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In dedication to watching the best TV shows ever made, over the last few months, I have watched every single All in the Family ever made. It ran from 1971-79. I can't begin to tell you how wonderful this show is, but I'll try. It's contemporary, even now. It put a face on hatred, bigotry, ignorance, and it squashed it with humor. It gave a voice to a generation through Mike and Gloria. It was ground-breaking and innovative. They NAILED the laughter through tears emotion, repeatedly. There is nothing like it on television today. Jean Stapleton died last year, in June. She won Emmys and Golden Globes for her portrayal of Edith. Seriously fine actor. Through her character they were able to address women's rights, rape, the subservience of the "housewife", and uncover the fact that while she may be a "dingbat", she was altruistic and endlessly loving. There was so much yelling! Archie yelled at Mike, and Mike never backed down. Gloria yelled at Mike and Archie and the best yelling ever was when Edith lost her composure and yelled at anyone. Through arguments and lough-out-loud comedy they addressed race, religion, politics, war, sex, the economy, and very current events of the time. Can you imagine? A 2014 Mike Stivic (Meathead) would be picketing against Monsanto, mainstream media corruption and the One Percent. Hell, in 1971 they had an episode in which Mike and Gloria are campaigning for politician Claire Packer, who comes to the house and talks with Archie. After declaring he didn't want to hear about her "progressive pinko welfare ideas... giving welfare to families who couldn't be related to him for 'complexionary' reasons..." (huck, huck) Claire responds by asking if he was related to any of the executives at Lockheed, because they are receiving the largest amounts of welfare. Government subsidy. Welfare to the rich. Does this sound familiar? I would love to see that on TV today. Thought provoking and meaningful. Arguably one of the most important television shows of all time.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The BEST. That is what ALL IN THE FAMILY (premiering in 1971) is.
Accept no substitutes! I think there is this myth that the first of
anything by definition can't be the best, because anything can be
improved upon. This may apply in some arenas, like technology, but not
art. And AITF is art! In the same way that I feel that "The Maltese
Falcon" is the first great example of film noir (and still to this day,
best) and "Psycho" is the first great example of the slasher film (and
still to this day, best), I feel that AITF is the first great example
of the modern television show, and still to this day...BEST! 21st
century TV viewers can have their "Sopranos" and their "The Wire" and
their "Breaking Bad". I take AITF over all of them! Modern TV in the
21st century is close being a "one-trick pony". A show can be a drama
OR a comedy, but not both. Just because a show has "realistic" elements
like violence, profanity, and sex, doesn't make it groundbreaking.
AITF ushered in the modern age of television. What AITF does that many modern shows fail to do is to both have realism AND entertainment value! For a show that premiered over 40 years ago, one can still watch AITF today and be flooded by varying emotions: laughter, sadness, contemplation, thought. I proclaim the TV show "Cheers" as the greatest COMEDY of all time, not the greatest SHOW of all time. I'm calling AITF the greatest SHOW of all time. Huge distinction, because AITF was not just a comedy, it was an EXPERIENCE, much like my best film of all time, "2001:A SPACE ODYSSEY" was an experience. AITF did not fit into just one genre. Not just a comedy. Not just drama. You can't pigeonhole this show into just one thing. That's the beauty of it.
Even though I had been born when AITF premiered in the early 70s, I was a bit too young to appreciate it. It took repeated viewing and the absorption of all TV that I've seen over the last couple of decades to come to the conclusion that it really all started with this show.
AITF starred what I consider to be the GREATEST TV character of all time, Archie Bunker (played to perfection by the late, great Carroll O'Connor). Archie was an amazing protagonist-antagonist that I still don't think has ever been equaled. He was a proclaimed Christian, a bigot, and of the old school. He didn't like change or the way the world was going in the early 70s, equal rights for women and affirmative action. He was essentially a sounding board for conservatism. The ultimate irony is that, in real life, O'Connor was a forward-thinking liberal, the antithesis of Archie. It had to be somewhat difficult for him to portray a person who was the opposite of him in many ways. O'Connor was awarded FOUR Emmys for this role. Not enough if you ask me! But to counter Archie's conservativism, he was also a military veteran, and a hard-working family man who loved his wife and daughter and tolerated his opposing son-in-law.
These other 3 vital characters were his sweet, daffy wife Edith Baines Bunker (awesomely played by the late Emmy-winning Jean Stapleton), his beautiful, effervescent daughter Gloria Bunker Stivic (wonderfully played by Sally Struthers), and his smart, liberal, Atheist son-in-law Michael Stivic (superbly performed by Emmy-nominee Rob Reiner, who we all know now for his directorial efforts).
The group dynamic of these main 4 characters is sublime, all of them being in perfect synergy in their scenes. Many times other recurring or guest characters would share scenes with the main 4 and the entire ensemble would nail dialogue-heavy, drawn out scenes, and keep the viewer fully engaged. Ensemble shows now don't even enjoy this kind of interaction, with ensemble scenes being saved for big reveals or moments, with quick editing and snarky dialogue in the guise of real interaction. AITF scenes seemed real.
AITF, of course, would pair off, and for me, the best pair was Archie-Mike. The constant back-and-forth bickering between these 2 men is awe-inspiring. Every important topic was pretty much covered in their arguments: religion, politics, war, sex, the economy. And a few not-so-important ones, too! I think Archie and Mike actually learned a lot from each other over the years, as in the later seasons, you could see Archie begrudgingly beginning to accept change and Mike seeing a few things from Archie's POV as he had to start raising a family in a tough economy.
Archie-Edith had a great dynamic, too. Initially Archie's figurative punching bag, Edith came into her own, as she proved to be more free-thinking and open-minded than her husband. To counter Archie's close-minded views, Edith would constantly rail into these long-winded anecdotes that always would get under his skin. I think she sneakily did this to shut him up most of the time! Although not as forefront as the Bunkers' marital woes, Mike-Gloria had their share of great interactions over the years, mainly a battle of the sexes, but also arguing about Archie.
AITF, through incredible writing and brilliant acting, had this ability to relay to the viewer extended character interactions that would be the set up ONE huge laugh at the end, but also to yield various laughs on the way to the big one! Mike and Gloria left after the 7th season, but the show still survived and was very good in it's 8th season with the introduction of a new character, Edith's niece Stephanie (well-played by Danielle Brisebois) and still had thought-provoking, wonderful stories. The show made it to a 9th and final season being called "Archie Bunker's Place". But, for me, as long as Archie Bunker is involved, it's ALL IN THE FAMILY!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
After hearing the recent passing of Jean Stapleton, really a great TV
show. Despite being politically incorrect. The show seemed to be taboo.
As despite being a jerk, Archie Bunker the bigoted and conservative politically correct title character, did have a soul. Despite at times mistreating his family, in particular his sweet natured but dim-witted wife Edith, played by Stapleton.
The late Caroll O Connell for the record, was in real life a liberal. But made Archie the guy who was a jerk, but had a soul. As Archie and Edith have a child Gloria(Sally Struthers), who is like her mom and her husband, and future filmmaker Rob Reiner as Michael aka Meathead, the liberal hippie husband of Gloria.
As Bunker and Michael butted heads over their beliefs and politics. Despite CBS taking a risk, in the end, it paid off big time. Really a great show that will open your eyes. RIP Jean and Caroll!
I am a random watcher of "All in the Family".But when ever I find time to see an episode I think it's great fun to watch.I couldn't watch the show when they were showing it for the first time since I was born in the early 80's so I wasn't even born yet.But thank God there are re-runs.The show that ran from 1971 to 1979 tells about the Bunker family.Archie is the mighty intolerant working-class father who always tells straight his opinions on things.His son-in-law Michael Stivic is a liberal who Archie likes to call Meathead.The daughter Gloria shares his husband's views in life. Archie's wife Edith is somewhat simple who has a lot of wisdom in her.Carroll O'Connor is perfect in his role as Archie Bunker.Rob Reiner as Mike Stivic is brilliant.Sally Struthers is wonderful as Gloria Bunker-Stivic.Jean Stapleton as Edith Bunker is something else.They all were born to play these roles.There were some great moments during the show's run.Once even the great Sammy Davis Jr. sat on Archie's chair.This show is very 70's and it would be impossible to move it to this era.It just wouldn't work.It's fascinating to watch this show and see how the world has changed.The show works still this day because of it's wonderful characters and because it's funny.It could also be very dramatic.You can laugh or get your eyes a little wet while watching "All in the Family".It's a great show.
"ALL IN THE FAMILY," in my opinion, is a must-see CBS hit! Despite the fact that I've never seen every episode, I still enjoy it. It's hard to say which one is my favorite. Also, I really love the theme song. If you ask me, even though I like everyone, it would have been nice if everyone had stayed on the show throughout its entire run. Everyone always gave a good performance, the production design was spectacular, the costumes were well-designed, and the writing was always very strong. In conclusion, even though it can also be seen on TV Land now, I strongly recommend you catch it just in case it goes off the air for good.
I love Archie and Edith. I know in this day of political correctness
Archie would be frowned upon, but back then he was just Archie. And
still is. I think people make too much of being PC...Just let people be
and do what they want to be and do. If you don't agree with a
show...for God's sake. just cut it off. Stop creating so much hassle
for everyone else.
I KNOW I saw an episode where Edith died. I only caught the last few minutes of it and would like to see the entire show. What are the chances of it being aired again. Locally, All in the family comes on each night at 9:30. Please let me know. Thanks. I loved the show when I was a child and still watch every episode I can catch as a n adult. Thanks Poormerlin
How can someone NOT laugh at Archie??? This was and still is a GREAT show! Archie with his... well Archie talk... and Edith the dingbat. I laugh just thinking about the show. I love how on this show it is said just like it is, no holding back. It dealt with touchy subjects head on but in an open, clean, and great way, unlike todays TV. I think the only people who can say that this show is terrible must have no sense of humor. I have many friends who hated All In The Family until I made them watch it a few times, now they watch it whenever it is on, they love it. My sister and I send Archie quotes to each other on the computer and she sits at work laughing at her computer (her co-workers must think she is nuts). All I can say is that to me, this is about the best show to ever be put on television. I think we still need shows like this. There will never be another All In The Family, and more upsetting, not another Archie to keep us laughing.
This show had the most spin-offs of any television show.
Maude, Good Times (from Maude), The Jeffersons, Checkin In (a Florence spin-of from the Jeffersons),
Archie Bunker's Place, Gloria, 704 Houser Place.
7 in total. I do not think there is one close to that number!
What a funny show!
This is what television was made for, to shake up our society!
The creators and the actors all did wonderful amazing work on this show, it was always provocative and funny and daring and silly, I'll never forget some of the episodes.
In particular, the writers tackled all the hot button issues of the day, from Racism to rape, and they didn't treat it with cutesy kid gloves either- you cringed and laughed and cried.
Todays measly sitcoms- Friends, Will and Grace- while being occasionally funny, rarely hit the nerve of the nation at all. Whens the last time a sitcom was political? Murphy Brown?
This was a seminal show of my youth.
I wish they'd come out with them all on DVD, it's really worth it.
What can be said about All in the Family that hasn't been said?
This show has spawned more spinoffs than any in history. It will
be remembered as one of television's greatest shows. The role of
Archie Bunker is an archtype that many of us have laughed at
because he represents the silly, far right faction. Carrol O'Connor
is one of the true comedic geniuses, not only of his time, but of any
time. To play a role to perfection for 15 years, is certainly an
amazing accomplishment. Jean Stapleton was always great as
the only person who could make Archie think logically. Edith
Bunker put up with so much, she should get the award for wife of
the year. Gloria and Mike provided some great laughs playing the
ying to Archie's yang. One of the greatest pieces of television was the final episode
before Mike, Gloria and Joey moved to California. The raw emotion
shown by Archie Bunker when they left would bring a tear to even
the most radical right wingers in our society. Truly, All in the Family will go down in history as one of, if not the
greatest, television shows of all time.
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