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Soleil Moon Frye,
Steven and Elyse Keaton were two hippies with liberal viewpoints who had married during the 1960s. The young couple had hoped their children would adopt the same values. How wrong they were, especially in the case of oldest son Alex. "Family Ties," which was based in Columbus, Ohio, explored the relationship between Steven (a public television station manager), Elyse (an architect) and their three children, Alex, Mallory and Jennifer. Alex was an avid Reagan devotee and card-carrying Young Republicans Club member who sauntered through the house in a shirt and tie and hung a picture of William F. Buckley over his bed. But as intelligent and over-achieving as Alex was, Mallory was as underachieving and, to say the least, a slacker; she was more concerned with shopping and cute guys. Jennifer was the precocious youngster who just wanted to be a normal kid. Skippy Handleman, one of Alex's best friends, was a geeky next-door neighbor with an unrequited crush on Mallory. During the 1984-... Written by
Brian Rathjen <email@example.com>
Mallory and Skippy attended Grant Junior College, a fictional school. See more »
[reading from a card given to him by Alex]
"Alex is more than a son. He's a companion, a friend, whom I can spend many long hours with discussing the economy, world events and politics." Alex, if I read this out loud, I'm afraid I'll be struck by lightning.
[Alex nods towards Elyse]
[reading from her card]
Mom, please read the "Alex is more than a son" speech, if dad refuses.
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If there's something that popular culture from the decades of the 1950s and 1980s share,it's the "family" sitcom(i.e. unitary parents and kids,all attractive and relatively free of deep problems). And while there was some variance of family types,from the more safe,traditional families of "The Cosby Show","Growing Pains" ,"Mr.Belvedere",to the not-so-conventional domestic groupings as "Full House", "The Hogan Family"(originally "VAlerie",which originally aimed to BE a conventional family sitcom) and "Who's the Boss"(or,for that matter,surface-traditional-looking shows "Roseanne" and "Married...With Children"),it seemed to me that as these shows went,none of them matched the wit,warmth and viability as "Family Ties".
The Keatons are about as polarized a unit as they come: parents Steven and Elyse(MIchael Gross and Meredith BAxter-Birney,both excellent!)are '60s Lefty IDealists,and as such,carried their idealism into their work as adults--Steven works for Public TElevision and Elyse carries her form of modified feminism into a successful job as an architect--but cannot seem to carry it into their children. Alex(Michael J.Fox,birthing much of his career out of one very iconic role,which is no mean feat!),a buttoned-down Conservative practically from birth,MAllory(Justine BAteman,who is STILL a babe IMHO),the dim,materialistic mall-girl younger daughter and Jennifer(Tina Yothers,who became as famous for disappearing from showbiz as appearing),the bright but resigned youngest,who is neither idealist or materialist. As the show ran along,you added such extra characters to the pastiche as Skippy(MArc Price,doing stand-up somewhere now),the dippy,well-meaning neighbor kid with a painful crush on MAllory,Nick(Scott VAlentine),MAllory's equally dim but cool boyfriend,Ellen(Tracy POllan,future Mrs.Michael J.Fox),Alex's unlikely liberal girlfriend and LAuren(Coutreney Cox,yes,THAT Coutrney Cox),another lock-horns girlfriend of Alex's and baby brother Andy(Brian "Mikey" Bonsall),Alex's potential protégé.
After a bit of a sluggish start,NBC wisely gambled to keep this on and it managed to hook on to Thursday and Sunday night schedules and ride steadily improving ratings over the remainder of the show's run. While it's been some years since I've seen any of the shows,I was a loyal viewer of the show and enjoyed it quite a bit. I'm not sure if or where this show is re-running,but I may have to check these shows out again soon,if for nothing else to re-visit one of the more well-crafted TV programs to grace the airwaves over that rascally decade of greed,spandex and hair.
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