Episode 55 - "A Very Cutlip Christmas"
Compiled by Jeff Kindig. Some notes by me me. Used here with permission.
(Images of a Christmas tree and its ornaments flash past. Instrumental music: "The First Noel.")
When you're a kid, it's simple. Christmas is magic. It's a time of miracles, when reindeer can fly, and Frosty never melts. Then you get older. Somehow, things change. The magic begins to fade. Until something happens that reminds you, at Christmas time...
(A sports whistle blows.)
Miracles still can be found.
Int. Day - RFK Gym
(Mr. Cutlip is standing before Kevin's gym class, which is seated on the floor. Included in the class are Paul, Doug Porter, Randy Mitchell, and Tommy Kisling.)
MR. CUTLIP: Happy Holidays, men.
Sometimes in the most unexpected places.
(Mr. Cutlip holds up a book.)
MR. CUTLIP: In my grasp, is a message from Richard Milhouse Nixon. Gentleman, our Chief Executive has entrusted me, as a physical educator, to make sure you men are performing at, or above, the national average.
(He slaps his hand against the book.)
MR. CUTLIP: The President's All-American Physical Fitness Challenge.
(The class groans.)
MR. CUTLIP: I guess I don't have to tell you this is an awesome responsibility. Do I. Arnold?
(Kevin is caught off-guard.)
KEVIN: Uh, yes sir. You don't. Have to tell us.
MR. CUTLIP: I didn't think so.
(Mr. Cutlip begins writing on the chalkboard.)
By December of 1970, it was pretty clear Christmas meant nothing to Coach Cutlip. While most human beings were brimming with Yuletide cheer, he was brimming with...
(Mr. Cutlip goes down the list he has written on the chalkboard.)
MR. CUTLIP: Chin-ups. Sit-ups. The shuttle run. Various calisthenics. And, of course...the rope climb.
(More groans from the class.)
Face it. The guy was Scrooge in a baseball cap.
(Mr. Cutlip sneezes and sniffs.)
MR. CUTLIP: Scoozie. OK now, who wants to start?
(He blows his whistle.)
(Scenes of the students running, doing sit-ups, etc. Instrumental music: "Sleigh Ride" plays.)
Not that it was anything new to us. The pain, the exhaustion, the humiliation. It was something we had come to expect from the guy. Still, that year, a new thought was forming in our collective ninth grade minds.
Int. Day - Locker Room
TOMMY: Cutlip's a raving lunatic!
DOUG: He has absolutely no Christmas spirit.
RANDY: He makes us dust the floor in front of the girl's gym class. And Doug with his underwear hangin' out.
DOUG: My underwear was showing?!
TOMMY: Somebody oughtta do something to that guy.
PAUL: Hey don't get me involved with this. I gotta play basketball for the guy.
It seemed Paul was about the only one of my colleagues who had a real sense of reality.
DOUG: What I wouldn't give just once to have something over Cutlip.
TOMMY: Yeah, take him down a peg.
RANDY: Maybe we should talk to him.
KEVIN: (Scoffs.) Aw, get real.
KEVIN: You can't talk to the guy. Cutlip's from another planet.
(Mr. Cutlip enters.)
MR. CUTLIP: Men. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking...you let me down. Well, don't give it a second thought. There's always maņana. (Exits.)
Bottom line: the guy was completely out of touch with humanity.
TOMMY: OK, that's it! I say we kill him.
But I wasn't gonna let my gym teacher dampen my Christmas spirits.
Int. Afternoon - Brightlin Mall
(Kevin and Norma are walking out of a store.)
NORMA: There, that wasn't so bad, was it?
KEVIN: (curtly) It was fine, Mom.
If I wanted my spirits dampened, I had a Mom who was doing a fine job.
NORMA: You know what?
KEVIN: (sharply) What?
NORMA: We should get you a new tie, too.
KEVIN: No, Mom. No ties. I-I got the shoes, enough's enough.
Christmas seemed to trigger Mom's biological need to buy formal wear for her family.
KEVIN (Exasperated): Dad needs a tie. You should get Dad a tie. OK?
NORMA: Well...meet me back in five minutes.
(Norma walks away. Kevin looks through a plate glass window at a Christmas sales display.)
Shoes, ties, calisthenics. It was beginning to seem like the whole world was adrift in a quagmire of phony holiday spirit. It made you wonder, what ever happened to the magic?
SANTA (V/O): Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas! Step right up here young lady!
(Kevin turns to see Santa's Kingdom. Santa Claus is seated on a throne in the center. A chorus of carolers stands to his left. Children are lined up to his right, waiting to sit on his lap. A train track circles the Kingdom. The chorus begins to sing: "Winter Wonderland." Kevin approaches, smiling. The train passes in front of him, with its bell ringing, and blows its whistle. Santa continues talking in the background.)
Now this was more like it. In its own tacky way, seeing those kids waiting at that Christmas mall display, made me remember what I'd been missing.
(Kevin sits on a nearby bench with his back to Santa, who is in the background.)
SANTA: Step right up here, young man! Up on Santa...Ho, ho, ho!
(Kevin turns to look more closely at Santa.)
Maybe it was Santa's hearty laugh. Maybe I was waxing nostalgic for my simpler youth.
(A boy is sitting on Santa's lap.)
SANTA: Ho, ho, ho, ho! So, Bobby, tell me, what would you like from Santa for Christmas, huh?
Whatever it was, for the first time in years, Saint Nick actually seemed familiar to me.
SANTA: What's that? A bike? Slow down, Bobby. Ho, ho, ho, ho, ho, ho.
Like a long-lost uncle, who I couldn't quite place.
(Kevin turns away from Santa.)
(Kevin whirls back around to look at Santa again, then stands up, staring intently.)
KEVIN (to himself): Cutlip?
MR. CUTLIP (As Santa): Well every young man should have -
(He stops speaking suddenly as he notices Kevin. He abruptly stands up, still holding the boy, and stares back at Kevin. The chorus begins to sing: "Jingle Bells.")
It was horrible, worse than horrible. The whiskers, the bells, the hat?
(Santa quickly retreats through a door into the castle behind his throne, carrying the boy with him.)
Kind of a Christmas nightmare come true.
(Santa reappears, sets the boy down, and retreats into the castle again. Santa's arm then reaches back through the door to hang a sign reading: "Santa will be back in 5 minutes.")
First time I'd ever seen a teacher outside of school, and he had a pillow strapped to his stomach.
(The train whistle blows.)
Int. Morning - School Corridor
(The school bell rings. Kevin is coming down the staircase.)
The next morning I tried to block the terrible image from my head. I prayed I'd imagined the whole thing.
(Kevin walks down the hall. Mr. Cutlip bumps into him walking the other way. They both stop.)
KEVIN: Uh, hi.
MR. CUTLIP: Morning, Arnold.
(Mr. Cutlip starts to walk away.)
KEVIN (stopping him): Mr. Cutlip? How are you doing today?
MR. CUTLIP: Not bad.
I tried to read his expression. Had he seen me? Had I really seen him?
MR. CUTLIP: Yourself?
KEVIN: Uh, great. Great.
MR. CUTLIP: Any adventures since last time I saw you, Arnold?
KEVIN: No. Well, I did go shopping at the Brightlin Mall.
MR. CUTLIP (quickly): Brightlin Mall?
MR. CUTLIP: Never been there myself. Don't get out that far.
(The school bell rings.)
MR. CUTLIP: See you in gym class, Arnold.
KEVIN: Uh, yeah, I'll be there.
MR. CUTLIP: Fine.
(Mr. Cutlip and Kevin walk away from each other.)
And then it was over. I'd been mistaken. Suddenly I felt full of holiday cheer again.
(Kevin stops and turns toward Mr. Cutlip.)
KEVIN: Merry Christmas, sir!
(Mr. Cutlip stops in front of the staircase, then slowly turns around. Jingle bells begin to ring, and, before Kevin's eyes, Mr. Cutlip turns into Santa Claus, then back into himself again. He nods to Kevin, then walks up the stairs.)
There are few things in life I'll always regret. This was one of those things.
Int. Day - School Gymnasium
(Mr. Cutlip marches into the gym, carrying his clipboard. Kevin's class, lounging on the floor, quickly sits upright and looks at Mr. Cutlip attentively. Instrumental music: "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town," plays to a marching beat.)
MR. CUTLIP: Listen up, men. Starting today, some of you are gonna have to work a little harder.
As I sat on that cold parquet floor, I felt as if I were on death row.
MR. CUTLIP: We begin...
(He slaps his clipboard.)
MR. CUTLIP: With the shuttle run.
I knew too much, and I was gonna have to pay the price.
MR. CUTLIP: Cornell, you're running first. Then, Porter, you're up next. And, let's see...Arnold.
KEVIN: Yes, sir?
(Mr. Cutlip gestures for Kevin to approach him. Kevin stands and walks toward Mr. Cutlip.)
He'd been saving me for last. Who knew what kind of torture he had in store for me. Grueling sit-ups, excruciating push-ups.
(Mr. Cutlip holds up a stopwatch.)
MR. CUTLIP: How 'bout you keep time?
KEVIN (flabbergasted): Sure.
(Mr. Cutlip hands Kevin the stopwatch.)
MR. CUTLIP: OK, the rest of you guys, up and at 'em.
(He claps Kevin on the shoulder, walks away, and begins barking orders at the rest of the class.)
And that's when I realized, knowledge was power. All of a sudden, Christmas had come early. It was wonderful.
(Kevin turns toward some of the class members. They are looking at him with disgust.)
Unfortunately, not everyone shared my holiday spirit.
(Kevin smiles at his classmates.)
MR. CUTLIP (in background): Come on, everybody, down this end of the gym! Let's go!
(He blows his whistle.)
MR. CUTLIP: Let's go! Move it!
(He blows his whistle again.)
Int. Day - School Corridor
(Kevin is walking down the hall, carrying his school books.)
The next couple days in gym class, my popularity was...
(Kevin turns a corner and sees Randy, Doug, and Tommy.)
KEVIN: Hey, guys.
(Tommy knocks Kevin's books out of his hand.)
(He leans over to pick up his books.)
TOMMY: Teacher's pet.
Not exactly at an all-time high.
RANDY: We should just call you Cutlip-in-training.
KEVIN: Oh, c'mon, guys, it's not like that.
RANDY: Oh, yeah?
KEVIN: I'm one of you.
(Mr. Cutlip comes up behind Kevin, carrying his clipboard in one hand and a small bag in the other.)
MR. CUTLIP: Pistachio, Arnold?
(Kevin turns to look at Mr. Cutlip.)
MR. CUTLIP: Red ones.
(He shakes the bag.)
(Kevin looks back at his friends, who are looking at him with disgust.)
(He turns back to Mr. Cutlip.)
(He reaches into the bag.)
MR. CUTLIP: Keep the whole bag.
(He hands the bag to Kevin, then walks away.)
DOUG: One of us, huh?
(Randy, Doug, and Tommy walk away. Doug takes the bag from Kevin as he passes by.)
Seemed pretty clear something had to be done.
KEVIN: Mr. Cutlip?
(Kevin chases after Mr. Cutlip, who is humming "Deck the Halls" to himself as he walks.)
KEVIN: Mr. Cutlip?
(Mr. Cutlip stops abruptly, and turns around slowly.)
KEVIN: Can I talk to you? It's important.
(Mr. Cutlip looks around furtively, then walks over to a janitor's closet and opens the door.)
MR. CUTLIP: In here.
(Mr. Cutlip and Kevin enter the closet. The light is off. Mr. Cutlip places his clipboard on top of the lockers in the closet.)
MR. CUTLIP: Shoot.
(Mr. Cutlip begins pacing back and forth.)
KEVIN: Well, I think we might have a little misunderstanding.
MR. CUTLIP: No misunderstanding. Not at all.
KEVIN: Well, I just want you to know that, even though I saw you as -
(Mr. Cutlip stops sharply and turns toward Kevin.)
KEVIN: Well...you know.
(Mr. Cutlip turns on the light.)
MR. CUTLIP: I appreciate you coming to me, Arnold.
KEVIN: You do?
MR. CUTLIP: Because I wanted to give you these.
(He holds up two slips of paper.)
MR. CUTLIP: Passes. To get out of gym.
(He hands them to Kevin.)
MR. CUTLIP: You're excused from the President's Challenge.
KEVIN: Yeah, Mr. Cutlip -
MR. CUTLIP: Call me Ed. (Smiles.)
KEVIN: Listen, sir, I really don't want to get out of gym.
(He holds the passes out.)
MR. CUTLIP: Playing hardball, huh?
(He snatches the passes from Kevin's hand.)
MR. CUTLIP: I'm on to your game now. I've played a little ball in my life, too.
(He rips up the passes.)
MR. CUTLIP: Capisce?
(He walks toward the door.)
KEVIN: Uh, Mr. Cutlip, I -
(Mr. Cutlip turns back to Kevin and holds up his hand.)
MR. CUTLIP: Say no more, Arnold.
(The school bell rings.)
MR. CUTLIP: Looks like it's class time for both of us.
(He opens the door and walks out.)
Things were spiraling out of control. There was no telling what a volatile guy like Cutlip might do next.
(Just then, Mr. Cutlip comes back into the closet, retrieves his clipboard from on top of the lockers, turns off the light, and leaves again without saying a word.)
Int. Day - Study Hall
(Kevin and Doug are sitting across from each other at a table.)
DOUG (sarcastically): Your wrist hurt from holding the stopwatch?
(Tommy walks up behind Kevin, kicks his chair, looks at him with contempt, then walks away without speaking.)
The walls were pushing in all around me.
KEVIN: Doug, this isn't my fault.
DOUG: Yeah, right.
(He takes a bite from a candy bar.)
KEVIN: This is ridiculous. Just 'cause I saw Cutlip working at the Brightlin Mall -
DOUG: You what?!
KEVIN: Forget it.
DOUG: You saw Cutlip in the mall?
KEVIN: Yeah, and now my life's ruined. You happy?
(A female hall monitor walks up to Kevin, holding a slip of paper.)
HALL MONITOR: You Kevin Arnold?
(She hands Kevin the paper, then walks away.)
(Kevin looks at the piece of paper. It reads: "Mr. Arnold come to my office immediatly Ed Cutlip." Transcriber's note: The word "immediatly" is misspelled on the note from Cutlip to Kevin, and should not be corrected to "immediately" in this transcript.)
There it was, my summons to destiny. It was time to face...
Int. Day - Mr. Cutlip's Office
(Mr. Cutlip is sitting at his desk, wringing his hands nervously. Kevin sees him through the window in his door.)
(Kevin knocks on the door, then enters. Mr.Cutlip stands up.)
MR. CUTLIP: Sit down, Arnold.
(He gestures to a chair.)
MR. CUTLIP: I have something for you.
(He sits down, reaching into a desk drawer.)
(He sits down.)
He was probably reaching for a weapon, a gun.
(Mr. Cutlip holds put a package.)
MR. CUTLIP: Fruitcake. I picked it up at the mall. Twenty percent employees' discount.
KEVIN: A fruitcake?
(Mr. Cutlip sets the fruitcake on the desk.)
MR. CUTLIP: Just one of the many reasons I took the job...as...Santa. You know, Arnold, to a man who has devoted his life to public education, the opportunity to buy wholesale is nothing to laugh at. (Chuckles.)
(Kevin smiles but says nothing.)
MR. CUTLIP: But I don't need to tell you that, do I?
KEVIN: No. I don't think so.
(Kevin and Mr. Cutlip look at each other.)
KEVIN: May I go now?
(He gestures toward the door.)
MR. CUTLIP (Quickly): There's another reason.
KEVIN: There is?
(Mr. Cutlip picks up a framed picture from his desk and shows it to Kevin.)
MR. CUTLIP: Esther Cutlip. My mother. The woman is a saint.
I found myself hoping for the school bell to ring, the sound of the buses pulling up, anything to get out of there.
(Mr. Cutlip looks at the picture.)
MR. CUTLIP: If it weren't for my support, there's no telling the catatonic state the woman might fall into.
KEVIN: That's nice, sir.
(Mr. Cutlip sets the picture back on his desk.)
MR. CUTLIP: Tell me something, Arnold. You ever been inside a Santa outfit?
Oh my God, we were crossing a line teachers and students were never supposed to cross. It was horrifying.
MR. CUTLIP: It's hot, and it's sweaty -
(Kevin jumps to his feet, and speaks in an aggravated tone.)
KEVIN: Look, Mr. Cutlip? I don't really want to know what it's like. Your discounts, your fruitcake, your mother, that's none of my business, OK? I'm not gonna tell anyone about you being Santa so let's just forget it. OK? It's forgotten. Please.
(He starts to walk out the door.)
MR. CUTLIP: Arnold.
MR. CUTLIP: Kids like me when I'm Santa.
And right then, for the first time as I looked at the man, I actually saw a human being. Not a great human being, maybe not even a good human being, but a very lonely human being.
KEVIN: Your secret's safe with me, Mr. Cutlip.
(Mr. Cutlip and Kevin exchange glances, then Kevin leaves the office.)
Int. Afternoon - School Bus
(Kevin is getting on the bus.)
I headed home, feeling pretty good about not having spilled the beans.
(Kevin sees Doug sitting in the back of the bus.)
Until I remembered the beans had already been spilled.
(Kevin sits next to Doug.)
KEVIN: Doug, you can't tell anybody what I told you before.
DOUG (Sheepishly): Oh. OK.
KEVIN (Concerned): You didn't, did you?
DOUG: Well...only Randy.
(He points to Randy, who has just gotten on the bus, followed by Tommy. They sit in the seat ahead of Doug and Kevin.)
TOMMY: So, um, what exactly does Cutlip do at the mall?
KEVIN: Forget it.
DOUG: Does he sell Orange Julius?
(Kevin gives Doug a look, but says nothing.)
RANDY: You gotta tell us where he works, Kev.
KEVIN: No way!
TOMMY: Well, we've got eyes. We'll, uh, we'll just go find out for ourself.
(Randy smiles at the idea, and then Tommy and Randy begin discussing it to themselves.)
Holy cow, these guys were serious. The vultures were circling, and it was all my fault. And right there, right then, I knew what I had to do.
Int. Afternoon - The Arnold House
(Kevin is walking hurriedly through the living room, still carrying his school books. The sound of a vacuum cleaner can be heard.)
KEVIN: Mom? Mom!
(Kevin finds Norma in the bedroom, vacuuming.)
KEVIN: I need a ride to the mall.
NORMA: Sorry, honey, I was just about to start dinner.
I needed a plan. Something foolproof. Something Mom-proof.
KEVIN: I want to get that tie.
(Norma looks at Kevin, shuts off the vacuum, and smiles.)
Int. Afternoon - Brightlin Mall
(Kevin and Norma are just walking into the mall. Instrumental music in background: "Frosty the Snowman.")
NORMA: I hope they still have the paisley.
KEVIN: Mom, can we split up for a little while?
NORMA: Only after we get the tie.
(Kevin sighs, then, looking up, he abruptly stops walking. A group of students from school are coming into the mall through a different entrance. They are led by Randy, Doug, and Tommy.)
But I knew Cutlip's lynch mob would wait for no neckwear.
(While Norma is looking in her purse, Kevin suddenly starts running through the mall.)
There was no time to lose. I had to beat those guys to Center Court, no matter what the obstacles.
(Kevin rounds a corner near Santa's Kingdom and crashes into an employee who is carrying a bag of fake snow. The snow flies into the air, and they both fall to the ground. Kevin lands on the train track encircling the Kingdom. Just then, the train comes around the curve, ringing its bell and blowing its whistle. Kevin rolls across the tracks and into the Kingdom just inches ahead of the train. He runs toward Mr. Cutlip (as Santa), but is stopped by an elf. The chorus begins to sing: "Winter Wonderland.")
ELF: Hey, hey, hey! You gotta wait your turn.
KEVIN: Yeah, but this is important, I know him!
ELF: That's what they all say.
(A boy is sitting on Mr. Cutlip's lap.)
MR. CUTLIP: You're a fine boy. Santa's going to give you whatever you want. Ho, ho, ho!
(He sets the boy down.)
BOY: Mommy! Anything I want!
MR. CUTLIP: Arnold.
(He gestures for Kevin to approach, which he does.)
MR. CUTLIP: What are you doing here?
KEVIN: Well...I -
MR. CUTLIP: You're not going to sit on my lap, are you?
MR. CUTLIP: Good. You'd be too old. You realize that.
KEVIN: Yeah. Mr. Cutlip, I -
MR. CUTLIP: Ssh! (Whispers.) Call me Santa!
(He looks away from Kevin, toward the children who are waiting in line.)
KEVIN: I came to say I'm sorry.
(Mr. Cutlip is still looking away.)
MR. CUTLIP: Sorry?
KEVIN: Yeah. There's a bunch of guys from class coming to look for you.
(Mr. Cutlip whips his head around to look at Kevin, with a look of deep concern.)
KEVIN: I kinda let it slip about you working at the mall.
MR. CUTLIP: You didn't.
KEVIN: So you probably should hide out in your shack until this whole thing blows over.
(Mr. Cutlip looks around, trying to decide what to do, then freezes. Kevin looks, too, and they both see the students approaching Santa's Kingdom. Instrumental music: "Jingle Bells," plays to a marching beat.)
Here they came, the hounds to the kill. There was only one option: head for the chimney.
MR. CUTLIP: No can do, Arnold.
MR. CUTLIP: Let them come if they must.
(He stands up.)
MR. CUTLIP: I am who I am.
(The chorus begins to sing: the "Hallelujah chorus" from Handel's "Messiah.")
I'll always remember that look on his face. He was at once heroic and stupid.
MR. CUTLIP: Move along, Arnold.
(Kevin walks away from Mr. Cutlip, and out of the Kingdom.)
There was nothing more I could do. The die was cast. It was Santa's Last Stand.
(Randy spots Kevin.)
RANDY: It's Arnold! Come on!
(The students all run toward Kevin.)
KEVIN: Look, guys...
RANDY: Where is he, Kev?
TOMMY: Might as well tell us.
KEVIN: Forget it!
DOUG: Fine, we're just gonna have to find him ourselves.
(He turns to the students.)
DOUG: C'mon, guys, split up.
(All the students walk away except Doug, Tommy, and Randy, who stand facing Kevin. Mr. Cutlip is still standing in the background, behind Kevin.)
I stood there, helpless, outnumbered. And that's when it happened. Doug Porter looked first, directly into the eyes of the man who had taught him gym for three long years. Then Tommy Kisling looked, too, and Randy Mitchell. Those three skeptics gazed straight at that white beard, dead into the eyes of Coach Cutlip not thirty feet away. But all that they saw...was Santa Claus.
(Doug, Tommy, and Randy all smile at "Santa". Doug turns to Tommy and Randy.)
DOUG: C'mon, guys. Let's keep looking.
(Doug, Tommy, and Randy walk away. Kevin looks back at Mr. Cutlip and smiles.)
It was a miracle. He stood there like some patron saint of all the lonely people holidays sometimes forget.
(The chorus begins to sing: "Silent Night." Mr. Cutlip looks around, then sits down on his throne.)
MR. CUTLIP: All right. Who's next to see Santa?
(A girl approaches.)
MR. CUTLIP: Step right up here, young lady...
And for that brief moment of Christmas magic, Ed Cutlip got his chance to be what he always wanted.
MR. CUTLIP: Your brother's here? Well, bring him up at the same time. I'll talk to both of you at the same time. What a fine-looking family you come from...
(Kevin stands watching Mr. Cutlip, who continues talking to the children in the background. The train passes by with its bell ringing, and blows its whistle.)
And I never gave him away.
SANTA: Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas!
Mr. Cutlip - Robert Picardo
Doug - Brandon Crane
Randy - Michael Tricario
Tommy - Jay Lambert
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