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Family Ties - The Third Season - dramatic television series DVD / sci-fi fantasy television series review
FAMILY TIES - THE THIRD SEASON Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 3 1/2 stars
Actors: Michael Gross, Meredith Baxter, Michael J. Fox, Justine Bateman, Tina Yothers
Creator: Gary David Goldberg   Studio: Paramount
DVD release: 12 February 2007   Runtime: 573 minutes
(4 discs)
Format: Box set, Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, Full Screen, NTSC
Features: Audio tracks (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono - English), Subtitles (English), All 24 episodes from the 1984-85 season on four discs, Gag reel, Episodic promos

The season starts off with a bang when the Keaton family goes to Atlantic City for a weekend vacation. Craziness ensues, then ultimately binds the family closer together again. That is the formula of Family Ties. Life is crazy. Life is tough. But, in the end, all that really matters is family.

Steven and Elise Keaton head up the family that came into our homes in the early '80s. Michael Gross and Meredith Baxter do have a good amount of believable compatibility on screen - it's easy to take them for the parenting team they're supposed to be. With the production skills of Gary David Goldberg (most recently credited with Must Love Dogs), season three lives up to the expectations set by one and two.

Alex (Michael J. Fox) is in his first year of college, while Mallory (Justine Bateman) is a junior in high school and trying ever so hard to balance work as a dress shopkeeper with grades and boys. Little Jennifer (Tina Yothers) is finding herself right on that edge when she is not quite a woman yet but doesn't feel comfortable as a little kid anymore. Anxieties are raised high in each episode but happily wrapped up by the end.

While a lot of the episodes are seemingly fluff and nonsense - like Alex's get-rich money scheme of turning the Keaton home into a hotel while the parents are away - most of them delicately teach a lesson or delve into the emotional undercurrents of a family. Mallory's beloved aunt dies. Jennifer's childhood friend (a fellow several years her senior) returns as a grown man with much more interest in her older sister than in rekindling old baseball or football joys with a little girl. Elise has a brief bout of compulsive gambling.

Over and over, there are things that test the bindings of a family, only to be dealt with in a way that creates the hazy, happy feeling that their safe and supportive bubble will always be there. What makes it different than today's shows is that it is done through humor, for the most part, rather than through melodrama. Keeping a sense of humor in tough familial situations definitely helps. For all that, though, it is a wee bit trite in dealing with issues - but what can we expect for a half-hour sitcom?

For anyone rewatching the series as an adult after having first seen it while lying on the floor in footie jammies as a kid, the intro song and family painting will easily come back. The sappy song is perfect for this show.

While not life-altering, the often corny season three of Family Ties is a safe, happy family show that can be viewed with kids just as it was 'back in the day.'
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reviewed by Carolynn Evans
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