Season 5

Episode 518: “Family Business”

Episode 518:  “Family Business”
Original Air Date:February 21, 1999
Written by::Glenn Berenbeim
Directed by:Peter H. Hunt
Produced by:

Martha Williamson
Jon Andersen
R.J. Visciglia, Jr.

Guest Cast:
Phil Bill Cosby
Ben Pat Hingle
Frankie Michael Rispoli
Ellen Sydney Walsh
Dee Dee Romy Rosemont
Sylvia Joyce Van Patten
Buddy Josh Carmichael
Sharon Stacey Travis

On their 35th wedding anniversary, Ben and Sylvia Mangione, owners of a car dealership, host a huge sale. Monica and Tess are on hand to help the Mangione family, and Phil, the angel of reconciliation, will assist them, if the perennially late angel ever arrives. Mangione Auto World is a family business, with daughters Ellen and Dee Dee and Ellen’s husband Frankie all working there. But one of the children, Buddy, moved to California several years ago, refusing to take over the family business, much to Ben’s chagrin.

During the sale, Buddy calls to say he is returning for the anniversary with a big announcement to make. Frank is upset that Buddy is returning because he thinks it may spoil his chances for taking over the dealership. Indeed, Ben hopes Buddy is returning to take over the dealership. At the anniversary party Tess plays with the band, filling in for the still tardy Phil, while Monica caters the event. Soon, however, the police show up to let the family know that Buddy has been killed in a car crash. Ben and Frank are called to identify Buddy’s remains but, since the corpse has been badly burned, they identify his personal effects. Rather than grieve, the family argues over Buddy’s funeral arrangements.Ben insists on returning to work, where he meets Sharon, a young woman claiming to be Buddy’s wife. The family thinks this must be Buddy’s big surprise, but is upset when Sharon wants to have the body cremated. Monica helps them strike a bargain — Buddy will be buried if Sharon performs the eulogy at the service.

Meanwhile, Andrew finds Phil and offers to give him a lift into town. They are further detained when the car overheats, but are offered help by a hitchhiker who is eagerly trying to get to town. They offer him a lift. At the funeral, Sharon delivers the eulogy, recalling a touching memory about how Buddy saved the life of a beached whale. Before she can finish, though, the hitchhiker arrives. It’s Buddy! The family is shocked to see him alive and he explains how his car was stolen and he had to hitchhike into town. Rather than rejoice that his son is alive, Ben wants to know if Buddy is ready to take over the business. Buddy says ‘no,’ and a furious Ben returns to the dealership where Monica is waiting for him.

Monica reveals that she is an angel and takes him back to the funeral parlor where she finishes the eulogy. The eulogy reveals the big surprise, that Buddy has cancer and will soon die. Phil finally arrives to tell a shocked Ben that God wants him to stop keeping such a tight hold on his family. Phil points out that many fathers wish they could have the gift that Ben has: the chance to spend one more hour with his son, to tell him all of the things he wished he had said when he was alive. Buddy arrives at the funeral parlor, and Ben embraces his son, asking for forgiveness and expressing his love.

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