Thursday, April 20, 2017

Classic TV: Family Ties (1982)

Consider the average American family in 1982, at least in the eyes of Gary David Goldberg, creator-executive producer of Family Ties.

Steven & Elyse Keaton (Michael Gross, Meredith Baxter) had been hippies in the 60's, then started a family, raising a son and two daughters. Ties ultimately put the focus on Alex (Michael J. Fox), an idealistic young Republican, but made sure to give his two sisters,  Mallory (Justine Bateman) & Jennifer (Tina Yothers) equal shine time. By season 4, a second son, Andrew, was added, ultimately played by Brian Bonsall.

At first, NBC bounced Ties across the schedule, looking for what they felt would be the most appropriate spot. Around season 3, it seemed as though they'd settled on Thursdays, with The Cosby Show as a lead-in, helping NBC develop a powerhouse lineup that would remain intact for the next three years. In August 1987, NBC moved Ties to Sundays to make room for the Cosby spin-off, A Different World. The success of Ties enabled Goldberg to sell a second series, Day by Day, to NBC, where it would be partnered with Ties on Sundays. A second spin-off, focusing on Mallory's beau, Nick (Scott Valentine), never got past the pilot stage.

Speaking of pilots, here's the one for Family Ties:

Believe it or else, the show's theme song wasn't originally recorded by Johnny Mathis & Deniece Williams. Another duo, including actress Mindy Sterling, had recorded the song first, but for some reason, be it NBC or Paramount, the change was made, likely with an eye toward having the song released as a single for radio. Williams was an emerging star who would peak with "Let's Hear it For The Boy", from "Footloose", by the mid-80's.

Rating: A-.

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