Family Ties (1982–1989): Season 2, Episode 3 - The Harder They Fall - full transcript

Teacher/parent interviews at Alex and Mallory's school become interesting when both Steven and Elyse contend with a rude, insufferable teacher.

♪ 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.

Mallory, that is two!

Break another, and we're
down to service for one.

I don't know
what's wrong with me tonight.

I seem so nervous.

Would the fact that
it's parents night at school

have anything to do with it?

It's parents night? At school?


Yes, yes, it is, Mallory.

Your night of nights.

A chance for your parents
and your teachers

to get together,
review your grades,

and have a good laugh.

You're so smug, Alex.

You just love parents night,
don't you?

Oh, you bet.

I put it right up there
with Christmas Eve.

How are you coming
with the dishes?

Um, there's one or two left.

All right.
We should be back by 9:30.

Look, I know it's gonna be
very hectic there tonight,

so if you have to skip
seeing my algebra teacher,

I'll understand.

In fact,

as of yesterday,

Mrs. Stigney...
She took a vow of silence.

We'll pass notes to each other.

What about you, Alex?
Anyone you want us to avoid?

Au contraire!

You go anywhere you want to go.

I just hope
you can contain your joy.

Oh, remember,
make sure and see Mr. Tedesco.

You've reminded us every hour.

I don't mean to be
a pest about this,

but it's really important.

His cousin is on the faculty
at Dartmouth.

If he writes me a letter
of recommendation, I'm in.

Okay, Alex.

Uh, s-so you'll see him?
You'll, uh, butter him up?

Consider him buttered.

Okay, Elyse,
you go to Alex's classes,

and I'll go to Mallory's.

Mr. Tedesco.

Good guess.

Who are you?

Elyse Keaton, Alex's mother.

Alex Keaton...
Good man.

Thank you.

You must be very proud.

Alex is the best student
in this class.

Of course,
that's not saying much.

Half of them think
"the hunchback of Notre Dame"

was a football player.

Well, this is
one of his favorite classes.

He talks about you all the time.

No need to butter me up.

I wasn't buttering you up.
That was the truth.

My husband and I were
very anxious to meet you,

but he had to go to my daughter
Mallory's algebra class.


I had a student
named Mallory Keaton last year.

She's the one.


Which one of your children
is adopted?

All right, everybody.
Attention, please.

I'm... Ruben Tedesco.

Your children call me
Mr. Tedesco.

I think you should, too.

I teach European literature.

If you don't belong
in this classroom, don't worry.

Neither do
most of your children.

I'd like to make this
an open forum.

I'll answer any intelligent
questions you may have.

Well, I was wondering
I wanted to...

Hands, please.

Yes, the lady in the front row.

Mr. Tedesco...

Not you.

The one next to you,
the old bag.

Why do you give out
so much homework?

I said intelligent questions.

Yes. You.

My son, he says you pick on him.

You call him names.

Who's your son?

Larry Morgan.

Larry the Loser?

Madam, your son is
an insipid, pimple-faced liar!

Anyone else?

Please identify yourself.

I'm Mrs. Binney.

My daughter mindy so enjoyed
reading "The Little Prince."

Is there anything else
you'd recommend for her?

Yes. I'd recommend
she lose 40 pounds.

You could lose 30 yourself.

My, my.
Such an inquisitive bunch.

I have something to say.

Mr. Tedesco, I-i think
you owe Mrs. Binney

and everyone else in here
an apology.

All: Yes!

Y-you've been terribly rude
and insulting to us all.

Mrs. Keaton,
it's clear that your son

does not get his intelligence
from you.

If you feel
I'm being insulting, fine.

I won't insult anyone anymore.

This little get-together
is over. I'm leaving.

Sorry. The game is over.
Let me through.

Don't push me!

Move it, grandma.

You can't do that!

Who's gonna stop me?

All right.

Mallory, you hold the plate,
Jennifer, you hold that piece,

and I'll fit them together.

Okay, great, great.

We've just got to hold it
like this for two minutes,

and it'll last for 2,000 years.

Hey, it says so
right on the bottle.

What should we do?

All right, all right.
Don't panic. Don't panic.


Yeah, just a second.

It's for you...

Oh, thanks.

Uh, Linda?

I'm gonna take it
in the other room.

Sorry about that.

Mom, dad. You're home early.
What happened?

I-it's a long story.

You talked to Mrs. Stigney,
didn't you?!

Y-yes, but that's not...

Oh, I knew it. Listen, I promise
I'll work harder from now on.

Mallory, it's...

I'll do my homework
every night, I swear.

Well, maybe not every night,
but every other night...


We have other,
more serious problems right now.

Thank god.

Hey. Mom and dad. How'd it go?

Alex, maybe
you'd better sit down.

I can't sit down.
I'm too excited.

Listen, did you see Mr. Tedesco?

Did you, uh,
make an impression on him?

Very definitely.

Great. Tell me every detail.

I don't know
exactly how to put this.

I punched Mr. Tedesco
in the mouth.

What did you say?

I punched him.

Um... W-when you say "punched,"

d-do you mean an affectionate
little tap, like, uh,

"way to go, Mr. Tedesco"?

I decked him.

Wow! Wow!

Any particular reason?

He shoved an elderly lady!

That's it?! How old?

Alex, your Mr. Tedesco is
a rude, crass, vile human being!

I could have told you that!

What did you
have to hit him for?!

He was being so rude
and insulting that...

That hitting him was
an automatic reflexive response!

I was seized
by an uncontrollable impulse!

Can't you understand?!


It was just...

one of those things.

Now, I-i-I'm sure
we can all understand it.

Could you explain it to me
one more time, Elyse?

Maybe if you showed us
how it happened, mom.

Alex, you be Mr. tedes...

I'm so ashamed of myself...

Striking another human being.

Well, look, Elyse, I'm sure that
this can all be cleared up...

cleared up very easily.

Now, why don't you just
call him up and apologize?

Good idea, good idea.
I'll get the number.

Everything is going to be fine.

You just had a bad night,
that's all.



That's right, mom.

And anyways,
Mr. Tedesco's been asking for it

for a long time now.

It's time
somebody put him in his place.

Mallory, I don't want you
to interpret this in any way

as meaning
that I condone violence.

I don't.
It was a freak occurrence.


Okay, mom.

Here you go.

Say anything you have to say.

But get me that recommendation.

Don't worry, Alex. I think
I know how to handle this.

Hello. Mr. Tedesco?

Hi. This is Elyse Keaton.

Please, please! Hear me out!

Mr. Tedesco, I-i feel terribly
about what happened,

and... and I want to apologize.

Now, see here!

What? Where do you live?


Uh, m-m-Mr. Tedesco?

Uh, yeah,
pay no attention to her.

S-she's been on medication
lately, and...



Uh, Mr. Tedesco?

What is it?

May I have a word with you?

You've already had seven.

I'm Steven Keaton,
Alex's father.


One of the dueling keatons.

No, I-i don't...

Don't come any closer.

Mr. Tedesco, I came to apologize
for my wife's behavior.

She feels terrible
about the whole thing.

She's really sorry. We both are.

I could sue, you know.

Look, uh, look,
l-l-let's... let's try to gain

some perspective
on the situation here.

Uh, haven't you ever done
something without thinking...

Something you regretted later?

Yes. I showed up
for parents night.

Look, look, I know you're upset,

and you have every right to be,

but you're obviously a very
intelligent, civilized person

who can recognize this incident
for what it is.

An aberration.

And, uh, I hope
you'll forgive and forget.

Fortunately, Mr. Keaton,

your son inherited
your rational temperament.

For his sake,
I will allow myself

to be appeased by your words.

I am nothing if not civilized.


I can see that.

Your wife, however,
is an Amazon.

Part Irish, part French.
No Amazon.

You know what I mean, Keaton.

She's primal!

Not fully evolved.

You must have a tough time
keeping her in line.

Tell me...

Do whips ever enter the picture?

I think I'll be going now.

No, I'm curious...
What's it like

to live with that kind
of unbridled she-devil?

Goodbye, Mr. Tedesco.

No, wait.
Just one more question.

Does she ever, uh...?

Why, you...

You're in a good mood, Alex.

Hey, why shouldn't I
be in a good mood?

Right now, dad and Mr. Tedesco
are probably shaking hands.

They're probably deciding

whether or not
to go out for a beer.

My problems are over.

Hey, mom,

want to go for a few rounds,
just for old times' sake?


Float like a butterfly,
sting like a bee?

Alex, I'm getting angry!

Whoa! Kids, she's mad!
Hit the deck!


Will you stop it?!

Just get the table
set for dinner.

Ah, come on, mom. It's over now.
We can laugh about it.

Can't we?

She's not laughing, Alex.

Okay, okay.

What's this?

It's a plate.

It use to be a plate.
Now it's art.

There's lots more art
in the cupboard, mom.

Well, dad, how'd it go?

Will he write me
the recommendation?

Well, we didn't exactly
discuss the recommendation.

Well, what did you talk about?

Well, um...

First, I introduced myself.

Then, I-i told him
how sorry we were.

I convinced him
to forgive and forget.

Then we made a little bit
of small talk, idle chatter.

Then I punched him in the face.

I'm sorry, Alex.
The man is slime.

Elyse, if you'd heard
the things he'd said...

I can't believe this!

I can't let you two
out of the house!

Alex, that man would have
made a killer out of Gandhi.

That man held the key
to my future in his hands.

That... that letter
of recommendation

w-was my passport
to the Ivy league,

t-to penny loafers,
raccoon coats...

Girls named Muffy.

Alex, there's always
trade school.


How did all this happen, Elyse?

For all these years,

we've lived
by the doctrine of non-violence,

of sympathy and love
towards our fellow man,

peace and harmony.

The man is a rodent.

Listen, my geography teacher
has been wising off lately.

Could one of you
rough her up a bit?

We've got to put a stop to this.

Steven, I know
this may sound crazy,

but I think
we ought to invite Mr. Tedesco

to dinner tomorrow night.

What for? To finish him off?

I don't want that man
in my home, Elyse.

Neither do I, Steven,

but until we can sit down
in peace with him,

we'll never be able to sit down
in peace with ourselves.

You're right.

And I think we owe it to Alex
to smooth this thing over.

Well... Now
you're talking some sense.

It's settled. We'll invite him
for dinner tomorrow night.

Girls, you got to
help me out tonight.

We got to keep things
in an up mood

when Mr. Tedesco comes...
Happiness, gaiety.

Laugh and giggle
as much as possible.

In fact, let's practice, okay?

Go ahead... laugh.


That's not bad, not bad,

but try it with
a little more enthusiasm.

Hee hee hee hee hee.
Hee hee hee hee hee.


Okay, look, uh...

If he starts getting into it
with mom and dad,

talk about something else, okay?

Like the weather.

Okay, Alex, now,
the chicken's in the oven,

and the table is set.

Uh, chicken? Chicken?

Is that the best
you could do, mom?

What's wrong with chicken?

You do not appease a man
with poultry.

Beef! We need beef!

We're having chicken, Alex.

Okay, look,
I've given some thought

a-as to what you might say
to Mr. Tedesco.

"Never has so cruel an attack
been perpetrated

on so innocent a victim."

"Would that I could reverse
the hands of time, I would.

I beg your forgiveness
with all my heart and soul"?

Alex, we're not
gonna say these things.

We had no right to hit him.
We know that.

But we're not going to
beg his forgiveness.

Begging's out?

Afraid so.

We're not gonna grovel, either.

No groveling, either?

Why are we having the guy over?

I'll get it.

Mr. Tedesco.

Hello, Alex.

Come on in.

Please... sit down.

Thank you.

Hee hee hee hee hee!
Hee hee hee hee hee!

I'm glad you could accept
our invitation, Mr. Tedesco.

Well, of course
he accepted, mom.

He's a very forgiving man.

Before you sits a human being

who thinks and acts
on the highest plane imaginable.

I came for the free dinner.

Hee hee. Hee hee.

Mr. Tedesco, why don't we start
with a clean slate here?

Now, we're all reasonable,
intelligent human beings

who have just behaved poorly
over the past few days.

Now, I know my husband and I
are sorry for hitting you,

and I'm sure that you're sorry
for saying the things you said.

What's for dinner?

Chicken. But before we eat,
I was hoping that...

I had chicken for lunch.

Mom, there's got to be
something else in the fridge.

Maybe we can go out and eat.

Uh, no, Alex.
We are staying here.

And we're eating chicken.

I said I had chicken for lunch.


They say it might rain.


Rain's good.

Now, that's
the Mallory I remember.

Mr. Tedesco...


I-I think I need some help
in the kitchen...

With the chicken.

We'll help too, mom.

Good! It's a big chicken.

Sorry about that, Mr. Tedesco.

It's about what I expected.

Look, uh... There's no point

in going on with this charade
any longer.

You're not gonna write
that letter of recommendation

for me, are you?

Uh... Are you?

You know, Keaton...

This is one of those moments
when I prize being a teacher...

When I can
watch a student squirm

because I hold his fate
in my hands.

You like that, huh?

I do. I do.

There's something very appealing
about... Playing god.

That's how we think of you.

I love having power.

And it's inspiring to see
that you don't abuse it.

Uh, look...

I really need
that recommendation.

I know.

Okay, okay, okay!

You've suffered long enough.

You got the recommendation.

Uh... I-i do?

Yeah... wrote it
the day you asked me for it.

It's right here.

I don't usually show letters
of recommendation to students,

but this one's exceptionally
well-written, and...


Here you go.


Oh, Mr. Tedesco.

Oh, this is beautiful.
This is beautiful. Thank you.

I admit that I thought about
not giving you a recommendation.

Then I realized
that wouldn't be fair.

It wasn't you that hit me.

Uh, no, no, no, it wasn't.

It's not your fault your parents
are the way they are.

You know, in fact, considering
what your parents are like,

you're a remarkable fellow.


Now, when they came
into the classroom,

I realized that evolution
sometimes takes a detour.

We're all descended from apes,

but not quite as directly
as you.

Mr. Tedesco...

Sorry about
flying off the handle earlier.

My, uh, my wife and I
were talking out there,

and we reminded each other
what this evening is all about

and how much it means
to this family.

Yes. We're defrosting
some steaks.

Should be ready
in about 20 minutes.


No, mom. No steaks tonight.


We're having chicken.

No, Alex, remember? Mr. Tedesco
had chicken for lunch.

Yeah, well, I don't care
what Mr. Tedesco had for lunch,

and, uh, this is what I think
of his recommendation.

Alex, what are you doing?!

I'm keeping my self-respect.

I overrated you, Alex.

I thought you were better
than your parents.

I was wrong.

Look, Mr. Tedesco,

I-I don't feel like
I'm better than my parents.

As a matter of fact,

if I grow up to be
as good as they are,

I'll be very proud.

How conventionally sweet.


I think we'd all appreciate it

if you left our house now,
Mr. Tedesco.

My pleasure.


Nice going, Alex.

You should've punched him.

No, he shouldn't have.

I think you handled
the situation just right.

Look, I know
it wasn't easy for you guys

to invite him over here
for dinner tonight,

and I know you did it for me.

Thank you.

The evening didn't end up
the way we thought it would,

but at least nobody got hit.

Alex, you're hard to figure.

Right when I think I know you,
you go and do something nice.

All right.
I'll have the chicken.