The Family Ties Board Game

When browsing through the antique mall with my parents, I am always on the lookout for some neglected piece of pop culture that is begging to be profiled. I spied this board game on the shelf, and was intrigued.

I was a Family Ties fan growing up. As part of NBC’s Thursday night lineup, it was sandwiched between the Cosby Show and Cheers, so inertia kept me watching it between the two shows. I was too young to appreciate the cultural relevance of the hip, liberal parents and the cocky, conservative Alex P. Keaton. I wondered what the premise of the board game could be. Earn money at the stock market with Alex? Join Elyse in leading a protest? Curiosity got the better of me, and for $10, the game was mine.

It turns out the object of this board game sounds much like an episode of Family Ties. You must collect each member of the Keaton family in order for you to take a family portrait (and you must possess $100 to pay the photographer). You start with $50 and choose a character token. Every family member is represented. Here is the Alex token:

You then take turns rolling the dice and navigating the board, landing on spaces dealing with Wall Street, unions, and shopping (kind of like Monopoly if it were based on a mediocre sitcom). You collect family members by drawing “Say Cheese” cards. You also draw “Don’t Blink” cards, which will cause you to gain/lose money or family members. These cards have the dumbest text of any board game I have played. For example


Also, you must avoid the dreaded SKIPPY card!

Just like on the TV show, this guy should be avoided like the plague. The “Skippy” card makes it impossible to win, as you can only hold 6 “Say Cheese” cards at a time, and you cannot win unless you possess the entire family.

Sound simple enough? It is actually pretty tough! I played this game with my dog (I kept track of his money for him), and it is frustratingly difficult to collect every family member. Your money stays pretty constant (you gain some, but then turn around and lose it). After an hour, I completely lost all interest in the game. Bored, I made up my own cards:

In summary, I can completely understand why this game ended up on a shelf in an antique mall in Edinburgh, IN. In their defense, I cannot imagine having to create a board game based on this sitcom and generating anything that would be remotely enjoyable.

Are there any other board games you have come across based on television shows or movies that should have never been created? Drop a comment and let me know!