S4 E12 Everyone Can’t Be George Washington

Everybody Can’t Be George Washington

Written by Sam Locke and Milton Pascal

Peter tries out for the part of George Washington for the school play on the American Revolution, but ends up getting the part of Benedict Arnold. Hope you enjoy the script.











MISS BAILEY, Peter’s teacher

FREDDIE, boy who plays Major John Andre

PEGGY, girl who plays Peter’s wife

DONNA, another girl in play

EDITH, girl in Peter’s class

HARVEY, guy in Peter’s class

STUART, another guy in Peter’s class

(The episode begins with Peter looking at himself in the mirror. He’s flexing his muscles and Bobby comes in the bathroom to see him. He walks out annoyed.)

Bobby (to Greg): He’s still at it.

Greg (sarcastic): Incredible.

Peter (coming out of the bathroom): Just a moment, corporal (Bobby). Notify the drill sergeant that General Washington is ready to inspect the troops.

Bobby: Get somebody else to notify him. I don’t want to be late for school.

(He leaves.)

Greg (laughing): Why don’t you knock off the George Washington routine.

Peter: I have to practice for my audition. it’s the biggest part in the school play.

Greg: Keep it up, George. You’ll be the first general who ever got kicked out of his room.

(He leaves and Peter salutes him. We next see him downstairs in the kitchen. He is further rehearsing in front of Carol, Alice and Marcia.)

Peter: All right, men. hear this. Tonight we cross the Delaware and attack the British at Trenton. All right, who am I supposed to be?

Marcia: Mickey Mouse.

(She leaves.)

Peter (astonished): Mickey Mouse!

Carol (laughing): She was only kidding, honey. We know you were being George Washington.

Peter: You did?

Alice: Sure. Good luck, general. (She salutes) We will be routing for you at your audition today.

Peter: Thanks, I’m off, to Valley Forge.

(He hears a whistle.)

Carol: Hold it, General. It might be a long, hard winter. Better take your lunch.

(She hands Peter his lunch and he leaves. She and Alice laugh as the scene fades.)

(The next scene has Carol and Mike looking over a design that Mike created.)

Carol: Oh, it’s beautiful, Mike.

Mike: Yeah, Mrs. Foster called it her dream house.

Carol: What did Mr. Foster call it?

Mike: Well, when he heard the price, he told her to stop dreaming.

(Carol laughs. Jan comes home.)

Jan (calling): Mom! Dad!

Carol (calling back): Yeah honey, we’re in here.

Carol (looking at the design): Yeah, I really like.

(Jan runs in the den.)

Jan: Guess what!

Carol: What?

Jan: I got picked to be in the school play about George Washington.

Carol (hugging her): Oh, that’s terrific.

Mike: Hey, congratulations.

Jan: Well, I’m not exactly in it. I mean, not as an actor.

Carol: What are you gonna be, the cherry tree?

(They laugh.)

Jan: You’re close. I’m in charge of the scenery and special effects.

Mike: Hey, now, that’s quite a job.

Carol: How did you get picked for that?

Jan: Well, I’m the only one in school with the most important qualifications.

Carol: What qualifications?

Jan: I have a father who’s an architect. (Mike groans) Will you help me design the scenery, Dad?

Mike: Sure. How about that? 200 years after the Revolutionary War and I get drafted.

Carol: Hey, how did Peter do at the audition?

Jan: Well, he must have done great because when I left he was all smiles.

(Peter comes home in a dejected mood.)

Carol: Hi.

Peter: Hi.

Carol: Hey, wait a minute. Why the long face?

Alice: Yeah, I’ve seen you look happier the day before report cards.

Carol: Did the audition go well?

Peter: It went fine. Ms. Bailey said I was terrific.

Carol: Thank goodness. There for a minute I thought you didn’t get the part.

Peter: I didn’t. Miss Bailey said lots of guys could play Benedict Arnold. She wanted me to take a harder part.

Alice: That’s a compliment. What’s the part?

Peter: Benedict Arnold. (Pause) It’s a smaller part, and Benedict Arnold even has to die at the end.

Alice: Well, it’s better than dying at the beginning.

Carol: Right.

Peter: Well, I’m not gonna do it. I’m quitting the play.

(He walks off and Carol follows him.)

Carol: Peter, Peter, that’s not like you, honey. You never quit at anything before.

Peter: But I wanted to be George Washington.

Carol: Oh, honey, everybody can’t be George Washington. Remember that time on your baseball team? You wanted to be pitcher but the coach wanted you in the outfield? Did you quit?

Peter: No.

Carol: Well, it’s the same with Ms. Bailey. She needs her best players in the right parts. (Pause) She must think you can be a very good Benedict Arnold.

Peter (looking up): I guess I could.

Carol: Unless, you think the part is too hard for you.

Peter: Are you kidding? I can do it easy. (He gets up and gives a semi-performance) General Washington, I, Benedict Arnold, place myself under your command.

Carol: That’s the spirit, Benedict. (She tosses him an apple) You go do your homework, and I’ll keep my eye out for the redcoats.

(She salutes and walks back to the kitchen. Peter gets his books and goes upstairs. Cut to the backyard, where Marcia is helping Jan with some scenery. She is painting a cloud and Jan comes out.)

Marcia: Is that the way you want the clouds, Jan?

Jan: Yeah, that’s good. Dark and gloomy.

Marcia: Right.

(She notices Cindy painting something as well.)

Jan: What are you painting, Cindy?

Cindy: I’m painting the moon.

Marcia: I already did the moon.

Cindy: I’m fixing it up.

(She put a smiling face on the moon.)

Jan: What did you do that for?

Cindy: I think everyone should have a nioce day, even George Washington.

(Jan goes over to Greg, who is working on waves for the ship.)

Jan: Greg, how’s it going?

Greg: How does it look?

Jan: Great, but aren’t the waves kind of high? Because if you put them in front of the boat, you won’t be able to see the boat.

Greg: Well, there’s only one thing we can do. Either we raise the boat or we lower the Delaware.

(Mike is working on a ship.)

Jan: Hi.

Mike: Hi. Well, what do you think?

Jan: It looks exactly like the boat that’s in the picture of George Washington.

Mike: Yeah, well, not exactly. This boat has one thing that even George Washington’s boat didn’t have. Roller skates.

Jan: What?

(He demonstrates. Next, Peter and Bobby are in their room rehearsing.)

Peter (looking at the script): Come in.

(Bobby comes in with a script.)

Peter: Ah, Major Andre I presume. Won’t you… (He puts his hand on his shoulder to sit him down) have a seat.

Bobby: Thank you, General Arnold. My commander, General Clinton of the 5th British Army sends his compliments.

Peter: Is that all he sent, Major?

Bobby: I don’t understand, sir.

Peter: I refer to the money for the plan to West Point. (He knocks on the desk) The key to the American defenses. I trust the British don’t expect them for nothing. If I, General Benedict Arnold, hero of the battle of Ticonderoga, is gonna betray, his country, he expects to be paid for it, and handsomely.

(Carol appears at the door.)

Bobby: I am here to discuss the terms, old chap.

Peter: There will be no discussion. (He pounds on the desk) The price is 10,000 pounds, Major Andre.

Bobby (astonished): 10,000 pounds of what?

Peter: That’s British money, dummy. Major Andre was a British officer.

Bobby (in British accent): Oh, I see.

Peter: Lower your voice, sir, if you were discovered on American soil, it could mean both our necks.

Bobby: But 10,000 pounds, General Arnold.

Peter: Turning traitor doesn’t come easy to me, Major, and it won’t come cheap to the British armies.

(He puts his wrist up and Carol claps as she comes in the door.)

Carol: That’s terrific (to Peter) You were great, General Arnold. (She turns to Bobby) And you weren’t bad either, Major Andre.

Bobby: Thanks, old chap, the major’s cutting out for a glass of milk.

(Carol sits down.)

Peter: You know, Benedict Arnold’s not an easy part to play, Mom.

Carol: Well, that’s merely why Ms. Bailey wanted you to play it.

Peter: I guess it’s like you were saying, not everyone can be George Washington. Some guys are better in the outfield.

Carol: And from what I read, George Washington wouldn’t have been a very good outfielder, either.

Peter: Why?

Carol: He barely made it when he threw the dollar across the Stomic.

Peter: Lower your voice, sir, if you were discovered on American soil, it could mean both our necks.

(The next scene has the family in the backyard, with Mike inspecting the scenery for the play.)

Mike: Hey, that’s terrific, gang.

(Jan goes by to have the family pretend to row the boat in the water.)

Jan: Okay, is everybody ready?

(They all start to row but the waves created for the scene fall over.)

Mike: Hey, there’s a switch. the boat stayed afloat and the waves sank.)

(They all laugh and Greg picks up the wave. They start rowing again, successfully.)

(Cut to Peter’s school, where he is sitting on a bench, reading his script. Edith, a girl in his class, comes to talk to him.)

Edith: Hi, Peter, what are you doing?

Peter: Studying my script. I’m in the school play.

(Edith sits down with him.)

Edith: That’s wonderful.

Peter: I’m playing Benedict Arnold.

Edith (surprised): Benedict Arnold?

Peter: Yeah, it’s a great part.

Edith: Well, it is if you like being a traitor.

(She walks away. Peter next runs into another friend, Harvey.)

Harvey: Yo Pete.

Peter: Hi, Harv.

Harvey: Did you get the part of George Washington.

Peter: I could’ve, but Ms. Bailey gave me a better part, a real tough part.

Harvey: Which one?

Peter: What’s the toughest part for a guy to play?

Harvey: Betsy Ross?

Peter: No, Benedict Arnold.

Harvey (disgusted): Bendeict Arnold?

Peter: Yeah, how about that?

Harvey: Traitor.

(Next, Peter sees his friend Stuart rushing somewhere.)

Peter: Hey, Stu, what’s the hurry?

Stuart: I’m going over to the park. We’re setting up a ball game. Come on.

Peter: I’ll be over right after rehearsal. I’m in the school play.

Stuart: Yeah? What part did you get?

Peter: Benedict Arnold?

Stuart (annoyed): Benedict Arnold?

(He hisses at him.)

Peter: Very funny. Save me a place on the team, will you?

Stuart: What for? So you can blow the game, Benedict.

(Next, Peter is at rehearsal with Freddie, the boy chosen to play Major Andre).

Peter: There will be no discussion. (He pounds on the desk) The price is 10,000 pounds, Major Andre.

Freddie: But that’s a lot of money, General.

Peter: Lower your voice, if you were discovered on American soil, it could mean both our necks.

Freddie: But 10,000 pounds, General Arnold.

Peter: A small price to pay to insure the capture of the British. (He pauses and then talks in his regular voice) Anyway, I may not sell the plans after all.

Ms. Bailey: Peter, that’s not in the script. the line is turning traitor doesn’t come easy to me, Major.

Peter: Ms. Bailey, does Benedict Arnld have to be a traitor.

Ms. Bailey (surprised): What?

Peter: I mean, wouldn’t it be better if Major Andre stole the plans and it made Benedict Arnold a good guy?

Ms. Bailey: Peter, we can’t rewrite the American Revolution. According to all the history books, Benedict Arnold was a traitor.

Peter: But the books could be wrong. I mean, there was nobody in the room but the 2 guys when it happened. Why can’t we give the American guy the benefit of the doubt?

Ms. Bailey: Peter, I think we better stick with the script. Well, that’s enough for today. Class dismissed until tomorrow.

(Everyone starts to leave as Freddie gets angry.)

Freddie: What were you trying to do? Make me the rap for stealing the plans?

Peter: Major Ander could’ve done it.

Freddie: That was a pretty crummy trick.

Peter: Well, nobody knows for sure.

Freddie: When they picked you to be the traitor, they really picked the right guy.

Peter: Oh yeah?

Freddie: Yeah!

Peter: Yeah?

(Peter comes home with a bloody nose. He comes in his room and Greg notices it.)

Greg: Hey, Peter, come here. Where did you get that bloody nose?

Peter: At rehearsal.

Greg: What were you rehearsing? The Boston Massacre?

Peter: I got in a fight with one of the guys. I’m getting fed up with everybody teasing me, calling me a traitor. All the guys booing and hissing me.

(He goes into the bathroom. Greg comes in.)

Greg: Pete, don’t let it get you down. It’s just a part in the play.

Peter: Well, Miss Bailey can get someone else to play Benedict Arnold.

Greg: You’re not quitting, are you?

Peter: You better believe it.

Greg: You can’t quit, you promised Mom and Dad.

Peter: Oh, yeah, I did, didn’t I. Okay, I won’t quit.

Greg: At a boy.

(He leaves the bathroom.)

Peter (to himself): I got a better idea, I’ll get myself thrown out of the play.

(He looks in the mirror and cleans his nose as the scene fades.)

(The next scene is back at school, with Peter in rehearsal.)

Freddie: Thank you, General Arnold. My commander, General Clinton of the 5th British Army sends his compliments.

(Peter pretends to forget his lines.)

Ms. Bailey: Go on, Peter, you have the next line.

Peter: I’m sorry, Ms. Bailey. Can you give me the first word?

Ms. Bailey (looking at the script): Is.

Peter: Is. (He looks over at Freddie) Is, uh, uh… (to Miss Bailey) can you give me the second word?

Ms. Bailey: Is that all he sent, Major?

Peter (to Freddie): Is that all he sent, Major?

Freddie: I don’t understand, sir.

Peter: I refer to the money for the plan to, uh, uh… (to Miss Bailey) What’s the name of the place?

Freddie: West Point, dum-dum.

Ms. Bailey: Peter, what is wrong? You were fine up until now.

Peter: I guess it’s because I was reading out of my script. My memory is just no good.

Ms. Bailey: Oh, you’re probably just having a little attack of the nerves.

Peter: Suppose I get a bigger attack the night of the play. Maybe you should get someone else.

Ms. Bailey: Let me have your script, Peter.

Peter (handing her the script): I don’t blame you for taking away my part, Miss Bailey. If I can’t remember my lines, I shouldn’t be in the play.

(He grabs his coat and starts to leave.)

Ms. Bailey: Peter, come here. (She rips a page out of a book) This is an old actor’s trick. Now, we just paste your lines on top of these plans for West Point. Then, if you get stuck, all you have to do is read them. I’ll bet you never thought of that.

Peter: No I didn’t.

(Marcia takes Carol outside by the hand.)

Marcia: Oh, Mom, wait till you see it. It looks so good, it’s really good.

(Carol sees it and is very impressed.)

Cindy: It’s the scene where George Washington chops down the cheery tree.

Bobby: I’ll be George Washington.

Carol: Did Dad design that for you?

Jan: Yeah, but I made an improvement. Watch (she is holding a rope) When Bobby chops it, the tree will fall over. Okay, chop, Bobby.

(He chops but only the trunk falls. They all laugh.)

Carol: Yeah, that’s a very interesting improvement.

(Next, Peter is up in his room moping. Greg goes in the closet to get his jacket.)

Greg: You coming to breakfast?

Peter: I’ll be down in a couple of minutes.

Greg: Pete, look, if you’re still trying to get out of the play, forget it. There’s no way out.

Peter (to himself): There’s got to be a way out.

(He walks around the room pondering. He notices a pair of roller skates in the room. He picks up the edge of the desk and slams it on his ankle, knocking the chair down. He then gets on the floor, screaming in pain and holding his ankle. Mike and Carol hurry in.)

Carol: Peter, Peter are you all right?

Mike: What happened?

Peter: I tripped over the skate and twisted my ankle.

Carol: Well, let me see. (They examine the ankle) Oh, Mike, what do you think?

Mike: I don’t know. The skin’s not broken. It seems to be swelling.

Carol: Huh, maybe you ought to stay home from school today.

Peter: Uh, no, no, I don’t want to miss rehearsal. The play. I’ll be okay.

Carol: You’re sure.

Peter: Yeah.

(He gets up, fakes a limp, and gets his books. Cut to rehearsal, where Peter comes limping in.)

Miss Bailey: All right now, girls, you try on your costumes. And, boys, we’ll try the Valley Forge scene.

Peter: Hi, Miss Bailey, sorry I’m late.

Ms. Bailey: Peter, what happened to you?

Peter: Well, there was a roller skate in my room. And while I was practicing my lines, I tripped over it.

Ms. Bailey: Oh, I’m sorry, does it hurt?

Peter: Well, the pain’s not bad. It’s just that I can’t walk without this limp. So I guess I’m out of the show.

Ms. Bailey: I wouldn’t dream of letting you go.

Peter: Huh? You don’t want a Benedict Arnold that limps.

Ms. Bailey: Peter, didn’t you know? Benedict Arnold was wounded at the battle of Saratoga. He had to limp for the rest of his life.

Peter: He did? (She nodded) Which leg?

Ms. Bailey: The same one as yours. Isn’t that lucky?

Peter: Yeah, really lucky.

(Back at home. Mike is emptying a box of Safe into the top of the crate for a winter scene.)

Mike: Okay, I think we’re about ready for winter at Valley Forge.

Jan: Okay, here goes.

(She slightly pulls it down with a string and some of the flakes fall on a tent.)

Carol: Hey, terrific, I’m beginning to feel cold already.

(Alice comes out.)

Alice: Jan, telephone. Miss Bailey from school.

Jan: Oh, she probably wants to know about the set for the dress rehearsal.

(She goes to take the call.)

Carol (to Mike): Be careful, honey.

(Mike gets down the ladder from the crate. Peter comes home. Carol notices him.)

Carol: Hi.

Mike: Hey. Aren’t you home from rehearsal a little bit early.

Peter (whispering): Can’t talk.

Mike: Huh.

Peter: Laryngitis.

Carol: Well, that’s sudden. When did it happen?

Peter: During rehearsal.

Carol: Will you be able to do the part in your play?

Peter: Miss Bailey is getting someone else. What luck.

Mike: That’s tough, Pete. Especially after all the time you put in it.

Peter: I better go gargle or something.

(He goes inside and Carol and Mike suspiciously watch it.)

Mike: His laryngitis seems to have cured his ankle.

Carol: Yeah, I noticed that too.

(Jan comes out looking glum. Mike and Carol notice.)

Carol: What’s the matter, Jan?

Jan: Well, the play’s off because Peter has laryngitis. Miss Bailey just says to stop making the sets because she can’t find a replacement in time.

Carol: Did you tell Peter that?

Jan: No, I didn’t have the heart to. It would make him feel worse if he knew that.

Mike: Let’s see how much worse.

(They go inside and Carol pats Jan’s cheek. She looks on with bewilderment. They go up to Peter’s room, where he is reading a magazine. They knock.)

Peter: Come in.

(They enter the room. When Peter realizes it’s them, he gets up.)

Peter (whispering): I was just gonna go gargle.

Carol: Peter, you must really feel bad about having to drop out of the play this way.

Peter: Oh, yeah, real bad.

Mike: Peter, this morning it was your ankle. This afternoon it’s laryngitis. Now I want you to level with us. You don’t want to be in that play, do you.

Peter (sitting down): No, I don’t.

Carol: But why, Peter? You said you were gonna be the best Benedict Arnold ever.

Peter: Well, you don’t know what it’s been like. Everybody riding me. Booing and hissing me. Because I’m playing the traitor.

Mike: Oh, come on, listen. (He sits down with him) Listen, because you dropped out, the whole play is off.

Peter: What do you mean off? Miss Bailey can get someone else.

Carol: No, honey, she can’t. There isn’t enough time.

Peter: Gee, I never thought that would happen.

Mike: Yes, and you let a whole lotta people down, too, you know. All those kids who worked on the show, Miss Bailey, even the audience. You know, that’s pretty much what the real Benedict Arnold did, isn’t it.

Peter: I never thought of it that way.

Carol: Yes, but that’s the way it is. Isn’t it, Peter.

Peter: Yeah. If I don’t play the part of a traitor, I’ll be a traitor.

Mike: Well, that’s just about it.

(Next, the play goes on and Peter is giving his best performance as Benedict Arnold.)

Freddie: I am here to discuss the terms, old chap.

Peter: There will be no discussion. (He pounds on the desk) The price is 10,000 pounds, Major Andre.

Freddie: But that’s a lot of money, General.

Peter: Lower your voice, if you were discovered on American soil, it could mean both our necks.

Freddie: But 10,000 pounds, General Arnold.

Peter: A small price to ensure the capture of West Point by the British. Turning traitor doesn’t come easy to me, and it won’t come cheap to the British armies.

Miss Bailey (gladly): Very good, boys. Draw the curtain, please. (The audience applauds as the curtain closes) Donna, your speech comes now.

(Donna, another student, comes out.)

Donna: Major Andre was captured and convicted as a spy. But what if Benedict Arnold fled to the English side to serve against his country for the rest of the war. We take you now to a country home in England 21 years later.

(The audience applauds as she exits the stage. Peter is in bed and Peggy, who plays his wife, is leaning over him.)

Peter: I fear the end is near. the world gets darker, ever darker.

Peggy : My poor, dear husband.

Peter: Hark. Who goes there? Give me the password.

Peggy: His mind wanders in his last moments. Benedict, it’s your wife, Peggy. Do you not recognize my voice?

Peter: Yes, it is Peggy. (He accidentally knocks her wig off) My mind plays me tricks. I’m going fast.

Peggy: Oh, my dear beloved.

Peter: My life passes before me. Once again I embark with Major Andre for the price of my betrayal. Oh, forgive me. I die a broken man.

(His head hits the pillow.)

Peggy: He sleeps at last.

Peter: I can’t sleep. Haunted by the nightmare of my past. Oh, forgive me.

Peggy: I forgive you.

Peter: Not you. I beg forgiveness of George Washington and the United States of America. To whom I pledge allegiance for now and evermore. Wife, would you give me my old uniform?

Peggy: On the instant, dear heart.

(She goes to get the uniform while he gets up to look outside the window. Jan gives Peggy the uniform.)

Carol (to Mike): Honey, Peter forgot to take his boots off after that last scene.

Mike: Maybe he wants to die with his boots on.

Peggy: Here it is, dear spouse, your old uniform.

(He puts it on him but it has dust on it.)

Peter: May God forgive me for putting on another uniform.

(He falls to the ground.)

Peggy: He’s gone. Benedict Arnold is no more.

(The audience applauds.)

Miss Bailey: That’s fine, children. I just hope our performance goes as well tomorrow night. (The audience applauds again and Ms. Bailey gets up to face them.) Ladies and gentlemen, I want to thank you for being here and a special thanks to Mr. Brady for helping us with our sets and to Mrs. Dineen for her work on the costumes. Thank you.

(The audience applauds one more time and gets up. Mike and Carol go up to Peter to congratulate him.)

Mike: Hey, hey, hey.

Peter: Well, how was I?

Mike: Hey, you were terrific. You were just great.

Carol: Ms. Bailey, you did a wonderful job with the kids.

Ms. Bailey: Thank you. And you deserve credit too. How did you ever get Peter over his laryngitis so quickly?

Mike: Well, we used an old family remedy.

Ms. Bailey: Oh, I’ll bet I know. That dreadful stuff you have to mix something sweet with to get it down.

Peter: No, Miss Bailey. Dad just gave it to me straight.

(Some of the dust comes off and Mike and Carol brush it away. The scene fades.)

(The final scene has Peter reading George Washington’s lines from the script.)

Peter: I, George Washington, the commander in chief, command you to row for the fine shore.

Bobby: Would you cut that out, Pete? You were Benedict Arnold in that play.

Peter: I know, but I still think I could’ve done a great George Washington. I can just see myself standing on the bow of the boat crossing the Delaware. I, George Washington, the commander in chief, command you to row for the fine shore.

Bobby: Uh, General, you know there’s one thing missing.

Peter: What’s that?

Bobby: The spray of water in your face.

(He takes his water gun and sprays him. Peter takes it, pins Bobby down on Greg’s bed, and sprays him back.)


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