Those were the days...and they still are. Norman Lear's landmark Emmy® Award-winning comedy about the Bunkers, one of the most beloved families in television history, continues with this second season. Filled with more hysterical episodes including "Sammy's Visit" featuring Sammy Davis, Jr. Starring Carroll O'Connor as Archie, Jean Stapleton as Edith, Rob Reiner as Mike "Meathead" Stivic and Sally Struthers as Gloria, ALL IN THE FAMILY is a timeless classic to cherish forever.
With a new time slot (8:00 p.m. Saturdays) and three first-season Emmys®, All in the Family was primed for greatness, and these 24 episodes represent the series at its best. Carroll O'Connor leads the perfect cast as blue-collar bigot Archie Bunker, and the standout classic is "Sammy's Visit," in which black, Jewish rat-packer Sammy Davis Jr. visits the Bunker home, where he's hilariously horrified by Archie's prejudicial ignorance. The script was written by comedian Bill ("José Jiminez") Dana, and to borrow Archie's phrase, it's a pip, as Sammy turns Archie's racist remarks on their ear to the delight of young liberals Gloria (Sally Struthers) and husband Mike (Rob Reiner). Sammy's parting kiss on Archie's cheek is one of the series' all-time highlights. Then there's Burt Styler's Emmy-winning script for "Edith's Problem," in which Archie's "Dingbat" wife experiences the mood swings of menopause (another first, along with impotence in "Mike's Problem," in the series' taboo-busting candor). A showcase for Jean Stapleton (who deservedly won her second consecutive Emmy), it also demonstrates (as does "Archie and Edith Alone") the hurtful repercussions of Archie's unintentional cruelty. Edith's Archie-baiting cousin Maude (Bea Arthur) is introduced ("Maude" is a pilot for the character's spin-off sitcom, which premiered in '72), and credit must be given to John Rich, who directed all 24 episodes (winning an Emmy for "Sammy's Visit") with a flawless sense of ensemble chemistry, precision timing, and lasting political relevance. This season earned seven Emmys overall, including awards for O'Connor and Struthers. Given such a wealth of sitcom glory, it's a shame these DVDs are devoid of retrospective features. --Jeff Shannon
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