Family Ties (1982–1989): Season 4, Episode 6 - The Old College Try - full transcript

The parents worry that Mallory, however dumb, should not miss out on college, even if it's only not to wonder later what could have been. Of course the bad pupil doesn't feel like studying any longer, and is feared to find a natural ally in academically even less gifted lover-boy Nick, but he actually makes her reconsider, she may put off her sales plans...

♪ 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

Uh, mail call.

Gas bill, electric bill.
Ah, where's Andrew?

I've got
his diaper bill.

You'll have to give it to him
in the morning,

Mallory and Nick
are putting him to bed.

Elyse, some college catalogues
came for you.

Oh, good,
I was waiting for those.

You going to live here
or at the dorm?

I ordered them for Mallory.

I think it's about time she got
her applications together.

Ohio State, Rutgers,

Mallory sent for that one.

Oh, well, we know
she can get in there.

Hey, ma,
hope it's all right,

I invited Skippy over
for dinner tonight.

His parents
went out.

Oh, that's nice.
What's the occasion?

Well, they said
they wanted to eat

in the company
of civilized human beings.

Ah, well, we don't
feel that way here.


Well, we finally
got Andrew to sleep.

Nick read to him.

Oh, what did you
read to him, Nick?

Uh, Motorcycle Maintenance,
Volume I.

I hope you left out
the dirty parts.

Ah, Nick.

Hey, Al-ex.

How my little friend?

Hey, Ni-ick.

I'm fine, thank you.

Hey, I noticed you're all
dressed up again, you know?

Uh, that's a cute little
outfit you got on there.

I was hoping you'd notice.

Who is that?

That's Nick,
Mallory's new boyfriend.

Hey, I'm out of here.
I'll see you later, babe.

Bye, Nick.


Hey. Hey.
Hey. Hey.


Oh, Mallory, a lot of catalogues
came for you today.

You probably want to start
looking through them.

Oh, my Bloomingdale's catalogue!
Thanks, mom.

Honey, I was referring
to the college catalogues.

You have to start deciding
where you want to apply.

there's no real rush, mom.

Oh, look, this is too important
to put off, Mal.

You don't want to find yourself
scrambling at the last minute.

That's right, Mal.

A lot of those schools
in the Philippines

fill up pretty quick.

I'll tell you what, I'll divide
the catalogues into categories

of the schools
that are sure things,

and long shots.

Well, you really don't have to
go to all that trouble, mom.

Are you kidding, honey?

I have been looking forward
to this moment for 17 years.


Look at this catalogue
for Pembroke.

They have one of the most

progressive curriculums
in the country.

Now, they emphasize creativity
and individuality

over grade point average.

What a revolting concept.

This is such a great time
to be a young woman.

You know, everything
is open to you.

There is so much
you can do.

All right, I'm sorry.

I know I tend to get
a little emotional

when I think of everything
that's in store for you here.


Alex, I need your advice.

I have to
break mom's heart

and I know you can tell me
the best way to do it.

You flatter me.

Alex, what would you say
if I told you

I didn't want to
go to college.

I'd say, I think the academic
world could survive the blow.

Well, what about mom?

It'll kill her.

Why is it so important for her
that I go to college?

Come on, Mallory.

Look, no one is expecting
you to go to Harvard.

Y-you put in a few years
at a junior college,

you come out
with a diploma,

everybody's happy
and you're none the smarter.

What do you say?

Alex, I've already
made up my mind.

I'm not going to college.

What are you gonna do,

Are you gonna marry Nick?

I mean, did it ever
occur to you

that at least one of you
should know how to read?

Alex, I'm not marrying Nick.
I have big plans, you know.

I'm gonna work my way up
to assistant manager

of the boutique,
and then I'll be manager,

and then I'll become a buyer,
and then I'll have my own shop,

and then I'll have
a chain of shops,

and then
I'll keep expanding

till I'm the largest retailer
in the country.

And a major fashion trendsetter
in the entire world.

Then what?

Alex, I'm serious.

Well, then, uh...

I think you should say to mom
what you just said to me.

With the same passion
and the same conviction.

Every time I start to,
I chicken out.

Well, mom is no dope,
you know.

Come next fall, she's gonna
notice you're still here.

I know, I know.

I'm gonna tell her.

All right.
You got a plan of attack?


Well, do you have
any statistics

to back up
your position?


Do you have
any idea at all

what you're gonna say
to her?


Enjoy college.

Mom, I just don't feel
right about this.

Oh, honey, this is
your first college interview,

it's understandable
if you're a little nervous.

But I'm here with you.

Mom, before we go
through with this,

there's something I've been
meaning to tell you.

I haven't said it before

'cause I haven't known
exactly how to put it.

Elyse, good
to see you again.

How are you?

Fine. Fine, Frances.

This is my daughter,

Frances Wilder.

Hello, Mallory.
It's a pleasure to meet you.

Please, sit down.

Oh, Elyse, you can stay
a few minutes

while we get acquainted.

Then Mallory and I
will have a private interview.

So, Mallory,
tell me about yourself.

Well, um, I'm 17, I have
two brothers and a sister...

No, no, no, no.
I mean, tell me about yourself.

Uh, I think what Frances
wants to hear

is something
more personal,

about your hopes,
your dreams, your fears.

That kind of thing.


Do we have to start
with such a hard one?

No. We - we can start
with something else.

Um, what did you enjoy most
about high school?

I don't like high school
very much.

Well, honey,
I know that's not true.

I know you're enjoying
your senior year.

Don't worry, Elyse.

Mallory's not the first person
to sit in that chair

and say she didn't
like high school.

Takes courage to be honest.

I hated high school.

So, Mallory, uh, did you find
high school dull?

Not exactly dull.


No, not that either.


Excuse me?

You know, "mundane,"
of or pertaining to the world

characterized by the practical,
the transitory, the ordinary.

Uh, no, not exactly.

Well, what, then?


Difficult. Not easily
yielding to understanding.

Elyse, I know
what "hard" means.


Exactly what do you
find hard about high school?

Exactly everything.

Look, I...

I'm not a good student.
I'm not very smart.

Well, Mallory's always
had trouble applying herself,

but she's got
a lot of potential.

I mean, all of her teachers
have said that

from the very beginning.

She's - she's creative
in so many ways.

Mom, really.

Well, it's true, honey.

You remember that poem

that you wrote
in the third grade,

and you got up and recited it
in front of the whole class?

That was a good poem.

Recite it for Francis now.

Mom, this is embarrassing.

No, go on.

I'm sure
she'd love to hear it.

I'll start you out.

Snow is falling
all around

From the sky
down to the ground

the other way around.

Mom, the poem
is 10 years old.

Holds up.

Mallory, have you written
any poems recently?

No, I'm not good at that.

I'm not good at anything
in school.

that is perfectly...

Come on, mom,
I'm not smart.

Why am I the only one
who can accept that?

Because it's not true.

Yes, it is true. Look,
I don't want to go to Pembroke.

I'm sorry, Ms. Wilder.

Honey, there are lots
of other schools.

No offense, Frances.

Look, I don't want to go to
any other schools either, mom.

I don't want to
go to college!

you can't mean that.

Yes, I can!
I'm only here today

because I didn't have the guts
to tell you sooner.

You're the one who wants
to go to college, not me.

I just want to go home.

Hi, Mal.
How'd the interview go?

Hi, Elyse.
How'd the interview go?

Hey, Alex.
How'd the interview go?

Mallory, I'd appreciate it
if you would stand still

while I'm talking
to you.

Thank you.

Now, go to your room.

Gladly. I won't have to listen
to you lecture me anymore

on the importance
of a college education.

How'd the interview go?

I'll tell you how
the interview went.

Steven, your daughter
wants to throw away her life.

She doesn't want to
go to college!

I can't believe it.

Well, it's true, mom.

She told me last week.

If you knew she didn't
want to go to college,

why didn't you tell us?

Well, because I didn't think
it was my place to interfere.

When has that
ever stopped you before?

Wait a minute.
Wait a minute.

Mom, come on.

Don't take it out on me

because you're angry
at Mallory.

I'm not angry at Mallory.

I am surprised and...angry.

Look, I know how much
this means to you, Elyse,

but we can't always
expect Mallory

to do what we'd
like her to do.

Don't you start
caving in, Steven.

This is very important
to Mallory's future.

Who's caving in?

You are! I can tell
by your posture.

You're taking on that
"let's-be-reasonable" slouch.

She's right, dad.
You're slouching.

That is just
my normal slouch.

I have no intention
of being reasonable.


Although, if I were
going to be reasonable,

I would have to say I'm...
I'm not completely sure

we should force Mallory
to go to college.

I knew it.

It may not be
the right thing for her.

Dad, you're
slouching again.

Before I go to my room,
I have to say one thing.

Go ahead.

A lot of successful people
didn't go to college.

Abraham Lincoln,
Thomas Edison...



Moses, dad! The guy
who parted the Red Sea!

Didn't he go to Dartmouth?

All I'm saying,
if I'm not good at something,

why should I do it?

you're 17 years old.

You have your whole life
ahead of you.

You have no idea
what kind of subjects

might excite you
in school,

what new ideas
might open up to you

and new areas you've never
dreamed of before.

See this - this could be the
most special time of your life,

but it comes once
and then it's gone forever.

I don't want you
to miss it!

What's going on?

Nothing! Nothing!


Who's winning?

Jennifer, we are in the middle
of a discussion.

What'd she do?

I'll tell you later.

Look, Alex, Jennifer,
your mother and I

want to talk
to Mallory alone.

No, it's okay.
they don't have to leave.

I've already said everything
I have to say.

To whom? Your friends?

Nick? I mean, they may not think
college is important,

but we do, and you certainly
haven't discussed it with us.

Mom, leave Nick out of this.
It has nothing to do with him.

Doesn't it?
Well, maybe if you

had a boyfriend
who was in school,

you might be a little more
interested in going yourself.

Ooh. Ooh.

That is untrue!

Mom, I don't care
what you say,

I'm not going to college.

And I'm not
going to my room!

I'm going for a walk, and if
I pass a college on the way,

I'm not attending it!

Come in.

Mallory. Hey,
you're just in time

to check out
my latest sculpture.

What do you think?

Everything is a mess.
It's horrible, Nick.

What? Too much yellow?

No, the sculpture's beautiful.

I've just got other things
on my mind right now, okay?

My life is falling apart.


What happened?

I got in a huge fight
with my parents.

They're gonna force me
to go to college.

Think about that.

Uh, can I get you
something to eat?

Let's see, I, uh...

I think my aunt
went shopping today.

Yeah, she did.

Some baking soda? Ketchup?

Nick, didn't you hear
what I said?

Yeah, I heard ya.

Well, you don't have to
hold anything back.

My parents are acting
like tyrants.

You can say
whatever you want.


I think your parents
are right.


I think you should
go to college, Mallory.

I can't believe it. Why?

I don't know, I-I've always had
this picture of you in college.

You know, like, I'd come by,
you'd cut class.

We'd go places.

You know, see, and then
at night you'd come by here

And you'd tell me what you
learned, and I could learn, too.

You see, it'd be just like I'd
be going to college with you.

Except I wouldn't have to
get up in the morning.

I don't want to go.

Mallory, I think you're making
a big mistake.

Someone as smart as you
should go to college.

Are you kidding me?

I'm not smart.

You know how I feel
when I'm in class?

I feel like - like two men
in suits are gonna come in

and point a finger at me
and say,

"you, get out of here.
You don't belong here."

Hey, that's what
happened to me.

You know, except in my case,
they were right.

I don't know, Nick.

Maybe I'm afraid.

Of what?


Letting my parents down.

I'm just afraid
I'm gonna be lost.

Hey, I'll find ya.

Do you really
think I'm smart?

If you weren't,
you wouldn't be able

to appreciate my sculptures.

You know, I mean,
other people,

they come up to it and they say,
"what's that?"

or they just make a face.

But you know how
to find something in 'em.

You know how to see things.

You know, that's why
you should go to college.

You might be able
to see things,

things that could
change your life.

You know, this does kind of
make me think of sailboats

and a seashore
on a summer day.

Families playing,

flowers and peace.

What do you call it?

12-car pileup.

Look, the important thing
is that you see something.

It doesn't matter what.

Do you really
think I'm smart?

I know you are.

Hey, that doesn't mean I don't
think you're beautiful, too.

You're great, Nick.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Well, I guess
I'd better be going.

My parents are probably
worried about me.

Uh, hey, Mallory?

Could you
do me a favor?


Uh, just don't tell your parents
that I agreed with them.

You know, it may spoil
our relationship.

Oh, it's just you.

Not the thrill
it used to be, huh, dear?

No sign of Mallory, huh?

Elyse, you can't
worry about Mallory

every time she walks out
that door.

She's a big girl now.

I'm sure she's fine
and she'll be home any minute.

How can you be so sure?

Fathers know these things.

It's the paternal instinct,

a sixth sense.

Also, I called Nick.

She left 12 minutes ago.

If she's not home in 30 seconds
I'm calling the police.

Are you, uh...

You doing all right?

Yeah, I guess so.
I don't know.

I've been better.

Look, Mallory's
a terrific kid.

She's never been a great student
and she's never enjoyed school.

Elyse, I think,

uh, we both knew
this was coming.

I just don't want her to miss
any opportunities, Steven.

I don't want her
going through life

what might have been.

I don't think there's
a person in the world

who doesn't wonder that
from time to time.

Except maybe Alex.

Andrew's calling
for you guys.

You better hurry up,
he's fading fast.

Yeah, I gave him a cup
of black coffee.

That ought to hold him
till you get up there.


Oh, hey.

Did I miss dinner?

Yeah. Good thing, too.

We had lima beans.


I hid mine under
the mashed potatoes.

That is the first place
they look, Jennifer.

I saved you a lamb chop.

It's in Alex's briefcase.


Mom and dad
still upset?

They're calming down.

So how come you don't want
to go to college, Mallory?

Same reason
you told mom and dad

you don't want to
take piano lessons.

Be a waste of time.

I'm starting piano lessons
next Tuesday.

It was either that

or I help around the house
an extra hour every week.

That's blackmail.

When you're 12, they call it
"creative parenting."

All right, who put the lamb chop
in my briefcase?

I don't know. It must have been
the lamb-chop fairy.

Hey, Mal,
when did you get back?

Just now.

Listen, if you want to
avoid a confrontation

with mom and dad,
you better get out of here.

They're gonna
come down any minute.

I might as well
get it over with.

Listen, you know, uh, my feeling
is that they're split on this.

You know, and you could
use that to your advantage.

I mean, play them
against each other.

You divide and conquer.

When I, uh - when I say
"divide and conquer,"

I-I mean that in the most
respectful, obedient...


I'm with him.




I was gone so long.

I hope you weren't worried.
I was at Nick's.

we have to talk.

I know.

Look, I was discussing with Nick
this college thing...

What Nick says has no bearing
on the situation.

His opinion is completely

He is not a member
of this family!

He thinks I should
go to college.

I've always
like that boy.

Look, I'm really confused.
I don't know what to do.

Listen to Nick.

Well, you got to

it's not just that I don't
want to go to college.

I have big plans. I want to work
at the store full-time.

Well, honey, you can't
make a career out of that.

Well, I don't plan on being
a saleswoman forever.

See, by the time I'm through,

I plan on owning
a whole chain of stores.

I even have a name for them.

They'll be called
"What's in Store."

Do you get it?

What's in store
and what's in the store.

That's very good,

I'd certainly
shop there.

Dad, it's gonna be
only women's clothing.

Well, then I'd
just browse there.

I-I think that's a great
ambition, honey.

I-I also think there are a lot
of things you could learn

in college that would help you
to run a business successfully.

It's not just that, mom.

I'm afraid I won't
do well in college

and that I'll
let you down,

that I'll be
a disappointment to you.

Mallory, don't ever think
you're gonna disappoint us.

We just want you
to keep your options open.

That's all we're saying.

Don't be afraid
to try new things.

Okay, I have
a proposition for you.

I go to college for a year,
but at the end of the year,

if I don't like it
and I don't want to go back,

you'll respect my decision
and not fight me on it.

I've got to admit,
it sounds reasonable.

And I'm not

Well, I like the idea,

I'm sorry, mom. I know this
has been real hard on you.

Oh, honey,
if I've acted crazy,

it's only 'cause I want
the best for you.

And I'm gonna have it,
I promise.

Uh, listen, mom and dad.

Um, about that, uh, uh, "divide
and - and conquer" crack,

I didn't...

I mean, uh, surely
you don't think that...

I'm coming!