Family Ties (1982–1989): Season 4, Episode 17 - Engine Trouble - full transcript

Alex committed the surprising error to vent his conviction there are male and female fortes in the feminist home, so he gets stuck following the same elementary car mechanics course as ma ...

♪ 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

Okay, Andy, these are
your choices for dinner -

stewed beef, stewed prunes,
stewed peas, stewed figs...

or chocolate-fudge
ice cream.

Says he wants
the ice cream.

Does he know
that this is not as nutritious

as the other things?

He does...

But he says
you've got to live a little.

Hi, guys.

God, you look awful, dad.
You're all flushed.

You feeling all right?

I feel fine.

You sure
you're not getting sick?

Of course I'm sure.
I don't get sick.

I guess you just look awful
for no reason, then.

That's right.

You see, it's all
a matter of mind control.

You can't give in
to sickness.

You got to face it head-on
and tell it,

"get lost, brother...

You're not using my body
for your wild party."

He's delirious.

Well, I better get Andy out
of here before he catches it.

I am not sick!

I'll go get
the thermometer.

I'm not si...

Look, I don't care
if we do need the exercise.

The car broke down.
We should've taken a cab home.

The car broke down?

I wasn't gonna waste my money
on car fare.

And there's nothing wrong
with a brisk walk.

Well, where
did it break down?

A brisk walk? Mom,
you overtook a moving train!

Look, if I was going too fast,
Alex, you should've told me.

I tried to, mom.

The jet stream behind you
drowned out my voice.

Hi, guys.

where'd you come from?

Uh, it's, uh,
it's not important.

Look, just please tell me,
where is the car now?

Oh, it's up on 23rd and Hill.
I'm gonna call a tow truck.

No, don't do that.
I'll just, uh,

drive over there
and take a look at it.

Hey, dad. The car is dead.
You're not gonna be able to fix it.

What did it do
before it died?

I don't know.
Made some kind of a noise.

Well, was it like, um...




Tick, tick, tick.

Tick, tick, tick, tick,
tick, tick, tick, tick.


Sounds like
a private conversation.

I'll come back later.

Obviously the problem
was in the carburetor.

The choke must have closed up.

Uh, all you had to do
was stick a screwdriver

in the top of the carburetor
to get it started up again.

How'd you know that?

Well, it's very basic, Alex.
Auto mechanics 1.

Anyone who drives a car
should know that sort of thing.

You know, Steven,
you're right.

W-what if Andrew were sick,

and I'm taking him to the
doctor, and the car breaks down?

at the speed you walk,

you'll be better off
leaving the car at home.

You know, Elyse,
if you'd like

to take
an auto-mechanics course,

there's a good one over
at the community college.

Wait a minute, uh, dad.

Mom in an
auto-mechanics class?

That'd be like you taking
a course in embroidery.

Embroidery, hmm.
You know, I've always...


Wait a minute, Alex.
What are you trying to say?

Oh, come on, mom.

Women do not belong
in an auto-mechanics class.

Men are just naturally superior
in that field.

Oh, well, then,
maybe you can tell me

why you couldn't
fix the car.

I could've.

If I'd had gloves.

Proper tools.

A mechanic.

Alex, women can fix cars
as well as men.

All right, mom.

All right, what if
you're fixing a transmission

and you break a nail?

Or you have
to give birth?


Alex, if you're so sure
about your point of view,

why don't you take that course
with your mother?

All right. All right, I will.
But only to prove my point.

Mom, I'm gonna be twice
the mechanic that you are.


Ha, ha.
Ha. Ha. Ha!

Ha-ha, ha-ha.

I'll come back later.

All right, if you'll
all gather around here,

uh, right around here,
we can get started.

What's in the briefcase?

Oh, uh, Wall Street Journal,
Fortune Magazine,

latest economic forecast
for the third quarter of '86.

I'm glad someone had the good
sense to bring that stuff.

Thank you.

Now, the basic goal
of this course

is to provide an understanding
with how an engine works

and to make simple repairs
when it doesn't.

Uh, excuse me?

Yeah, what is it?

I was wondering
if you could tell us

a little bit about how
your grading system works.

Glad to. No grades.

Yeah, w-well,
what I mean is...

Let's say I'm better at
automotive mechanics than...

Oh, let me pick someone
at random... this lady.

No, no, come on, mom. Let me finish.

Let's say
I'm better than she is.

Now, how do I know I'm gonna
get the proper recognition?

I'll weld a gold star
to your forehead.

Fair enough. Fair enough.

Okay, now, we're gonna start

by identifying different parts
of the engine.

Now, what I'm gonna do is,
I'll point to a part

and anybody who knows what
it is, just yell it right out.




How about you, there,
uh, Mr. Wall Street Journal?

What's that called?

Uh, well, let me see.

That, um...

Its, uh, its name, uh...

I-is derived
from the Latin root, um...


It's a fan belt.

If you want to use
the vulgar term for it.

All right, does anybody
know what this is here?

Hmm? Huh?

How about you, lady?
Come on.

Oh, uh, Sam, Sam.

Uh, this...

This lady is my mother.

Recently released
from the kitchen.

She doesn't know
that much about cars,

so try not to embarrass her
in front of the whole class.

It's the carburetor.

Sorry to embarrass you.

Okay, does anybody know
what this is?

Uh, that's where
you pour the water in,

so it's the radiator,

Very good! Okay.

Let's see if you can make it
3 for 3. What's that?

Oh, that's easy.
Spark plugs.

Hey, this lady's hot.
I mean, she's on a roll.

She knows her way
around an engine here.

Can we get back to work,

Since you're so anxious to
get back to work, come here.

I got a special job
for you.

Well, certainly, Sam.
I'm your man.

You recognize real automotive
talent when you see it.

I do.

And while your mother
shows us

the rest of the parts
of an engine,

why don't you go get me
a cup of coffee?

Wait a minute. Me?

Yeah, you. You can recognize
a coffee machine, can't you?

It's derived from the Latin
"coffee machinicus."


Got to admit it now, dad.
You're sick.

I'm not sick.

Here, dad, I heated up
a nice can of soup for you.

Make you feel better.

Thank you, Mallory.

I will eat this
because you made it for me,

not because
you think I'm sick.

It's a little thick, Mallory.
How much water did you add?


Oh, hey!
How'd the class go?

Why don't we ask
the teacher's pet?

That's not fair, Alex.

No, I'll tell you
what's not fair, mom.

Being sent to get coffee

while your mother
plays Mrs. Goodwrench.

Did anything else happen
we should know about?

No, no, no,
nothing else happened.

Here, Alex, let's put
some ice on that hand

before it swells up.

Are you sure
nothing else happened?

I don't know how they could
expect anyone to change a tire

with that rusty old jack
and not hurt themselves.

Alex, you hurt yourself

trying to take the jack
out of the trunk.

Okay, all right, I admit,
I got off to a bad start today,

but I assure you
I'll be better than her.

In fact, I'm gonna be
the best student in the class.

And I won't have to be
the teacher's pet to do it.

This is not a competition.

We are taking this class
to learn.

No, mom, you...
You read books to learn.

You take a class to show
how much you've learned.

To get A's. T-to be the best.
To beat your mom.

"To beat your mom."
Isn't that the Harvard motto?

Okay, all right.
All right.

Make your little jokes
at my expense.

But don't come to me
when your cars break down,

'cause I'm gonna be
the one who's laughing then.

Don't come to me
to recharge your carburetors.

Not this guy.

You recharge batteries,
not carburetors.

I knew that.

Watch carefully, Skippy.

You're about to see an
automotive genius at work here.

Now, this goes here.

This goes here.

And this goes right...

Then what?

This thing is impossible
to put together.

There isn't a student
in this class

who's gonna finish
this project.

Mom did.


Admit it, Alex. Mom's just a
better mechanic than you are.

You're just saying that
because she's your mother.

Hey, Alex,
how's your project coming?

Fine, mom, fine.

Looks like you're having
a little trouble.

Uh, no, no,
as a matter of fact,

I was just
about to show Skippy

how to put this together

Right, Skip?

Oh, yeah, right, right,
and then, after that,

he's gonna put it together with
both arms tied behind his back,

while his entire body
is submerged in a tank of water.

Well, if you need my help,
I'll be happy to work with you.


Oh, mom, who do you think
you're dealing with?




Welcome to Cave World.

Hey, uh, Mrs. Keaton, this
is a buddy of mine, Clete.

And he's got a little problem
he'd like to discuss with you.

Oh, what is it, Clete?

Well, Nick here told me
about how you fixed his bike

the other day.

He said you're
a real grease monkey.

Oh, Nick, you always know
just what to say.

Could you take a look
at my car?

I mean, the engine is really
cutting out at high rpms.

It's beginning
to get on my nerves.

Well, uh,
maybe the plugs are fouled

or the injection system
might be too rich.

Let's go take a look.

I can't believe this.

My mother is the underworld's
mechanic of choice.

Hey, Alex.

What are you doing
with that motor there?

He's been trying
to put it together all day.

It took my mom
five minutes.

Hey, here, you know,
let me help you out.

I mean, you know,
the first thing you got to do

is get comfortable
with your motor.

What do you want me to do, Nick?
Take it out to dinner?

Look, wait, you know,
I'll get you started here.

All right,
now, uh, give me that.

Okay, and, uh,
hand me those gears.

All right,
give me that plate.

Go get me
a cup of coffee.

All right. Okay.
All right, Nick.

Look, I am supposed to
be doing this, not you.

Come here.

Hi, everyone.

Why does your dad
sound like Lauren Bacall?

He's sick.

No, I'm not.

And I don't sound
like Lauren Bacall.

I'm sorry, I-I meant...
You lo like Lauren Bacall.

You wouldn't be having
this trouble

if you weren't
undershifting, Clete.

You know, you've got to
wind it out in third gear.

Be more aggressive.

And for god's sakes,
stop babying that engine.

Thanks, Mrs. Keaton.

Oh, it's my pleasure.

Are you going
with anyone?

Over here.

Hey, yo, Nick, Mal, I got to
take you for a ride in this car.

You have got to
hear this engine hum.

All right, let's go.

I hope I didn't spoil
a fun evening for you, dear.

Steven, what are you
doing out of bed?

I-I'm gonna take you
back upstairs.

Elyse, I want to help him put
together the starter motor.

No arguments, Steven.

You're too sick
to be walking around.

I'm not sick! Why does everybody
want me to be sick?!

Because we love you, dear.

Alex, how are you gonna
put this together?

What I need is to see
one of these in one piece.

My mother's is in the kitchen.
I'm gonna take a glance.


This is where it all begins,

This is what
starts the car.

I thought the key
starts the car.

What did you think,

That the key
wasn't connected to anything?

That there was nothing
underneath the hood?


Let's see.

That goes there.
That goes there.

I still can't see
how the connection's made.

Gonna have to
disconnect it.

What if you can't
put it back together?

Come on, Skippy,
I'm unscrewing one bolt.

A baby could put it
back together.

Do you think your mom's
gonna notice?

I can't believe I took
this whole thing apart.

This project
is due tomorrow, Skippy.

I got to... I got to
put this back together.

But you don't know how.

Alex, you're never gonna
get this working again.

I got to get it at least
into one piece,

or she's gonna know
I messed with it.

Alex, I'm shocked.

If you don't tell
your mom about this,

she's gonna go
into that class tomorrow,

thinking it works fine,
and she'll flunk.

She'll have to go back
to automotive kindergarten.

She'll be a little embarrassed.
That's all.

I can't believe
I'm hearing this.

You want me to admit
that she knows

how to build a starter motor
and I don't?

Oh, I'm sorry, I-I don't know
what I was thinking, Alex.

Uh, why don't you
just slap me?

Look, Skippy, I may be doing
this for my own reasons,

b-but she is, too.

You know, in the brutal world
of auto mechanics,

it's every man for himself.

Especially if that man
i-is your mother.

Oh, Alex,
that's not right.

Why don't you ask?

What's a mother for?

If not to rewire
her son's starter motor?

All right.
Who wants to go first?

How about you, Al, huh?

Let me hook your starter here,
right up to the battery.

Aw, look, Sam,
w-what's the point, really?

I mean,
who am I kidding here?

My starter motor
is not gonna work.

I don't know
the first thing

about putting
these things together...

I got to admit,
you surprised me, kid.

Let me hand it to you.
I had you figured for a lox.

But you hung in there
and you learned something.

Right. Sure.


I don't believe it.
It worked.

Well, I-I have a little
confession to make.

Uh, last night I went downstairs
to get some milk,

and I-i sort of
ran into your starter motor,

and I-I sort of
fixed it for you.

You fixed it?

Well, it was all wrong.

Well, w-why did you do that
for me?

I wanted to help you.

I mean, we're in the same class
and the same family...

Mom, I feel terrible.
Well, why?

You'd have done
the same thing for me

if you knew that my starter
motor was gonna blow up.

I know that, mom, but...

Blow up?


When... when you say,
"blow up,"

d-do you mean that any starter
motor that's hooked up that way

will blow up?

That's right.

Like, say, for example,
i-if your starter motor

Was hooked up that way,
it would...

Blow up. That's right.

All right, not bad.

2 for 2.
We're really cooking here.

Thank you.

How about, uh,
our star pupil next?

Elyse, is it ready?

It's all ready, Sam.

Uh, don't do it.

Huh? Why not?

Uh, well, because
w-we all know she's an expert,

and, uh, a-and really, it's
a waste of the class's time,

not to mention a waste of
electricity that could be used

to start underprivileged
people's starter motors.

That's a lovely sentiment, kid,
but I got a class to run here.

No, uh,
you don't understand.

Excuse me.

Hit the deck!


Do you know
anything about this?

Jennifer, what are you
doing down here?

You're supposed to be upstairs
playing cards with dad.

He said he wanted
to take a rest.

And you fell for it?

Jennifer, you know we can't
leave him alone for a minute.

He's gonna get out of bed
and try to sneak downstairs.

Mom will kill us.

I just feel sorry for him.
He says he hates being sick.

He thinks he's letting us down
or something.

I know, but if he doesn't
stay in bed,

he's never gonna
get better.

Let's go check on him.




Is Alex home yet?

I thought he was
coming home with you.

We went in separate cars.

Well, I'm tired.

I'm gonna hit
the old bedroom trail.

Nighty-night. Sleep tight.

It's 5:00, Alex.

Jennifer, I need to talk
to Alex alone, please.

Alex, what do you
have to say for yourself?

I got an "A"
on my starter motor.

Look, I'm sorry, mom.

I just wanted to sneak a peek
at your starter motor

to see how you
put it together.

If you wanted my help,
you should have asked for it.

I'd have been more than happy
to help you.

I know. I just...

I couldn't bring myself to
admit that I needed your help.

So instead you took my help
when I wasn't looking.

I'm sorry. I should have
had the decency to admit

that you're a better mechanic
than I am.

It's more than that, Alex.

All right.

All right, mom.
Y-you've beaten me down.

I'll say it.


Can do anything
men can do...

...and should never
be pre-judged

on the basis
of sexual stereotype.

I said it.

It's more than that.

You mean I said it
for nothing?

Alex, we... we got into
an auto-mechanics course

to learn a few things.

But you turned it into some...
some major competition.

I mean, what difference
does it make

who is better
at auto repairs?

You're right, mom.

I mean, what difference
does it make?

Although I could've been
better than you if I...

Alex, please.


Y-you are my son,
and I love you very much,

but sometimes you are
so incredibly stubborn.

you're just so proud

that you can't even admit
that you're wrong.

And we both know
where you got that trait.

Yeah. From you.

No, not from me.
From your father.

He's too stubborn to admit
that he's even sick.

He doesn't want to admit

that anything has got
the better of him.

Just like you.

I guess we are alike
in that way.

It's just so unnerving

to realize that there are
some things in your life

that you can't control.

Honey, y-you put so much
pressure on yourself.

You know, sometimes I lie awake
in the middle of the night

worrying about you.

You do?

I want you to have
a happy, healthy life.

B-but you're gonna
be so busy

trying to be better
than everyone,

you're not gonna
let it happen!

I'll take it easy, mom.
I promise.

You promise to ask for help
if you need it?

I promise.

Listen, mom, I-I wanted to
tell you that I am proud of you

for being the best mechanic
in our class.

Thank you.

And, uh, I want to ask your help
with something.

Very good.
What is it?

The car broke down
on the way home.

It's at the intersection
of 6th and Franklin.

I'll get my tools.