Long time readers might remember a short piece I wrote about the TV show Family Ties. It was way back in January and I had managed to record the Alex falls in love with Ellen episodes. (Please click here if you want to read it) They definitely rank as some of my favourites. There is one episode that ranks above then though. That is the first episode of season two.
Since I noticed that the network was airing the first season episodes, I set my PVR to tape the whole series, hoping to capture that elusive episode. Well on Friday, while I was working, I managed to do just that. I only realized that today when I finally took a look at what I had recorded.
The episode is called Tender is the Knight. IMDB trivia asserts that this is a reference to F. Scott Fitzgerald–since I am not a big fan (don’t even get me started on Gatsby), I choose to instead focus on the more important aspects of it–more important to me.
The IMDB episode summary (and it is rather brief) reads:
Alex must contend with a childhood sweetheart staying at the house who is unlike any girl he’s met–or liked–before.
This is really doing it a great injustice. The childhood sweetheart, played by the lovely Talia Balsam, is the exact opposite of Alex. She is free-spirited and warm–which is a contrast to the conservative and somewhat colder Alex. She wants to dance in the streets at midnight and he wants to follow the bookmobile. She was worldly, wise and spoke clearly of what she wanted, namely Alex. He was attracted, but shut himself off. They are polar opposites, and cliché as it might have been, they definitely attract.
It isn’t just the differences between these two that make this such an interesting episode, but rather how risky it might have been to make the character of Alex so conservative and repressed. Yes, they played it for laughs, but there was more too it. Then again, maybe it was seeing how easily and effortlessly the character of Carrie Newman ruffled Alex’s feathers.
This was the only episode these two characters shared, but it seems like an abandoned effort to me. Had the writers wanted Alex to have a serious girlfriend, they could have done more with this storyline. They certainly took the opposites attract idea to the Ellen storyline. They didn’t take everything though, which was a pity.
The story might seem a bit dated. Alex describes her as out of control, but nothing she is described as doing would make a teen today shudder. I guess it was a different time.
Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the episode. It was as good as I remember and is definitely my favourite episode. I have it on my PVR and until the power goes off, or there is a major software update again, I will have the opportunity to watch it again. For today at least, it was my Perfect Moment.