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September 2, 2015

Family Ties reunion on Today

by Jason Hughes, posted Feb 7th 2008 1:07PM
The Today Show - Family Ties ReunionFrom The Today Show, for the first time in 18 years, the entire cast of Family Ties got together to reminisce and talk about the show. Actually they got together to help series creator Gary David Goldberg plug his new book Sit, Ubu, Sit, a memoir of his life and times. I grew up in the '80s and this show was a huge part of my growing up. My parents were liberal hippies, just like the Keaton parents. And while I had nothing in common with really any of the kids, I found myself drawn into their familial world anyway.

The entire group still looks great, and I wondered if it would be possible to do a Family Ties reunion. The most obvious hurdle would be Michael J. Fox's Parkinson's disease. Even in this interview, it was difficult to see him struggling with it, so I would imagine it would be nearly impossible for him to hide it.

But Family Ties was never a show to hide from serious topics and issues, so it could even be worked in. Sure, it's a long shot, but it would be a huge move for his promotion of Parkinson's awareness if he acted as a character with the disease. And it would be awesome to see what the Keatons have been up to the past two decades. In fact, in all honesty, why not make it slowly over the next year to have it ready for the twentieth anniversary of the finale. That way, Michael J. Fox could work at a more comfortable pace; he's indicated in other interviews how exhausting the disease is.

I don't know if Fox even wants to do any more acting work, but if he does, I'm sure the others would be up for it, and I'm sure the audience would be up for it as everyone loves Michael J. Fox. He's an American icon. And it'd probably be best to just leave Brian Bonsall out (he played the youngest Keaton who was born in season three and five years old by season five). They could just say he had progeria and passed away. Or he's off in Iraq; that way they could be topical about the war, too.

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A reunion show would be great -- if ol' drunkard uncle Tom Hanks makes a cameo.

I was a little on the young side to really appreciate the show, and didn't catch much of repeats as I got older, but I sure remember a lot of specifics.

February 08 2008 at 8:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Thank you for posting that clip, Jason; I wouldn't have seen it otherwise. "Family Ties" was just a quality, enjoyable show. I was in my 20s, I guess, when it was on, and for a time sharing an apartment with my brother who is 10 years older, and we would sit and watch it together and just laugh and laugh and laugh.

And I didn't know a soul, male or female, who wasn't in love with Michael J. Fox. What an unbelievably compelling screen presence (and so damn cute)! I think I agree with Rob; I don't want to see Alex P. Keaton with Parkinson's Disease. And it IS hard to watch MJF; I was in tears through much of this clip. And that has to do with compassion, it has to do with nostalgia (I CAN watch MJF with the disease; I'd rather not watch APK with it), and it has to do with comedy--"Family Ties" was FUNNY.

So, I'll bookmark this clip, and I'll watch it again, but I think remembering the Keatons as they were is the best tribute one can give.

February 07 2008 at 8:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


I think concerns about a reunion spoiling past memories of the show is a valid concern if the reunion show is poorly written or an attempt to "cash in" on the history and fame of the show. However, to say that a reunion show would be painful to watch because of MJF's suffering Parkinson's is either callous or naive. After watching a long and in depth interview with Michael J. Fox regarding his disease, daily challenges, and life in general, I cannot help but think about it to some degree whenever I see any of his older acting roles.

Marty McFly? Parkinson's. Alex P. Keaton? Parkinson's. Spin City? Parkinson's.

It's there and now that you have seen it you can't hide it away. To try and hide the pain of such a disease or ignore it would mean you are ashamed of it. MJF has said so himself in an interview about when he was first diagnosed. It is a very brave thing to openly discuss how you are effect by your disease and champion your cause. If you can't handle watching it then that is your problem, but hiding "problems" away from view will never help to resolve them.

February 07 2008 at 7:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Rex's comment

Rex, I think you got me wrong. I don't think MJF should hide or be ashamed of his Parkinson's - far from it. And you are right,.. looking back at his past works, you can see how it has steadily affected/influenced his roles. I've also seen several interviews with him, one of the best being his appearance on Inside the Actor's Studio. But even then it was just kinda sad to watch MJF fight to keep his composure on stage. (In fact, he had to leave the stage on at least one occasion, to regain his composure or get medicine, I don't remember)

I'm sure MJF doesn't want my pity,.. and truthfully, I don't really pity him. I respect him immensely. It's just that I would rather remember his character as a young budding conservative that could tell you how much money you dropped just by listening to the sounds the coins made. (Damn I miss that show... the writing & acting was so good) I just think that no matter how well it was written, I'm not sure I'd enjoy a reunion show that had a strong 'Parkinson's Awareness' message running through it. But hey Family Ties crew,.. prove me wrong.

February 07 2008 at 7:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

... and by the way, watching someone suffer through Parkinson's is difficult - I don't care who you are. MJF is heavily medicated whenever he appears on camera, and I don't even think that his case is as severe as it gets. Feeling pain or sympathy when watching someone suffer through a disease like Parkinson's isn't "callous or naive". It's called compassion.

February 07 2008 at 7:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You know,.. I'm a huge fan of this show. Heck, one of my all time favorite songs was discovered on this show (Billy Vera and the Beaters: At This Moment). But I'm not so sure a reunion show would be the best thing. Think of it this way, it was painful enough to watch MJF during this interview - do you really want to see a character you loved suffer though a half-hour or hour long reunion show? I just think it would end up being depressing and sad instead of happy and uplifting.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I'd rather remember it for what I loved about the show,.. not who they've become.

February 07 2008 at 4:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Craig - Michael J. Fox became an American citizen about five or six years ago. He even testified before Congress about stem cell research that could help his disease and he also got involved in a 2006 Congressional campaign in Missouri, I think.

February 07 2008 at 4:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jm's comment

Sure, he became an American citizen but he will always have Canadian blood running through his veins... and he isn't one to forget where it all started.

I would love to see a reunion show!!!

February 08 2008 at 12:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Chris M

So why not just write his Parkinson's into the script? There is no reason why Alex P. Keaton couldn't also be suffering from Parkinson's. I would LOVE to see a reunion of this terrific show.

February 07 2008 at 4:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I hate to point this out, but Michael J. Fox, is Canadian. So wouldn't he technically be a Canadian Icon, whom Americans happen to like.

But I do agree a reunion show would be awesome, Family Ties was a great show.

February 07 2008 at 3:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What -- no love for Skippy or Nick?

February 07 2008 at 3:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Carl's comment

My thoughts exactly.

February 08 2008 at 1:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

That would be so awesome if they could do a reunion show! But I know it's a long shot.

February 07 2008 at 3:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Awesome. I'm sorry I missed this. I was/am a big fan of the show and think the character of Alex P. Keaton is one of the better television characters in television history.

February 07 2008 at 2:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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