Family Ties

Season 1 Episode 20

The Fifth Wheel

Aired Unknown Mar 28, 1983 on NBC



  • Trivia

    • In this and at least two other episodes, the Keatons live next door to the Obecks. In "Have Gun, Will Unravel" the Obecks are across the street.

    • In this episode, we get a thorough look around Jennifer's room. For as much as Jennifer is a tomboy and obsessed with baseball, it's odd that her room is so frilly. It is decorated primarily with pictures of animals and unicorns, and virtually no baseball memorabilia.

    • Jeff and Mallory went to a Truffaut movie. François Truffaut was a French filmmaker of 25 years. The episode doesn't state the exact movie, but the implication was that the movie was in French, and likely without subtitles. In French Lessons, we learned that Jeff speaks fluent French, while Mallory struggles with French I. Nonetheless, Mallory loved the movie.

    • Alex criticized Dale Lewis for supporting the Equal Rights Amendment (the ERA). The ratification deadline for the ERA was June 22, 1982, nine months before this episode aired. Ohio was one of 35 states to ratify the ERA.

    • When the Keatons borrowed the neighbors' phones to find Jennifer, Alex went next door to the Obecks, and Elyse went to the Bartons. The Bartons have never been mentioned before. It's curious that nobody went to the Handelmans.

    • The episode never really discloses what office Dale Lewis is running for. Elyse refers vaguely to a representative. Since he would have influence over matters such as the State Bird or the State Song, we can surmise that he is running for the Ohio House of Delegates, or perhaps the Ohio Senate. As the episode aired in 1983, the next election for these offices is in 1984.

    • Jennifer's friend Crissy is referred to for the fourth time: first as a friend in crisis in the pilot; second as the one whose parents had hosted a neighborhood watch meeting in Have Gun, Will Unravel; third as the friend who accompanies Jennifer to the movie in Oops, and now as the friend that Jennifer may have left the poker game to visit. We never meet Chrissy, even at Jennifer's tenth birthday party in I Know Jennifer's Boyfriend.

  • Quotes

  • Notes

  • Allusions

    • When Alex tells Jennifer to get her coat, she fears that he's kicking her out of the house, and that she'll end up like Nicholas Nickelby. Nicholas Nickelby is a Charles Dickens novel about an affluent boy who was condemned to the streets after his father died.