Family Ties (1982–1989): Season 2, Episode 14 - Say Uncle - full transcript

Uncle Ned pays the Keatons a visit. However, it becomes quickly evident to Alex that Ned has developed a drinking problem. Alex tries to convince his reluctant family of Ned's addiction before it's too late.

♪ 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.

I think Jennifer's improving,

don't you, Mal?

Yes, definitely.

Couldn't she learn to play
something quieter...

Like checkers?

Alex, we all put up with you

when you were learning
how to play the accordion.

Come on, Mallory,
that was different.

I had a rare gift
for that instrument.

Your teacher wound up
in an institution!


Hey, Mrs. Billington
had serious personal problems

way before I played
"Lady of Spain"!

Isn't uncle Ned here yet?

Can't wait to play for him.

He should be here any minute.

I think you should
keep practicing.

Uh, outside.

Well, come on.

The acoustics
are better outside.

It's dark out, Alex.

It'll get you in the mood,

You can play the blues.

All right,

but just call me
when uncle Ned gets here.


So, ma, think uncle Ned's gonna
stay for a while this time?

Well, it's hard to predict
anything about my brother.

The only thing you can predict

is he'll be unpredictable.

And even that
we're not too sure about.

Yeah, well, if dad gets him
this job at the station,

he'll be able to settle down.

Now, don't get your hopes up
about this.

Your dad's trying
to set up an interview,

but I think you should
stop bugging him about it.

What, me?

I haven't been bugging him.

Alex, you wallpapered
our bedroom

with Ned's résumé.


What's Jennifer doing outside?

She's practicing her clarinet.

Well, that explains
all the cats.

So, dad,

you think you're gonna be able
to get uncle Ned that interview?

Alex, try and be
a little more sensitive!

Did you have a good day, honey?

Well, actually...

Did you get Ned the interview?

Yes, I talked with Mr. Wertz.

He says, if Ned's interested,
he'll see him.

Did the question
of Ned's past come up?

Of course it came up, Elyse.

I couldn't tell Wertz
that Ned just arrived

from the planet Xenon.

Sure beats telling him
he embezzled $4.5 million

from his last job.

Come on, mom.
He did not embezzle anything.

He didn't make a penny
from that.

He simply hid that money
in the computer

to prevent a merger that would
put a lot of people out of work.

It... it was an act
of conscience.

One man's act of conscience

is another man's felony, Alex.

He made a great sacrifice, dad.

He was vice president
of a major corporation.

He gave that up
for something he believed in.

Why are all those cats
out in the yard

rolling on their backs?

Maybe Jennifer's
practiced enough tonight.

Look who's here!

Hey! Hey, listen!

These were out on a curb,
and it's a good thing

I happened by,
'cause two guys in a truck

were trying
to make off with them.


♪ she's an uptown girl

How you been?

Alex, hey, you've grown a hair.

Hey, how are you? Steven, hey.

You've grown many hairs.

And my favorite sister.

Oh! How are you? Oh, good.

Well, here I am, huh?

Let's celebrate, huh?

Alex, you got any beers?

Yeah, I think so.

Great, great. Thanks.

Ta-da! Beautiful.

Here, put this back for me,
would you?

So how was the train ride? Good.

Good. Next time, I think
I'm gonna ride inside.

Oh, you little monkey-face, you!

Oh, hey, what's, uh...
What's with the clarinet?

I'm taking lessons.
Do you want to hear me play?

All right, all right, all right.

And... Five.
One, two, three, four, five.

Ah, geography.

Ooh, yes. Okay, that's great.

This is one of
my six best categories.

How are you in geography,

Well, let's put it this way,
uncle Ned...

We're happy
when she finds her way home.

He's trying to break
our concentration, uncle Ned.

Just ignore him.

Ignore whom?

Don't worry about it, Mal.

There's not a lot
in this category

that Ned "Geography" Donnelly
doesn't know.

Go ahead. Fire away, sis.

"What country... "

Oh, no! A country question!

Just forget it. Forget it.
Let me finish the question.

Okay, all right,
all right, all right.

I panicked. I panicked.
Go ahead. Go ahead.

"What country drinks
the most beer per capita?"

We give up.

West Germany.

What, they're ahead of us
in that, too?

All right, Alex, Alex,
it is our patriotic duty

to catch up with these jokers.

Get some more beer in here.
I got it.

I'll have one, too, Alex.

Oh, gosh. It is late, guys.

Time for bed.

Do we have to?!

I don't want to go to bed yet!

Yeah, uncle Ned's been good.
Can't he stay up another hour?

Come on, it's after 10:00.
We'll finish tomorrow.

Yeah, but I wanted
to play a number

for uncle Ned before bed.

Alex: No! Please, no!

Reveille is at 0600.

Okay, come on.

Good night, guys.
Good night, babes.

Oh, here you go, uncle Ned.

Oh! Great.

Dad. Alex.

Hey! Hey!

Going pretty heavy
on that stuff, aren't you, Ned?

Uh, Jennifer and Mallory
aren't having any,

so I'm just helping
the family meet its quota.

Come on, sit down.
I want to talk to you.

Oh, golly.

This sounds like some
brother-and-sister stuff to me.

Yeah, it is.

Come on, you know
what I'm gonna say.

Don't you think
it's time you got a job?

Oh, gee. Elyse, I just got here.

Come on, give me a chance
to unpack my things.

I've still got rail lag.

It's time you got settled.

I mean, you haven't had
a decent job in a year.

No, no, no. That's not true.

I had a great job
for three weeks in Denver.

I was a doctor.

Ned, be serious.

Elyse, you be serious.
Who is gonna hire me now?

Well, if you're interested,

uh, there's an opening
down at the station

for a program consultant.

The interviews
officially ended last week,

but, uh, I was able
to pull a few strings

and get you one.

I, uh, think
you might be good at it.

I'd be great at it!

Does that mean
you're interested?

No, it means
I find you irresistible.

Yes. Yes, I am.

All right! This calls
for a celebration.

Barkeep, a few more beers
in here, please.

I'm buyin'.

Hungry, Alex?!

Uncle Ned, I didn't know
you were there.

Oh, I'm sorry. Are you okay?

That depends.

Just how important is the heart?

Come on, sit down. Have a drink.

It'll make you feel better.

What are you doing up
so late, anyway?

Ah, I gotta pull an all-nighter

for an economics final tomorrow.

Oh, well, then you're
gonna need a beer.

It'll help you study.

Cause if you've got the time,
we've got the beer.

We haven't got the beer.


Alex, what do you say
we go make a beer run, huh?

Ah, uncle Ned, it's after 2:00.

You know how to make
a beer run, don't you?

Just tickle him
under his pop-top.

Ohh, well!

Oh, oh, oh, oh.

Yo, uncle Ned, are you okay?

I'm fine. I'm...
I'm fine. I'm fine.

Let's see, now.

There ought to be some alcohol
in here somewhere.

Oh, what have we got?

"Marinated Artichoke Hearts."

You ever have a real good
artichoke-high, Alex?

Cut it out, uncle Ned.

You... you really don't
need this.

Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah.

Oh, oh, oh, oh. Here we go, now.

It may not be Miller time,

but it is vanilla time.

Here's looking at you, kid.


Now, remember,
don't drive and bake.

I don't believe this.

You just drank a whole bottle
of vanilla extract.

I'm sorry. Did you want some?


No, I didn't.


Come on, sit down.

Maybe I can help you

with this test of yours
tomorrow, huh?

I am not totally unfamiliar

with the area of economics,
you know.

Thanks, I think
I'll do all right.

You, uh... Y-you don't think

your uncle Ned
has it anymore, huh?

Y-you're ashamed
of your uncle Ned.

You think I might give you...

The wrong answers.

Well, let me tell you something.

I spoke in front
of the World Bank!

So why don't you just come down
from this high horse

and ask your uncle Ned
for some help, huh?

What's the matter?

Don't you like
your uncle Ned anymore?

I like him. I like him a lot.

And yet you're too good
to sit down

and have a glass
of maraschino cherries with him?

Huh? Is that it?

Come on, come on.

I've just never
seen you drunk before.

You think I'm drunk?

You think I am drunk?

Let me tell you
something, buddy...

I'm drunk.

Why shouldn't I be?

I don't like to see you
like this.

Oh, you.

You are just like that mother
of yours, aren't you?

You always think
you can tell me what to do.

Uncle Ned, I'm not...
Let me tell you something!

Ned Donnelly marches
to his own drum!

So don't think you can come
in here and prop me up

with some pious platitudes,
because you are wrong.

Why don't you j...
Just get out of here, huh?

Beat it. You're beginning
to get on my nerves.

Why don't you just
come upstairs, sleep it off?

No, no, no. I'm, uh...

I'm gonna go out. Uh...

Uh, uh...


Pull yourself togeth...

Will you get out of here,
you punk?!

Just get out of here!

All right, I'll get out of here.

More cherries for me.

Hey! Good morning, Alex.

Did you sleep all right?

No. No, not so great.

Oh, why not?

What do you mean...
"why not?"

You know why
I didn't sleep well last night.

Oh. Yeah, yeah.

I had that same problem
as a teenager.

Well, I don't know.

Take a cold shower.
Think of Buddy Hackett.

Morning, Alex.

Oh, morning, mom.

Is Ned down yet?

Uh, yeah.
Yeah, he was just here.

Uh, listen, mom,
we have a real problem here.

Yeah, what's that?

Well, it's uncle Ned.

You know,
he's been drinking a lot, mom.

Look, this is a very difficult
time for him, Alex.

Just because he's drinking
a little more than usual

doesn't mean he's a drunk.

No, you gotta listen to me.

If you had seen him
last night...

Steven: Now, the main thing is,
just relax.

Be yourself
at the interview, Ned.

Wertz is tough, but he's fair.

Tough but fair?
I like that in a woman.

Uncle Ned, this is for you,
for your interview.

Oh, grea...
Oh, they're beautiful!

One from each of us.

Thank you, guys.

I gotta go in early today.

I'll drop you off, girls.
You coming, Alex?

Uh, no, thanks, dad.
Pete's gonna be here

and pick me up any minute. Okay.

11:00 in my office, Ned?
See you there.

Oh, I'll be there with socks on.

Ned seems fine to me.

Trust me, mom.

Uncle Ned has
a drinking problem,

and you gotta
do something about it.

Alex, don't you think
you're overdramatizing this?

Why, in the name
of all that is pure and sacred

in this great planet of ours,

do you always accuse me
of overdramatizing things?

All right, all right, but, uh...

This time I'm not exaggerating.

Look, Alex,

I've known Ned
a lot longer than you have.

He was always a drinker
in school,

but he's been able to handle it.


He drank a whole bottle
of vanilla extract last night.

He was rummaging
through the pantry

looking for anything
with alcohol in it.

There's my ride. I gotta go.

Listen, uh...

Talk to him,
will you, please, mom?


Well, hey,
this place cleared out fast.

Are you feeling okay?

Couldn't be better.

Are you worried
about the interview?

Oh, a little.

I figure I'll do all right,


Well, where did you come from?

Oh, yeah, I remember now.

Yeah, nonstop from Chicago
to Phoenix last August.

Well, it is good to see you.

Oh, well,

it's good to see you, too, Ned.

What'd you put
in your orange juice, Ned?

Uh, a little vodka.

Ned, the... the interview's
in just a couple of hours.

Take it easy.

Oh, Elyse, this is just
a little vodka

so I won't have any orange juice
on my breath.

You've been drinking...

Heavily ever since you got here.

Should I be worried about you?

Oh, Elyse,

this is your brother Ned
you're talking to,

not some old drunk.

I don't have any problem
with this.

I can stop this
any time I want to.

Then stop. Now.

Is it really
that important to you?


All right.

I'll stop.

No big deal.

Mr. Donnelly, this is
a very impressive résumé.

Two years at Kelton Electronics?

Yes, yes. It's a fine firm.

They recruited me
right out of Harvard.

Mm, and from there
you went to Centram.

Eastern regional manager and
then junior vice president...

That's right.

Steven told me about...
Your difficulties there.

Perhaps you'd like
to expand upon that.

Well, uh, Mr. Wertz,

I could tell you what happened
to me at Centram,

but I think I could say it best
with music.

And one, two,
one, two, three, and...


Uh, just a second.

Uh, m-Mr. Wertz, it's for you.

Oh, thank you.

Hello? Ned, Ned, uh...

What's, uh...

What's... what's gotten
into you? What's going on?

Oh, nothing. I'm just
a little nervous is all.

I thought the clarinet
would sort of break the ice.

Well, I-i would have gone
with a handshake and a smile.

It's... it's too late now.

Um, uh, uh, look, uh,
just, uh, try to relax.

Be yourself.

"Be myself."

That is just crazy enough
to work, Steven.


Sorry about that interruption.

Oh, uh, no, uh,
no problem at all.

Uh, Ned and I were just,
uh, um...

Stretching our legs.

Well, actually,
Steven was stretching my legs,

and I was stretching his legs.

Jokes are out. Gotcha.

Please, sit down.

Thanks. Right, uh...


Oh! Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.

I'm sorry. That... that was me.

Okay, so...

Well, uh, Keaton...

Tell us a little bit
about yourself, huh?

Ned, what are you doing?
You should be over here with me.

Well, why don't you
come on over here with us?

Now, come on, move over, Wertz.

Make room for Steve in here.

Ned, Ned, get over here!

Oh, all right. Come on, Wertz!


I'm sorry, he is so adorable
when he's angry.

All right!

Let's quit goofing around!

Wertz, grow up,
for crying out loud!

Take this thing seriously.

Haven't you forgotten something?



No, no, no.
I got mine right here.

You want to try 'em on?

Oh, oh, oh, oh. Oh!

I'm sorry! That was me.

That was me.
I'll get 'em. Don't worry.

Mr. Wertz,
I'm very sorry about this.

Hey, Wertz!

You're not wearing
any socks, either.

I most certainly am.

Well, then whose feet are these?

Ned, please, get up now.

All right, all right.

Mr. Donnelly,

I think this interview is over.

Well, Wertz,

I think you did a fine job,

and I will let you know
in a few days.


Where's Ned?

What's the matter?

What happened at the interview?

Elyse, he showed up drunk...

Without socks!

He made a fool of himself,
of me, and of Mr. Wertz.


He promised me
he wouldn't drink.

How much more evidence
do you need, mom?

And let me tell you something...

What I saw today
was much more than a man

who had a few too many drinks.

What I saw was a-a sick,

self-destructive individual.

What are we gonna do?

Well, he obviously needs help.
I don't know...

Maybe he should call
Alcoholics Anonymous.

Hey! Hi-ho, Stev-a-rino.

I guess I'm starting
on Monday, huh?

You want to car-pool?

Hey, Alex! Alex.

Open that up
and get some glasses,

'cause we're gonna
have ourselves

a little celebration, huh?

That was quite an exhibition
you put on today.

Yeah, well, I aim to please.

Ned, you said
you wouldn't drink.

Oh, I haven't
been drinking, Elyse.

I just had a couple of beers,
that's all.

I ran into
an old friend of mine,

Uh, Mike Griffin,

and he insisted I have
a drink with him.

Now, I couldn't
turn him down, could I?

Ned! All right, all right.

All right, all right, all right.

I didn't meet Mike Griffin.

I met Merv Griffin,

and he insisted
that I had a drink with him.

Now, what could I do?
You don't say no to Merv.

Would you stop lying, Ned?

Not now! I'm on a roll!

Listen to yourself.

Let me try that.
"Not now! I'm on a roll!"

I sound fine to me.

This interview could have been a
new start for you, uncle Ned.

Dad went out of his way
to set it up.

You didn't even
give it a chance.

Alex, what difference
does it make?

Wertz was never gonna
give me that job.

I never had a chance.

That is not true.
You had a very good chance.

But you were afraid
to face it head-on.

You made damn sure
you turned Wertz down

before he could turn you down.

Well, what difference
does it make, huh?

You Keatons are always
gonna be around

to hold the family banner high.

Alex here will probably
be running the country

before he's even 35 years old.

Now, what difference
does it make

if old Ned falls
by the wayside, huh?

That's the most pathetic speech
I've ever heard.

Oh, no, no, no.

The most pathetic one
is coming up now.

You guys have any idea
what it's like

to be washed up before
you're even 30 years old? Huh?

Olga Korbut, the mouseketeers,
Ned Donnelly...

We're all has-beens.

Okay, you can go ahead
and you can act like a kid,

but you have an adult's problem

and it's not gonna go away
by itself.

You have
a drinking problem, Ned.

You need help.

I do not have
a drinking problem,

and I do not need any help.

Yes, you do! Admit it!

I-I think you should call
Alcoholics Anonymous.

Ned: You gotta be
kidding, Elyse.

You actually think
that I'm an alcoholic?

Ned... You're sick.
You have a disease.

If you don't
do something about it,

it's going to kill you.

I don't care.

It's over for me.

It is not over for you,
uncle Ned.

You were at the top once.

You... you can make it
back up there again.

Do you, uh, remember
these clippings?

Young Executive
of the year, 1980.

Uh, your speech
before the World Bank.

When you made
junior vice president at 28.

Alex, what are you doing
with this stuff?

Whenever I think
I can't achieve something,

I look at those.

Yeah, well, Alex...

These are ancient history.

They're garbage!

Hey, uncle Ned, don't do that.

Hey, give me those.
Leave me alone!

Give me those. Leave me alone!!

What the hell are you doing?!


I don't know.

I don't know. I'm sorry.

Sorry, Alex.

All right, Ned.

That's it. It's over.

Right now,

either you get some help,

or you get the hell
out of my house.

How could I do that?

I hit Alex.

How could I do that?

Now would you call A.A.?

I guess I could look upon this

as a way of meeting women

that share
a common interest with me.

Hi. Yes.


Would you be interested
in subscribing

to the Columbus Express?

No, no, uh...

Uh, my name is Ned Donnelly,

and I have a drinking problem.