Boston chinks - coltrane

Situation Comedy
FIRST TELECAST: January 12, 1971
LAST TELECAST: April 8, 1979
THEME: "Those Were the Days," by Strouse and Adams, sung at the opening of each show by Archie and Edith through the 1978-1979 season, replaced by an instrumental version after that.
PRODUCER: Norman Lear
All in the Family changed the course of television comedy. Based on the British series Till Death Us Do Part, it brought a sense of harsh reality to a TV world which previously had been populated largely by homogenized, inoffensive characters and stories that seemed to have been laundered before they ever got on the air. Its chief character, Archie Bunker (Carroll O'Connor), was anything but bland. A typical working-class Joe, he was uneducated, prejudiced and blatantly outspoken. He was constantly lambasting virtually every minority group in existence. His views on blacks (or, as he often called them, "jungle bunnies," or "spades"), Puerto Ricans ("spics"), Chinese ("chinks") and any other racial or religious group not his own, were clear and consistent. Archie believed in every negative racial and ethnic stereotype he had ever heard. Unfortunately, he could never get away from the people he despised. Archie was a dock foreman for the Prendergast Tool and Die Company, and he had to work with a racially mixed group of people. Next door to his small house at 704 Houser Street, in the Corona section of Queens, New York, lived a black family, the Jeffersons. His daughter Gloria (Sally Struthers) had married a Pole. On top of it all, Archie the bigoted arch-conservative, even had to share his house with his "meathead" son-in-law, Mike Stivic (Rob Reiner). (Mike was studying for his degree in sociology, and so was unemployed.) Completing the Bunker household was Archie's slow-witted but honest and unprejudiced wife, Edith (Jean Stapleton). Over the years changes took place. Edith's cousin Maude Findlay (Bea Arthur), appeared in several episodes, provoking Archie with her loud, liberal opinions. She got her own show, Maude, in 1972. The Jeffersons (Sherman Hensley, Isabel Stanford and Mike Evans), Archie's African-American next door neighbors, moved away to Manhattan and into their own show, The Jeffersons, early in 1975, whereupon Mike, who had finally graduated from college, moved into the old house. This allowed Mike to continue to torment Archie, but as a next door neighbor. Then Gloria became pregnant; the baby, Joey, was born in December 1975. The Lorenzos, an Italian couple, moved in as neighbors for a while. Frank Lorenzo (Vincent Gardenia) loved to clean and cook (woman's work, according to Archie) while his wife Irene (Betty Garrett) was an accomplished fixer of anything mechanical. Irene also possessed a sarcastic wit, with which she put down Archie regularly. When Archie was temporarily laid off from his job in October 1976, the Bunkers were forced to take in a Puerto Rican border, Teresa Betancourt (Liz Torres), which provided still another source of irritation. The 1977-78 season included episodes with some very adult themes, including one in which an intruder attempted to rape Edith. Then at the end of the season Rob Reiner and Sally Struthers announced that they were leaving All in the Family for ventures of their own. The final episode of the season saw Mike, Gloria and little Joey (played by twins Jason and Justin Draeger) moving to California where Mike was to take a teaching position. The episode was a tearful and sentimental farewell, leaving Archie and Edith with an "empty nest." Temporarily, as it turned out, for in the fall of 1978, Archie and Edith were joined by little Stephanie Mills (Danielle Brisebois), a niece who had been abandoned by her father. Throughout all of these changes All in the Family remained one of the top hits on television. It did not begin that way, however. It took 1971 audiences several months to adjust to the blunt, outrageous humor of the show. There was considerable publicity about Archie's railings against "spics and spades," and it seemed possible that the show might be canceled. But by the summer of 1971 All in the Family had become a controversial hit, and the number-one program on television -- a position it retained for five years. Part of its appeal was based on the fact that it could be interpreted in several different ways. Liberals and intellectuals could cite it as an example of the absurdity of prejudice, while another large segment of the viewing audience could agree with Archie's attitudes and enjoy him as their kind of guy. Like The Honeymooners' Ralph Kramden in the 1950s, the loud-mouthed yet vulnerable Archie Bunker was a man for all audiences. CBS telecast reruns of All in the Family weekdays from December 1975 to September 1979 and in prime time during the summer of 1991, in the latter instance paired with Norman Lear's new (and decidedly less successful) series Sunday Dinner. Buy this series on DVD at

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