4x24 - Paper Chase

Episode transcripts for the TV show "Family Ties". Aired: September 22, 1982 - May 14, 1989.*

Moderator: Madeleine

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Set in suburban Columbus, Ohio during the Reagan administration, Steven and Elyse Keaton are baby boomers, liberals and former hippies, raising their three children: ambitious, would-be millionaire entrepreneur Alex; fashion-conscious, gossipy Mallory; and tomboy Jennifer.
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4x24 - Paper Chase

Post by Madeleine »

♪ I bet we've been together ♪

♪ For a million years ♪

♪ And I 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 nothing ♪

♪ We can't love
each other through ♪

♪ What would we do, baby ♪

♪ Without us ♪

♪ Sha la la la ♪

Hey, Jen, what do you got there?

Oh, we're cleaning out the attic.

I've gotta throw away all this junk.


Wait a minute.

Jennifer, this isn't any old junk.

This is my junk.

The junk of the gods.

Mom said everything goes.

Yeah, well, when Mom said everything goes, she obviously didn't mean this.

What was Mom thinking?

I gotta tell you, Jen, there's a lot of memories in this box.

Look at this.

My little baby money belt.


My House Un-American Activities coloring book.

My Richard Nixon lunchbox.

I had such a happy childhood.

Real normal, too.

Oh, hey, Alex.

Hey, Skipper.

How's it going?

Not good.

All this graduation stuff is really getting to me.

Oh, yeah?

Like what?

Well, I have to pick a quote for the yearbook.

I have two here and I can't figure out which one to use.

Well, let me see.

Each man must puruse justice, for only through justice is he truly free.

Or Yabba-dabba-doo.

Either one'll work, Skip.

Is Mallory here yet?

Oh, she just called from the store, Mom.

She'll be home any minute.

Oh, good.

Can't wait for her to see this.

Why, what do you got?

It's my high school graduation dress.

Thought maybe she'd want to wear it to her graduation.

Oh, that's a great idea!

I'm going to go home and see if my mom has anything for me to wear.

Elyse, I found some of my favorite stuff in this box marked trash.

Look what you threw out by mistake.

I didn't want to throw that out.

I wanted to burn it.



Hey, Nick, Mal.

Hey, hey, hey, hey!

That's a great shirt you got there, Mr. Keaton.

You know, I've been looking for one just like that.

Wow, great dress, Mom!

It's my old graduation dress.

Thought it'd be perfect for you to wear to your own graduation.

Yeah, thanks!

Hey, you're gonna look terrific in this!

You know, I love it!

It's so old, it's in again!

By the time you graduate, Mal, it'll be in yet again.

Look, we better take this stuff down to Goodwill, Elyse.


Oh, hey, I'll move my bike for you.

Listen, Alex, can I talk to you?

If you have to.

Look, I got a problem and I need your advice.

What is it?

I'm in real trouble, Alex.

I may not graduate.

Why not?

Well, for one thing, I'm flunking Mrs. Hillman's history class.

Aw, Mal.

Is it hopeless?

I mean, are you flunking badly?

No, I'm flunking very well.

There's still hope, though.

I think on the last test I may have pulled a D.

Mal, how could you let this happen?

I don't know, it's spring and the weather's been great.

I've had a hard time concentrating.

Mallory, people don't stop thinking when the sun comes out.

Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence in July.

When all the other Founding Fathers were at the beach.

Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence?


There goes my D.

Mallory, I warned you about this at the beginning of the year!

Mrs. Hillman is a very tough teacher.

I know, I had her.

Yeah, what'd she give you?


But she said I had a bad attitude.

Well, how could you be doing so badly in history?


Let's face it, Alex.

You got the brains, I got the looks.

Wait a minute.

Mal, I got the brains and the looks.

You got the better room.

Alex, what am I gonna do?

I don't know, I-

Do you want me to go and talk to Mrs. Hillman for you?

Oh, it's useless, Alex.

You know, she really has it in for me.

She calls on me to answer questions all the time when she knows I don't study.

What is she trying to prove?

Sorry I'm late, class.

I trust you all had a good weekend?

Yes, Walter?

This weekend I read three books on the suggested summer reading list, Mrs. Hillman.

You're a wild man, Walter.

Now, I want to remind you that the final will be an oral exam given four weeks from today.

Now, if you'll clear your desks, take out a pencil or a pen, we're going to have a pop quiz.


The question is in the handout.

Please use facts to back up your opinion on your essay.

You have until the end of class.


That's quite a little shoe you've drawn there, Mallory.

But it doesn't really answer the question.

Answers it better than my answer would.


Mallory, I don't understand your attitude.

What do you mean?

This isn't the first little shoe I've seen on one of your tests.

And look at this paper you handed in last week on the history of New York City.

It is very significant that the pilgrims bought Manhattan Island for 24 dollars because it established New York as a great place for bargains.

Mallory, I'm appalled.

What possessed you to write that?

I don't know what to say, Mrs. Hillman.

I- I try.

I guess I just don't understand the material.

You don't try, Mallory.

Mrs. Hillman?

I'm done with this question.

May I please write an essay on the Basic Land Ordinance of 1785?


Mallory, now the only reason you're doing so poorly is because you refuse to apply yourself.

Now I know you're a much more intelligent girl than you let on.


Because I'm Alex's sister?

That has nothing to do with it.

You know, Mallory, I've been trying to get through to you all year.

But obviously without success.

Okay, this is what it comes down to.

If you don't get a B on the final exam, you're gonna flunk.

And if that happens, you're not gonna graduate.

A B?

Mrs. Hillman, I can't get a B!

I'm supposed to go to Grant Junior College.

If I don't graduate, they're not gonna take me!

Can I... can I have a make-up exam or some extra credit assignments?

I'm not gonna break the rules for you.

Now the only way you're gonna pass is to sit down and start studying for that final.

But it's in four weeks!

You should have thought of that before.

I think you should tell 'em, Mal.

Oh, I can't, Jennifer.

If I tell them I'm not graduating, they'll k*ll me.

Look, Mallory, Mom and Dad are gonna be at the graduation.

Now if you're not there, they're gonna realize something's up.

I can't believe I'm not graduating.

You said it all along, Alex.

You said I wouldn't graduate and I'm not.

Mallory, when I said you weren't gonna graduate, it wasn't a dare!

Look, Mal, I think you should tell 'em.

And don't worry, they'll understand.

Mom and Dad can put this into perspective.

Hi, honey.

Had the dress altered for you.

So excited you're going to be wearing it to your graduation.

Really means a lot to me.

What do you think of this frame, Mal?

I think your diploma would look great in here.

Uh, it looks nice the way it is, Dad.

Do you wanna try this on now?

Uh, no Mom, there's plenty of time for that.

No, there isn't.


There's time.

Trust her.

Come on, Jen.

Mom, Dad, there's something I have to tell you.

This isn't easy for me, and it's not gonna make you happy.

I don't like it any more than you will.

You know, I don't know why we're gonna put ourselves through this.

In fact, I don't know why we're having this conversation.

I'm a little fuzzy on it myself.

Okay, I'm failing history.

Unless I get a B on my final, which is not likely, I'm not gonna graduate.

Not graduate?

Why is this the first we're hearing of this?

I didn't mention it before?


I guess I was hoping it wouldn't come to this.

That I'd get that diploma somehow.

Well, how did you plan on getting this diploma, Mal?

By going to the mall four nights a week?

By spending all that time with Nick?

By talking on the phone at all hours?

Okay, that didn't work.

Well, I'm real glad you can see the humor in this, Mallory, because I can't.

What do you want me to do?

I want you to start taking things seriously!

I want you to grow up!

Mom, don't yell at me.

I feel bad enough already.

Well, sometimes I have to yell at you!

It's the only way I can get through to you these days!

C'mon, c'mon, c'mon, getting all upset isn't going to help, Elyse.

How could you do this, Mallory!?

I didn't want to!

Can't you bring the grade up at all?

I don't know, my teacher's so unfair to me.

I asked her if I could do extra credit.

She said, "No, Mallory.

You have to get a B on the final, or else."

There's no way I'm gonna be able to do that.

There's still time.

C'mon, Mom, I can't learn a year's worth of work in four weeks.

Can't you guys talk to Mrs. Hillman for me?

Well, fine.

What are we gonna say, that she should let you graduate even though you haven't done the work and you don't deserve it?

Okay, but put it in your own words.

If that's your attitude, just fine.

Don't graduate.

What do you want me to do?

Look, I think your only choice now is to sit down and study as hard as you can.

Dad, what would be the point?

I'd still flunk.

I'm not smart!

There's no way I can do this!

You are smart, Mallory, you just don't apply yourself.

Your teachers have always said that.

Look, if you give up on this, you're not even giving yourself a chance.

Now this time it's too important.

I'm scared.

You have no choice.

Hey, how's it going?

Hey, where's Mallory?

I got some things for her.

Oh, she's at the library, studying.

No, no, no, I mean Mallory.

She's at the library, studying, Alex.

All right, don't tell me.

Come on, Alex.

Give her credit.

She's really been buckling down these past two weeks.

It's amazing.

She hasn't gone shopping once in that time.

Yeah, we just got a letter from the Columbus Merchants' Association.

Retail sales are way down.

They offered to start a high school and graduate her from it.



Oh, Nick.



Thanks for helping me study, Nick.

Oh, sure, Mal.

I'm glad I could help.

You know, when I see you graduate, Mal...

When I see your name on that old pigskin...

Sheepskin, Nick.

You're so smart!

Hey, how's it going?

Can we, uh, can we help you at all?

Uh, no, I really gotta do this on my own.

Well, okay, we'll leave you alone.

You just study, Mal.

All right, uh, we won't get in your way.

Just pretend we're not in the same room, huh?

All right, okay, give her some air.

Come on.

Come on, give her some air, these brain cells need all the oxygen they can get.

We were just going.

Listen, before we go, Mal, I've got some, uh, well, kind of some inspirational study aids here for you.

Got, uh, this there, and, of course...

And there.

Oh, it's the best one, Mal.

Remember when I was in that high school play, I played Abe Lincoln?

Whenever I do a history paper, I like to wear this, get me in the mood.



What's so funny?

You look like a little stove.

Thanks, Alex.

All right.

Mal, listen, uh, just memorize the facts, okay?

Don't try and learn anything, you'll just hurt yourself.

Alex, that is terrible advice!

Alex, the facts won't help her if she doesn't know what they mean!

Elyse, she has a limited time here!

It's best for her to know a lot of facts and a few little theories.

He's right, Mom.

This is no time for theories.

Just remember the facts, Mallory.

Hey, hey, hey, you know, flunking out is not so bad.

Oh, come on.

Excuse me, excuse me.

Look, I appreciate your support, but I gotta get this studying done.

I'm the one who has to be tested, so I really gotta do this on my own.

Thanks anyway.

Mallory, you are absolutely right.

I understand, honey.

Where'd I put my pen?

Oh, here.

Hi, Alex.

Hi, Mal.

It's after two in the morning.

You were asleep.

No, I wasn't.

I was just reading.

Very closely.

Well, listen.

You should go on up, you know?

Your exam's in the morning, you wanna get some sleep.

I know, I just wanna go over this one more time.

You know, Mal, you've studied more in the last four weeks than you have in your entire life.

You gotta remember, for the last eighteen years your brain has remained relatively unused.

Can't just throw it into action.

Might cramp up.

Alex, I know you think this is a joke, but I have been working very hard.

I know you have.

Been watching you study.

Been buckling down.


You're going to do well on this exam tomorrow.

You really think so?


Do you really think I'm smart?


Smart as you?

Let's stay in the real world.

You know, Alex, over the past month I've developed a new kind of respect for you.

I never realized how much work went into it all.

You know, getting good grades.

I just figured you knew somebody.

You know, Mal, a long time ago I realized that anything really worthwhile, like good grades or a relationship or finding a good mutual fund, takes a lot of hard work.

And I think you realize that, too.

So whatever happens tomorrow, you have won a moral victory here.

And it should be of some comfort to you as you repeat your senior year.

Okay, Skippy, this is your last question.

Give me three results of the Civil w*r.

The Union Pacific Railroad was built, the Southern plantation economy was destroyed, and Rhett and Scarlett got a divorce.

Are you sure about that last one?

Maybe they just separated.

Okay, Skippy, that's it.

You can go.

Oh, thank you very much, Mrs. Hillman, thank you.

Hey, Skippy, how'd it go?

Oh, ah, I think I got somewhere between an A and, um, an F.

Mallory, please, sit down.


Have you been studying?


A lot.


Well, good luck.

Thank you.


I'm going to ask you six questions.

I want you to think about what you're going to say and be brief and to the point.

You ready?


What was the Louisiana Purchase and how did it affect Thomas Jefferson's presidency?

Well, Thomas Jefferson wanted some land, and, uh, Napoleon had some, uh, so he finally bought it for fifteen million dollars, which wasn't a bad price considering it was from France.

I thought you said you studied.

I did.

That answer was gibberish.

Now tell me the answer in clear and coherent English.

I don't know what you mean.

Well then, you're gonna flunk, and you won't graduate.

Mrs. Hillman-

When are you gonna drop this charade and start acting like an intelligent young woman?

I'm doing the best I can.

Well, Mallory, if this is the best you can do then obviously I've overestimated you.

How can you say that?

I've been studying my head off for four weeks.

What do you want from me?

An intelligent answer.

Now come on.

How did the Louisiana Purchase affect Thomas Jefferson's presidency?

Tell me what you think.


Can you do that?

Or would you rather take the-

The Louisiana Purchase was difficult for Jefferson because he supported states' rights, and when he made the purchase he was doing more for federal powers, so he lost political backing from the people who were involved in states' rights.

I'm sorry, I didn't mean that.


That's what I want from you!

Now that was an intelligent answer.

It was?

Yes, it was.

You want to try another one?

Well, we're here, we have the room for another hour.


What was the primary reason for the Era of Good Feelings during the presidency of James Monroe?

Well, Monroe's opposing political party, the Whigs, was badly weakened because it didn't support the w*r of 1812, so Monroe was able to get all his ideas through Congress without anyone opposing him.


The real Mallory Keaton.


Old high school auditorium.

You know, I got some great memories of this place?

Yeah, I'm sure the police share those memories with you.

Here come the graduates!



Congratulations, you two.

Ah, honey, I'm so proud of you.

Oh, go on.

Well, Mallory, we're proud of you too!


Well, I made it.

Now you worked hard and it paid off.

Yeah, well, you forced me to work hard.

We didn't force you, we encouraged you.


Um, 'scuse me a minute, I want to talk to Mrs. Hillman.

Mrs. Hillman?


Hey, you look great in a cap and gown.

As a matter of fact, you look wonderful.

Maybe I should graduate more often.

Um, Mrs. Hillman, why did you do it?

Why'd you spend so much time on me?

Because I believe in you, Mallory.

You know, when I was in school, I saw so many girls like you who were smart, but they just didn't try and acted dumb.

There was this ridiculous notion that they could get dates more easily that way.

Well, did they?

Well, yes.

But that's not the point.

Once you're out of high school, everything changes, and being dumb doesn't get you anything.

You're a smart girl, Mallory.

I didn't want to see you waste yourself like that.

I guess it's hard for me to think of myself as smart with Alex around.

You know, I think you go out of your way just to be different from Alex.

Wouldn't you?


Everyone, please be seated.

Please everyone, take your seat.

Thank you.

Parents, students, teachers, friends, welcome to Graduation '86.
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