Family Ties: The Fifth Season – DVD Review

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Many different family-oriented television series were favorites of mine back in the eighties and early nineties. Full House, Growing Pains, and Just the Ten of Us is a good way just to name a few of the shows that made me sit there and wish my family life would kind of be like what they experienced every week. Sure I’d only see thirty minutes of their lives each week, but they had some of the greatest experiences and learned the most awesome lessons. But the series that seemed to always stand out was one that took some of those life lessons to new heights and touched subjects none of the other shows wanted to go near. The weirdest part about it all is that Family Ties came before almost all of them and not only had the courage to touch those subjects but to also do it first.

The Keatons were a great family consisting of mom Elyse, dad Steven, daughters Mallory and Jennifer, and the one and only son Alex P. Keaton. That was the original core family before the other Keaton son, Andy, came along halfway through season three. Steven and Elyse wanted their children to grow up with great standards and morals but also keeping an open mind to everything and being a bit more easy-going and free-spirited. Lessons were taught and rules were in place, but the freedom was there for all the kids to express themselves and each turn into their own person. That is one of the things that nowadays makes me admire Family Ties even more because it shows just how non-fake it tried to be even back in the almost entire decade of the eighties. A series starting in 1982 would not have been expected to last seven years, but not only did it last that long but it also kept the ratings up at a strong number throughout.

Season five of the series still didn’t see a decline yet in quality whatsoever although many fans were still not happy about young Andrew (Andy) coming into the picture. Family Ties had been moving about at a great speed and showing us the family as they progressed year to year and almost in real time. Now we had season three see the birth of Andy which led to him being a baby in season four and now already growing up to be a toddler in season five. Talk about a time warp. The Keatons are already at the point of finding a good school for Andy and Republican-proud Alex is ready to step in and make sure his parents come up with the right choice. Alex also has to deal with losing a girlfriend that has gone away to Paris and left him a bachelor on the prowl, but one that still has eyes for her. The strength of this season though is a two-part episode that focuses on Alex losing one of his best friends, Greg, in a car accident. Soon after he begins dealing with deep throngs of depression and seeing if working through it is even worth it.

Mallory finds herself dealing with moral issues and showing a bit more sensitivity then she usually does thanks to her happy-go-lucky attitude. She also goes through making the decision of eloping with her boyfriend and whether it is something she really wants to do with her life. Things get really serious in a lot of episodes here which is what made Family Ties so awesome and hard to tear yourself away from because they dealt with real issues that people knew were out there but afraid to discuss. Unfortunately Jennifer still never gets much of anything to do, but she was one of the characters that was always difficult to pay much attention too because she was boring and annoying. The rest of the family though had plenty of issues and don’t think everything was always serious because it still was a situation-comedy (sit-com). And if you don’t believe that these serious Keatons can amount to much humor; don’t forget that your lovable friend and mine Skippy was never far away.

Episodes

Disc One:

Be True To Your Preschool
Starting Over
My Back Pages
Beauty And The Bank
Mrs. Wrong (Part 1)
Mrs. Wrong (Part 2)
The Big Fix
My Brother’s Keeper

Disc Two:

High School Confidential
Paper Lion
My Mother, My Friend
Oh, Brother (Part 1)
Oh, Brother (Part 2)
Higher Love
Architect’s Apprentice

Disc Three:

A Tale Of Two Cities (Part 1)
A Tale Of Two Cities (Part 2)
Battle Of The Sexes (Part 1)
Battle Of The Sexes (Part 2)
Band On The Run
Keaton Vs. Keaton
“A,” My Name Is Alex (Part 1)
“A,” My Name Is Alex (Part 2)

Disc Four:

“D” Is For Date
The Freshman And The Senior
Love Me Do
The Visit
Matchmaker
It’s My Party (Part 1)
It’s My Party (Part 2)

The episodes are shown in 1.33:1 Full Screen format and it appears as not much has been done to really touch up the series since it appeared on television. Nothing looks extraordinarily bad but the show really presents its age.

The episodes are heard in Dolby Digital Mono Sound and also come across just about the exact same way they did during the show’s original run.

Gag Reel – Your basic flubbed lines and lots of giggling make up this gag reel. It is truly quite funny, though, because watching Michael J. Fox is just a joy because the guy is amazing and always has been. Oddly enough Tina Yothers is quite funny here too and even throws out a Back to the Future reference which was classic. (4:36)


I love this show and always will, so it’s not like it has lost any strength over the years. Family Ties has actually gained steam and is a series that makes me sit there and think to myself, “God, I hope this never gets canceled.” Then reality sets in and I remember that this is the third to last season before it got canceled twenty years ago. Man it’s a shame that we don’t have classic television like this to watch these days. People that didn’t grow up during the eighties have no idea what they are missing and need to catch up instead of just looking at shows like this as reflections of bygone times. Family Ties is classic TV that will touch your heart, make you laugh, and have you looking at everything a little closer because you just didn’t have the balls to bring it to the forefront yourself. Season five includes just a gag reel in the special features and I tell you that a commentary or two would have been phenomenal if possible at all. Hell, I would have settled for an episode of two being discussed by Fox and Michael Gross because just hearing their thoughts on the work they did over twenty years ago would be priceless. Sigh…well, at least there are two more seasons for me to look forward because I don’t know what I will do baby…without Family Ties.

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Paramount presents Family Ties: The Fifth Season. Created by: Gary David Goldberg. Starring: Michael J. Fox, Meredith Baxter-Birney, Michael Gross, Justine Bateman, Tina Yothers, Brian Bonsall. Running time: 721 minutes on 4 discs. Rating: Unrated. Released on DVD: March 10, 2009. Available at Amazon.com