the car from the owner by disguising as a parking valet. He warns Eddie to think about the consequences ahead if he goes with Clarence on the joyride. Eddie ignores Urkel's warning and goes in the car with the girls, claiming that he's lonely and wants female companionship. Then, Clarence takes a very reluctant Steve with them so he can't tell Carl the truth about what happened. Urkel protests to his abrupt hostage situation but Eddie reassures him that his cousin knows what he's doing and enjoy the ride. However, Steve's warning against going on the joyride was best heeded. Especially, after the police quickly put it to an end because Clarence had stolen the Porsche and discovering them in it! The boys winds up at the precinct and they're photographed for possible charges of grand auto theft by the owner of the Porsche.
At the Winslow house, Carl is infuriated with Clarence for bringing Eddie and Steve into his scheme, knowing that he was bad news. He tells Harriette that her relatives in Detroit made a terrible mistake in letting him come to Chicago and he should have been locked up in the first place. Minutes later, Lieutenant Murtaugh shows up with Eddie and Clarence at the house. Immediately, he tells Carl that after he dropped Steve off at the Urkel house, his parents were very upset, because he brought him back. He then tells him that he convinced the owner to drop the charges. Once Lieutenant Murtaugh leaves, Carl starts his lecture on Clarence in his usual rageful manner and prepares to throttle him. However, Harriette convinces him to let her deal with her cousin and he deals with their son. She also mentions if he should kill someone, make sure it's their closest relative. Carl agrees and orders Eddie to get in the kitchen immediately and sends Laura to bed. Eddie goes into the kitchen with his father, leaving Clarence to face an equally angry Harriette in the living room. She immediately lectures him on his attitude and how it has a negative impact on her son and forcibly bringing Steve into the mix. Harriette tells Clarence off that he's not cool because of his arrogant attitude and that cool people are responsible, levelheaded and respectful people who learn and admit the mistakes they make. However, Clarence is still remorseless for his actions and only says he's sorry for getting caught. Harriette is so disgusted with his arrogant attitude, that she tells him that he'll have to go back to Detroit. She also tells Clarence that she'll be calling his mother back in Detroit so that she'll be expecting him when he comes home. Although he apparently starts showing some remorse, Clarence coldly tells her that he doesn't need her and sorms upstairs to pack his stuff.
Alone in the kitchen, Carl is about ready to discipline Eddie for his involvement with Clarence in stealing the Porsche. Just before he could have a chance to do so, a remorseful Eddie apologizes for his irresponsible behavior and scolds himself. He admitted Steve warned him not to get inside the stolen Porsche and go on the joyride. However, because Clarence tempted him with pretty girls, Eddie ignored it and learned first hand on how much a negative influence he was after they got arrested ("Nobody looks cool in handcuffs!"). Even though the owner has agreed to dropped the charges and Carl forgives him, Eddie will still have to face punishment. He tells his son that he will not ground him but he'll be doing community service with the Meals on Wheels Program every Saturday for the next entire year no matter how good or bad the weather is, starting at 6AM, which is only a few hours later, much to Eddie's chagrin. Eddie heads off to bed as Harriette comes into the kitchen. Harriette reveals that her talk with him didn't go well because Clarence arrogantly refused to see the error of his ways and that it was like talking to a wall. She reveals that they are sending him back to Detroit for him to face proper punishment. However, Harriette still worries about Eddie meeting future temptations and repeating himself. Carl reassures her that he won't because Eddie knows that what he was about to do is a serious offense.
Steve tells Laura about his experiences being in jail with Eddie and Clarence but she shoves him out the house and tells him to go back to the Urkel house.
- Reginald VelJohnson as Carl Winslow
- Jo Marie Payton as Harriette Winslow
- Rosetta LeNoire as Estelle Winslow
- Darius McCrary as Eddie Winslow
- Kellie Shanygne Williams as Laura Winslow
- Jaimee Foxworth as Judy Winslow
- Bryton James as Richie Crawford (credited as Bryton McClure)
- Jaleel White as Steve Urkel
- Telma Hopkins as Rachel Crawford
- Clarence is the first character from Detroit introduced in the series. Steve's cousin OGD would appear later in the final (9th) season.
- This is the 2nd time Urkel warned Eddie not to do something that is law breaking. In this case going on a joyride with Clarence in the Porsche. The first time was back in Fast Eddie Winslow and repeated in Money Out the Window and in Scammed.
- This marks one of the few times Lt. Murtaugh actually did his job
- Murtaugh repeats his "Keep it moving, Mr. Backwards Hat" in this episode. The first time was in Born to Be Mild
- Eddie: Would you relax, Steve? Clarence has under control. Besides, it's just a joy ride. What could go wrong?
- [Eddie, Clarence and Steve are arrested by the police for theft. This proved Urkel's warning against going on the joyride in the stolen Porsche was best heeded.]
- Harriette: So what do you have to say for yourself? (Clarence remains silent and sits down) I'm surprised, after all you have done, you only have a whole lot to say. You know what really bothers me, Clarence, you took Eddie and Steve with you. Now if you want to mess up your life, that's your problem. But when you mess with me and mine, you in big trouble. Swagger in here with your cigarettes and your arrogant attitude and you think you're so cool. [Stands Clarence up] Let me tell you something: you're not cool, Clarence. Cool is respecting yourself and the people that care about you. Cool is knowing the difference between right and wrong. And when you make a mistake, having the courage to admit to it. That's what cool is Clarence. Clarence, are you sorry for any of this?
- Clarence:(remorseless) Yeah. I'm sorry I got caught.
- Harriette: (disgusted by his attitude) Okay. I've given you every opportunity. Get upstairs and pack your bags. You're going home.
- Clarence: What, you jokin'?
- Harriette: No, I'm not, Clarence. Get upstairs and pack your stuff. I'll call your mother and tell her you're on your way.
- [Clarence walks to the staircase and turns back to Harriette.]
- Clatence: Fine! I don't need you! Cousin!
- Urkel (to Eddie): Listen to that voice inside you, Eddo! It's wrong-ong-ong!
- Lt. Murtaugh (about Urkel): I dropped the, uh, nerd off next door at the, uh, nerd house. His parents were very upset.
- Carl: Why, because he was in jail?
- Lt. Murtaugh: No, because I brought him back.
- Lt. Murtaugh: All right inside you two. Come on. Keep it moving, Mr. Backwards Hat.
- Carl: All right, Easy C. Let me.....
- Harriette: Carl. Carl. I'll talk to Clarence. You talk to Eddie. If you're going to kill somebody, make sure it's a close relative.
- Carl:[Addressing Eddie] You, kitchen.
- [Eddie follows Carl to the kitchen. Laura tries to follow them, but is caught by Carl]
- Carl: Bed!
- Laura: That's right. [heads upstairs to go to bed.]