Family Ties (1982–1989): Season 1, Episode 18 - I Gotta Be Ming - full transcript

Alex volunteers as a big brother but then lets his brother down when his schedule becomes too demanding.

♪ I bet we've been together
for a million years ♪

♪ and I'll bet we'll be together
for a million more ♪

♪ oh, it's like
I started breathing ♪

♪ on the night we kissed

♪ and I can't remember
what I ever did before ♪

♪ what would we do, baby

♪ without us?

♪ what would we do, baby

♪ without us?

♪ and there ain't no nothin' ♪

♪ we can't love
each other through ♪

♪ ooh-hoo

♪ what would we do, baby

♪ without us?

♪ sha-la-la-la

Hello. Hello, yeah, hello.
My name is Elyse Keaton,

and I'm regional chairperson

for the Vietnamese
Relocation Services.

Oh, oh, great.
You've heard of us.

Well, uh, what we need

is for you to donate
some of your time,

help with employment

maybe even send a small check.

Oh, you would.
Well, that's very generous.

Well, we were all foreigners
to these shores at one time.

I'm sorry, Mr. Running Bear.

Just send the check to,
uh, the office... 421 Cathcart.

Thank you. Bye.

Another check?
Mom, you're doing great.

I think it's great
the way you've got

everybody pitching in.

Even Alex, which blew my mind.


Who would have thought Alex
would want to be a big brother?

Not me.

Who would have thought
that someone would want Alex?

Not me.


Steven: Hey.
So, what did you guys do today?

Well, I picked up Ming
after school,

and we went to the library.

They were showing a film,

"the Dewey decimal system
and you."

Wow. Did you have trouble
handling the excitement, Ming?

it was very interesting.

And the librarian's a knockout.

That's true.

I meant that in
a bibliographical sort of way.

After Alex woke me, we went out
and got an ice cream soda.

And then Alex asked this girl...

Uh, Ming, that's, uh,
guy talk, remember?

Gotcha. Gotcha.

That's the best thing
about having a big brother...

Guy talk.

Hey, Ming, do you think
you'll have time to go upstairs

and play with my slot cars?

You're on.
I get to use the blue one.

Uh, Ming, I-i don't think
you do have time for that.

I was kind of hoping
you'd be able to read this

before your mom got here.

That way we'd have something to
talk about tomorrow. What is it?

Oh, it's, uh, just a little
something I threw together.

It's kind of
a "Weekly Reader" version

of the "U.S. News
and World Report."

Just think of it
as a companion piece

to my "Wall Street Journal"

Can't I take it home
with me, Alex?

Ming, it's my only copy.

Are you sure you don't
want to chain it to his wrist?

No, Jennifer. Alex is right.

This will be more fun.
I can play anytime.

I'm going to the dining room
to study this.

What a kid.

You know,
this really excites me...

Shaping his ideas,
molding his mind.

Now I know how you guys

must have felt
when I was growing up.

No, you don't.

Alex, you know there's more
to being a big brother

than just trying to mold him
in your image.

I know that.
And I... and I love that.

It's great to have a little guy
to take places,

a little guy to ask me

a-a little guy...

It's great to have a guy
who's littler than me.

You have a satisfaction
of giving,

the joy of sharing,

the pleasure of extending
yourself to another human being.

Right, and it's gonna look
great on my résumé.

Hello. Hi.

I'm Nguyen Tanly.
I'm Ming's mother.

Hi. I'm Elyse Keaton.
This is my husband, Steven.

Steven: Hi, come on in. Hello.

Our daughters,
Jennifer and Mallory,

and, well, you know Alex.

Oh, please, have a seat.
Oh, thank you.

It's so nice to meet you all.

I've heard such nice things
about you

from Ming and Alex.

Thank you, Alex.

most of it was from Ming.

Well, you know,
it wouldn't look right

for me to brag about
my own family.

You must be so happy
to have Alex as a big brother.

I don't know if "happy" is the
word I would have chosen.

Girls, why don't you go
let Ming know his mom is here?

I gave him some pretty
interesting stuff.

It's gonna be hard to tear him
away from his reading.

Yeah, it's going to be.

He looks so cute
when he's asleep.

How you doing, Jennifer?

Okay, but my tongue's
getting yucky.

Why don't you guys switch jobs?

You can stuff the envelopes,

and Mallory can lick them.

I don't want to mess up
my lip gloss, mom.

That's okay, mom.

I don't think
we have time to retrain her.

Oh, hi, gang. Hi, dad.

Hi, sweetheart.
How was it down at the station?

Oh, a little disappointing.

The ratings for "Oh, My Ohio"
keep slipping.

Oh, but that's
a wonderful program.

It's informative, it's
entertaining, it's educational.

Well, what was it about
last night?

Uh, last night?

I didn't actually see it
last night.


Uh, I-i meant to see it.

I saw it.
It was about highway repair.

If any potholes spring up
in the living room, call me.

How's it going here? Okay.

We're getting out the announcements
for the circus benefit.

I have a lot of big surprises
there, too.

As long as there's nothing

that involves me and a tiger.

Alex home?

No, he's out with Ming.

Uh, they went to a lecture

on Money Management for
success-oriented adolescents.

Same kind of thing we did
when we were kids.


Alex, you're supposed
to be his big brother,

not his twin brother.

No, he picked it out
all by himself.

I said he could buy any outfit
in the store he wanted,

or I'd buy him this one.

Guess you were short of cash,
huh, Ming?

We also got these.

We're gonna hang them up
in our rooms.

I'm gonna take these upstairs.
I want to hang up mine now.

I'll bet nobody else

has a great big picture
of Alex in his room.

Alex does.

Wow. He's hard to keep up with.

You having a good time
with him, Ming?

Well, the time of my life.
Alex is the greatest.

He's brainwashed him.

Oh, I know Alex can be
a little intense at times.

He's probably just
going through a phase.

Yeah, that's what we thought
at first.

Now we think
it's nutritional deficiency.

All right,
what do you want to do now?

Let's look at the chart.

What kind of chart is that?

Oh, well, when I took on
the responsibility

of being Ming's big brother,

I had to reorganize my time.

It wasn't easy, but I think
I've got it worked out.

See, I mapped out
all my activities...

School, chess club,

girls, special girls,

Susie Farkas.

Well, Commerce Department

start in a few minutes.

What say we go upstairs
and get our notebooks ready?

But, Alex, what about free play?

we had free play yesterday.

I'm a kid, Alex.
I need to play every day.

All right, you've got,
uh, four minutes.

What do you want to do?

I guess the mile run is out.

Whatever you want to do,
Alex, is fine with me.

Well, why don't we go outside

and toss the football
around, then?

We've got time
for, uh, 23 throws each,

for miscellaneous flubs.

I say we go for it.
Let's go for it.

You're gonna go for the whole
four minutes, huh, Alex?

Why not? Life is short.

Hello. Uh, just a minute.
Alex, it's for you.

I'm busy
with my little brother, dad.

It's Susie Farkas.

We'll play tomorrow.

Steven. How do I look, huh?

I am so nervous.

I've never been in charge
of a circus benefit before.

You haven't?

Why didn't you tell me that
before we got married?

Steven, how do I look?

You look great.


Mwah. Mwah. Mwah. Mwah. Mwah.

It's Saturday.
Can't you two take the day off?

We're workaholics.

Where's Ming?

We thought it'd be better
if he made a grand entrance.

Come on down, Ming.

Ah. Oh!

You look terrific.
What a wonderful costume.

Are you a happy clown
or a sad clown?

I'm happy.

Alex is taking me to the circus.

Ah, we're gonna have
such a good time.

The opening ceremonies
start at noon,

and then there's
the main circus events,

and then there's the big
brother/little brother parade.


Oh, hey, hey, Alex.
Where have you been?

Oh, we had a meeting
of the debate club.

It ran a little long.

We kept arguing
over what time to stop.

Alex, what do you think of Ming?

Ming, what are you...

Oh, boy.

Big brother/little brother
circus day, right?

What are you going as, Alex...

The owner of the circus?

It's today, huh?

Well, isn't it on your chart?

Uh, yes. Yes, it is.
I guess I forgot.

Well, no big deal.
You're here now.

While you're getting
into your costume,

we'll be putting the cakes
and cookies in the car.

Uh, Ming, we have
a little problem here.

You see, uh, I really did
forget about the circus.

That's okay.
You've got a lot on your mind.

No, you don't understand.
See, I forgot.

I-I made other plans.


Yeah, we got a meeting

of the Young Entrepreneurs'
Club today.

I'm taking pictures
for the yearbook.

I'm sorry,
but I won't be able to go

to the circus with you.

That's okay.

Do I look like someone
who'd want to go to the circus?

Maybe a little.

I got a great idea.

Why don't I go to the meeting
with you?

That way we can still be
together this afternoon.

Don't be silly, Ming.

You're gonna have a lot more fun
at the circus.

Fun's not that important, Alex.
You taught me that.

Look, Ming,
you're going to the circus.

You're gonna have a great time
with my family.

What about the big
brother/little brother parade?

I'll take you next week.

We'll walk around together.

Uh, they're waiting.
You'd better get going.


I'll have a great time
with your folks.

They're very nice.

They helped me put together
this outfit,

with makeup and everything.

Yeah, and you look great.

They drew a big mouth on you
and a big nose.

They even drew a little tear.

Every time we go to the circus,
it's always the same thing.

You know you guys
shouldn't eat all that stuff,

but you go right ahead
and do it.

Once in a while,
we just can't resist.

I guess I'd better
go upstairs and change.

Thanks for taking me. Yeah.

Ah, honey, it was our pleasure.

I'm sorry you didn't have
such a good time.

I had a really good time,
a great time.

What made you think I didn't
have a really good time?

Well, most kids don't cry
during the high-wire act.

I was worried about them.


How you doing? Hey, Alex.


So, how was the circus?

It was great.

A man put his head
inside a lion's mouth.

I hope he worked there.

Uh, girls...

Why don't you take
Ming for a walk?

Are you kidding?
It's freezing outside.

Then walk him
around the dining room.

They're trying to get rid of us,
aren't they?

You got it. Okay, let's split.

Alex, how could you...
Alex, what did you have...

I'm sorry, Elyse. Go ahead.

No, that's okay. You start.

You started speaking first.
I don't mind.

Look, I know what you're gonna
say, and you're right.

I shouldn't have let Ming
down like that.

I took on a responsibility,

and I didn't handle it at all.

I let him down.
I let myself down.

I let everybody down. I'm sorry.

Well, I guess we told him.

Hope we weren't
too rough on you, Alex.

Hey, Alex, "Oh, My Ohio" is on.

You know that show
you've been telling me about?

That's all right, Ming.
That one's a repeat.

Listen, can I talk to you
for a minute, alone? Sure.

Well, I-i guess we should
see it at least once.

Oh, it's
a great segment tonight.

Uh, "Downtown Akron...
An evening in Byzantium."

So you liked the circus, huh?

I'm sorry you couldn't come.

Did you have fun tonight, too?

No, no fun.

Well, maybe we can have fun now.

We can plan my teen years
like you wanted.

Uh, listen, Ming...

T-things are getting very busy
for me at school right now.

I-I belong to several clubs
and organizations.

You're vice president
of the Young Entrepreneurs.

And... and then there's
my busy social life.

Jill, and sometimes Linda.

You know, actually, Jill is out.

I met this girl Brenda
at the meeting tonight.


Uh, look, Ming, uh...

This relationship
isn't working out at all.

You just met her tonight, Alex.

No, Ming...

I mean me and you.

T-this big brother thing
just isn't working out.

What do you mean, Alex?

Well, let me see if I can
explain this to you.


The chemistry
just isn't right between us.

I-it happens
in a lot of relationships.

Ronald Reagan
and Alexander Haig.

Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew.

Diana Ross and The Supremes.

Well, she's done very well
on her own.

Look, I'm dragging you off
to the library

when you'd rather be
in a ball park.

I'm putting you in ties

when you'd rather be
in t-shirts.

I'm a failure at this.

You must sense that.

Look, what I'm trying to say...

Under the circumstances,

I shouldn't be
your big brother anymore.

Alex, what's wrong with Ming?
He was crying.

Well, I just told him

I couldn't
be his big brother anymore.

Nice going, Alex.

It's a good that
E.T. didn't land here.

Mallory, don't forget,

we have to send a receipt to
everyone who sent a donation.

Yeah, I've taken care of that.

What's in the box over there?

Oh, that's from
Macgregor's Department Store.

There should be something
for the families there.

It's a fondue set.

These are all fondue sets.

What are Vietnamese refugees

going to do with fondue sets?

Same thing we do...
Put them on a top shelf

and never use them.

Hey, Alex.
Want to give us a hand here?

Yeah, sure.

Where have you been?

Walking. Just walking.

Where'd you go?

Nowhere special.

I've been there.

Hey, have you girls looked
through your closets

for things to donate?

No, I forgot.

I'll go do that right now.

I looked.
I need some more summer clothes.

Let's go thin out your wardrobe.

Anything you want to
talk about, Alex?

No, not really.

You don't seem
very happy lately.

You've been moping around
for days.

If I've been moping,

it's just because I've had
more time to mope lately.

That's all.

Thought I'd take advantage.

Did you put it on your chart?

No, I didn't have to.

It comes under
miscellaneous emotions.

You sure it's not about Ming?

Ming. No. No.
He's out of my life.

Alex, you can admit it.

You shouldn't be ashamed
because you miss him.

Miss him?

Dad, I made up my mind
in the beginning

to refrain from becoming
emotionally attached.

And that's exactly
how I've stayed.

Ow. What is that?

That's one
of Ming's clown shoes.


You see, dad,
emotional attachments...

Why should I miss the kid?

He's nothing like I want
my kid to be.

You mean Francis Scott Keaton,

to be born July 4, 1999?


Look, Alex.

I once wanted a son
who shared my interests,

who loved camping
and the outdoors,

played starting forward
on a basketball team,

was against
increased defense spending.

Sound like anybody we know?

Sounds a little
like a combination

of Grizzly Adams, Julius Erving,
and George Mcgovern.

Also sounds a lot like you.

Well, I didn't get
what I thought I wanted,

even though I tried for a while.

I'm sorry.

No, no, no, Alex, Alex.

That's not what I mean.

Look, I had no right to expect
you to be just like me.

I got a different kid.

He's, uh, bright,

sensitive about other things,

and an expert
on supply-side economics.

And I love him very much.

I couldn't be happier.

You know, I'll never forget
the first day I met him.

I wore plaid, he wore stripes.

I was afraid we'd clash.

But we looked great together.

It's nice that you
remember that, Alex.

It's not an easy day to forget.

He had such a cute walk,

one foot in front of the other.

And then when he ran,

it was the same thing,
only faster.

I didn't plan on becoming
emotionally involved.

But this crazy thing
just happened.

You don't plan those things,

You don't control them.

What do you do?

Just go with it.

Alex. This is a surprise.


It's kind of a surprise
to me, too.

Can I come in?

Oh, sure. Please.


Remember me?

Yes, you do.

I'll leave you guys alone.

Don't worry, mom.

Alex won't be here for long.

So... This is your place, huh?

It's nice. Very nice.

Uh, this is your bed?

It folds back into a couch.

It's very practical.

So, uh,

I guess you sleep here, then.

Right. In the bed.

That's the place for it.

Were you always this boring,

I'm nervous.

I always talk like this
when I'm... when I'm nervous.

Sometimes I just ramble on

with no idea what I'm saying.

I think this is one
of those times.

Yeah. I-i just wanted
to come by and say hi

and, uh, give you this.


But I don't know when I'll be

dressing up like a clown again.

Yeah, well, always makes
a great paper weight.

My mom's getting me
a new big brother.

Bigger than you.

I guess there's no chance
you'd take me back, huh?

Why should I?

Because I miss you, Ming.

You've got a lot of nerve, Alex.

You dump me,
and then because you miss me,

you expect me to take you back?

I'm not saying I deserve you.
I'm just saying I want you.

You don't want me.

You want a little you.

You want someone
that looks like you,

acts like you,
and thinks like you.

Is that how I acted?


I can't be Alex.

I've got to be Ming.

We had a lot of good times,

Going to the movies,
tossing the ball around,

guy talk.

If you don't want to read
"The Wall Street Journal,"

y-you don't have to.

If you don't want to be
a young republican,

it won't bother me.

What if I want to be
a liberal democrat?

Why would you possibly...


I'd be with you.

I wouldn't like it,
but I'd be with you.


I already got your picture up.

Welcome back.

It's great to be back.


I guess you can take the dart
out of my nose, huh?

Not so fast.

We'll have to see how you do.

I'm gonna be okay.