How has TV viewing and programming changed since in four decades? Nowadays the networks have turned Saturday night into a dumping ground for reruns. Back in the early 1970s, Saturday night hosted the most watch show in All in the Family. Instead of going out to the discos and trampoline parks, people adjusted the rabbit ears on the TV to see what Archie Bunker would say next. The show was in the top of the ratings for its nine season run. Now all those seasons and a little bit more will be stuffed inside All in the Family: The Complete Series for release on October 30. Also included will be the original two pilots for the show, the pilot of Archie Bunker’s Place, Gloria and 704 Hauser. 704 Hauser had a black family move in the Bunker house. You might not remember it since the series only lasted 6 episodes in 1994. Oddly enough, the family that bought the Bunkers’ house were named Cumberbatch. Two decades later Benedict Cumberbatch would rule TV in Sherlock. Coincidence? Norman Lear sits down for a new interview about his legendary sitcom. Here’s the press release from Shout! Factory:
Los Angeles, CA – On October 30, 2012 Shout! Factory will release All In The Family: The Complete Series, a 28-Disc box set of one the most beloved and groundbreaking television shows of all time. The first-ever box set release of the show contains all 213 episodes, uncut and in their original broadcast form. A wealth of bonus features includes a 40-page collectible book with essays by Pulitzer Prize–winning TV critic Tom Shales and USC Media Professor Marty Kaplan, a new interview with Norman Lear, the documentary Those Were The Days: The Birth Of “All In The Family,” the documentary The Television Revolution Begins: “All In The Family” Is On The Air, the original All In The Family pilot “Justice For All,” the second All In The Family pilot “Those Were The Days,” and the spin-off pilot episodes of Gloria, Archie Bunker’s Place, and 704 Hauser.
Those were the days. Few television shows have left as substantial and enduring a footprint on American popular culture as Norman Lear’s masterpiece All In The Family. The revolutionary series looked at the state of the world through the eyes of an argumentative but loving family and gave us some of the most fully dimensional characters in television history. The jokes had a million targets, aiming at race, politics, sex and human foibles, but the humor was firmly rooted in the characters of Archie, Edith, Mike and Gloria.
Created by legendary TV producer Norman Lear (Sanford and Son; One Day at a Time; The Jeffersons; Good Times; Maude; Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman), All In The Family premiered on January 12, 1971. About a middle class family living in 1970s Queens, NY, the show starred Carroll O’Connor as Archie Bunker, Jean Stapleton as Edith Bunker, Sally Struthers as daughter Gloria, and Rob Reiner as liberal son-in-law Mike “Meathead” Stivic. All In The Family was No. 1 in the ratings for most of its nine-season run, and won multiple Emmy® Awards.
Marty Kaplan writes of the characters in “Archie’s America, and Ours,” his essay accompanying the box set, “I would call them originals, which of course they are, but a share of their appeal is actually their familiarity, their resemblance to our own relatives, our own families’ dysfunctions and endurance. For some of us, it’s fairly amazing that we got out of our homes of origin alive and intact; All In The Family is our home movie of how we managed that and lived to tell the tale and to laugh about it.”
In “Those Were the Days,” Tom Shales’ essay accompanying the box set, Shales proclaims All In The Family “the best situation comedy ever,” and discusses at length the many ways in which the show was groundbreaking, including the fact that it was shot on videotape instead of film, and “before a live audience” rather than in an empty studio. Aware of the shock potential of the show, the network went so far as to run an advisory before the first episode, warning viewers of precedents about to shatter. Archie himself was groundbreaking, “a new kind of sitcom antihero, a warts-and-all character who sometimes seemed, especially in the show’s earliest days, all wart.”
For the writers, Shales notes, All in the Family was “a liberation, a chance to deal with people who had dimension, character, complexity and edge. But the audience got liberated too. In those times of women’s lib and gay lib and other libs, All in the Family was TV Lib. It changed the rules, it changed the game, and it let a nation laugh at itself and its ‘issues,’ the better to face them and deal with them. All in the Family was a great contribution to television, and to the human race.”
41 years after its debut, All in the Family still resonates. This complete series collection is a long overdue celebration of the enormously influential series and delivers fans something to treasure for years to come.
All In The Family: The Complete Series Bonus Features:
New Interview With Norman Lear
Those Were The Days: The Birth Of “All In The Family” – Documentary
The Television Revolution Begins: “All In The Family” Is On The Air –Documentary
“Justice For All” – Original All In The Family Pilot
“Those Were The Days” – Second All In The Family Pilot
Gloria Spin-Off Pilot Episode
Archie Bunker’s Place Pilot Episode
704 Hauser Pilot Episode (1994 Spin-Off)
40-Page Collectible Book With Essays By Television Critic Tom Shales and USC Media Professor Marty Kaplan
Available at Amazon.com