Family Ties (1982–1989): Season 3, Episode 16 - Philadelphia Story - full transcript

Alex has a cold but insists to work all night on his paper on the Declaration of Independence, after using it as an example to incite his dad Steven not to invoke inexperience to refuse appearing before Congress in Washington on the funding of PBS. Alex 'wakes up' in a dream as a Philadelphia stable boy, who hears with his uninterested mate 'Skipford', accidentally Thomas's neighbor-boy, Jefferson turning down John Adams' request to write the declaration, just because he would rather spend the night fluffing his wig, but Alex won't rest till he makes sure Thomas does write it, on exactly the kind of paper and in the celebrated phrasing the brilliant student knows by heart...

♪ I'll bet
We've been together ♪

♪ For a million years ♪

♪ And I'll bet
We'll be together ♪

♪ For a million more ♪

♪ Ooh, it's like
I started breathin' ♪

♪ 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 ♪

Hi, how you doing, Alex?


That's gross.

I'm sorry, Jennifer.

Next time I'll go
in the garage, okay?

Mom, what's for dinner?

Soy meal and
hearts-of-palm casserole.


I'm glad we only have
three meals a day.

Alex, you promised
to go in the garage.

Honey, you've got a fever.

You should take some aspirin

and go right to bed
after dinner.

No, no.
It's just a cold, Mom.

Anyway, I can't go
to bed early.

Gotta hand in my term paper

on the Declaration
of Independence tomorrow.

I'm gonna be up all night
working on this.

Alex, you're sick.
I'm sure your professor

will understand
if you turn it in late.

Yeah, Mom can write
your teacher a note

like she does for me.

A note.


this is a term paper
on Thomas Jefferson.

This is not a book report
on Our Friend the Policeman.

It was Our Friend the Fireman,

and I got an A on it.

I can't believe Skippy.

He just called me up
and asked me if I wanted to go

to the Van Halen concert
with him on Sunday.

What'd you say?

I asked him if he'd sell me

the tickets so I could go
with a normal guy.


Alex, what's
all that stuff?

This "stuff," Mallory,

as you so eloquently refer
to these items,

are two great treasures
of American history.

This is

the famous John Trumbull
painting of the signing

of the Declaration
of Independence,

and this, Mallory...

This is the Declaration
of Independence.

How'd you get it?

This is not the original,

Hey, hon!

Hi! I'm glad you're home.

Elyse, Alex,
you remember Ed Nelson,

PBS in Washington.

Good to see you.


Alex, talk to your dad.

Maybe you'll have
more luck than I did

in convincing him
to come to Washington

tomorrow morning.

Ed, come on.
We've been over this.

What's going on?

There's some important
congressional hearings tomorrow

involving funding
for public broadcasting,

and, uh, we need
your husband to testify.

In front of Congress?
Dad, the Congress?

Ed, I am flattered
by the offer, but I told you,

there are a lot
of important things

going on here tomorrow,
and I just can't get away.

Right, Elyse?

What's going on tomorrow
that's so important?

That haircut appointment.

Oh, Steven.

Come on, Dad,
you can't pass this up.

I mean, this is big.

Destiny is calling you.


Oh, hey, Alex.

Oh, hi, Dad.

I just came to get
some juice for your mother.

She couldn't sleep.

How come?
The baby kicking?

No, I was.

I've been tossing
and turning.

This Washington thing,
it's really been on my mind.

Look, Dad, come on.
It'll be great.

All right, okay,
picture it.

You're in
the conference room.

It's jammed
with reporters, okay?

Hanging on your every word.

Flashbulbs popping
all over.

The, uh, chairman bangs
his gavel.

"Ha, ha!"
you laugh defiantly,

refusing to be silenced.

Slow down!

Alex, there are
other station managers

who are experienced
at this sort of thing.

I'm just not
in their league.

Dad, look.

A- at the Continental Congress
in 1776,

Thomas Jefferson
was a young guy.

An unknown face
in the crowd,

a complete nobody,
just like you.

And, uh, when John Adams

asked him to write
the Declaration of Independence,

he must've been
a little overwhelmed,

just like you are.

But he said yes.

Thomas Jefferson was
a great man, Alex.

I'm not a great man,
I'm Steven Keaton.

Dad, Thomas Jefferson
wasn't Thomas Jefferson

until he was
Thomas Jefferson.

You know?

He didn't know he was gonna
be Thomas Jefferson.

I mean, one day he was
Thomas Jefferson,

and the next day, he was... I know.

Thomas Jefferson.


Great events
make great men.

Thomas Jefferson say that?

Uh, no.

I did. Heh.

See, Dad, if...

If Thomas Jefferson

had given in to his fears,

if he hadn't written
the Declaration of Independence,

they would've got
somebody else.

Somebody less brilliant.

Somebody less eloquent.

Yeah, and without
this masterpiece, Dad,

the revolution might
never have succeeded.

He did do
a nice job on it.

Yeah, Dad.

You see,
it was Jefferson's destiny

to write the Declaration
of Independence.

Just like it's your destiny

to go to Washington
and testify.

How do you know so much
about people's destiny?

That's my destiny.

Alex, I appreciate
what you're saying.

I... I really do.

But I'm just gonna
have to go

with my instincts
on this one.

I'm not going
to testify.


No. I'll see you
in the morning, son.


Try to get some sleep.


Come on, Alex, wake up.

We got a lot
of work to do.

What? What?
We gotta clean up in here,

and then we gotta
go clean the stable.


Stable? What are you
talking... about?


Skippy, what's going on?

Aah! Why...?

Why am I wearing
these clothes?

If you weren't,
you'd be naked.


Uh, Skippy,
w- what date is it?

It's July 3rd.

July 3rd, what?

It's July 3rd, sir.

No, Skippy, wha...?

What year is it? Skip...

It's 1776.


I'm not used to it,

You know, I'm still
writing 1775 on my checks.

Good day,
Mr. Jefferson, sir.

Hello, Skipford.

Oh, young boy...

Stable boy.

Uh, me?

I just saw my horse tied
to the post outside.

Now, I've asked you
numerous times

to please put him
inside the stable

when it rains.

The rain can damage
his coat.

Oh, Thomas,

I'm glad
you're still here.

Oh, hello, John.

Good evening, Mr. Adams, sir.

Thomas, I just did
some informal polling

of the other delegates,

and I think the vote tomorrow
is going to go our way.

Independence from England!
It'll be quite a day, John.

Yes, it will.

And the delegates
also agree

that you're the man
to write the document

which officially declares
our independence from the king.

Will you do it?

Skippy, pay attention.

You are about to witness

one of the greatest moments
in the history of mankind.

Never mind that.

Betsy Ross'
window shade is up.

I am very honored to be asked
to write this declaration, John,

but my answer is no.

Oh, come now, Thomas.

You're the finest writer
amongst us

and the most eloquent
of thought, I dare say.

Why, just the other day,

you impressed us all
so much

with your talk about
the natural rights of man,

about liberty
and self-government.


That was nothing, John.

I'd had a few glasses
of ale, that's all.

Come now, Thomas.

This is no time
for false modesty.

I'm not being modest.

I just have a lot
to do tonight.

I'm having my wig fluffed.

What about John Hancock?
He's very good.

He writes in
those nice big letters.

Very easy to read.

If you don't change
your mind by morning,

I'll ask him.

Well, I think
he's your man.

Come on, John.
I'll walk you to your horse.



Thomas Jefferson

isn't gonna write
the Declaration of Independence.

Let's get busy.

Skippy, look it,
you don't understand.

Without Jefferson's brilliance
in that document,

the revolution against England
will fail.

So what? I like England.

No, look. Skippy, uh...

I gotta do something.

Uh, do you know
where Jefferson lives?

I live next door
to the Jeffersons.

All right.
Take me there.


Uh-uh, Alex.

Don't get me
involved in this.

I'm in enough
trouble already

for cracking
that stupid bell.

Look, Skippy...

the history
of the nation,

perhaps of mankind,

depends on what we do
in the next couple of hours.

Oh, great.

Oh, hello there,
Mrs. Jefferson.


Wipe your feet.

Oh, I'm sorry.

This... This is
my friend Alex.

He works with me
down at the statehouse.

He'd like to talk
to Mr. Jefferson.

Alex. What a nice name.
Well, my husband's upstairs.

Won't you come in
and wait?



Young man,
you're not well.

You should
have yourself leeched.

Say there, Mallory.

I happen to have
a couple of tickets

to the turkey shoot
this Sunday.

Are you interested?

This very cute minuteman
asked me today.

Oh, yeah?

Well, this guy may be
a minuteman, Mallory, but...

But someday you'll see.

I'm gonna be
an indentured servant.


what's for dinner?

Uh, turtle and flummery pie.


Good thing we only eat
thrice a day.

Let's eat!

Tom, dinner's ready!

And you have company!

Honey, I can't find
my dressy britches!

They're right where
you left them!

Next to your cannonball!

Honey, I can't wear these.

There's a big
Yorkshire pudding stain

all over the front...

What are you doing here?

I really must speak
to you, sir.

It's very important.
Can't it wait until tomorrow?

Dinner's ready,

and I hate cold turtle
and flummery pie.

Uh, no. No, sir, it can't.

Uh... listen,
you have to write

the Declaration
of Independence.

I mean, only you can
make it bold enough and...

And thought-provoking enough
to convince the nation

that the revolution
is a just cause.

Oh. And how does a stable boy
such as yourself

come to know so much
of these matters?

I'm a history buff.

Uh, sir, look.

I... I know what
you're thinking. Uh...

it's only natural
that you'd be

overwhelmed by this.

I am not overwhelmed!
I just have a lot to do.

A good wig-fluffing
takes time.

Destiny is calling you.

Answer the call.
You are a great man.

I am not a great man.

I'm just a farmer
from Virginia.

I'm just Thomas Jefferson.

What have I ever done
that was great?

Well, for one thing,
you, uh...

You got your picture
on the $2...


Uh, you see...

this will be
the first thing.

Uh, don't you get it?

Great events make great men. Ah.

Who said that?

I did.

Well, I haven't yet,
but I... I will.


Mr. Jefferson,
take my word for it.

This is a big
career move for you.

Tom! Your dinner
is on the table.

I'm going to be
skipping dinner, Martha.

But you love turtle
and flummery pie.

Not every night, dear.

Uh, and that...
That's not the reason.

I... I have some work to do.

I'm gonna take a crack
at this independence thing.

Uh, declaration.

of Independence.

I guess you just have

to get these silly things
out of your system.

All right!

All right, young man,
you've convinced me.

Now, be on your way
so I can get to work.

Oh, sir, please. Can't I...
Can't I just watch you?

I mean, uh, you know,

it'd mean a lot
for me to see this.

I mean, more than you
could even imagine.

You want to watch me write?

Yes, sir, and...
And I'll be real quiet.

I, uh, won't say a word.

Very well. Very well.

Thank you.

Uh, whoa...

Uh, wait a minute.
Uh, one minute.

I just, uh...

I just think
you should use

this yellow crinkly kind.

It is neat-looking.


Uh, sorry.

Just seeing
how it's going.

Coming along fine,
thank you.


We hold these truths
to be...



We hold these truths
to be...




What? Come on.
What's the matter?

I am stuck
on this one phrase.

We have the right
to govern ourselves

in order to protect

our most fundamental
human rights.

The existence
of these rights

is so obvious

as to not require
any further justification.

How do I say that?

Uh, may I make
a suggestion?


We hold these truths
to be...

pretty darn clear.

No, that's no good.

Uh, we hold these truths

to be...

even to a big dope.

Oh, no, no.
This is so frustrating.

These truths
are self-evident.

How do I say that?

Just like that.

Just, uh... Just, uh...
Like that.

Like, "We hold these truths
to be self-evident. "

Well, I'll put that
down for now.

we'll be here all night.

"That they are endowed
by their creator

with certain
unalienable rights. "

I should probably
list a few.

And among these are...







Maybe just life
and liberty.

Uh, no. Uh...

No. No. Sir, it can't be
just life and liberty.

It's gotta be:
Life, liberty and the...


The what of what?

It'll come to you.

"And for the support
of this declaration,

"with a firm reliance
on the protection

"of divine providence,

"we mutually pledge
to each other our lives,

"our fortunes

and our sacred honor. "

Well, gentlemen,

what do you think?


Splendid, Thomas.

A brilliant piece
of work.

And I like
the crinkly yellow paper.


Let's sign this baby
and ship it off to England.

Now, gentlemen,
settle down.

Settle down!

Let's do this
in an orderly fashion.

I'll sign first.

He always does.

John Hancock.

Okay, who's next?

I'll sign...

Hey! Come on, John!

You took up practically
the whole page!

Well, they, uh...
They seem to like it.

Why shouldn't they?

It's one of the finest
things ever written.

You know, young man,

when I think that
the future of this nation

we're creating today

will be in the hands
of young people like yourself,

it makes me very proud.

Well, I'm, uh, proud
to have someone like you

to set the standard...

uh, Mr. Jefferson.

Thank you, lad...

...for everything.

Hey, come on!
Quit shoving!

Thomas Jefferson
wrote this thing.

He should be signing it.


Would you get over here
and put your John Hancock

on this thing?

Come on, Mom.

You said if it wasn't
raining today,

I could drive the car.

You did, Mom.
I remember.

Now, listen,
both of you.


You've been down here
all night?


No. I...

I was at, uh...

I had to go to, uh...


Um, you were there.

You were...

You were all there.

Uh, Jennifer,
you didn't wanna eat

the turtle
and flummery pie.

And, M...

Uh, Mallory, you had a date
with a minuteman.

And Mom.

Uh, Mom, you wanted to leech me.

Good morning, everybody.



Skippy, you cracked
the Liberty Bell.

I'm sorry.
I- I swear! I'm sorry!

I hardly touched it!

I just... I just sort of...

Wait a minute.

I did not.

Are you all right?

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

I'm fine,
but, uh, it happened.

I was there.


Good morning, Ed.
Good morning.

Uh, Steven will be
right down.

That's John Adams.


It happened, Mom.

I changed his mind.

Steve, any change of heart?

Yes, Ed. I've decided to come
with you to Washington.


That's wonderful, Steven,

but la... Last night you were
so set in your decision.

Well, let's just say I,
uh, changed my mind.

Thank you, lad,

for everything.

You're welcome.


This is weird.

Ed, if you can wait
for a few minutes,

I'll go finish my packing.

Sure thing.

Oh, Alex.

Yeah, Dad?

If it rains again tonight,

don't forget to put
my car in the stable.



Dad, wait a minute.

What did you just say?

I said don't forget to put
my car in the garage.