Family Ties (1982–1989): Season 2, Episode 9 - A Keaton Christmas Carol - full transcript

With Christmas just around the corner. Alex finds himself lacking holiday spirit as the rest of the Keaton clan prepares for the celebration. On Christmas Eve Alex is visited in a dream by ghostly messengers who give him a view of his past and future Christmases along with a different perception of the holiday.

♪ 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.

Elyse: And now, direct from
the Keaton household,

the moment you've all
been waiting for,

the lighting
of the Christmas tree!

Oh, it's beautiful!

Mallory: You sure know
how to pick them, dad.

Steven: Thank you, thank you.

Oh, this is the best ever.

It must have taken you
a long time

to pick this one out.
No, no, no.

I knew this was the one for us

the moment I backed into it
with the car.

We get more things that way.

Oh, look, it's starting to snow!

Oh, that's perfect.
Snow on Christmas Eve.

Mwah! What could be better?

They can put a man on the Moon,

but they can't stop
this white slop

from falling out of the sky.

Merry Christmas
to you, too, Alex.

Take it easy with the
merry christmases, will ya, ma?

This holiday is a silly,
sentimental farce.

It's phony.

People just pretend to have
this so-called Christmas spirit.

We can't all have
this natural yuletide verve

that you possess.

Did you remember to get
the cough syrup for Jennifer?

No, I forgot. I'll, uh...
I'll get it tomorrow.

Tomorrow's Christmas, Alex.

Yeah, so?

So the stores will be closed.

All day?

Boy, this thing
is really getting out of hand.

Look, sorry I forgot.
I'll tell you what.

If this thing gets any worse,
I'll, uh...

I'll take you
to the emergency room myself.

All right, but don't try
to count that as my present.

Can't beat the present
he gave me last year.

I gave you a present last year?

Yeah, you took the garbage out
for me.

Right, right. Well, uh...

Don't expect any of
that sloppy sentiment this year.

Oh, that reminds me.

I know it's kind of late,

but can we make
an arrangement here?

Uh, I say we don't exchange
gifts this year, huh?

How about it?

That's a heartwarming
thought, Alex,

but, uh, we've already
got our gifts for you.


You know, Alex, just because
you're an old scrooge,

why do the rest of us
have to suffer?

Because we're family, Jennifer.

We do things together.

All right, I think it is time
to take a picture.

Everybody, take your positions

for the traditional
Keaton Christmas photo.

Elyse: Come on, join us, Alex.

You know your spot.
Come on, Alex.

The timer is set.
You've got 11 seconds.

Forget it. Forget it.

I refuse to participate
in this ridiculous ceremony

for a ridiculous holiday.

Elyse: Oh, come on.

I can't believe you guys.
The same old stupid poses.

Oh, and, uh, don't try
airbrushing me in later.


All: Merry Christmas.

Christmas cheer.

Who needs it?

Just another holiday.

You don't see people
falling all over themselves

on Columbus day.

Carolers: * God rest
ye merry gentlemen... *


♪ let nothing you dismay

♪ remember Christ our...

Hey! Boy: Hi, Mr. Keaton!

Christmas cheer to you, sir.

Get off the lawn
before I call the cops.

And take the rest of those
clowns with you.

Oh, sorry, reverend.

Reverend: Seasons greetings.

God bless you, Alex.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

What is wrong with these people?

You show them a little snow,

they break into song about
chestnuts nipping at your nose.


Bah, humbug!


Who's there?

what are you doing here?

I am not Jennifer.

I am the ghost
of Christmas past.

Yeah, and I'm Ed McMahon.

Look get out of here, will you?

You're smoking up
the whole room.

On second thought,
why don't you sit down?

Arise, Alex, and come hither,

for I am charged
with showing you

the true meaning of Christmas.

Hey, I'm not coming hither.

Unh-unh. No way.

Alex, come hither.

I'm coming hither.

I'm hither.

A ghost, huh?

Of course I'm a ghost.

If I were a person, I would have
come through the door.

Where are we going?

Just grab my sleeve.

We're going to a place you know.

Hey, look out for the wall. Wah!


The living room?

You got me out of bed
to show me the living room?

Wait a minute.
What's with this furniture?

This isn't our living room.

Yes, it is... 10 years ago
on Christmas morning.

♪ dashing through the snow

♪ in a one-horse open sleigh

♪ o'er the fields we go

hey, that's mom. * laughing
all the... ha-ha-ha-ha! *

h-hey, mom! Mom, over here.
* bells on bobtail ring

it's me... Alex.

She can't hear you, Alex.
She can't see you, either.

Oh, mom, I've been looking
all over for you.

Hey. Hey, that's me!

Ha! That's me!

I finished balancing
your checkbook, mom.

Oh! Thank you, Alex.

I started on your tax returns,

but I can't do much
until you get your W-2s.

I don't want a repeat
of what happened last year.

Yeah, I'm sorry
about that, Alex.

That was our fault.

Yeah, but I'm the one
that sweated out the audit.

Alex: That's Mallory.

Mommy, can we open up
presents now?

Please, please, please,
please, please?

She always had a way with words.

In a minute, honey.

Mallory, all you think about
are opening the presents.

Can you please exercise
a little discipline

and self-control?

I already exercised today,
so there, Alex!

Never was an even match, was it?

Alex, please don't
turn on the TV.

We're gonna open the presents
in a minute.

Mom, this won't take long.
There's something I have to see.

Man: And further evidence

emerged today
linking president Nixon

with the Watergate Break-in
of last year.

This is a witch-hunt!

They're persecuting
an innocent man.

Look at that.
Is that the face of a crook?

Alex, turn off the set.

He's spoiling
my Christmas spirit.

Come on, now. Sit up here.


Okay, now can we open
the presents?

Please, please, please,
please, please?

No, and I'll tell you why.

Because we're expecting
a visitor from the North Pole!

Right now!

I said we're gonna have
a very special visitor

from the North Pole!


Steven: Ho, ho, ho!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Well, if it isn't Alex
and Mallory Keaton.

Hi, daddy.

Hi, pop.

Getting too smart for me.

I guess I better stick
with Jennifer.

Oh, hi, baby!

Ho, ho, ho!


You fooled me.

Well, merry Christmas,

Merry Christmas, dad.

Can we open the presents now?

I'm so excited.

Oh, sure.


Well, this one is for Mallory.

And this one is for Alex.

A telephone.


Nobody's there.

Good grief.

It's a pretend phone, Mallory.

You can talk on it all day long.

So that's how it began.

Go ahead
and open yours now, Alex.

No, you open
your presents first.

That's the real joy.

Watching other people
enjoy your presents.

Hear that, Alex?

I heard it. I heard it.

Hey, I have an idea.

Before we open
the rest of the presents,

let's take a picture
around the tree.

Okay, the camera's all set.

Let's pose
like we're decorating it,

then every Christmas,
we'll take the same picture

with the same pose.

What a good idea!

Oh, okay.

That was my idea?

Get ready, everyone. Okay.

All: Merry Christmas!

Come on.

Now let's sing
a Christmas Carol.

Oh, okay. Elyse?

♪ the first Noel

all: * the angels did say

♪ was to certain poor Shepherds
in fields as they lay ♪

we must go now.

Our visit here is over.

But they're...
But they're singing.

It... it's so nice.
I don't want to go yet.

I'm sorry.

Can't we stay
just a-a little longer?


No, we can't. Regulations, Alex.

♪ Noel

♪ Noel, Noel

♪ born is...

That was beautiful.

That was really beautiful.

Can we... can we go
back there later?

I'm sorry.
You can't go home again.

Well, here we are. Home again.

Have you learned anything

Look, I realize I may have gone
a little overboard

earlier this evening.

Maybe I have lost some of
my youthful zest for Christmas.

And I... and I feel badly
about it.

And I'm gonna change.

That's good to hear.

Okay, so, uh...

Merry Christmas to all,

and to all,

particularly you, a good night.

Uh, you mind closing the wall
behind you?

Oh, no. You, too, Mallory?

My shift is over, Alex.

She's here to relieve me.

I don't believe this.


I hope someone gets me
a smoke alarm for Christmas.

Arise, Alex, and come...

I know. I'm hither. I'm hither.

I am the ghost
of Christmas future.

Uh, look, can we do this later?

I-I just got in
from Christmas past

and I'm a little tired.

You must go, Alex.

You must see
what the future holds.

Am I gonna like it?

I don't think so.

Then, uh, I don't want to go.

You have no choice.

Welcome to the future, Alex.

What a dump.

This can't be our house.

How did this happen?

The Keaton family
fell upon hard times, Alex.

All of us?

Oh, you're okay.
You live in New York now.

You're a very wealthy man.

What a shame about the family.

Just how wealthy am I?

♪ dashing through the snow

♪ in a one-horse open sleigh

hey, that old lady
looks like mom.

That's mom.

Yup, and she's all spruced up
for Christmas.

What's with the laundry?

Oh, that's how they eke out
an existence now.

Mom takes in people's laundry.


Come on down
and see our Christmas tree!

You got a tree?

Oh, how do you like it?


The most beautiful tree
we've had in years.


Why didn't I buy them
a better tree?

You said I had a lot of money.

Uh, by the way,
when you said "a lot of money,"

did you mean, like, uh...

Alex, that's not important.

Right, right.

Hello, mother.

Oh, Mallory!

Whoa, she really put on weight.

She's pregnant,
and I think she looks radiant.

Where's her husband?

Oh, he's in debtor's prison.

You put him there.

He couldn't repay the money
you lent him

for his grandmother's operation.

Ooh, Jennifer's home
from work early today.



Park your wheelbarrow
outside, honey!


She sells dirt.

Oh, no.

Come in and see our tree,

Where is it?

Right here.

Oh, wow.

What's the matter
with her voice?

She has a very advanced
sore throat.

She's had a cold
for 30 years now.

Been trying to save up
for some cough syrup.


Jennifer, I'm sorry.

I-I-i meant to get you
the cough medicine.

I really did.

Forget it, Alex.
She can't hear you.

What a beautiful tree.

That's a terrible tree.

Why didn't dad just back over
a tree like he used to do?

No car.

That wheelbarrow's their
only means of transportation.

Let's decorate it! Oh.

Do we still have our tinsel?

Mm, right... right...
Right here.



It's beautiful.

Oh, why...

Why are you crying, honey?

I remember when Alex
sold us that tinsel...

At cost.

It's Alex! Oh!


Oh, will you look
at that helicopter?

He... he's landing
in the front yard.



He crushed the wheelbarrow...

Our only means
of transportation.

I'll buy you a new one,
Jennifer. I promise.

Mallory: He's getting out!

What's he carrying?

Oh! A bag!

He brought us
Christmas presents!

Oh! Ugh!

There, you see?
I'm... I'm really a nice guy.

I'm bringing them presents.

Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh!

Oh, no. What happened to me?

You lost your spirit.

Never mind my spirit.
What about my hair?

Mom. Uh, mom?

Let go of the coat.

Oh. A thousand pardons.

Have you come
to spend Christmas with us?

Spend Christmas here?

Ha ha ha!

Well, that's funny, right?

All: Ha, ha, ha!

Where are you going
on this glorious holiday,

this holiest of holy days?


I just thought I'd stop by,
drop off the laundry.


Oh, Alex, thank you!

Oh, Steven, he's gonna let me
do his laundry again!

Boy, you really
let this place go.

That's a nice tree, though.


Mom, dad...

what you been up to?

Oh, the usual.

Trying to eke out an existence
in a depressed economy.

Are you still harping
about losing your job?

No, I-i thought it over,

and I decided
you were right to fire me.

Oh, will you stop
that infernal coughing?

Sorry, sir.

So, Mallory...

Barefoot and pregnant
again, huh?

What you gonna name this one?

Uh, "Alex"...

Just like the other four.

Well, as long as
you don't expect me

to treat 'em like family.

Alex is right, Mallory.

He's been so good to us already

with this visit and the laundry.

Well, I'm glad
you enjoyed my company.

I don't feel comfortable here.

I'm ashamed of all of you.
Merry Christmas.

Wait. Wait a minute.

These people need food.

You... you can't leave them
like this.

Hey, listen to me.

Oh. Come back here.

Look, I'm your... I'm you!


Save your breath, Alex.

You can't hear you.
Merry Christmas!

Wait a minute!
Come back here, you tightwad!

Come back!
Give them some money!

Boy, I didn't enjoy that at all.

Not a pretty picture, eh, Alex?


Tell me, Mallory,
I-i got to know.

Does that future have to be?
Can I change it?

I don't want to be bald.

Relax, Alex.

The future's the only thing
you can change.

I can?

What... what...
What do I have to do? Tell me.

Be good to your family,

share your good fortune
with others,

and, most importantly,

massage your scalp every night.

I will, I promise.

Aw, thanks.

Thanks for showing me

the jerk I've been in the past

and... and the jerk I'm gonna be
in the future.

And don't forget

the jerk you are in the present.

♪ dashing through the snow

♪ in a one-horse open sleigh

Can't we open the presents yet?

♪ o'er the fields we go

Can't we? Please, please,
please, please, please?

Oh, all right,
maybe just a couple.

We could open mine.

We promised Alex
we'd wait till he got back.

But from where? He wouldn't even
tell us where he was going.

Yeah, he might have left
the country forever.

Maybe that's his present to us.

Ho, ho, ho!

Merry Christmas!


Hey, can't fool dad...
Old St. Nick himself.

Alex, where have you been?


You know, I realized
that it's Christmas morning

and I had no way of showing
how I feel about all of you,

how much I-i care about you,

how important you are to me

on this day of days.

Maybe the beard's on too tight.

What's in the bag?


Something for everyone.

Now, you got to keep in mind
with these gifts

that it's the thought
that counts, okay?

The only place open this morning
was a 7-Eleven.

Dad, merry Christmas.

A cup of coffee.

Alex, how did you know?

You've been hinting all year.



Beef jerky.

You must have read my diary.

For you, mom.
It was the last one.

A "TV Guide."

I'm speechless.

Hey, you don't have to speak.
You can read.


A six-pack of cough syrup.

You are never selling dirt
while I'm alive.


What else is in here, Alex?

Oh, nothing, nothing.

"Bald No More.

Massage into scalp
every night... "

uh, give me that. Give me that.

Alex, this is
a... a very nice surprise.

You know, last night,

I-I learned a little something
about myself.

I realized I've been missing out
on something.

And I have, uh...

I have Mallory...

And Jennifer to thank for it.


Almost forgot. One more thing.

I found a one-hour laundry open.

I had everyone's clothes
cleaned and pressed.

I don't want you
to ever do laundry again, mom.

One more thing.


Hit it, reverend.

Carolers: * joy to the world

♪ the lord is come

♪ let earth receive her king

Alex, what has gotten into you?

I'm happy.

Can't a guy be happy
on Christmas?

I mean, look...
Look at this house.

There's no laundry
hanging across the room.

We have a tree
with real needles.

Jennifer's clean.

Mallory's not pregnant.

What?! What?! What?!

I said,
"Mallory's not president."

But, hey, in this country,
she could be.

I just want
you all to know that, uh...

you're the most important
people in the world to me.

And I know
I don't show it sometimes,

but I love you all very much.

Merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas.
Merry Christmas, Alex.

All right,
it is time for a picture.

All right, we... I guess
we don't have to be so, uh...

So formal this time.

Just pose any way you want.

No, wait. Wait a minute.

Dad, this is Christmas morning.
We got to do this right.

Traditional Keaton
Christmas positions.

Steven: All right. Okay!

Hurry up. Oh, be careful
of the tree, honey.

Got it? Oh, yes.

Honey, quick, quick, quick.
Here it comes.


All: Merry Christmas!