Family Ties and Spin City

Family Ties (1982-1989)
Spin City (1996-2002)
Type: Minor Mention Crossover
Group: 24

   Ahhh, the sly sort of connection between shows I like.

   Michael J. Fox became a sitcom superstar playing Alex P. Keaton on the 80's NBC sitcom Family Ties. The joke was that Alex's parents were 60's liberal hippie types all grown up and raising a family in Ohio and that their oldest son Alex was an uber conservative in love with money. It was a very funny show and was so successful it became one of those rare case of a show that doesn't go off the air due to cancellation but because the stars just decided it was time to call it quits.

   After around seven yeats of doing movies and being in retirement from sitcoms, Michael J. Fox finally decided to give it another go with Spin City on ABC. Spin City focused on the inner workings of the New York Mayor's Office. Barry Bostwick was the mayor but the central character was Michael J. Fox's character of Deputy Mayor Michael Flaherty. Michael was the real dynamo that kept things running smoothly amid a staff of goofballs (the mayor included). If Alex was all about an all consuming desire for money, Michael Flaherty was all about an all consuming desire for power and for his job. A running joke was his inability to focus on anything but his job.

   At the end of the (1999-2000) season though, Michael J. Fox, star and center of the show, left Spin City. In real life he was fighting a tiring battle against Parkinson's disease, a disease that affects the motor control of the body. Instead of cancelling the show, ABC made the bold move to write Michael J. Fox's character out and continue without him, replacing him the next season with Charlie Sheen's character Deputy Mayor Charlie Crawford.

   All this to get to such a sly crossover. The final episodes of Spin City focused on a scandal falling over the mayor's office. It seems one of their staff was dating someone in the mafia. Not realizing this, many staffers had done favors for this guy. When the press got hold of this info, the story became that the mayor had ties to organized crime. To save everyone else, Michael Flaherty sacrificed one of the most important things in his life: his job. He took the fall for the scandal and lost his job so that everyone else could keep theirs. The final sign off on his character had the mayors staff finding out that Michael had landed on his feet, becoming an environmental activist in Washington D.C. where he was doing quite well.... except... well except for a certain Senator Alex P. Keaton from Ohio who was a bit of a pain in the arse.

   Nice. A quick, silly, blink-and-you'll-miss-it reference crossover. As folks who pointed me to this cross noted, you have to wonder if Mike and Alex freaked out upon meeting each other since THEY'RE IDENTICAL! Not only that but so are their mothers. Meredith Baxter-Birney who played Fox's mom on Family Ties also appeared on Spin City as a guest star playing Michael Flaherty's mom. And, just for the sake of completeness, Michael Gross who played the dad on Family Ties was also on the finale of Spin City (not playing the dad of either character though).

Other Family Ties Crossover Links
Family Ties and Day By Day

Other Spin City Crossover Links
Spin City and Something So Right
Spin City and Sports Night

Click here to return to main Crossover List

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