"Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus!" No review of this episode would be complete without mention of this memorable line. Filled with classic Alex/Mallory sibling back-biting, this episode establishes a foundation for great episodes to come.
Admittedly some of the first season episodes are a bit too serious for me. This is not unusual for a first season, as the characters are being developed and the show is finding its niche in TV Land. Why is this episode a "10" in my book? Most any episode that begins with a recognizable premise (in this case that of the "My Fair Lady", "Pocketful of Miracles", and "Educating Rita") lets the audience know in some ways what's going to happen, while each series adds its own unique humor to make its rendition special. In this case you have Alex's classic self-serving manipulation and mockery of Mallory. Mallory in turn begins as Alex's unwitting pawn, and per usual her chief concern is her outfit. The ironic twist to the tale is that aside from Mallory's initial "SCUBA" triumph, she blows every answer during the Quiz-off. The all-male judge panel doesn't seem to mind as they award Mallory's answer of "the Straights of Massachusetts" as being close enough. Look for Deborah Foreman ("Julie" from the movie "Valley Girl") in the part of Mary Catherine - one of the three "Mary's" who play on the opposing team of the Quiz-off. This episode of Family Ties and Valley Girl were released in the same week of April 1983.