Michael J. Fox Public Service Announcement
The mellow 1960s still clash with the conservative 1980s in the "generation gap"
comedy Family Ties. But by Season Three, the Keatons of Ohio finally agree on one thing - their
joy at the birth of baby brother Andrew! The hit series gives us the funniest season yet as
Elyse (Meredith Baxter Birney) tells Steven (Michael Gross) she is pregnant, and the family suffers
through food cravings, Lamaze classes, and Elyse going into labor on television during Pledge Week!
Plus, Alex (Michael J. Fox) starts college, Mallory (Justine Bateman) gets a job she is actually
good at, and Jennifer (Tina Yothers) discovers boys! Now with the new baby around, no
one minds being bound by Family Ties!
Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:
Family Ties' third season premiered with the episode "Here We Go Again" on September 27, 1984.
An episode produced for the second season, "The Gambler," aired a week before that on September 20, 1984.
The show continued to air on Thursday nights after "The Cosby Show" at 8:30-9:00PM on a night
of "Must See TV." With the comfortable timeslot on Thursdays, the show sky-rocketed to 5th place in the ratings
with a 22.1 rating. It would finish in second place behind "The Cosby Show" in seasons 4-5.
The show received an Emmy nomination for "Outstanding Comedy Series" for this season.
Michael J. Fox was nominated for "Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series."
A pair of twin boys, Tyler James Merriman and Garrett Joseph Merriman, were hired alternately to play newborn Andrew. Born November 30,
1984, the twins were sought out by a casting director who heard of their imminent birth from a member of the Los Angeles club called Mothers
of Twins. Each was paid $141 per show and by law spent only two hours a day on the lot.
Memorable episodes included "Here We Go Again" - with Steven and the kids away on a camping trip,
Elyse stays home to work, but then gets the news from her doctor that she is pregnant.
With his parents away, and in order to pay for damage Mallory caused to the car, Alex
rents out the house to visitors in town for the big game in "4 Rms Ocn Vu." Before
the baby is born, Elyse wants to bond with the girls up at the cabin, while Steven wants to bond with Alex at home
in "Lost Weekend." Next-door neighbor Skippy has a crush on Mallory's girlfriend; unfortunately,
the girl only has eyes for one Alex P. Keaton in "Don't Kiss Me, I'm Only the Messenger."
Alex hires new housekeeper Karen without consulting Steven in "Help Wanted."
It's Pledge Week down at Steven's TV station, but after Steven is called home to deal with the
plumbing, Elyse performs on-air...and then goes into labor in "Birth of a Keaton (Part 1)."
With Steven, Skippy, and the plumber stuck in the massive snowstorm, Elyse remains at the television
station i nthe final stages of labor in "Birth of a Keaton (Part 2)."
While the family attends a Lamaze reunion, Mallory stays home alone to study, but gets locked
in the basement with next-door neighbor Skippy in "Cold Storage."
Notable guest stars included Timothy Busfield as Doug in "Little Man on Campus." Frances Bay appeared as
Mrs. Menlo and Marsha Warfield was Doris Bradshaw in "Keaton 'N Son." Alison LaPlaca played Barbara in "Fabric Smarts."
"4 Rms Ocn Vu" featured Sam Whipple as Jack Driscoll, Earl Boen as Ed Barker, Beverly Archer
as Sue Barker and Jeff Cohen (Chunk in "The Goonies") as Dougie Barker. Timothy Busfield returned
as Doug, Michael Zorek was Flaum, and Tate Donovan played Clancy in "Best Man."
Michelle Meyrink appeared as Jane in "Don't Kiss Me, I'm Only the Messenger." "Help Wanted"
featured Geena Davis as Karen Nicholson, Anne Ramsey as Mrs. Warfield and Robert Costanzo
as Max Schneider. Geena Davis also appeared in the next episode, "Karen II, Alex 0." Robert
Pine guest starred as Ian McCall and Barry Sobel was Petey Gibbs in "Karen II, Alex 0."
David Paymer played Larry in "Oh Donna" and "Cold Storage." Richard Stahl was Stu Devin in "Auntie Up."
Ben Piazza appeared as Ed Nelson/John Adams and James Cromwell was John Hancock in "Philadelphia Story."
This 4-disc set contains 24 episodes (all 23 from the third season, plus one that was produced
for the second season and aired a week before the third season premiere).
The packaging is similar to the first two releases. It comes
in an Amaray movie-style case with clear outer edges. The cover art features
a third season cast photo. Justine Bateman looks a lot older in this photo than she did in
the second season. The Family Ties logo is in red at the top. This season, once again, lacks
the word "Complete" in the title. A tiny cast photo is on the spine of the case.
Red is the predominant color used on the packaging.
On the back of the case, there is a synopsis of the set, cast listing, special features
and DVD specs. There is another third season cast photo, as well as three smaller photos (Alex cooking, Jennifer
and Mallory, Steven and Elyse) from scenes in the episodes.
There are plastic holders on the both sides inside the case that hold the first
and fourth discs, as well as a middle white plastic holder that has discs 2 and 3 back-to-back.
They have the episode titles, original airdates and short summaries listed by disc in the backgrounds. With the embedded
plastic holders in the way, it is hard to read the information. Slim cases for each individual
disc would have been much nicer and easier to read the episode information.
The discs have a silver background. The Family Ties logo on them gives a hologram-type effect
when you turn them into the light. The titles of the episodes on each disc are listed. Photos of the cast on the discs
would have looked better. Disc 1 has episodes 45-50. Disc 2 has episodes 51-56. Disc 3 has episodes 57-62. Disc 4
rounds out the set with episodes 63-68.
Menu Design and Navigation:
After some pretty ordinary looking menus on the first season set, they made some improvements
for season two. The third season sets have a similar theme as season two and are easy to navigate.
All of the menus have a cork board background and various photos and related items (thumbtacks, scraps of paper,
buttons) on them. Here is who is featured on each main menu: Disc 1: Alex - Alex in 3 photos in a vertical strip - Cast photo; Disc 2 -
Cast photo with pink background - Mallory; Disc 3 - Cast Photo - 2 photos of Jennifer; Disc 4 -
Cast photo with purple background - Elyse and Steven kissing.
Family Ties - The Third Season is written in red at the top of the screen. The disc number
is in a button on each main menu. There are options for "Play All Episodes," "Promos," "Episodes"
and "Special Features" (only on disc 4). When you select "Promos," there are about 3 minutes worth
of them on each disc. When you select "Episodes," it takes you to a sub-menu where the episode titles are listed
vertically in blue text that turns dark red/magenta upon your selection. Each "Episodes" menu has two different
photos on them. When you select an episodes, it takes you to yet another menu where there two photos.
You can choose to play the episode with or without the promo at the beginning. The "Special Features" meu
features a photo of a Alex and cast photo with baby Andrew. Chapter stops are available within the episodes at the appropriate places, but no separate
scene selection menus are offered.
Video and Audio Quality:
The video and audio quality has improved slightly from each season. There was a pretty noticeable difference
between seasons 1-2. The difference is not as noticeable between seasons 2-3.
The show looks and sounds remarkably well. It's hard to believe that these episodes are from
nearly 25 years ago. I've watched the show a lot in syndication over the years and on the Columbia House VHS
tapes released several years ago, and the show has never looked better. Watching the episodes side-by-side, the difference
was amazing. The colors are very bright and the picture is quite sharp and clear. They are, of course, in their
original full frame 1.33:1 ratio. I like that the episodes are so well spread out on the four discs,
with no more than 6 episodes per disc. For the closing logo enthusiasts, they have the UBU Productions logo
and one for CBS Paramount Television. A bit of trivia: UBU Productions was named after Gary David Goldberg's dog in
college and the photo was taken in 1972. The dog died in 1984. Unfortunately, there are no original
Paramount blue mountain logos here.
Now on to a bit of bad news. Like the first two season releases, there is a disclaimer on the back of the packaging. It says
in very small text: "Some episodes may be edited from their original network versions. Music has been
changed for this home entertainment version." The first season set had the most noticeable edits and music
changed on it, while the second season had only 1-2 episodes that looked to be edited.
As far as the season three episodes, they run between 23:31 and 24:02. 24 Minutes seemed to be the average time.
Episodes that run under 24 episodes that could possibly be edited include "Here We Go Again" (23:31),
"Keaton 'N Son" (23:01), "Birth of a Keaton (Part 2)" (23:29) and "Remembrance of Things Past (Part 1)" (23:04).
"Birth of a Keaton (Part 2) does include the last week on Family Ties opening tag. "Remembrance of Things Past"
originally aired as an one-hour episode, but it is presented in two parts on the DVD. It does have
the last week on Family Ties opening tag that is seen in syndication.
Hopefully the edits or music substitutions are relatively minor like the other two releases. Nearly all of the episodes look to be completely unedited,
so there are no syndicated episodes here. These run about 2 minutes longer than what is shown
The audio is your standard early 80's Digital Mono track. I didn't notice any major problems, and the audio
is at a good level and the dialogue is easy to understand. No subtitles are offered. Closed captioning is
available on all of the episodes. The special features are not rated and some are not closed captioned.
It should be noted that "The Gambler" was produced for the second season, but it didn't
air until September 20, 1984. "Here We Go Again" aired the following week on September 27, 1984.
As expected, "The Gambler" is included as the first episode of this release. The episodes on this set are presented
in their original broadcast order.
Here is the episode breakdown by disc, including the running times:
45. The Gambler (09/20/84) (24:00)
46. Here We Go Again (09/27/84) (23:31)
47. Little Man On Campuis (10/04/84) (24:03)
48. Love Thy Neighbor (10/11/84) (24:00)
49. Keaton 'N Son (10/18/84) (23:01)
50. Fabric Smarts (10/25/84) (24:00)
51. Hot Line Fever (11/01/84) (23:55)
52. 4 Rms Ocn Vu (11/08/84) (23:59)
53. Best Man (11/15/84) (23:59)
54. Lost Weekend (11/22/84) (24:00)
55. Don't Kiss Me, I'm Only the Messenger (11/29/84) (23:57)
56. Help Wanted (12/06/84) (24:02)
57. Karen II, Alex 0 (12/13/84) (24:01)
58. Oh Donna (01/03/85) (24:00)
59. Auntie Up (01/10/85) (24:00)
60. Philadelphia Story (01/17/85) (24:00)
61. Birth of a Keaton (Part 1) (01/24/85) (24:00)
62. Birth of a Keaton (Part 2) (01/31/85) (23:29)
63. Cry Baby (02/07/85) (24:00)
64. Don't Know Much About History (02/14/85) (24:01)
65. Bringing Up Baby (02/21/85) (23:59)
66. Cold Storage (03/07/85) (24:02)
67. Remembrance of Things Past (Part 1) (23:04) (03/28/85)
68. Remembrance of Things Past (Part 2) (23:56) (03/28/85)
After disappointing us with no special features on the first season set, CBS DVD/Paramount made up
for it with a nice mix of featurettes with new cast interviews and episodic promos on the second season set.
This time around we get episodic/syndication promos and a gag reel. The episodic promos can be found on each disc, while
the gag reel is found on the fourth disc.
Gag Reel (7:19) - After the opening credits run for about a minute, there is a little over six minutes
worth of bloopers and outtakes. These are all high, broadcast quality clips.
While you've probably seen some of them over the years on various bloopers specials, there
are probably some that have never been seen before. The bloopers all look to be from the third season.
I didn't notice any from any other seasons mixed in with these. There are some very funny ones here, including
Michael Gross doing the famous line about pop tarts and another scene with Michael J. Fox and a turtle
in a background. I'd love to see bloopers on all of the remaining seasons.
Episodic Promos - These are mentioned on the packaging this time around.
These are short, 30-second promos that were aired after episodes in syndication. You can play these
together on each disc or before the respective episode. The narrator
will say "Next time on Family Ties..." and then he details the next episode. These have
different background music used on them. I don't believe TBS or Nick at Nite ever aired these.
I do remember seeing them in local syndication in the late 1980's or early 1990's. These
were fun to see again. Hopefully they are included on all of the remaining seasons.
Michael J. Fox: Public Service Announcement (:33) - Michael J. Fox talks about Parkinson's
Disease research. Hopefully they will find a cure for this one day. Visit
more information and to donate or to join Team Fox.
It took so long to get the first season on Family Ties on DVD. After waiting 8 months between seasons 1 and 2,
the wait this time around was only a little over 4 months. It is great to see these sets selling at a good
rate. Hopefully they can keep a 4-6 month release schedule for the remaining 4 seasons, so we can have the complete
series available in the next couple of years.
There were many funny episodes this season. Meredith Baxter Birney was pregnant in real life with twins this season,
so she missed a number of episodes. They came up with some funny storylines while she was away. Geena Davis was brought in for a couple of episodes as a housekeeper.
One of the all-time classics this season was "4 Rms Ocn Vu" where Alex rents out the house as Keaton Manor. Who can forget this classic exchange?
Steven: Alex, parents are conditioned to accept a few mishaps when they go away. A broken vase, some spilled milk on the floor... There was a kangaroo .. in my living room.
Alex: He was just here for the party, dad.
Steven: Then I guess I'm overreacting.
CBS DVD/Paramount has done another decent job with this release. The bloopers/outtakes are hilarious and should be included on every
release. I hate that each release has had some music replaced or edited episodes, but at least the vast majority of the episodes look
to be completely intact. It will be interesting to see if they include the "Family Ties Vacation" TV movie that aired before the start
of the fourth season on the next release, or if they will make that available as a separate release. Season four introduced us to Tracy Pollan,
Michael J. Fox's real-life wife, as his girlfriend Ellen Reed. Scott Valentine joined the cast as Mallory's boyfriend Nick Moore. Hey!
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 1.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4/5
-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 02/07/08
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