Family Ties (1982–1989): Season 3, Episode 7 - Hotline Fever - full transcript

Alex must take a humanities course at college even though he doesn't want to, so he signs up for the student helpline. There he runs into James, an old enemy. When the duo get stuck at the station with their teacher, they are told they can lock up. Alex soon realizes that he's bitten off a little more than he can chew when a troubled teen calls in with thoughts of suicide.

♪ 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

This is ridiculous.

Where do they come
up with this stuff?

What's the matter, Alex?

All freshmen are required
to take a Humanities course.

What's so bad about that?

Well, the...
The choices are absurd.

I mean, listen to this one.
Humanities 1:

Man, Society, Civilization,
the Universe.

How am I supposed
to relate to this stuff?

Just don't talk in class

and they'll think
you're one of them.

Jennifer, I'm in college to
learn about money, not people.

Alex, there's more to life
than getting rich.

Jennifer, people who have money
don't need people.

Oh, hey, hey.

Hey, Mallory, uh,

could you possibly
turn that up a little?

I can still hear
planes passing overhead.


Hey, Mallory, look,

help me out, will you?

Hey. I'm trying to go over
my college courses here.

You know, college?

You might drive
past one some day.

Stuff it, Alex.



That's the best
that's ever sounded.

You've ruined my...
You're gonna pay for that.

Ah, another day begins
here at Happy Acres.

Ah, ah, ah. I haven't
even had my breakfast yet.

I don't wanna know.

I'm beginning
to get curious.

He put...

Ah, ah, ah, ah.

All right.
Okay, Dad.

Mallory's music
was driving me crazy,

and I overreacted.

I'm a little tense
this morning.

Alex is just
in a bad mood

'cause they want him
to be a human at college.

Jennifer, they don't
want me to be a human.

They want me to take
a Humanities course.

Well, that doesn't
sound so bad.

I don't know. Dad, maybe you
can help me out with this.

You, uh, have a commitment
to social change,

a love
for the humanities.

Oh, look. Some of these courses
look pretty interesting, Alex.

Uh, why not sign up

for Introduction
to Abnormal Behavior?

You could skip
the introduction.

Hey, what about
Psychology 3:

I'm Okay, You're Okay?

First of all,
you're not okay.

And second of all,
this is not a college course,

it's a Phil Donahue show.

Well, okay. Look, how about, uh,
Sociology of the Family,

or, uh, the Hotline?

Hey, look:
Marriage and the Family.

Wait. No, wait a minute.
Wait a minute.

Dad, uh, Hotline. What...?
What's that, Hotline?

Uh, "The Hotline,
a phone-in counseling center

"where students
earn credits

"by handling callers'
problems two nights a week.

Satisfies Humanities
requirement. "

Yeah. You know,
this could be perfect.

I can, uh... I can go
to this Hotline twice a week.

I can bring along my books,
catch up on my real courses.

Stuff that has nothing
to do with people.

Watch it, will ya?

Sorry. Next time
I'll signal before I turn.

Is that you, Jarrett?

What are you doing here?

I go to school here.
What about you?

I go to school here too.

Hey, how did you get in?

I thought they
restricted the dull.

Obviously not.

So, uh, what are you
doing in this place?

I mean, a hotline center's
the last place

I'd figure I'd run into
somebody like you.

Yeah, well, I'm, uh...

I'm here, uh, because I wanna
help, uh, what do you call it?


You're more sensitive
than I thought.

Hey, Jarrett,
did I mention the fact

that I won
the McKinley Scholarship?

Oh, that's not bad.
I won the Steadman.

I could've won
the Steadman if I applied.

I just, uh, figured the McKinley
was a little more prestigious.

Old grudges die hard,
don't they, Keaton?

What are you
talking about, Jarrett?

You still can't get over
my beating you

in the regional spelling bee
in the third grade.

Hey, you didn't beat me.

I simply refused
to spell "Democrat. "

Who's next?

I am!

Well, it's nice to see
you're both so anxious.

We like people with enthusiasm.

Let's sit down.

I'm Janice Worthy.

I'm James Jarrett,
regional spelling bee champion.

This is Alex Keaton,
came in second.

Ah. Alex, I see
you're an Economics major.

Most of the counselors here
are Psychology majors.

I'm a Psychology major.

I'll get to you
in just a second, James.

Uh, so tell me, Alex,

do you know many emotionally
disturbed people?

Uh... just family.

James, this résumé
is quite impressive:

worked with
abused children,

at senior citizens' home,

playground director...

What'd you do in your
spare time, train guide dogs?

...worked with guide dogs.

Very admirable, James.

Yeah. He's a saint.

Let me explain
how we work around here.

The Hotline is a 24-hour service
for Leland students

with personal

Uh, yeah. It's a... It's a
terrific community service.

And it also satisfies the
Humanities requirement, right?

That's right.

Great. I'm ready.
When do I start?

Your training program
will start tomorrow.

As you become more
comfortable with the job,

we'll give you more

You won't actually
be on the phone unsupervised

for several weeks.

But we'll still get credit?

Yes, Alex.
You'll get credit.

Oh, there's one more thing.

Trainees work in pairs.

You two will work as a team.


Yes. Any objections?


BOTH I should be able to pull him through.

Okay, Jennifer.
Ask me another question.

What do you say
to someone who calls

with severe
personal problems?

I told you
never to call me here.

No. It says,
"Speak in a soothing voice,

and try to keep
the caller on the line. "

I was so close.

Why don't you try
a few, uh, practice calls, Alex.

You know, to help you
get the feel of it?

That's a good idea, Dad.

Uh, Mallory, you've logged
more phone hours

than anyone else
in the family.

Anyone else in the world.

Why don't you, uh,
give me a practice ring?

Oh, okay.

It's ringing.

Hello, Hotline.

Why are you bugging me?

I got a problem.

Let me guess.
It's a boy.

Let me guess.

Uh, you like him,
he doesn't like you.

No. I don't like him,
he doesn't like me.

Then what's the problem?

He's my brother.

Sorry, your time is up.

Whoa, that's James.
I gotta go.

Wait a minute, Alex.

It says that you shouldn't use
your real name,

you should have a code name.

Ah, good point.

I wouldn't want any
of these crazed losers

calling me at home.

Thank you, Mother Teresa.

Okay, well, it says here
to pick a name that's positive,

something like Faith,
Hope, or Charity,

but something that accurately
reflects your personality.

How about Greed?

Nah. It's probably taken.

Ah, hi, Mrs. Worthy.

Sorry we're late.

It was James' fault.

Oh, thanks,

Anyway, we're here, ready to go.
Where is everybody?

We're really
understaffed tonight.

Allison and Peter
have the flu,

Robert has a midterm

and I was supposed
to be out of here an hour ago.

Oh, gee, uh, that's...
That's too bad.

I guess that means you're gonna
have to close down tonight, huh?

We'll still get credit
for showing up though, right?

We're not gonna have to close.

Tim will be here any minute
for your training session.

Oh, great.
Tim's good.

Yeah, great.
I love Tim.

He makes us work hard.

All right, boys,
see you tomorrow.

Good night.

Well, I don't know
about you,

but I'm gonna get
some work done.

Listen, Alex, I'm gonna
run up to the snack bar.

Can I get you anything?

No. I'm fine.

Hey, all right, man.
I was buying.

Bring me back
one of everything.

Okay. Ahhh.

All right.

Yeah. Uh, Hotline.

Hi, Alex. It's me. Tim.

Yeah. Hi, Tim.
How you doing?

Why didn't you use
your code name?

Uh, sorry. I forgot.

Don't let it happen again.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Uh, Tim, is that
the only reason you called?

No. My car broke down.

It'll be at least
an hour before they fix it.

Just close up and go home.

We'll make up
the session tomorrow.

Okay, great.

Uh, oh, Tim,
uh, one more thing...

Yes, Alex. You'll
get credit for showing up.

Okay. Bye-bye.

Yeah, Gandhi speaking.


Yeah, Gandhi.

Oh, I must have the wrong
number. I-I wanted the Hotline.

No, no, no, no.
Don't hang up.

Hold on.
This is the Hotline.

I just, uh,
call myself Gandhi because,

uh, it's a code name.

All right?
Uh, what's your problem?

Well, uh, my...
My name is Bill.

Uh, just plain Bill.

And, uh, I...

Come on, come on.

I need some help here.

I... I think...

I think I'm gonna kill myself.

James, it's for you!


James, you're back.
Thank God!

You must have been
very thirsty.

A guy called

who wants to kill himself.

Okay, okay, take it easy.
What did you tell him?

I put him on hold.

You what?!

Hello. Thank you
for calling the Hotline.

Are you there?

Yeah, I'm here. Who are you?

This is Gidget.



That doesn't exactly
inspire confidence.

Where's the other guy?
Where's Gandhi?


I'm here too, Bill.

We're both here,
Gidget and... Gandhi.

All right,
let's try to be calm.

Let's just
try to be rational.

Um... what's the problem?

Well, I've been doing
a lot of thinking

about my life, you know?

How's it going?

I've been better.

You know,
I- I-I spent all last week

trying to come up with just
one good reason to live,

and I couldn't do it.

All right. Okay.
Ah, well, let's...

Let's just, uh...

Let's think of the things
that make us happy.

Okay? Uh, uh, books.

Uh, uh, plays.
Uh, music.

Uh, movies. Movies.

There's... There's
a great James Bond festival

over at the North Town.

Oh, yeah?
What's playing?

Uh, Live and Let Die.

Nice going, Alex.

Hey, you think
you could do better?

Yeah, I do. Let me talk.

Hey, no, wait a minute.
I... I answered the phone.

Guys, what's going on?
I'll talk!

Give me that.
No, no. Hey, Jarrett!


Well, it's been 15 minutes.

He hasn't called.

What could he be doing?

Don't answer that.

All right, let's just
review the conversation,

and we'll try and we'll
figure out out what went wrong.

Right. Okay.

Uh, he called.

He said he wanted
to kill himself.

I put him on hold.

We suggested he go
to a James Bond movie,

and then we hung up on him.

Uh, yeah. Hotline.

Is that how you help?

A guy says he's gonna kill
himselfand you hang up on him?

Bill. Bill,
you're back.

Bill, we're sorry.
It was an accident.

are you feeling any better?

No. Worse.

Alex, use the manual.

Uh, yeah.

Uh... Uh, you know, Bill...

Uh, now, this is, uh,

just off the top
of my head,

but I was thinking, um...

"Life can be
a wonderful and splendid...

...uh, thing. "

Hey, are you reading this
out of a book?


No. No.
Uh, don't be silly, Bill.

I'm just winging this.

"Let's reflect for a moment

"on all the positive aspects
in one's life.

"We can do that, can't we?

Insert name. "

You...! You are
reading this out of a book!

I'm a person,
not a hypothetical case!

If you keep reading that book,
I'm hanging up.

Look, Bill,
give me a break, okay?

I'm new at this.
I don't know what to say.

Yeah, well,
I'm new at this too,

but you don't see me
reading out of a book.

Listen, uh, Bill,

uh, can you hold for a second?

Oh, great.

No. No, I promise you
I won't hang up.

Okay, but hurry up.
I don't have all night.

What are we gonna do?

He, uh...
He won't let us use the manual.


Well, we'll just
have to be ourselves.

And, uh,
then, Bill... Ahem., uh, 1978,
I entered junior high school.

I had to take a school bus
for the very first time.

Of course,
it didn't faze me.

Uh, Bill?

Uh, you still there?

Yeah, I'm still here.

I'm bored,
but I'm still here.

Me too.

Guys, I appreciate
what you're doing,

but, you know,
you're wasting your time.

Nobody cares about me.

Hey, we do.

And... And we're
gonna stay on this phone

as long as
you want us to.

Come on, you're just two guys
who work at the Hotline

and happened to show up
on the wrong night,

and I don't even
know your real names.

Alex Keaton.

James Jarrett.

I didn't...
I didn't think you'd tell me.

Isn't that
against the rules?

Hey, Bill,
at a time like this,

everything just
goes out the window.

Let me rephrase that.

Look, I...

Look, I know you guys
are really trying,

but you still haven't told me
why I should keep living.

Think of the good things.

Think of falling snow,

think of falling in love.

I know. "Every cloud
has a silver lining. "

Uh-uh, no.
Silver's down this week.

Say... Say, "Every cloud
has a zinc lining. "

Hey, see that, man?
You're laughing.

I tell you, people who have
really given up on life,

they can't laugh.

That wasn't a laugh.
That was a chuckle.

Oh, come on, come on.

That was a laugh.
I know a laugh when I hear one,

and you laughed.

All right,
I laughed. Sue me.

Come on.
Bill, if you're laughing,

you must be smiling.

And... And if
you're smiling,

you must be
starting to feel good.

And you cannot
kill yourself

when you're
feeling good.

It... It spoils the mood.

Look, I know you guys
are really trying,

you know,
but it's no use.

I just... I hate life.
I hate feeling empty every day.

I... I hate feeling sorry
for myself. I...

What? What is it?

I'm scared.

Bill, everybody
gets scared.

Do you?

Uh, yeah. Pfff. Sure.


Hey, look,
I thought we were supposed

to be talking about you,
not me.

Oh, I get it. I have
to answer your questions,

but you won't
answer mine.

No, it... It's...

It's just that
it's not easy...

for me.

Yeah. Yeah, I do.
I get scared.


Uh, mostly at night.

You know, when the...

When the house is real quiet.

And I start
thinking about my future.

I, uh...
I do. I get scared.

Why should that scare you?

You told me you've always
succeeded in everything.

I have.

And, uh, that's why
I get scared.

You know, because
I'm afraid I might fail.

And, uh...

And, if I fail,

I don't know
how I'd handle it.

So I can't
let myself fail.

I keep pushing myself
to do better and better,

and I keep trying
harder and harder.

And I'm afraid
that if I stop...

Uh, I'm sorry.

No, no, go on. What...?
What are you afraid of?

I'm, uh, afraid that
if I slow down

and, uh,
I stop being the best

and the brightest,

and, uh,
the wittiest that, uh...

I'll be nothing.

Wow. That's exactly
how I feel sometimes.

Like... Like I'm nothing.

Well, we all feel
that way sometimes,

but we ride it out.

We work at it.

We fight the bad feelings.

Look, Bill,
you called here, right?

I mean, you reached out.

You don't wanna die,

and we don't
want you to die.

Do you really think every, uh,
cloud has a zinc lining? Ha.


I'm gonna hang up now.

Uh, what do you...?
What do you mean, Bill?

I mean, I...
I wanna hang up,

so I can get some sleep.
You know, then I can be fresh,

and think this through,

and find another way
to deal with it tomorrow.


Did you, uh...?
Did you say tomorrow?


Did you, uh...?
Did you hear that, James?

I heard him.

We were afraid
we goofed up, you know?

Because we're new and, uh,
we're so unsure of ourselves.

I kind of liked that.

It made me feel superior.

You guys were good, though.
Darn good.

Well, thanks.

Uh, but as good as we are,

there are... There are
people who are better.

You have to get
some professional help.

I know.

I will.

But it's gonna be hard

to find somebody better
than Gandhi and Gidget.

Thanks, guys.

Nice going, Keaton.

You're really something,

You weren't so bad yourself.

You know, listen, uh,

about that stuff
that I said, you know,

about being scared
and all of that.


Well, you know
that I was just, uh,

saying that.

Oh, yeah.
I know.

I know
you don't get scared.

Uh, James, can you
keep the lights on?