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Family Ties: Season 4

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Product Details

  • Actors: Michael J. Fox, Michael Gross, Meredith Baxter, Justine Bateman, Tina Yothers
  • Directors: Andrew McCullough, Asaad Kelada, Barbara Schultz, John Pasquin, Lee Shallat Chemel
  • Writers: Alan Uger
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Mono)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: August 5, 2008
  • Run Time: 673 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0017VG690
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,416 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Family Ties: Season 4" on IMDb

Special Features

  • 4 Discs
  • Special features include a Gag Reel and Episodic Promos

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Michael J. Fox, Michael Gross. With its soft rock theme, hip parents and comical kids, who wouldn't jump for another installment of this typically '80s sitcom? Steven, Elyse, Alex, Mallory, Jen & Andy make it a full house of laughs. Season 4 also introduces Mallory's dim-bulb boyfriend, Nick Moore. 24 episodes on 4 DVDs. 1985-86/color/11 hrs., 13 min/NR/fullscreen.


Romance was in the air in Family Ties' fourth season (1985-86), when it was in the coveted 8:30 p.m. slot following The Cosby Show in NBC's Must-See TV Thursday lineup. When Alex (Michael J. Fox) is starting his sophomore year at Leland College, his plan to pick a prospective girlfriend from the freshman directory goes awry when he battles with her art-major roommate, Ellen (Tracy Pollan). Not surprisingly, opposites attract, and Alex and Ellen's dance together and the heart-tugging aftermath became one of the series' emotional high points and made a No. 1 single out of Billy Vera and the Beaters' "At This Moment." (It turns out that Fox and Pollan's incredible chemistry wasn't just acting: they married less than three years later.) Many of the season's best episodes feature Alex and Ellen, including those involving her father (played by Ronny Cox), but another major character was added in Nick (Scott Valentine), the Kawasaki-riding, garbage-art-making, earring-wearing boyfriend of Mallory (Justine Bateman). Nick, whose favorite greeting is "Ayyy!", immediately sets off warning bells for Mallory's father Steven (Michael Gross), though the Rambo comparisons seem silly today.

Also in the season, Mallory tops Alex in an IQ test, Stephen finds a new and demanding job, Elyse (Meredith Baxter-Birney) and Alex take an automotive class, Jennifer (Tina Yothers) winds up in a difficult spot when Alex helps her with a speech, and Skippy (Marc Price) finally decides to pursue Mallory. Guest stars include River Phoenix as Alex's 13-year-old math tutor, Martha Plimpton as a young shoplifter, and Peter Scolari as Elyse's romantically inclined coworker. The four-DVD set has the 90-minute Family Ties Vacation movie that aired before the season started, episode promos, the original theme song, and the original Billy Vera song. --David Horiuchi

In TV Land, a new baby, or the introduction of new love interests are traditionally ratings ploys to prop up a sagging series. This was not the case with Family Ties, which in its fourth season was ranked second only to The Cosby Show in the ratings and Emmy-nominated for Best Comedy Series. Breakout star Michael J. Fox would win his first Emmy as Alex, primetime's first compassionate conservative, while costar Justine Bateman received a nomination for her deft work as underachiever Mallory. The season, and this box set, gets off to a jolly good start with the feature-length "A Family Ties Vacation," which sends the Keatons off to England, where they become embroiled in espionage (hey, it could happen). Once the season proper begins, the show regains its solid footing with the key additions of Tracy Pollan and Scott Valentine in recurring roles. Pollan, the future Mrs. Michael J. Fox, is introduced in the Emmy-nominated two-parter, "The Real Thing," in which Alex meets his match in the beautiful and brainy Ellen Reed, and falls in love with her (to the indelible tune of "At This Moment" by Billy Vera & the Beaters). Valentine etches a fine and funny portrait of every parent's initial nightmare as Mallory's new boyfriend, an "environmental artist" who seems to be channeling Sylvester Stallone. He reveals his more soulful side in the episode, "The Old College Try," in which he changes Mallory's mind about not wanting to go to college. Family Ties' ensemble is thoroughly at home in their iconic characters. Each handles the prolific jokes like Friars Club roasters, as well as the more emotional moments. Happily, this season goes easy on the Very Special Episodes. Even so, the few two-parters aside, there is no issue that cannot be resolved within the allotted 30 minutes, whether it be Ellen's estrangement from her father (Ronny Cox) in "Where's Poppa," or Mallory being forced by a teacher to "grow up" and apply herself in order to graduate high school in "Paper Chase." There are no early appearances by future A-listers along the lines of Tom Hanks and Geena Davis from previous seasons, but a young River Phoenix impresses in the episode, "My Tutor," as Alex's 13-year-old tutor who becomes a "crazed lunatic" over Jennifer (Tina Yothers). The Keatons were one of television's most functional families and it's heartening to watch them grow. These are the Ties that bind. --Donald Liebenson

Customer Reviews

If you grew up in the 80's I highly recommend them.
I own up to season 4 now & will continue to buy the entire set as it becomes available.
Diane Galante
Family Ties is perhaps one of the best sitcoms ever.
TazTopic Review

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By FebWriter on May 26, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I'm already counting down to the release date! Season 4 of Family Ties was the Year of Alex and Ellen, and if you were a child of the '80s like me, you still know all the words to "At This Moment" by Billy Vera and the Beaters because you heard it on Family Ties in the 2-parter where Alex and Ellen met and fell in love. (The song has just GOT to be in the episodes! It's a vital part of the story!) Season 4 was also the year Mallory brought Nick home to meet her family for the first time, and the reactions of the Keatons to Nick were comedy gold. And all of the Keatons, plus Skippy, being kept awake by Alex's insomnia (and a faulty burglar alarm), with Elyse finally providing a cure for her firstborn's sleeplessness (one of my favorite ever scenes between Meredith Baxter and Michael J. Fox), is one of the best episodes of all time. This season is a must-have for every true Family Ties fan's collection!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By ADRIENNE MILLER on May 26, 2008
Format: DVD
Family Ties - The Complete Fourth Season just keeps getting better and better. I truly enjoyed every season, the acting was always on top and the storylines always dealth with real issues. Season four is stellar, we are introduced to Ellen who tutors Alex and they fall in love and in real life too. My favorite episodes include: Mr. Wrong, My Tutor, A World to the Wise Part I and II, Teacher's Pet, and Once in Love with Elyse. I highly recommend purchasing season 4, only three seasons left!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By O. B. Tryggvason on December 14, 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Well, you really need not bother with the Fourth Season of this show if you're not already a fan. It delivers more of the same from the Keatons; harmless humor and situations that go down very pleasently and without much drama.

Here there's a new Keaton in town, Andy, and the crowded household finds itself having to sort through various problems that arise. There are new additions as well as Scott Valentine joins the gang as Mallory's not-so-desirable boyfriend Nick and Tracy Pollan (the real Mrs. Michael J. Fox) enters as...you guessed it; Alex's girlfriend Ellen.

The standout episode here is the one where Alex can't get any sleep and gradually drives everyone insane in the process. As for the whole season; every cast member has perfected his character and they work really well together. Scott Valentine is a very welcome addition to the show as Nick proves to have a bit more layers than you might have expected and he provides many solid laughs.

Overall; if you liked the previous three seasons than this is a no-brainer. Quite often it's a treat to pop one episode in before you dose off and see a happy family sorting things out...and on that note; Sha la la la.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Skyclad on September 23, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I grew up in the 80's and this is one of my favorite shows from back then. It's odd, a lot of shows I liked as a kid I didn't like later in life for one reason or another, but not Family Ties. It's the perfect show to watch when I want to be transported back to the 80's, if only for a brief time. My thoughts on the show have changed a bit, like when I was young I liked Michael J. Fox's portrayal of Alex the most... which makes sense because most kids did... he was kind of the star of the show. But now, I find Steven to be more interesting. He's definitely funnier to me now that I'm older.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Taheen Lopez on July 12, 2012
Format: DVD
FAMILY TIES was an American sitcom that aired for 7 years on NBC from 1982-89 regarding a Midwestern family in suburban Columbus, Ohio reflecting the move in America from the cultural liberism of the 1960's and 1970's to the conservatism of the 1980's that was particularly expressed through the relationship between young Republican Alex Keaton(Michael J. Fox), materialistic Mallory(Justine Bateman), athletic tomboy Jennifer(Tina Yothers), independent architect Elyse(Meredith Baxter), and local TV station manager Steven(Michael Gross).

Additionally; FAMILY TIES was an instant smash when it made its debut on NBC in the Fall of 1982 and even won various awards, including 3 consecutive Emmy Awards for Michael J. Fox as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series.

FAMILY TIES 4th Season is also the season when Scott Valentine joins the cast & crew as Mallory's boyfriend(Nick).

This 1985-86 Season takes me back to memory lane to when I was 13 years old in 7th grade and when NBC's motto was "Let's All Be There", which was NBC's slogan from the Fall of 1984 thru the Summer of 1986.

The original air-dates and titles to each of these 1985-1986 Season episodes
9/26/85-THE REAL THING(Part 1)
10/3/85-THE REAL THING(Part 2)
10/17/85-MR. WRONG
10/31/85-DON'T GO CHANGIN'
11/14/85-MY TUTOR
11/21/85-MR. RIGHT
12/12/85-HOW DO YOU SLEEP?
2/20/86-ART LOVER
3/6/86-MY BUDDY
5/8/86-PAPER CHASE(Season Finale)
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Format: DVD

The fourth season of "Family Ties" is absolutely phenomenal, although it is technically preceded by a misguided TV movie called "Family Ties Vacation," where the Keaton family goes to England. Even this has its good points, as the snobbish nature of Alex is severely tested and the script treats Mallory as an intelligent character. This is also the one episode of the series shot on film. As the season opens its basic run, the two-part proper season premiere is one of the best episodes of the series.

"The Real Thing" sneaks up on the viewer with its power, at first seeming like an average episode in its opening act. As the show unfolds, the natural chemistry of Michael J. Fox's Alex Keaton and Tracy Pollan's Ellen Reed makes for an engrossing half-hour. The show also humanizes Alex over its two parts, as in Part I, he callously picks a potential girlfriend out of a directory and in Part II things don't seem so simple anymore. Michael J. Fox often turned in some of his best work on "Family Ties" when he had to find the emotion in a character that was frequently written to be comically emotionless. This is exactly the tone of "The Real Thing," and the realistic undertone of the Alex Keaton-Ellen Reed relationship in this episode help make it my personal favorite show of the entire series.

This season also introduces Scott Valentine as Nick Moore in the episode "Mr. Wrong." The boyfriend that would stay with Mallory Keaton until the end of the series, Nick is the classic nightmare boyfriend for parents. The storyline also provides hypocritical conflict, as ex-hippies Steven and Elyse are now united against the kind of person they once were. Some of Michael Gross' best moments of humor on the series came within the context of his rivalry with Scott Valentine's Nick Moore.

Also featuring a young River Phoenix in the episode "My Tutor," the fourth season of "Family Ties" is very special.
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