Archive for the ‘Family Ties’ Category

by Judi

alex-p-keaton-thumbShow: Family Ties

Character: Alex P. Keaton

Actor: Michael J. Fox

Basically: The ’80s sitcom Family Ties revolved around one key theme- liberal parents of the ’60s raising their children in the money-hungry Reagan era. Elyse and Steven Keaton had three children when the series began in 1982- boy-crazy Mallory, tomboy Jennifer and ultra-conservative, Reagan-worshipping Young Republican Alex. Over the years, we watch young Alex P. Keaton counter his parents’ hippie-dippie, new age style parenting (love over money? Please), being the only boy in high school with a briefcase and a picture of Richard Nixon tacked up in his locker.

Also Seen In: Pretty much the only thing that all boys (The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wasteoids, dweebies, dickheads) can agree on is the fact that Back to the Future is categorically Awesome. If you haven’t seen it, welcome to America. I hope you enjoy processed cheese. I actually adore the entire catalog of MJF’s portfolio- Doc Hollywood, For Love or Money, Teen Wolf, The Secret of My Success as well as the ’90s sitcom Spin City which has an amazing cast and still a reliable go-to when I’m sick on my couch at 3pm on a Thursday. Or, you know, a regular Thursday.

Why We Love Him: Michael J. Fox was the breakout star of Family Ties and it’s easy to see why. He could play a block of wood and easily make it the most endearing block of wood in history. In anyone else’s hands, Alex Keaton would’ve ended up a grating, obnoxious character but there’s just something so charming about MJF and the way he slyly mocks his other family members reminds you of the loving way you mock the people in your own family. Not that I’m home with my family right now and there’s a lot of that going on or anything.

Favorite Moments:

Ok, granted Michael J. Fox isn’t even this scene. Whatever, it’s still the best Family Ties clip ever.

My sister, who is standing over my shoulder as I type this, would like everyone to know that her favorite episode of Family Ties is the one when Alex and Ellen say good-bye at the train station. Unfortunately, despite our herculean efforts, we could not find the clip on Youtube and Jenn is really irritated about it.

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by Beal

Like it or not, the Very Special Episode is a staple of American television. It’s intention is to teach the audience a SERIOUS moral lesson or bring a controversial social issue to life on screen, but the end result is more often than not, a campy, nearly un-watchable display of poor acting followed by years of mockery (“I’m so excited! I’m so, so scared!”) These episodes are so cheesy that they cannot be watched without crackers (name that 90’s movie!). Usually aired during sweeps, episodes that contain material surrounding pre-marital sex, teen pregnancy, abortion, eating disorders, homosexuality, peer pressure, rape, drunk driving and my personal favorite, drug abuse ( which usually involves a main character’s extreme downward spiral, which often reaches rock bottom within the half-hour) are generally considered VERY SPECIAL. Any episode that ends with a public service announcement starring the cast of the show, is definitely VERY SPECIAL. Which leads me right into my first all time favorite VSE of all time. . .

1. Saved by the Bell “No Hope with Dope” (1991)

When Bayside High is selected as the location to film an anti-drug PSA starring Johnny Dakota (ahem generic Johnny Depp) the gang is super pumped. THEN they see him smoking “dope” at a party, even passing the joint to Kelly Kapowski (who clearly stayed late in hopes of hooking up with such a hunk). Fortunately Zack swoops in just in time and Dakota is replaced with Brandon Tartikoff, the head of NBC in the PSA—because if teens want to hear “don’t do drugs” from anyone, its a CEO they couldn’t give a shit about.

2. Full House “Shape Up” (1990)

Obviously the most important time to go on a dangerous crash diet and experiment with anorexia is before Kimmy Gibbler’s 14th birthday party. Chubby D.J. is embarrassed to be seen in her swimsuit at the fancy hotel swimming pool where the usually-white-trash Kimmy is hosting the bash. When she collapses in the gym, Stephanie can’t keep the secret any longer and reveals to Danny, Joey and Uncle Jesse what Deej is up to. Danny helps D.J. realize that looks aren’t as important as she thinks. Everyone hugs. I’m not even going to go into how absurd it is that D.J. thought she could knock off enough weight to make a difference in a week’s time.

3. Roseanne “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (1994)

Roseanne visits a gay bar with her lesbian friend Nancy (Sandra Bernhard) and her girlfriend Sharon (Mariel Hemingway) in efforts to appear hip (boost ratings). At the lesbian bar (obviously dubbed Lips) Sharon kisses Roseanne. ABC threatened not to air such smut, which then attracted like 30 million viewers. 

4. Beverly Hills, 90210 “Perfect Mom” (1990)

Brenda becomes totally jealous of Kelly’s super hip mother, Jackie Taylor, whose blonde crop and fabulous clothes and BFF attitude with her daughter make Cindy Walsh look as horriblly matronly as ever. She changes her mind when Jackie turns the mother/daughter fashion show at West Beverly into a total train wreck because she hosts the event completely loaded on various narcotics and booze. Brenda quickly appreciates her stable Midwestern mother and Kelly moves in with the Walshes after dropping her mom off at rehab, again.

5. Family Ties “Speed Trap”

When Ronald Reagan’s biggest fan Alex P. Keaton (Michael J. Fox) becomes overwhelmed with finals and scholarship applications he enlists the help of his amoral sister Mallory (Justine Bateman) to obtain amphetamines (in the form of diet pills). He oversleeps and misses his big test. When his parents find him still in bed, Alex jumps out of bed, collapses on the floor, and then begins desperately digging through the trashcan to find the thrown out pills just before uttering the a classic VSE phrase, “I thought I could handle it.” Sha na na na!

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Why NBC, you’ve done it again! I had lost all hope in you when your Thursday night lineup slummed to Joey, Will & Grace, The Apprentice and ER. It was like, just because Friends and Seinfeld had played out, you didn’t have to give up completely, but you did. I believe it was your shit Thursday that singlehandedly took your network to #4 in the ratings. Up to that point, I had always flipped to NBC when I had nothing in particular to watch during prime time, because your programming was generally better than any other network.

But then, you put Law & Order “spin-offs” [read: exactly the same show with a new tagline] (and what the hell was that one with Bebe Neuwirth?) on every single night, in every single time slot, and I had to let you go. It was a sad era for television, and I, along with the masses, said to hell with network and began obsessions with HBO and cable programming. 

Which brings me to last night. NBC, you’ve won me back!!

You have created a “Must See TV” lineup like no other, and I thank you for it. I submit that it’s better than its last heyday(s)The Cosby Show, Family Ties, Cheers, Hill Street Blues—Wings, Seinfeld, Frasier, L.A. Law—and later—Friends, Seinfeld, ER.  [Yes, I intentionally didn’t mention the shitty shows that appeared amongst these gems: Boston Common, Mad About You, etc.


Last night, I laughed OUT LOUD, alone, during each of the situation comedies you featured. Parks & Recreation was as funny as I could have hoped for, which obviously means it’s going to be cancelled, but I say please, please give this one a fair chance. Amy Poehler was the only reason I continued to watch SNL once it turned terrible, so I thank you for putting her in prime time. Her character is hilarious. When she rolled in in the duck taped travel pillow, pretending it was a neck brace from a fall she had endured into a pit, I peed a little. So so funny. And The Office can be totally hit or miss, but it’s funny more often than it’s not, and Michael Scott only forces me to change the channel sometimes. 30 Rock, hilarious, hilarious, hilarious. I won’t say any more. 


As for Southland, I plan on giving it a fair chance and reporting back. My Name is Earl is a throw away show that’s essentially a bad skit gone on far too long. But that I can accept. Your new lineup with it’s new name COMEDY NIGHT DONE RIGHT, is no longer a lie. You win.

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Turns out it really WAS a zany mix of Silver Spoons and Family Ties at the Bateman’s house in 1980’s. I wish I could have been the mop-topped kid sister who appeared in 30 seconds per episode, or maybe I was born late in the series, newborn one season, kindergarten the next! 

NOTE: People who leave in Greece, are called Greeks, Jason.



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