Family Ties (1982–1989): Season 4, Episode 18 - A Word to the Wise - full transcript

Alex and Ellen have been together for six months. The family decides to tell Ellen some of the things Alex has done in his life before she met him.

♪ 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

that was interesting.

The Leland Art Council
presents an evening of mime.

I prefer
an evening of dentistry.

Let me get this straight,

you didn't enjoy it.

Well, Ellen,
I-i-i got to admit,

for the first couple of minutes
it was pretty interesting

watching a guy in whiteface
walking around

going like this.

After 10 minutes, you want to
start slapping people around.

Alex, if you just
give it a chance,

mime can really be

I did give it a chance.

You kept getting up and yelling,
"louder, louder!"

Look, Ellen, I'd, uh...
I'd like to sit around here

and argue with you
about this,

but I got something
more important to do.


Give you this.

Six-month anniversary.


It's beautiful.

A pocket calculator.

You don't
already have one?

Not with a slide rule.

Oh, look.
They're at it again.

Hey, hey, come on,
give us a break.

It's a special
occasion tonight.

It's our
six-month anniversary.

I-I just gave Ellen
a present.

When does it mature?

It's a pocket calculator
with a slide rule.

Sounds like love to me,

Joke if you will, okay,

but these have been

the six best
consecutive months of my life.

Me too.

I liked him, too, for the first
six months I knew him.

Then what happened?

Well, let's just say
there's been a lot of water

under the bridge
since then.

I could tell you
some stories.

Come on, now.
Ellen likes Alex.

What happened in the past
isn't important.

I was just gonna tell Ellen
about the time Alex

secretly invested dad's money
in the stock market.

Oh, Ellen,
you got to hear this.

Come on, come on.

Ellen doesn't want
to sit around here

and listen to a bunch of boring
old stories, do you, Ellen?

You invested your father's money
in the stock market

without telling him?

Alex was taking
a high-school course

all about
the stock market.

He found a stock
he really liked,

and he asked me to invest in it,
and I said, "no."

I hate nostalgia.

So Alex called up
pretending to be my dad

and invested
in the account.

At first, the stock
was doing great.

Then Alex went over
to the brokerage house

to see how much money
he was making.

Alex: mom and dad were
on their way down

and I was gonna surprise them
with all the money I'd made

by investing everything
in V.I.P. Industries.

Oh, hi, Alex. I'll be with you
in just a second.

I'm having some trouble
with the computer here.

Keeps jamming.
Circuits must be down.

I don't know.

have you tried this?

See, sometimes you have to
clear it during this phase,

or it's a real pain.

I knew that.

Oh, look at that -
Trans Alloid up a point.

and Petramco up 2 1/2!
That's terrific!

Yeah. That's terrific.

Well, you're as hot
as a pistol, Alex.

You got the Midas touch,
buddy boy.

Well, I'm glad
I talked my dad into investing.

Oh, and that setback
with V.I.P.,

while regrettable,
is certainly understandable.

Excuse me.

What setback with V.I.P.?

Uh, Mr. Matthews,

w-what was that you just said
about V.I.P.?

Well, there was a typhoon
in Manila last night.

Millions in damage.
The stock dropped 28 points.

Excuse me, Alex.

Uh, are you sure?

About what?

About the typhoon! The stocks!
Are you sure?

Of course I'm sure. I'm surprised
you didn't know about it.

What am I,
a weatherman?!

I've been in school all day!
I'm a kid!

That's right.
I forget sometimes.

Alex, take it easy.
So it's dropped 28 points.

He bought it at 29.

Look, all he has to do
is meet the margin call

by closing tomorrow.

How much... How much...
How much is the margin call?

That's no big deal.

Mr. Matthews:
Uh, excuse me, Alex.

I've got some customers
to take care of.


Elyse: Aah!

That's not good
For business, Alex.

Look, Mr. Matthews,

those, uh, people out there
are my parents.

M-my dad doesn't know
about the typhoon

or the margin call.

Look, Alex, the way
your dad plays the market,

he understands
that a $2,700 margin call

isn't the end
of the world.

Yeah, well, uh,

let me just tell them
in my own way, okay?

You don't understand -
he takes these things very hard!

When he was a boy...

a typhoon
wiped out his village.

Okay, Alex.

If he's gonna take the news
anywhere close

To the way you're taking it,
maybe you're right.

You found it.


Come on in.

what's going on here?

Uh, here?

this is a brokerage house.

They buy. They sell.

Alex, you just
slammed the door on us.

Yeah, well,
I didn't want you to come in

until everything
was just right.

Clean up that desk,
will you?

W-why did you want us
to come down here?

What was all this talk

about an anniversary present?

Yeah, well, I just thought
this would be the best place

to give it to you.

Happy anniversary,
mom, dad.

I love you.

And if that weren't
bad enough...

Saved by the yell.

Thanks, pal!
I owe you one!

I'll get him.

Oh, thanks, Jen.

Well, I guess that ends that
little storytelling session.

Maybe we can trade
some more lies, slanders,

and half-truths next week.

It wasn't so much the money
that upset me, Alex.

It was that you had acted
so irresponsibly.

That I couldn't trust you
in that type of situation.

Look, dad,
I'm older now.

I'm much more

Alex, you're
an intelligent, ambitious,

well-dressed young man.

But when it comes
to making difficult,

business-related decisions,
you're not infallible.

the housekeeper incident?

There are two sides
to every story.

What housekeeper?

Well, I was pregnant
at the time,

and we needed someone
to help us clean house.

I was knocked out
from interviewing

different housekeepers
for the job,

so I told Alex to screen
the rest of the applicants

and let me know
if anyone good came by.

Two sides.

I'm Karen Nicholson.

I've come to apply
for the housekeeping position.

You have?


Uh, come in, come in.

Uh, here.


Thank you.

Won't you please
sit down?


I, uh, have a few questions here
I must ask you.


Uh, do you have
any references?


Uh, do you, uh, have any
experience a-as a housekeeper?


Uh, can you cook?

Uh, cook?


So, you, uh,
you have no experience,

no references,
a-and you can't cook.

That's right.

You're hired.

Boy, you really run
a tough interview, Alex.

Hey, hey,
Karen was all right.

She was starting
to come along, too.

We just didn't give her
enough time.

Alex, if we'd given her
any more time,

this house
wouldn't be standing.

Hey, hey,
can I fix you a cold drink?

Uh, the ice maker's
not working, Alex.

Karen broke it a week ago.
No, no, no, no.

She told me that
she took care of it today.

I'll get it myself, Alex.

So, uh, how was your day
at school, Alex?

Real good.
Real good, dad.

No, no,
I-i mean specifically

that English class.

You, uh, you said you were
having a little trouble with it.

Doing great, dad.
I'm doing great.

Here, uh, hang on a sec.

Take a look at that.

So, uh... So how are
the rest of your classes?

Good, dad. Good.

I am, uh, really glad
I chose Leland.

You know,
and the economics department

is everything
I hoped it would be.

Who are we kidding, Alex?

She's not working out.

She's totally incompetent.

She has got to go.

Dad, will you quit
being such a perfectionist?

Alex, Alex!

Alex, look around you.

I'm afraid to, dad.

Alex, this woman cannot do
one thing we need her to do.

Okay, well, dad,
let's keep thinking

until we think of something
that she can do.

Wh... We have to
fire her, Alex,

for our own safety.



If this had been
a pop tart...

...we'd be dead now.

I miss Karen.

She may not have
been a good housekeeper,

but she sure was fun
to have around.

Look, I took control
of a situation,

and it didn't work out.

It's happened
once in my life.

Oh, yeah, Alex?

What about
the quiz-off?

maybe twice.

What was this quiz-off?

a couple years ago,

Alex was the leader of
the Harding High quiz-off team.

There was gonna be
a big match

held live at my dad's
PBS Station.

Alex needed to fill
one more spot on the team,

and he picked me.

Mistake of my life.

Well, he made my life miserable
trying to teach me everything

in a couple of days.

Let's turn
to the next question.

Alex, we've been doing this
for hours.

I'm getting tired!

She needs her rest.

Jennifer, I don't think
you fully appreciate

what an enormous task
I've undertaken here.

I'm taking
a simple peasant girl

whose greatest prior
achievement was coordinating

her eye shadow
with her sweater,

and I'm turning her
Into someone...

Someone who could have
a conversation with me.

You're gonna have to
give her

more incentive
than that, Alex.

Alex, let's just
get this over with.

You're getting a little
too pompous even for you.


Now, we went over
this one yesterday.

It's a geography question.

At the southern tip of Chile
lies a body of water

named for
a famous explorer.

Name this body of water.

a body of water, right?

Named for
the famous explorer.

Come on, now.

Southern tip of Chile?

The Hudson River.


That's not right?

No, it's the
Straits of Magellan!

Oh! You guys are still at it?
It's so late.

I'm glad you're here.

We need your help
with another dry run.

We've had five dry runs
in the last two days, Alex.

Just one more. We're at
a turning point here.

Mallory actually named
all the cabinet members.

That was me, Alex.

Alex, I'm tired.

Just a couple more


What do the letters

in the acronym "scuba"
stand for?

Well, it's kind of like
skin-diving, isn't it?

Yes. Yes, it is.

Now, what do
the letters stand for?

We've gone over this

Self-contained underwater
breathing apparatus.

What did you say?

Self-contained underwater
breathing apparatus.


Self-contained underwater
breathing apparatus!

By George, she's got it!

All: Self-contained underwater
breathing apparatus!

And who invented it?


Everything was going okay.

We got to the studio.

We were all prepared.

Then the questions started.

There's a body of water
at the tip of southern Chile

that's named
for the first man

to circumnavigate
the globe.

What is this body of water?

Alex Keaton, Harding High.

- The body...
- To the camera.

Right. To the camera.

The body of water...

Five seconds, Harding.

The straits of Ma-a-a...


Uh, Ma-a-a...

Uh, anyone else
on the Harding team?

Mallory Keaton.

Straits of

No, no, I'm sorry.

The correct answer
was the straits of Magellan.

Straits of Massachusetts
is incorrect.

Wait a minute, what's...
The judges say "close enough."

Wait, wait, wait. I, uh,
sorry, wait a minute, that's...

That's the wrong answer.

But... But as I said before,

the decision
of the judges is final.

Uh, Harding will get credit
for that answer.

The score is tied 5-all.

Thanks to me,
we almost won.

I think it's cute
you had stage fright, Alex.

No, I don't accept that,

I still think
one of the teachers

from the opposing team
drugged me.

Alex, the other team's teachers
were all nuns.

That's what they
wanted you to think, dad.

You know, I am not the only
member of this family

who's made
the occasional blunder.

Occasional? Ha.

you made your share.

Like what?


Wait till you hear this,

I went down to Princeton
for an interview,

and Mallory
wanted to come with me,

'cause her boyfriend -
he was a freshman there,

and she wanted
to surprise him.

Yeah, well, it worked.

When she walked into his room,
he was kissing another girl.

And while this was going on,
I was down at the dean's office,

ready to knock his socks off
in my interview.

Anyway, he asked me to wait
in another room,

and then when
I stepped inside...


Yes, Dean Memminger,
I, uh...

I certainly do want
to attend Princeton.

I have always had a certain,
oh, shall we say, lust...

No, not lust.

An admiration
for the Ivy League.


What are you doing here?

Um, um, I saw Jeff,

Yeah, yeah, yeah.
What about Jeff?

Um, I saw Jeff

And-and-and the desk,
uh, uh, kissing.

Jeff was kissing
the desk?

No, he was leaning
against the desk.

He was, um... He was...
He was kissing, um...

A girl.

Oh, boy.

I want to go home.

Let's go home,
okay, Alex?


Are you crazy?
I got my interview now!

Mallory, I've got
to talk to you.

Go away, Jeff.
I don't want to see you.

Let me explain!

let him explain.

Jeff, why don't you
take her out for dinner?

Here's a couple of bucks.

Mallory, I had every intention
of telling you about Sandy.

Did you hear that, Alex?

Her name's Sandy.

Great. Here's some more money.
Take Sandy with you.

I'm sorry you had
to find out like this.

But don't forget, we did
agree to see other people.

Say, that's right. Well,
I guess this is settled, huh?

Just go away,
okay, Jeff?

'Cause I don't want
to talk about it anymore.



Has there been a coup?

Hello, Dean Memminger.

I was just, uh...

Wishing Alex
good luck.

I think you'll
really like him.

He's a swell kid.

Well, that's
good enough for me.


Welcome to Princeton.

We'll talk later,

Well, so long.

And who is this?


Uh, she was just leaving.

Um, I want to go home
right now, okay, Alex?

please be reasonable, okay?

Just wait outside. I'll be
done here in a few minutes.

I'll wait out here.

Good. And, uh, try
and keep your mind off Jeff.

Okay, I'm ready.

Are you sure?

Yes, sir.

This interview has not got off
to a good start, Mr. Keaton.

If there's
any further interruptions,

I may have to
hold it against you.

Yes, sir, I-I'd do the same
thing if I were in your shoes.

By the way, did I tell you
how much I like your shoes?

Sit down, Mr. Keaton,

Yes, sir.

I must say I'm very impressed
with your application,

very impressed indeed.

I can always spot sincerity
and commitment

in an application.

Well, thank you, sir.

I tried to throw a lot of both
in there.

Uh, Dean Memminger,
as you could probably tell,

I regard Princeton
as perhaps the finest...


E-educational in...

Um, e-ever since
I-I was a young lad of about,

oh, I don't know,
6 or 8 months of age...

Excuse me.


It's for you.

Thank you.


Would you please...


Look, I know you want to go home
right now, but I can't.

No, m-m-Mallory, Mallory,
don't leave without me.

No, no.
Don't leave the building.

I repeat -
do not leave the building!

Do you think
she'll call again?

No, no.
That's it.

Fine, then we can get on
with this interview.


All right, Mr. Keaton,

could you tell me what unique
qualities you possess

which might enrich
the Princeton community?

Well, sir,
I'm glad you asked that.

How much time have you got?

Well, sir, at the... at the risk
of sounding immodest,

you see before you a young man
without a flaw.

Unless, of course,
you find me immodest,

in which case,
I have one flaw.

I see that
you're very involved

in extracurricular

Oh, yes, sir. Yes, sir.
You see correctly.

As a matter of fact,
if I may speak

for a moment...

If you can, please do.

Well, sir, I, uh...

She's leaving.


Just a second.

Mallory, come back here,
will you?!

What is going on here?

Uh, Dean Memminger,
is there any possibility

of rescheduling
this interview?

Maybe later today
or tomorrow.

There'll be no rescheduling
of this interview.

Well, I'm, uh...
I'm sorry to hear that, sir,

because I really
have to go.


Look, that's my sister
out there.

She came up to Princeton with me
to surprise her boyfriend,

and she saw him
with another girl.

She's very upset,

and I should probably
go talk to her

because I am her brother.

So...I got to go.

Sir, I hope my record
can stand on its own,

because I really do want
to attend Princeton.

I love this place.

I love everything
about it.

I have ivy growing
on my bedroom walls.

Go, Tigers!
Beat Yale!

I mean that.