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An all right show with an excellent production company (perhaps a production company which is much more memorable than the programme itself):
There are quite a few family situation comedies that are very annoying. I was always wondering what this one was modeled after... and after giving it thought it turns out that this is a great concept. The sitcom is based on a generation gap and kids and parents never understanding each other. Even more interesting is that Family Ties is the opposite of All In The Family.
It could have done much better. This show almost resembles an updated 1950s sitcom, without all the 1950s nonsense and this show is made in color. This show appears do be done on a low budget and seems to get worse over the years. In the first few seasons it appeared to be presented to a studio audience, which is the source of the laughter. Towards the end of the show it appeared to have canned laughter.
The theme song is too soft for a TV show. I don't understand why they have a theme song like this, unless smooth jazz was popular then. Something else: The theme song is clearly about the couple... Hippies that are now parents. So why is this show focused on the "brilliant", "gifted", etc. son Alex P. Keeton?! But at least Alex P. Keeton isn't as annoying as that guy on Growing Pains!
In the middle of the series they added a mid-life-crisis-child. Sitcoms do this often to add a "cute kid" because the other children have grown up, and sadly we do not get to see these Cute Kids grow up. But this isn't the worst way to write in a child character. I think one of the worst is The Cosby Show's Olivia Kendall. They are upper class characters but then Denise marries this man who already has a child. Olivia's biological mother is portrayed as a lazy adult, yet her father Martin and stepmother Denise are constantly neglecting her and leaving her to live with Dr. Huxtable. (which she viewed him as her coworker, not step-grandfather...quite adorable actually) but I am not buying that "Olivia's mother is all bad yet Olivia's father Martin is perfect". Second tragic example is when they added a child to the already-grown (and always grown) characters of All In The Family... Gloria and Meat Head Stivick. They moved away and they added a relative who's father abandoned her or something. This is not necessary either as there were no kids that she was "replacing". but they had to do something because half the cast left! A year later Archie Bunker's Place was launched because they obviously ran out of arguments between Archie and Meat Head.
On the other hand, the best way a show wrote in child characters was Roseanne. They cleverly wrote in that Crystal and Jackie were having children (but this inspired Roseanne to have a mid-life-crisis child herself...also D.J.'s squeaky voice made him appear to be much younger than he really was for almost all of the show)
To make things worse than adding a young child towards the end of a series: Have the child suffer from "Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome"! This is what happened with the new child character on Family Ties.
More problems with Family Ties: What is with the staircase on the house? That is the most landings on a staircase I have ever seen.
Besides the youngest child character, there is another that matured (mentally) and that is Alex. Alex grew up way too fast. Nothing wrong with being a business professional, but he acted and resembled of being about 25 years older than he really is.
And quite a few of the arguments between the mother Elyse and her son Alex are way. too. long.
This is a great TV series idea, but it can be very boring to watch. It is an excellent idea about a generation gap, and it is also a great political show that would probably get cancelled if something like this tried to air today. "Time Squad" got cancelled after an episode about George W. Bush, and "Boston Legal" got cancelled when Barack H. Obama got elected. Whatever happened to "free speech"?
The best thing ever about this show is the production company. UBU Productions. "Sit, Ubu, Sit! Good Dog. WOOF."
One final comment: Of course I DO NOT agree with the discipline method I am about to mention, but I am trying to make a point. I just HAD to say this. Perhaps if Steven and Elyse had spanked their children more... There, I said it.