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DVD Reviews

HTF Review: Family Ties Season 1

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#1 of 79 OFFLINE   JustinCleveland

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Posted January 31 2007 - 01:39 AM



Studio: Paramount Home Video
Year: 1982
Aspect Ratio: 4:3
Discs: 4, 22 episodes
Audio: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
Subtitles: None
MSRP: $38.99
Street Date: 20 February 2007

The sitcom is a standard on American television, though every generation features a different iteration. “Family Ties” eschews the dysfunctional theme found in its predecessors like “I Love Lucy” or “All in the Family” in favor of a family that, for the most part, gets along and works as a unit. Sure there may be disagreements, but for the most part the Keaton children defer to their parents, and the parents respectfully guide their kids through a moral life.

The premise of the show is novel, asking what would happen to those crazy hippy activists when they grew older and built a family within the Reagan-controlled United States. Further, the show ponders how the child of liberal parents would rebel, introducing Alex P. Keaton (Michael J. Fox), a young Republican. Fox is an excellent actor who has, to my mind, never done anything wrong on screen and this show is absolutely no different. While the family is broadly the topic of the show, Fox takes center stage. That’s not to say Tina Youthers, who plays the precocious Jennifer Keaton, and Justine Bateman--sister Mallory--and parents Michael Gross and Meredith Baxter aren’t good at their respective roles: they are. It’s just that the eye naturally gravitates toward Fox.

The first season of “Family Ties” feels very after-school-special. Each episode is self-contained, wrapping up with a moral message. Whether that be the dangers of “restricted clubs,” losing ones virginity, and the difference between boys and girls, “Family Ties” is very heavy-handed, driving home its point with a hug and a cookie.

I never watched “Family Ties” during its initial run; I was just eight when it went off the air, and in syndication it always looked antiquated, despite the fact that it was less than five years old. Unfortunately the show has not aged well, with the color scheme screaming early 80s with the muted colors and dress. To me, editorializing, it doesn’t make me nostalgic or seem like a slice of life, instead reminding me more of an unfortunate time in American fashion history.

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy pieces of the show, I did. Though the season started slow, the characters are easy to read and the writing is snappy enough to inspire more than the occasional guffaw.

Video:
The 4:3 transfer shows its age and source material. The pilot is rife with lens flares and grain, and the entire season seems muted and lacks pop. The quality is otherwise good, with no problems with grain or compression.

Audio:
The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track is perfectly serviceable. The music cues are clear and the dialogue is crisp.

Extras:
The set commences with a set of promos for existing or soon-coming TV-on-DVD sets from Paramount. And that is it.

Overall:
Fans will be most pleased with the quality of this DVD set, and the show might fine a few new fans who are aware of Fox’s work on the widely-syndicated “Spin City.” "Family Ties" set the tone for the modern sit-com, and while it isn't particularly good in itself, it isn't without its charms.

#2 of 79 OFFLINE   Mark Silver

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Posted January 31 2007 - 03:35 AM

With all due respect to the reviewer, I'm not sure that you exactly understand this show's place in television history. To say "it isn't particularly good in itself" is mindboggling to me.

I am a bit older than you and I can tell you that "Family Ties" was a primary component of 1980's. Sandwiched between "The Cosby Show" and "Cheers" it helped form the foundation of what would become NBC's cornerstone franchise of the next two decades now known as "Must See TV". Cosby and Family Ties finished 1-2 in the ratings for 2 years running (1985-1987) with ratings numbers averaging 30.0. "A ..... My Name is Alex" (a 5th Season 2-part episode) ranks up with some of the greatest television of all time.

I could go on and on....but I think you give the show short shrift by not understanding the context.

#3 of 79 OFFLINE   Aryn Leroux

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Posted January 31 2007 - 03:57 AM

It is probably because he did not watch it during it's initial run. But no doubt about it Family Ties is right in the top 5 of best sitcoms of alltime. It is my personal favorite though. I have seen some shows here n there and it holds up very well! The only problem i have with the review is knocking 80's fashion for a reason, hey get over it that was the fashion and to me the 80's still rule! Posted Image

Thanks for the Review!

#4 of 79 OFFLINE   JustinCleveland

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Posted January 31 2007 - 04:52 AM

Actually, one of the only reasons Family Ties survived was because it caught extra ratings by following Cosby. The first season suffered from dismal ratings and the show was in danger of cancellation. The quality of the first season reflects this. It is not particularly good. Later seasons, such as the second when it began following Cosby, may have improved but this season suffers--not trying to be funny--growing pains.

#5 of 79 OFFLINE   Aryn Leroux

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Posted January 31 2007 - 05:01 AM

Low ratings do not always mean the first season was dismal. If it was not for me seeing the first season which i thought was terrific, i never woulda watched subsequent seasons. At the same time sure cosby helped ratings and brought in more people, but that only lasts for so long. By the time we reached S4 this show woulda drawn the same ratings no matter where it was put and coulda standed on it's own just fine. To each their own i guess Posted Image

#6 of 79 OFFLINE   Tory

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Posted January 31 2007 - 05:12 AM

Change fine to find. Family Ties was a great show from the start but improved as it went along. Season two is better than season one. As for syndicated reruns, this is one show that I felt did not work well there even though I enjoyed my handful of primetime recordings. It is quite possible that syndication cuts might have been the reasons for me not liking the syndicated airings. To the reviewer, please do not judge future seasons by the syndicated airings or this season which I find more enjoyable after knowing the series a bit better. Family Ties is a lot like Star Trek: The Next Generation with the coming of the beard.
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#7 of 79 OFFLINE   MatthewA

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Posted January 31 2007 - 05:26 AM

Compared to the 1970s, fashion in the 80s was the renaissance. How long are the episodes, BTW?

Enough is enough, Disney. No more evasions or excuses. We DEMAND the release Song of the South on Blu-ray along with the uncut version of Bedknobs and Broomsticks on Blu-ray. I am going to boycott The Walt Disney Company until then. And while you're at it, PLEASE stop dropping DVD/laserdisc extras from Blu-ray releases of other films.


#8 of 79 OFFLINE   Jeff*H

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Posted January 31 2007 - 05:29 AM

My memories of the show are such that it seemed to get funnier when Michael J. Fox became the main focus of the show. The first season or two made the parents the focal characters.
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#9 of 79 OFFLINE   Jay_B!

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Posted January 31 2007 - 08:00 AM

I don't think it's fair to give Cosby all the credit for why Family Ties was so big in the mid-1980's. I also think a little movie Michael J. Fox did in 1985 that you may have heard of called "Back To The Future" helped attract new fans to the show, you might've heard of that movie. It was paired with Cosby in 84-85 as well but while it was top 10 then, it wasn't #2 with numbers #1 series haven't seen in the past 15 years until Back To The Future came out.

#10 of 79 OFFLINE   Michael Alden

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Posted January 31 2007 - 08:33 AM

This is the problem when reviews are done by people who aren't even fans of the series nor even watched it when it was originally on. They have no idea of context. And BTW, too many people in this forum proclaim themselves reviewers.

#11 of 79 OFFLINE   chas speed

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Posted January 31 2007 - 05:42 PM

I really thought the show peaked in it's first year. I was a huge fan of it at that time. Most shows get bad ratings there first year. I can't imagine anyone saying that if a show gets poor rating it isn't very good. I didn't care for the rest of the shows run. Michael J. Fox was clearly the star of the show the first season, but the first episode of the 2nd season had a girl chasing Fox around a bathroom while he was naked except for a small towel. It seemed to treat his role as more of a joke then the smart young conservative he played during the first season. The show just seemed to go downhill for me after that. I think the reviewer with his obsession with "80's fashion" should probably be writing for a different type of magazine.

#12 of 79 OFFLINE   TonyD

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Posted January 31 2007 - 06:01 PM

wow what does that mean. why are people attacking the reviewer in the topic. havent you heard of opinion.
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#13 of 79 OFFLINE   PeterTHX

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Posted January 31 2007 - 06:52 PM

It did move to Sundays (1987-88)

#14 of 79 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted January 31 2007 - 10:30 PM

Maybe but in this case, he was proclaimed a reviewer by the forum and not by himself. If you're a fan of the show and the reviewer isn't, skip to the A/V portion of the review.

#15 of 79 OFFLINE   Jon Martin

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Posted February 01 2007 - 02:48 AM

While I have no problem with an objective review from someone who has never seen the show before, in the case of TV on DVD, a reviewer who is familiar with the show can pick up on things like syndicated cuts, music changes, things like that. Someone just watching the show blind won't pick up on that. Look at all the people who complain about music cuts on a show. If you have never seen the show, you probably would never even know about the original music. Same with the syndication cuts. Or if one hour episodes are shown as the syndication cuts. Since TV on DVD collectors are some of the most obsessive out there, I can see why they might want someone who knows the show to review it.

#16 of 79 OFFLINE   TonyD

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Posted February 01 2007 - 05:00 AM

none of that matters to me. the review is waht is on the set not what should be or isnt on the set. "Look at all the people who complain about music cuts on a show. If you have never seen the show, you probably would never even know about the original music. Same with the syndication cuts. Or if one hour episodes are shown as the syndication cuts." there is plenty of info here on htf for news like that
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#17 of 79 OFFLINE   Lenny Rakes

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Posted February 01 2007 - 08:08 AM

A few music alterations or cuts on a show like Family Ties, where music did not play an imporant role, really should not have much of an effect on the show's quality. I think Family Ties suffers for being too much of a product of its own time period. Cable channels like the Hallmark Channel and TV Land have tried airing it in syndication, but after just a few weeks the show had to be replaced, because of a lack of interest from the viewers.

#18 of 79 OFFLINE   Michael Alden

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Posted February 01 2007 - 10:44 AM

Same problem that Murphy Brown has.

#19 of 79 OFFLINE   Jay_B!

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Posted February 01 2007 - 11:01 AM

Actually, Family Ties singlehandedly made Billy Vera And The Beaters' "At This Moment" hit #1 in 1986-87

#20 of 79 OFFLINE   Craig S

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Posted February 04 2007 - 12:30 AM

Hmm. I watched pretty much every episode of this show during its run in the 80s, and I have to say I doubt I would notice cuts and music changes (other than the very memorable use of "At This Moment") - it's been 20 years!! I've always wondered how some of you guys can remember these things after so long!!
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