By Clint Morris
Regular readers of this here page (sounds funny calling this 3000-page portal a â€˜page’) will know of my adoration for Michael J. Fox (And yes, I have seen “Life with Mikey” – own it too!) and more so, “Family Ties”.
Some have their Van Damme. Others have their Stallone (looking at you Ab King!). And that one dude has his Johnny Yune. I have Fox and “Family Ties” – the single greatest great of all time… the greatest sitcom of all time. Yes, “M*A*S*H” can bite my left one. “Cheers” can take a number. “Knight Rider” can self-destruct for all I care. Gary David Goldberg’s “Family Ties” was… is… the only 30-minute funny for me.
The cast, the writing, the message-of-the-week, the memorable theme tune… “Family Ties” had it going on. And I suppose a lot of its success also can be attributed to Michael J. Fox, who by the fourth season, was the single-most popular male movie star on the planet – having headlined the phenomenally successful “Back to the Future” and (I believe it was showing at the time of the fourth season) the accidentally smash “Teen Wolf” – but more so, turned Alex P. Keaton into one of the funniest and most likable TV characters ever. Like Fonzie became to â€˜Happy Days’, Fox’s â€˜Alex’ became the stand-out star of “Family Ties”. And the producers recognized this by essentially making the smug republican the central figure of near all of the fourth season’s episodes.
Season Four was the season Alex met Ellen (and Fox met his real-life wife, Tracy Pollan), Mallory meet Nick, the goofy junkyard sculptor (a terrific Scott Valentine), and we, the audience, met baby Andrew, the newest addition to the “Family Ties” family. While many see the addition of a new character to a series an indication that a show’s on a downward spiral , and the producers have only thrown in a new addition as a last ditch attempt to keep viewers interested , this doesn’t seem to be the case. It simply makes sense story-wise for there to be a new addition to the Keaton family here – and gives everyone something new to play-off. Over the course of the enxt couple of seasons, Andy’s influence also helps some of the characters- especially Alex, who becomes less self-interested – evolve.
Season Four opened with the forgettable “Family Ties Vacation”, a specal Movie-of-theweek that saw the Keatons head to England where each of them get into all sorts of mischief. Quite frankly, the telemovie sucked – it wasn’t funny, nobody seemed comnfortable in their new surroundings, and the storyline (Alex learns how to play soccer, Steven and Elyse get involved in espionage) sucked. It wasn’t “Family Ties” at all. Oh well, a minor blemish. Nothing a good season couldn’t fix.
That â€˜Car Crash’ as well as the 24 episodes that made up Season Four feature on the DVD.
There are episodic promos and a gag reel, but sadly, materials we may have wanted to see , like some newly recorded interviews, or even a commentary, are nowhere to be found.