From serious “Very Special Episodes,” to crazy costumes, to bizarre dream sequences, we’re taking a look at the most memorable episodes of “Family Ties,” one of the greatest sitcoms of all time.
10. “My Buddy”
When Steven feels like he’s losing his little girl, he decides to spend more quality time with Jennifer and accompanies her to a “Sunflower Girls” meeting.The image of Steven Keaton sitting awkwardly amongst a group of Girl Guide-esque pre-teens is what makes this episode so memorable, especially when the topic of the meeting turns to boys and sex.
9. “Speed Trap”
In this episode, Alex takes amphetamines to stay up late and study, and why not? Every over-achiever on an ’80s/’90s sitcom took drugs at one time or another – Carlton on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” Jessie on “Saved by the Bell,” etc – so it should come as no surprise that Alex P. Tweekin’ also struggled with a 22-minute drug problem.
8. “Philadelphia Story”
This is one of those episodes that’s so baked, it’s hard to tell if one of the characters “dreamt the whole thing” or if you did. While writing a history paper, Alex falls asleep and dreams that he’s a stable boy witnessing Thomas Jefferson (Steven Keaton in a wig) signing the Declaration of Independence.
7. “It’s My Party”
Jennifer wasn’t usually at the center of the most memorable “Family Ties” episodes, but her transformation from an Osh Kosh-clad kid to a permed punk princess was as eye-catching as it was hilarious. This two-part episode featured the family’s growing frustration with Jennifer’s foray into the popular crowd at school – complete with Valley Girl-speak.
6. “Say Uncle”
Tom Hanks’ turn as alcoholic Uncle Ned in this episode wasn’t his first appearance on “Family Ties,”but it was definitely his most memorable. After all – who could forget the image of Hanks sneaking nips of vanilla extract from the Keaton’s cupboard in the wee hours of the morning?
5. “Give Your Uncle Arthur a Kiss”
Unlike Drunkle Ned, Uncle Arthur wasn’t really related to the Keatons – he was a family friend. And when he makes a pass at a teenage Mallory, the audience is thoroughly creeped-out. Thankfully, Steven and Elyse come to the rescue when they find out what happened – and proceed to beat up Uncle Arthur on a live public access telethon.
4. “4 RmsOcn Vu”
While Steven and Elyse are away, Mallory crashes the family car and needs to raise funds to fix it – so the kids decide to turn the house into a motel. The episode culminates with the parents coming home to discover a flashing vacancy sign outside and a kangaroo in the living room.
3. “Family Ties Vacation”
On a family trip to England, the Keatons get caught up in espionage when a hairbrush containing microfilm accidentally gets lodged in their luggage. Without a laugh track or live audience, this episode was as cold as the Cold War paranoia in which it was filmed.
2. “Cold Storage”
When Skippy and Mallory get stuck in the Keaton’s basement, they’re forced to dress in chipmunk costumes to stay warm. And furries everywhere are forced to face their deepest desires.
1. “The Real Thing”
While playing Alex and Ellen on “Family Ties,” Michael J. Fox and Tracy Pollan were falling in love in real life. This explains their onscreen chemistry in one of the most memorable moments in TV history, their dance to “At This Moment” by Billy Vera and the Beaters.
Which “Family Ties” episode is your favorite?