“Family Ties” was one of the best sitcoms of the ’80s because it had poignancy, intelligence and humor – of the caliber that put it above most of the reality-based shows on television today.
Having already built the on-screen chemistry as a family, the fifth season enabled its cast to shine in their respective roles.
So, grab some orange juice and have a seat in the Keaton kitchen.
Led by Steven and Elyse Keaton who are excellently played by Michael Gross, (“Tremors”) and the Queen of Lifetime, Meredith Baxter (“Vanities”), the characters were so well structured that one often finds himself wishing that these were their parents. They created such realistic and loving caretakers that by season five, the series was firmly cemented in the hearts and minds of its viewers.
The runaway star of the series, however, was Michael J. Fox, (“Casualties of War”) as Alex P. Keaton. In this role, Fox has a natural charm that makes him instantly likeable. He performs so naturally that you often forget he is acting. Not many are able to effectively remain charismatic while saying some of the most sexist and self-absorbed lines on the show. Fox turned this character into gold though, garnering three prime-time Emmys for his work on the series.
Season Five is a great showcase for Fox, especially in a two-part episode called “A, My Name is Alex.” To watch this seemingly together character fall apart after the loss of a close friend is not only interesting, but is also a tour-de-force performance by Fox.
Fox’s ability to make you laugh and cry within the span of one episode is a testament to his ability as an actor – just one of the many aspects that make this show great.
There were some flaws to this season unfortunately. Baby Andy (Brian Bonsall, “Mikey”) aged very quickly to a five-year-old pre-schooler. Many fans felt that was a jump-the-shark moment for the series, but it didn’t really detract the family dynamic.
Other family members include Tina Yothers (“Celebrity Fit Club”) as Jennifer and Justine Bateman, whose arguably vast talent was often unexplored in the series (“Satisfaction”) as the fashion-loving Mallory.
And who could forget Scott Valentine (“My Demon Lover”) as Nick, Mallory’s dim bulb of a boyfriend, often acting as the opposite of Alex and providing much of the season’s comic relief.
The series often utilized seemingly every aspect of the family to create a genuinely funny and inventive outlook.
Other highlights of the season include Alex having to work for a lady manager at the bank, Mallory having a school project with a senior citizen classmate, Alex and Mallory competing for the same scholarship and Mallory and Nick contemplating marriage in Vegas.
In spite of a few small flaws, the fifth season of “Family Ties” is still a memorable and enjoyable one.
What would we do, baby, without this sitcom?
Sit, Ubu, sit. Good dog.