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"Buster"

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(Ep 35 - "The Powers That Be")

So he was a little out of touch with our generation.
Come on - drink up, drink up, drink up!
But there was something about Gramps that made me feel like I was five years old again.
Say, I just remembered...I got you a present too. I think I left it in the car.
(Cut to the car.)
Buster I can't believe it.
You like him?
I love him!
Well, the last time I was here, that's all you could talk about, so I figured - why not?
"Why not". Two glorious words that separate the men from the boys - the doers from the sayers.
(Jack approaches.)
We're not keeping that dog.
The fathers from the grandfathers.
Good afternoon, John. Nice to see you again.
Dad.
Come on, Dad. Please, please, please let me keep him?
Too much to handle...
I can handle it. I know I can handle it...
The boy's thirteen years old, John.
I know how old he is. And I know what having a dog in the house means.
So did I. It meant stick-throwing...face-licking...romping...
Responsibility.
That too.
A dog chews things. A dog needs to be walked. And I'm not the one that's gonna be the one walkin' him at six in the morning!
I promise, you'll never have to walk him...
Give the boy a chance, John. A boy needs a dog. Besides I can't take him back for a week.
(Grampa looks at Kevin.)
Maybe by then your old man will have changed his mind, huh?
Hhnhh.
And there ya had it. Cornball or not, Gramps was a kindred spirit, a giver of gifts - a prince.
*
(Kevin sees Jack and Buster on the sidewalk.)
You didn't send him home, did you?
No one ever sent your grandfather home before he was ready.
Oh...
Gramps and I had a little talk this morning, Kev...Well, kind of a talk.
We kind of agreed that, uh...you should keep the puppy.
You did?
We thought -
I don't want it.
And I didn't. I was sick of that puppy. I was tired of being a pawn.
First you tell me I can't have a dog - then you tell me I should keep it! (Gestures.) What about my decision? (Frowns.) Doesn't it count?
(Jack smiles.)
Course it counts.
Well, you sure don't act like it!
(Jack chuckles.)
What's so funny?
You remind me of someone I know...I dunno, I guess it runs in the family. I hope you decide to keep it, Kev. I think we need a dog. (Nods) You, me, gramps...I think we need to do this.
And for some reason, maybe the way he said it, I began to understand.
We need a dog, son.
He wasn't giving me an order. My dad...was asking me...for help.
He doesn't have a name...
Well, find him a name.

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(Ep 61 - "Buster")

Every American family has its own unique blend of personalities. My family was no exception. Within our four suburban walls, we ranged the full spectrum of types. From the flamboyant, to the demure...from the repellant...to the ideal. Somehow, we managed to fit together in a kind of fragile alliance. One for all, and all for one - with one exception.
(Buster barks.)
Buster!
Buster - the family dog. When he was little, he was...cute. Everyone wanted to cuddle him. He was the perfect puppy. Then something happened. Buster...grew up.
(Buster barks.)
Suddenly he wasn't so cute.
(Buster barks.)
Kevin!
Honey!
Scrote!
And just as suddenly...
(Buster barks.)
The family dog...
(Kevin dumps out some canned dog food.)
Had become...my dog.
OK, Buster. Here we go...
Not that I'd volunteered for the assignment.
Go on, eat! Look!
(Kevin makes sucking sounds.)
Look!
It's just...when it came to Buster, the rest of the family preferred a less...hands on role.
What's wrong with 'em?
Isn't he hungry?
Maybe he has fleas.
Oh, not fleas...honey, they'll get in the carpet.
Kevin, haven't you been sprayin' 'em?
Dad, he doesn't have fleas.
Well, then...take him for a walk.
Why me? Why can't he do it?
Because he's your dog. Gramp gave him to you. Hah!
So, by a quirk of grandfatherly fate, Buster's fate and mine had become tied together.
Come on, buddy.
For better or worse.
(Kevin puts Buster on a lease and opens the door. Buster barks, and pulls Kevin ahead.)
Mostly worse.
(Cut to the grocery store.)
You're a lucky guy, Kev.
What are you talkin' about?
That!
Dog food?
You're providing for man's best friend. Now, that's nothing to scoff at.
Paul, have you ever smelled this stuff?
Well, no, but -
Yeah, well, lemme tell ya - you're not missin' much.
Hey, at least you get to have a dog.
OK, then. If you're so crazy about dogs, why don't you just get one.
My parents won't let me. They say a dog'll ruin the furniture. And then every time we go on vacation, we're gonna have to worry about what to do with it. But do they care what I think? A boy should have a dog! What childhood is complete without one?
Years later, Paul would wind up on a couch talking to a professional about it.
Paul, trust me - it's not that great. Really! I mean, taking care of dogs isn't as easy as it looks. You gotta feed 'em, and bathe 'em, and walk 'em. Believe me - it's no picnic.
Old Yeller saved his family from a bear.
Unfortunately, where I lived - bears weren't the problem.
(Jack holds up his shoes and frowns.)
He ate my shoes.
Are you sure?
Ya, I'm sure.
No...are ya, are you sure it was Buster?
Oh, come on. I mean who else would be gross enough to eat Dad's loafers, huh?
(Buster barks.)
He also mistook my closet for a fire-hydrant.
I don't understand this. He's never done this before...I wonder what's wrong.
Whatever it was, it wasn't exactly endearing the old dog to the old homefront.
(Buster barks.)
Can't ya at least keep him quiet? I got less than a week to finish this damn report!
Seemed like it was up to me to save Buster's reputation.
Maybe he's sick.
Sick?
Well, his nose is a little warm. Maybe you should take him to the vet, honey.
Poor guy...
Heh-he. Nothin' like a warm nose to bring out the best in a family - warmth, compassion.
I'll take him tomorrow.
Yeah, and trade him in for a cat.
(At the vet.)
Is he eating?
No. Not really.
Uhn-hnn...And how long's he been barking?
About...three weeks.
OK, Buster - let me look at your eyes.
Sure - check the eyes, the ears...give him a few doggie pills, and we'd be outta there.
Are you the person responsible for the dog?
Well, yeah. I guess. (Smiles.)
In that case, I have something to discuss with you, Kevin.
Why? Is there somethin' wrong with him? (Frowns.)
I could see it was something...horrible - like plague...rabies.
Are you planning on breeding Buster?
Oh...well, I mean...no! I guess not.(Smiles.)
Whew! And I thought it was serious!
Because, Kevin, I think we should have Buster fixed.
Uh-huh.
Frankly, I think it's the conscientious thing to do. What we're really talking about here is Buster's well-being. And it's a fairly simple procedure, really.
And so, Doctor Ferlinger explained to me exactly what was involved. Making every detail crystal-clear. And, when it was over...
So how do you want to handle this?
Seemed the decision was pretty much up to me.
*
(At home.)
Mom? Dad? Wayne? I took Buster to the vet.
And?
Well...
Honey? Is there something wrong with him?
Well, nothing that can't be fixed.
(Buster growls.)
I mean...
There was no sense holding back. This was a family issue - a matter for the alliance.
Well...
So...I told them.
She said it was the conscientious thing to do.
I explained to them exactly what was involved...
(Norma frowns.)
Making every detail crystal-clear.
(Jack frowns.)
And, when it was over...
(Wayne frowns at a knife and drops it.)
Seemed the decision was pretty much up to them.
(Jack and Wayne cross their legs, uncomfortably.)
That's what she said, huh?
(Buster barks.)
Uh-huh.
(Buster barks.)
But at least the burden was off me. This problem was too big for one small kid. My family would handle it now, together - one for all, all for one.
May I be excused? (Exits.)
I should go finish the laundry. (Exits.)
Um...there's a...lightbulb in the bedroom...(sighs)... that needs to be replaced. (Exits.)
(Kevin looks at Buster.)
I, uh...gotta...take out the trash. Yeah. (Smiles.)
Like I said - one for all...all for one.
(Kevin exits, Buster barks. Breakfast. Buster barks.)
Over the next few days, we did our best to pretend the problem didn't exist.
(Wayne reads a cereal box, Jack snaps his newspaper open and frowns at Kevin. Buster barks. Jack growls.)
Would anyone like some more bacon?
Yeah. Thanks, Mom.
Yeah, me too.
Coffee's good, Norma.
(Buster barks.)
Trouble was, in order to ignore the problem...
(Buster barks.)
You had to ignore Buster.
(Buster barks. Jack frowns and tosses his bacon down. Wayne happily eats.)
You had to be the village idiot.
(Buster barks. Kevin, Jack, and Wayne stand up. Buster barks.)
My family was stymied. Trouble is, the only way out...
(Buster barks.)
Was the skilled hands of a surgeon.
(Cut to shop class. A power-saw cuts off a rectangular piece of wood, which falls next to a circular piece. Mr. Nestor hands the saw to Kevin.)
OK, bullethead - you try.
(Kevin takes the saw, and starts to cut.)
Not like that! Your fingers! You want to cut something important off?
I'm sorry. I guess I just got distracted.
Distracted? Hah? What about?
Well...see it's my dog. He's been acting up. You know...barking...eating shoes...
Barking? Hah? Oh...I know that problem! Know it well.
Hold on here - was this a man who could help? A man with a little field-experience? Maybe even a man with a solution?
You have a dog? (Smiles.)
Oh, had. "Smokey". (Smiles.) Ah, he was a real pal. Saw me through some tough times, that little devil. He had three legs, ya know...He hated the first Mrs. Nestor. No - you can't buy loyalty like that, anymore. Ah, there's nothing I wouldn't do for that little fella.
And for one second, I coulda kissed the guy.
So how did you keep him from barking?
We had him fixed!
(Nestor pounds a nail. Cut to Kevin's bedroom. In the basement, Buster barks. Wayne throws a pillow at Kevin.)
Hey!
OK, butthead - here's the deal. Every time your dog barks, I throw something at ya.
(Buster barks. Wayne throws something at Kevin.)
Hey! Wayne! Cut it out!
Why don't ya tell your dog to shut-up already!
(Jack opens the door.)
Dammit, Kevin! I've got work to do.
Look, Dad - I put him in the cellar...
Try somethin' else!
Our family alliance was falling apart. It was clear someone had to act.
(Buster barks. Wayne throws a comic book at Kevin. Buster barks. Kevin goes into the basement.)
And as usual, it was gonna be me. It was time to talk turkey with the pooch.
Come on, Buster. Gimme a break, huh? Look... Buster, if you stop barking, then maybe you won't have to go to the vet. And trust me - you don't want to go to the vet, OK?
But somehow I had a sneaking suspicion, all the logic in the world wasn't gonna change this dogs mind. So, there was only one thing left to do...
(Kevin pets and holds Buster.)
Good dog. Good boy.
(Cut to Kevin's bedroom. Buster is on the bed.)
Buster and I struck a bargain - he wouldn't bark...and I wouldn't sleep. Whoever said dog is man's best-friend must have had a king-size bed.
(Living room after school.)
Still, over the next few days, the problem seemed to be solved. Not a yip, not a peep - nothin'.
(Kevin smiles, and naps on the couch.)
And losing a little sleep wasn't so bad, if it kept the dogs at bay.
Oh...Kevie? Whatcha doin'?
I'm trying to take a nap. Why?
Oh, nothin'. Just thought you might want to know...Buster...
(Wayne holds up some shredded paper.)
Ate Dad's homework.
(Kevin runs into the bedroom. It is demolished. Buster is on the bed. Buster barks. Wayne laughs.)
Glad he's not my dog.
It was pretty clear what was gonna happen when my father found out.
Dad's not gonna take him to the vet. He's gonna take him to the pound.
(Buster barks. Cut to the park.)
I thought about putting Buster on the night-flight to Siberia. But I knew sooner or later, Dad would find him. So I took him to the park.
You're in a lot of trouble - you know that? Do you know what you've done?
(Buster barks.)
This is serious, OK?! It's not funny!
But suddenly, I was fed up with a dumb mutt who absolutely refused to listen to reason.
Fine! Bark your brains out - see what I care. I wash my hands of the whole thing. I mean, Buster - can't you just try once-in-awhile to fit in? I mean, are you part of this family or not?!
(Another dog barks. Buster perks up.)
And then, I guess I got my answer.
(Buster joins the other dog.)
Buster, come back! This is your last chance! I'm warning you!
(Buster runs off. Kevin chases him. Cut to evening at home. Jack and Norma are taping Jack's paper together.)
Kevin?! Where have you been?!
I was at the park. Buster got loose...I had to chase 'em.
Saw what he did? I'll be up all night, trying to...patch this thing together.
I'm sorry...
But somehow, Dad's report didn't seem all that important anymore.
Hey...where's the pooch?
He ran away. I think he wanted to. I let him down. I think we all let him down.
(Jack glances around, then nods.)
I'll get my coat.
(Cut to in the car.)
Buster!
Buster!
Buster!
That night, I think we all realized something.
Buster!
About Buster. About ourselves.
Buster!
Buster!
About being a family.
Buster!
Buster!
Buster!
Buster!
Sometimes it's not enough just to enjoy the good times...the cute times.
Buster!
Sometimes it's when your puppies grow up that the work begins.
Buster!
Buster!
The hard decisions.
(They pull up to the curb. Jack sighs.)
OK. We'll look again tomorrow when it's light.
But we all knew it was hopeless. We'd let him go. And there was no way we'd ever find him.
(Buster knock over some trash cans and barks.)
Until, of course...
(Buster barks.)
Buster found us.
Buster! (Smiles.) Buster!
(Kevin opens the door. Buster gets in.)
Oh, good boy!
Buster...hello, sweetheart!
You're so cold - are you cold? We missed you!
We missed you so much...
Aw, look at him, how dirty he is...
The next morning, we all took Buster to the vet. And in a way, I guess you could say Buster's loss...was also his gain.
(At the dinner table. Norma feeds Buster a scrap.)
He'd been this little stranger, who turned out to be part of our family. A venerable member of the alliance. One for all, and all for one.
Buster...
Buster - look! Look!
(Kevin gives Buster a bone. Buster takes it to his doghouse.)
And over the years, through good times and bad, through seasons of change and hope, he stood by us all - a silent partner. The first one to greet me at the door when I came home from my senior prom. The one who stared out our front window, on the day I left for college. And my mom said he stayed there for hours.

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11/24/14 18:00