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March 19th, 2003

The Problem with Andrew Keaton

The consensus is that Andrew Keaton killed Family Ties and caused it to jump the shark, just as many other “new kids” did to their respective shows. So why was Andrew Keaton, in particular, so responsible for the downswing of a classic TV show?

There are two reasons. 1.) Brian Bonsall wasn’t a terribly good child actor. Yeah, yeah, he was only 4 years old or whatever when he played Andrew Keaton (I won’t even go into the weird time warp the family had to endure to have a speaking Andrew one season after he was born), but his lines were delivered stiffly and you were always aware you were watching a character that had been slapped into the show at the last minute. 2.) Andrew Keaton, as a character, never seemed like he was part of the family. He almost seemed more like a cousin Oliver when he’d appear in a scene for a brief moment, deliver a line, get a laugh, and leave. That reminds me of another Ping topic for another time: why the Keatons were the masters at “leaving the room.” In any event, Andrew always felt out-of-place. Even though Nick was a late-series character, he still felt like he belonged in the script. Andrew’s presence, though, seemed more like he was thrown into each episode as an afterthought.

As a side note, does anyone else find the Brian Bonsall fan page a bit creepy?

Posted in Television, Movies, and Music

FROM: Chris [E-Mail]
DATE: Wednesday March 19, 2003 -- 3:40:25 pm
I wouldn't lay all the blame on Andy. The show was already faltering. I think the jump the shark moment was Alex graduating high school. It happens in all sitcoms based on kids or a family. The kids grow up and aren't funny anymore. The reason the Simpsons continues to be funny is because Bart and Lisa never age. Lisa dating? That storyline would never work.

FROM: Greg C
DATE: Wednesday March 19, 2003 -- 4:18:17 pm
Ahhh yes, Brian Bonsall. If you're going to blame the demise of Family Ties on the addition of Andrew Keaton, you should place the blame where it really belongs...

Meredith Baxter-Birney (did she divorce David Birney before or after Family Ties ended?)

She's the one who got pregnant. She complicated the whole thing.

I suppose she did redeem herself when she exposed her bare breast to an unsuspecting network viewing audience in prime time.

FROM: Dave Walls
DATE: Wednesday March 19, 2003 -- 6:18:32 pm
True, Brian Bonsall was a terrible actor (The second coming of Oliver, indeed, Ryan!), but still, he did get to kiss the uber-hot Karen Duffy in "Blank Check"....I need a cold shower.

FROM: Robert [E-Mail]
DATE: Wednesday March 19, 2003 -- 10:33:39 pm
Lisa dating? That storyline would never work.

Have you forgotten that she dated both Ralph and Nelson, or were you joking?

FROM: Dave Walls
DATE: Wednesday March 19, 2003 -- 11:04:41 pm
Lisa dating? That storyline would never work.

Robert, don't forget the episode where Lisa nearly got MARRIED. Dating should be the least of the concerns. ;p

FROM: Chris
DATE: Thursday March 20, 2003 -- 8:27:58 am
After I wrote that I realizied that there had been acouple of episodes with Lisa dating, but I was refering to the whole teen angst thing that usually happens in sitcoms. If Lisa were a teenage and dating every episode it wouldn't be funny, IMO.

FROM: Matt
DATE: Thursday March 20, 2003 -- 2:59:00 pm
has anyone ever seen the horror film called Mikey with Brian Bonsell? A work of art I tell ya.

FROM: adam
DATE: Tuesday May 20, 2003 -- 10:29:50 am
Hey- that Brian Bonsall tribute page is creepy. Check out the comments from male readers. Can you say NAMBLA? Anyway- Brian Bonsall, aka Brian O'Donnell is currently a DJ at WRIF radio in Detroit. How does one go from being a child star to a radio jock named "O.D"? "Enquiring minds want to know."

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Tuesday May 20, 2003 -- 10:40:04 am
Thanks for the info, Adam. Here's a link to his DJ page. You can also listen online to his show (his schedule here).

FROM: Dave Walls [E-Mail]
DATE: Tuesday May 20, 2003 -- 11:16:30 am
Well, give Brian some credity, Adam. At least he's a child star who has only OD'd on his name..

FROM: Dave Walls [E-Mail]
DATE: Tuesday May 20, 2003 -- 11:17:24 am Give him some credit...

FROM: emily
DATE: Tuesday May 20, 2003 -- 12:24:05 pm
who is this guy anyway? ya, how did he lose a tv career and end up in detroit? Did he get arrested or something? wierd.

FROM: mike d
DATE: Tuesday May 20, 2003 -- 1:33:38 pm
Good question- how did Brian Bonsall/O'donnell end up in a hell hole like detroit? Anyone know? Sounds shady. Someone I know- who has met him several times thinks Brian is full of his own hype. Why? very little talent.

FROM: Paul
DATE: Tuesday May 20, 2003 -- 2:02:03 pm
He'll always be Alexander to me.

FROM: mike d
DATE: Tuesday May 20, 2003 -- 2:35:50 pm
live long and prosper-

detroit deserves better

FROM: Greg
DATE: Tuesday May 20, 2003 -- 4:06:15 pm
Why are all the most terrible web sites, such as Brian Bonsall's, on Geocities? Is it owned by AOL?

FROM: emily
DATE: Wednesday May 21, 2003 -- 10:36:37 am
ok- someone answer my question. Why is he in radio- what happened?

FROM: Dave Walls [E-Mail]
DATE: Wednesday May 21, 2003 -- 11:36:26 am
Radio is a lot of fun to work in, plus it's one of the few entertainment divisions where you can be famous (to a degree), and still remain anonymous, for the most part.

FROM: adam
DATE: Wednesday May 21, 2003 -- 12:24:53 pm
Changing careers is ok- if it's choice, but how he ended up in detroit is the mystery; in light of the fact he spent a year in military school/jail in 1998.
Why wouldn't someone want to restart their film career? Are the pressures so great that a crappy radio job (for next to no money) is that much more fulfilling? I would bet that the " missing years" of Brian Bonsall yield the truth.

FROM: mike d
DATE: Wednesday May 21, 2003 -- 1:47:21 pm
He probably ended up getting arrested for something. What "real" name is he going by now? Like I said before- shady. Anyone from detroit have the 411?

FROM: bob v
DATE: Thursday May 22, 2003 -- 5:37:06 pm
All I know( being from detroit) is that this guy is known to be less than honest. He has a decent radio program- but. . he has a lot to learn about treating people decently
Criminal history? most likely

FROM: emily
DATE: Friday May 23, 2003 -- 8:02:30 am

DATE: Saturday July 12, 2003 -- 5:34:32 am

FROM: erin
DATE: Saturday July 19, 2003 -- 5:50:01 pm
i went to the dj page. that's not alex keaton.

FROM: erin
DATE: Saturday July 19, 2003 -- 5:51:10 pm
sorry - that's not andy keaton ...

FROM: Robert [E-Mail]
DATE: Sunday July 20, 2003 -- 11:06:26 am
I saw Brian Bonsall make a brief appearance on one of those VH1 "We Love the 80s" shows. He looked completely burnt out.

FROM: bob v
DATE: Monday October 20, 2003 -- 12:50:21 pm
Here's the latest on Brian "OD" ODonnell /Bonsall. He was let go from WRIF. Last night was his last show. He no longer appears on the wrif web page. Hmmmm, I wonder why? Not that he was added value to the station or anything. . . By the way, he played in some Alice in Chains cover band recently as the very dead, lead singer Layne Staley. Next thing you know he'll be signing autographs next to other poor child stars from defunct series!

FROM: adam
DATE: Monday October 20, 2003 -- 1:42:29 pm
Let's see where he turns up next. Does he do covers and end up playing in hick bars, or does he fade into obscurity. I wonder, does he ever look himself up on the web? Thanks for the info, bob!

FROM: Dave Walls [E-Mail]
DATE: Monday October 20, 2003 -- 7:49:38 pm
In his defense, radio is an unstable industry, so someone getting dumped after a few years for no real reason is pretty common.

That said, I still hate him because he got to kiss Karen Duffy. ;)

FROM: bob v
DATE: Tuesday October 21, 2003 -- 5:03:32 pm
yeah, he kissed Karen Duffy who used to hang out with Dwight Yoakham- From what I have heard from the the few "industry" people in Detroit, he has been known to be someone who INVENTS the truth and wasn't that reliable. I'm hearing the program director just got sick of all of the garbage attributed to Brian. Hey, someone can email WRIF and find out what went down. If you use people- it all comes back around, doesn't it?

DATE: Saturday November 22, 2003 -- 1:33:30 am
ok, guys- that radio dj - not him. He lives in Boulder, CO still- I see him every other week or so. He has a new punk band called thruster, and they are really good- Has no intrest in acting any more, has moved on with his life (still gets lots of scrpits though). hope that helps.

FROM: Amber
DATE: Sunday December 7, 2003 -- 5:06:44 pm
I was wondering if anyone would have a way to get in touch with Brian Bonsall. And no I don't want to buy the stupid contact the celebrities bood. If someone knows...and could post it or post something about contacting me that would be great. If the response is going to be smart assed...don't waste your time. Thanks!

FROM: Yik Yik
DATE: Friday January 16, 2004 -- 10:28:59 am
The radio Brian is in fact Brian Bonsall I have been told by an industry insider. He is now trying to disassocite himself with the raio Brian cause he is planning a huge comeback. It has been rumored that he will star in a new Ghostbusters 3 movie along with Wilmer Valderramma (Fez from That 70s show), Richard Pryor's son, Richard Jr., and a new actress named Alicia Azzopardi. Brian will play the erstwhile prankster of the group. Burt Reynolds has been pegged to play the villianous, Yertog the Unliving. Filming starts this June in New York and Algeria.

FROM: Dave Walls [E-Mail]
DATE: Thursday June 3, 2004 -- 6:32:45 pm
Some comeback: Brian Bonsall busted for DUI.,1,14235,00.html.

If nothing else, give him credit for this: (from the article)

When police asked Bonsall how much he'd been drinking, he allegedly replied, "Plenty."

FROM: Aeolis
DATE: Tuesday June 8, 2004 -- 1:09:12 am
Don't ya think that any element of slight reality was destroyed when Nick was a regular character? Andy could at times be annoying, but not nearly as annoying as let's say, a "Cousin Oliver", or even a "Scrappy Doo!" Usually, like all little kid characters do, he would say a few lines and then quickly and mysteriously run out of the room.
He was a lot better as Worf's son Alexander in Star Trek TNG.

FROM: A Male Reader
DATE: Friday June 11, 2004 -- 10:13:37 pm
Says Adam:

"Hey- that Brian Bonsall tribute page is creepy. Check out the comments from male readers. Can you say NAMBLA"

To which I say, "Can you say ASSHOLE?"

I did sign a Brian Bonsall website way back when, and I did it out of kindness and appreciation. Is that a concept out of your grasp? He had been out of acting for awhile, and with all of the horror stories you hear about former child actors I wanted to recognize his past and wish him well. There were no "creepy" motives in it. Trust me.

A male reader

FROM: Dave Walls [E-Mail]
DATE: Saturday June 12, 2004 -- 7:12:38 am
Even assuming that they are commenting on your website (who knows, since the comment is over a YEAR old), the comment was "Check out the comments from male READERS". I don't recall him commenting on the site's creator.

FROM: A Male Reader
DATE: Saturday June 12, 2004 -- 10:44:07 pm
That's fine. It's not my website, I only signed it. Ever since I learned about Trent Lehman hanging himself I've made a special point to remember child actors. I remember Brian especially from "Family Ties" and "Lily In Winter". And now he's unemployed and up on a DUI charge. I just hope it's not part of a big downward spiral.

DATE: Friday August 27, 2004 -- 5:17:44 pm
you people are wierd

DATE: Friday September 10, 2004 -- 2:33:20 am
Brian Bonsall is not a DJ in Detroit. That guy took his name, used his picture, and told every one in Detroit that he was Brian. There is probably going to be a law suite for impersonating him. Brian is a good and caring person. Sometimes you just get mixed up with the wrong crowd. His band is doing really well and hopefully they with play with the WARP tour next year. People really lay the shot on thick when a star is involved. Remember that!

FROM: dan
DATE: Monday October 11, 2004 -- 6:32:56 pm
you are all stupid, Brian is not on the radio. He is the guitarist in my band, if any one would like a cd of Thruster (the band) contact us at

FROM: trevor (the drummer)
DATE: Monday October 11, 2004 -- 6:47:36 pm
We just recorded "Glue This In Your Stereo" in Fort Collins at the Blasting Room, one of the best studios in the country. We have a 5 song demo that you can get from us. Just let us know your address. Email:

FROM: Ryan [E-Mail]
DATE: Monday October 11, 2004 -- 10:27:52 pm
you are all stupid, Brian is not on the radio. He is the guitarist in my band, if any one would like a cd of Thruster (the band) contact us at

Because there's no better way to get your music out there than to insult your potential audience!

FROM: Erin Keaton [E-Mail]
DATE: Sunday November 14, 2004 -- 6:01:21 pm

I am andrews long lost sister. If any of you are aware of his whereabouts can you please have him, like, call me and shit..because i totally need him to buy me beer

DATE: Thursday January 6, 2005 -- 12:41:19 pm

FROM: carol
DATE: Friday January 21, 2005 -- 5:22:36 am
I think michael J fox was the main star of the show and the best, but brian bronsall was also cute, and did the show good, I watched it and watch it. Its the people that stop or don't watch it that makes the show wither away. Anyone heard of ratings. No one watches it it doesn't go on

FROM: jc
DATE: Sunday January 23, 2005 -- 6:59:08 pm
what the hell are you people doing? do you have nothing better to do than rant about some washed up child star with a huge drinking and drug problem (and who by the way is a total ass)? i think you all need to take a step back and realize that your life is withering away!

FROM: Ryan [E-Mail]
DATE: Sunday January 23, 2005 -- 7:42:37 pm
Thanks for your input, Jesus Christ!

DATE: Sunday January 23, 2005 -- 9:26:59 pm
Dont you think u are also wasting ur time, seeing as you typed more than most people? you probably wont read this though. and you also "ranted" about andrew by calling him an ass. Why dont we talk about danny bonaduchi? that would be fun. and the guy on espn radio talked about how weird it felt when someone recognized him on the street, he saw a picture on the website, but still weird. I probably would recognize paul or ryan, with there show of self worth with every picture on them on this blasted website.

FROM: The Jess Below
DATE: Thursday March 10, 2005 -- 2:06:04 pm
I wonder, has anyone who posted some of the more scathing comments about Brian ever thought what it would feel like to be in his shoes? How would you feel reading these types of comments about yourself? Does co-starring in a sit-com and a few flicks somehow grant license to all who wish to slander you?

I'm sure my comments are either preaching to the choir or falling upon blind eyes & deaf ears.

Regardless, Thruster is a great band and Brian is great in it. I'm annoyed that just by searching for "punk band thruster" on Google that I'm subject to such atrocities as above, but I rest assured that karma will kick you all firmly in the rear.

FROM: Joseph
DATE: Thursday March 10, 2005 -- 3:00:00 pm
what the hell are you people doing? do you have nothing better to do than rant about some washed up child star with a huge drinking and drug problem (and who by the way is a total ass)? i think you all need to take a step back and realize that your life is withering away!

Wow. That was about the meanest, most passive aggressive attempt to defense(?) another human being I've ever seen. In the course of it, the biggest slanders leveled against Mr. Bonsall were delivered. In effect, this is what was said:

"Hey you! Stop picking on this utterly useless human being! He is so worthless by his own weak hand that he is not worth your insults! He's even more of a loser than any of you have said or thought. Look out because you are all liable to suffer a fate as bad as his and suffer an existance equally miserable!"

JC, please don't ever come to my aid. I'll do just fine on my own.

FROM: Erin Keaton [E-Mail]
DATE: Wednesday April 13, 2005 -- 7:46:25 am
guys, seriously, have you talked to him? mallory totally never writes down when i've called and alex has his amp turned up so loud he can't ever, like..even hear the phone ring! tell him, K? he totally missed the kegger i had for his birthday.

FROM: yik yik
DATE: Wednesday June 15, 2005 -- 10:50:56 am
Okay, it is official, the film Ghostbusters 3 has been given a greenlight by Fox. It stars Brian as Prof. Martin McSloshed, Jimmy Fallon as Dr. Ivan Sikorski, Wilmer Valderamma as (ironically) Dr. Fez Ferdinand and Chris Holt as Dr. Rusty Wrench. It will begin filming in September in New York. Brian has been recently fired from the radio station in Detroit because he was impersonating another person named Brian O'Donnell. Brian O'Donnell's lawyers issued Brian Bonsall a ceist and desist notice. Apparently Brian was trying to hide his dubious past by attempting to assume the life of a regular joe who plays in a band in Boulder. After he was fired from the radio station, he began selling mortgages in Livonia, Michigan, suburb of Detroit. Producers decided to give him a second chance and that is why he is given the comeback role in Ghostbusters 3.

FROM: Pelt
DATE: Wednesday August 24, 2005 -- 10:44:35 am
Brian Bonsall has full blown Aids and will star in a movie about clowns with aids. I herd this from and industry insider, Brian was raped by a clown on the set of Family Ties and that gave him HIV, it had just reciently developed into FBA (Full Blown AIDS)

FROM: Brian Bonsall
DATE: Saturday September 3, 2005 -- 9:52:19 pm
Hey it's me, Brian BonsALL. I do work in radio and I was raped by a clown and his sidekick midget with a baby white seal costume on. I can't believe anyone would write about me? Here's the real scoop...I will be starring in a movie remake of the hit tv show Blossem, I will be playing Blossem's boyfriend Vinnie. My next project will be a remake of the TV Movie "I know my first name is Steven" I will be playing the rapist, Parnell.

FROM: Ryan [E-Mail]
DATE: Sunday September 4, 2005 -- 2:30:11 am
Wow. That last post was full of great early 90s TV references. Loving it.

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