Family Ties (1982–1989): Season 4, Episode 13 - The Disciple - full transcript

Jennifer is tired of being outclassed by classmates, so she asks academically always excelling Alex (who won the Thomas Dewey best student achievement award three years in a row) to help her prepare a social studies presentation on how a bill becomes a law. Alex accepts, provided they do it his way, all the way: after reading at Ivy league level, while he pretends in class to be a quarry worker too dumb to understand what he fetches, he attends -queing her- a brilliant show with lights, music, patriotic panache and the flawless story, complete with the printing on parchment. Afterwards both parents claim credit for the talent running in the family, and her teacher Pedroza enters Jennifer for the Deway award. Alas there Jen feels unable to go trough with the 'deceit', and gets an impossible question from lawyer Ralph Boswell, who bickers with Steven if his Timy is brighter then their toddler Andy, till Alex takes the floor, thus giving the game away for everyone. Alex is blamed by the whole family. Then the smart siblings talk it trough...

♪ 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

Oh, hey, Jennifer.

What are you doing?

I have to do an oral report
for Social Studies class.

- What about?
- How a bill becomes a law.

Oh, all right. Uh...

Why don't you read me
what you have so far?


"How a bill becomes a law."

I like it a lot.

It's peppy and interesting.

It's zippy, yet informative.

Let me hear it again.

Oh, hey, Skippy!

How's the report going, Jen?

Oh, she's good, Mr. Keaton.
Go ahead.

Read him what you just read me.

Dad, I need some help.
Do you have a minute?

I can't now, Jen. Your mom
and I have to take Andrew

to his play group.
Maybe later?

Oh, Elyse!
The Boswells are here!

All set.

Oh, Steven, try not to get
into an argument

with these people again, okay?

Look, I don't start
these arguments. They do.

They're so competitive about
their son's accomplishments.

"Our Timmy can stand up."

"Our Timmy can talk."

"Our Timmy can read."

I can do most
of those things.

You guys ready?
We're waiting.

Oh, hi, Ralph.

Yeah. We're all set.

You see Timmy there
in the car?

Oh, yeah.
Isn't he cute?

He drove us here.

Goodbye, honey.
Be back in a couple of hours.

Bye, Skip.

Hi, Jen.

Hi. Oh.

Mallory, Alex isn't home
right now.

Can you help me
with my Social Studies project?

Oh, I can't, Jen.
I'm late as it is for work.

I got to go upstairs
and change my clothes.

Uh, Mallory?
Do you need any help?

Okay. Yes, Skippy.

I'd like you to come upstairs

and help me change my clothes.

He'll be back.

Alex, you're home!

Thanks, Jen.

For a second there
I didn't know where I was.

Alex, I have to do
an oral report

for Social Studies class
on Wednesday.

I really,
really need your help.

I appeal to you,
as my brother,

to act out of compassion
and love,

to reach out
to your younger sister

and help her
in her hour of need.

What's in it for me?

Alex, please.
I'm desperate.

Jennifer, I don't get it.

I mean, you get good grades.

You're good in school.

How come you're so desperate
for my help all of a sudden?

I saw some projects the other
kids were working on.

They were really good.

I want mine
to be just as good.

I want mine to be better.
I want mine to be the best.

Well, Jennifer,

I respect your goals of conquest
and domination.

I'd like to think
I inspired them.

But if I help you with this,

we're gonna do it my way,
start to finish,

every step, my way.
You got it?

Got it.

All right.
What's your topic?

How a bill becomes a law.

And what are you using
for your resource material?


What is this,
a seventh-grade textbook?

Yes. I'm in seventh grade,
and that's my textbook.

Well, if you want me
to be involved with this,

you're gonna have to abandon
this childish,

simplistic approach
to the subject.

But that's the book we use.

That's the book they use.

And they'll do their
little oral reports,

and they'll get
their little grades,

and they'll live
their little lives.

But you want to know
something, Keaton?

You're better than they are.

And we're going
to the library,

and we're gonna prove it.

Now, you want to prove it,
don't you?

- I do...
- I can't hear you.

I do!

Alex, how much more of
this stuff do I have to read?

Let's see.

You still have, uh...

Ah, Martin Carruthers'
"Inside the U.S. Legislature."

Uh, Beatrice P. Duvall's

in Western Society,"

And... Ooh, ooh...

Bunson and Sheitz's

in the Common Law."


Want to know something, Jen?

I like the way
this is shaping up.

You play your cards right,
I think you've got a shot

at the Thomas Dewey Award
this year.

Are you crazy, Alex?

I don't have a chance
to win that.

The Dewey Award goes out

to the best academic
presentation of the year.

They always give it to some
Pesky, Dorky, genius type.

I won it
three years in a row.

Jen, are you still up?
Honey, it's after 10:00.

You're working awfully hard,

Hey, Jen,
I got some time now.

If you want, I can help you
with that thing of yours.


"How a bill grows up"?

Mallory, I'm helping her.

For Jennifer to go
from my help to your help

would require
a decompression chamber.

Jennifer, it's great

that you're motivated
to work this hard.

Oh, well, you know me, dad.

I can't get enough
of this stuff.

You know, Elyse,
I'm beginning to wonder

if we've been
too easy on Andrew.

What do you mean?

Well, you know,
little Timmy Boswell

is the same age as Andrew,

And he does seem more advanced.

Did you see him
at that play group today?

Yeah, I did.
If you want my opinion,

his parents
are pushing him too hard.

He should have been
playing with Andy

and the other 1-year-olds
at blocks.

Why? What was
little Timmy doing?

Playing backgammon.

He wasn't really playing,

He beat me
two out of three games.

Good night, sweetheart. Try not
to stay up too late, okay?

Don't worry, mom. I'll make sure
she gets to bed nice and early.

- All right.
- Okay? Nighty-night.

Good night.


...and so the electoral college
meets in December

and casts its 538 votes.

And that's how our president
is elected.

Thank you, Brenda.
Very nice.

We have time for one more
report this morning.

Jennifer, you ready?

Uh, yes, ma'am.

But it'll take me
a couple minutes to set up.

Very well.
We'll take a short break.

Class, you may talk quietly
among yourselves.

It's about time
that Brenda finished.

I thought she'd babble forever.

She's a good friend
of mine, Alex.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

You'll blow her
out of the water.

Mrs. Pedroza,

I'd like you to meet
my brother Alex.

He gave me a ride today.

Oh, how nice.

Uh, Alex, did you help Jennifer
with her presentation?

Uh, me?

Uh...uh, no. No.

Uh, no, I don't...
I don't know nothing

about this government

I just, uh...

You know, I just carry
the stuff Jennifer tells me to.

Alex, I'm nervous.

Listen, you'll be all right.

Just speak clearly and don't
rush your presentation.

These simpletons are lucky
to be here for it.


Can you stay and watch, Alex?

Oh, gee, I guess so.

I don't have to be back
at the quarry for an hour.

Class, we're ready
to begin again.

Jennifer will enlighten us
on how a bill becomes a law.


Uh, friends, classmates,

lend me your ears.

If the revised bill is approved

by both the House
and the Senate,

it is sent
to the enrolling clerk

to be printed on parchment.

It is this enrolled bill

that is signed
by the speaker of the House

and the president of the Senate.

Then the document is transported
up Pennsylvania Avenue

to the White House,

home of the president
of the United States.

The president has 10 days,

not counting Sundays,

to sign or veto the bill.

If he signs it,
the bill becomes a law.

If he vetoes it...

it takes a 2/3 vote

of both houses of Congress
to override his veto.

Let me assure you,
this rarely happens.

We have reached the end
of our long journey.

Once the president
signs our bill,

it becomes law of the land,

a shining example of democracy,

a beacon to freedom-loving
people everywhere!

Thank you.

...and the music built
to a crescendo,

and there she was,
draped in the stars and stripes,

radiant in the spotlight.

I'm telling you,
it was spectacular.

Kids were crying
in their lunchboxes.

Alex is exaggerating a little.

Ah, Jen, you're just
a chip off the old block.

You know, you're right.

When I was about 12,

I had to do
this cookie-bake demonstration

for the Girl Scouts Jamboree,

and there were
about 20 people there.

- And I had to make up.
- Uh, dear...

When I said she was a chip
off the old block,

that's not exactly
what I was referring to.

I was thinking of the time

when I was 12 and, uh,

I gave a speech
at the annual potluck dinner

of the young bowlers
of America.

Oh, please, go on.

Allow me to say
I bowled them over.

That's a wonderful story, dear.

I'll get it.

Jen, that is great that you
impressed Mrs. Pedroza.

She's tough.
I had her in seventh grade.

She didn't like my history
presentation at all.

What was it?

It was a revolutionary war.

They wore red coats,

We dressed casually.

See what happens when people
don't come to me for help?

Well, I knew you could
pull it off, kiddo.

You were fabulous.

I'm glad it's over.

I was really scared.

I was up there saying
a bunch of words.

I had no idea what they meant.


Mallory does that
every day of her life!

Someone here to see you, Jen.

Mrs. Pedroza.

Hello, Jennifer.

Hi, uh, you remember
my brother Alex.

Of course.
How are things at the quarry?

Uh, busy, busy.

We're having a sale.

You want to buy
a couple tons of granite?

Ah-ha! Ha.

Mrs. Pedroza has something
very exciting to tell you.

Jennifer, I was so impressed
with your presentation

that I would like for you
to be one of the contestants

for the Thomas Dewey Award
this Friday.


And you deserve it.
Will you be there?

Well, uh, my parents don't
like me to stay up late.

We'd be happy to make
an exception in this case.

- Swell.
- Well, that's wonderful.

It should be quite a night.

Well, please sit down,
Mrs. Pedroza.

No, no, I've got to run.
I just wanted to come by

and congratulate Jennifer
in person, give her the news.

Oh, it was nice of you to come.

Did you understand...

...what I told your sister?

She is doing very well.


Come on, Mrs. Pedroza,
we'll walk you to your car.

Way to go, Jen!
You're up for the Dewey!

It's about time another Keaton's
name was engraved in gold.

We had a long dry spell there
during the Mallory years.

I don't think I can go through
with it, Alex.

I'm gonna go tell Mrs. Pedroza
that you helped me,

and I don't deserve
to get this Dewey Award.

Hey, hey, hey, hey.

That's not a Keaton talking,

A Keaton never backs down
from a challenge.

Now, I know you're afraid,
but don't worry.

I'm gonna be by your side
every step of the way.

That's what I'm afraid of, Alex.

In 1982,
a group of British scientists

fabricated a piece
of genetic material

that was 514 paired nucleotides
in length.

Can you believe that guy, Alex?

- I can't do that.
- Hey.

You're never gonna win
with that attitude, Jennifer.

Alex, you've loaded me down
with so much information

I don't even know
what I'm thinking anymore.

All right, look,
just, uh, relax, okay?

When you get up there,
it'll all come back to you.

Now, immune or gamma interferon
completes this list.

- That was excellent, Walter.
- Thank you.

Our next contestant

for this year's
Thomas Dewey Award

is Jennifer Keaton,

who will discuss
how a bill becomes a law.


Smile, honey,
here come the Boswells.

Oh, Ralph. Betty.

Excuse me.

- So glad you could make it.
- Uh-huh.

Sorry we're late.

Have trouble getting a sitter?


Truth is,
sitters flock to our door.

They all love taking care
of Timmy.

Who wouldn't?

Tonight Timmy sang
for the first time.


Ladies and gentlemen.

Friends, parents, citizens,

lend me your ears.

My subject tonight -
How a bill, uh, grows up.

I mean,
how a bill becomes a law.

I guess I'm just
a little nervous right now.

Anyway, um, it's a very
interesting process,

and I wish I could tell you
about it, but I can't.

I've got to go right now.

Thank you. You've been
a great audience. Bye.

Hey, hey, hey.
What are you doing?

What are you doing?
Get back there!

I can't, Alex.
I don't know what I'm saying.

Show them
the Capitol building.

I worked for 18 hours
painting that thing.

Excuse me. Ladies and
gentlemen, before I go,

I thought you'd like
to see the Capitol building.

Pass it around, but please,
no smoking inside of it.

Jennifer, that's not what
we planned for you to say.

I don't know
what I'm supposed to say.

Have them ask you
some questions.

You can handle that.


Are there any questions
on how a bill becomes a law?

Any questions at all?

- Miss Keaton.
- Yes, sir.

Ralph Boswell, attorney at law.

I'd like to ask
a two-part question

the Supreme Court ruling

in Marbury vs. Madison
in 1803.

- Objection.
- Overruled.

Did you agree with chief justice
Marshall's assertion

of judicial review
over acts of Congress?

And secondly,

do you think this ruling
had a chilling effect

on legislative process
during the Jeffersonian era?


I-i, uh, I don't...

I'd like to field
that question...

...if I might.

Uh, I think at that point
in U.S. history,

it was important for the High
Court to assert its parity

with the other branches
of government,

vis-a-vis the process
of judicial review.

Uh, or at least, uh,

I think that's what
I thought I heard

Jennifer saying around the house
the other day.

Excuse me, but you didn't really
answer my husband's question

about Marbury vs. Madison.

Will you sit down?

Jennifer, are you okay?

No, I'm not okay.

I don't know
what I'm doing here!

I'm sorry, Alex.
I let you down.

What were you thinking about,

How did you expect Jennifer
to learn all this?

I just wanted her presentation

to be the best
that it could be.

What could possibly
be wrong with that?

Alex, this isn't material
for a 13-year-old.

This is something only an adult
could understand.

What does this mean?

Naturally, I'm assuming
a working knowledge of Latin.

why'd you let him do so much?

I mean, you're awfully good
in Social Studies.

You guys are always helping
Jennifer with her homework.

I thought this was
the same thing.

It's not the same thing.
We're not that much help.

Look, Jennifer,
next time you need help,

just come to me.

I won't make you
read any books.

We'll just go to a movie.

Look, Jen...

Alex, I don't want to talk
to you ever again.

Can I just talk to Jennifer
alone for a second?

I mean,
I just need 10 minutes,

And I think we can
straighten this thing out.

Well, that sounds reasonable.

Okay, you've got 10 minutes
to work it all out,

but no hitting.

I'd never do that, mom.

I was talking to Jennifer.

Look, I'm sorry, Jen.

I didn't mean to -
to push you as hard as I did.

But you knew
what you were getting into

when you came to me
for help.

You know that I can
only do things one way.

Out of control.

I just don't understand
why you didn't try and stop me.

I mean, if you were
so uncomfortable,

why did you let me do it?

Because it wasn't just so easy
to let your point away, Alex.

You had so much energy,
it was like you were glowing.

I was.

I get really fired up
when it comes to you, Jennifer.

You're my sister.
I want you to do well.

I want you to excel.
I want you to be all you can be,

to go the extra mile.

Alex, you're starting
to glow again.

Get away from me.


I have to admit,

there is a part of me
that liked it.

The attention, the applause,
being the best.

You and I are a lot alike.

You know that, Jennifer.

Alex, please,
I'm depressed enough.

What you have is special.

What I have is special.

What Mallory has is scary.

Alex, I'm not like you.

Yeah, you are, Jen.

I mean, don't...
Don't try and deny it.

I'll never forget the first time
that I noticed it.

You know, you were about,
uh, 4 years old,

And, uh, you were playing
in the sandbox

with little Brucey Dugan.

And you were trying to see

who could build
the biggest sandcastle.

And, uh, Brucey built one
that was, uh,

6 feet high and 5 feet wide,

and yours looked like servants'
quarters to his castle.

And, uh...
You knew you were beat.

And you got this look
on your face,

and you walked up to Brucey
and you said,

"hey, Brucey,
look, the ice cream man."

Brucey turned around and...

You crushed his castle
into the dust.

And I remember thinking
to myself,

"she is good.

She is real good."

Alex, I apologized
to Brucey later.

All right,
so you weren't perfect.

Look, Jennifer, we are different
than other people.


You know, it's not easy for us,
living with mom and dad.

You know, there's this blanket
of niceness and decency that...

...hangs over this house
like a black cloud.

And it's up to us to stick
together and rise above it.

Alex, I'm really
not like that.

And you want to know something?
You're not like that, either.

What do you mean?

I saw you go back later
and buy Brucey some ice cream.

Small cone.

Don't try to kid me, Alex.

Underneath that
huffing and puffing,

you've got a big heart
and you know it.

Jennifer, will you...
Will you keep quiet?

I don't want that stuff
getting out.

Look, all I'm asking...

is that you never
sell yourself short.

You know, you have the potential
to be anything you want to be.

Promise me you'll try.

I promise.

Come on.
I'll buy you an ice cream.