The Good

A great show continues its seasonal run on DVD.

The Bad

Very paltry extras.

Family Ties: The Third Season returns TV on DVD lovers to the Keaton household. With Elyse (Meredith Baxter Birney), Steven (Michael Gross), Alex (Michael J. Fox), Mallory (Justine Bateman) and Jennifer (Tina Yothers), we see a modern 1980s family coping with some interesting generation gaps. On the one hand you have the parents from the 1960s and 1970s who are still trying to change the world. On the other you have their kids who are products of the 1980s and all that that entails. Herein lies the comic brilliance of this show. We get to see all sides of the spectrum from old ideals to burgeoning youth culture to young Republican zeal.

With 24 episodes spaced out over 4 discs, Family Ties: The Third Season is a solid release. It doesn't contain many frills but if you liked this show back when it aired (and I did), then you will welcome it with open arms in its current form now.


Gag Reel

If you are a huge fan of this show (which as you can probably tell I am) then I would suggest sitting through this. Aside from seeing the usual blown lines, on set jokes and just about everything else, we get to see Michael J. Fox how he really is. This isn't an expose on the real person but I had never really seen him before in any "candid" on camera moments. Particularly interesting are when people like Justine Batemen call him, "Mike."


Full Screen Format. This show looked solidly compressed on the discs here. The colors all seem to be given enough room to breath, yet the shows are encoded so that they also seem bumped up in quality. Again, my biggest gripe is that Paramount has put this disclaimer on this release: "Some episodes may be edited from their original network versions." That is a bummer my friends.


Dolby Digital: English Mono. The audio on this release was good but nothing about it was that special. As I often say we are talking about a sitcom here. It isn't like they need to use the audio to get inside the characters heads or even create a mood. Essentially we are looking at a fairly static environment and that where the writing and acting make up for the less artistic merits of the medium.


The Keaton family is all front and center on this amaray case. The back cover features another shot of the family as well as some poorly rendered images from this show's episodes. There is a description of what this show it about, a cast list, Special Features and technical specs. All 4 disc are neatly stored inside this packaging which, on the inside, gives us episode listings, descriptions, airdates and where to find the one, measly extra feature.

Final Word

Interestingly, at this point in its run it seems like Family Ties: The Third Season was still trying to find its levity. It was doing a better job than Season Two, where everything seemed to be in service of slapstick comedy and Michael J. Fox, but the addition of a younger Keaton seemed to give this family a lot more ground to cover. While I do think this show went too much in the direction of Alex P. Keaton, the reality is that all of the best episodes are centered around him. This isn't to say that he other actors were bad, it merely seems like Alex was the most interesting. They have curtailed a lot of the zaniness from the previous season and I think ultimately that is what helped this show have the longevity and remembrance that it does. Make no mistake, this casts was clearly a team, some of the players stars just shined a little brighter than others.

Family Ties was released .