'Archie Bunker's Place - Season One'
(Carroll O'Connor, Jean Stapleton / 2-Disc DVD / NR / 2015 / Mill Creek Entertainment)
Overview: Join Archie Bunker (Carroll O'Connor), his wife Edith (Maureen Stapleton), niece Stephanie (Danielle Brisebois) and new business partner Murray Klein (Oscar®-winner Martin Balsam, 1965 Best Actor in a Supporting Role, A Thousand Clowns), at the funniest saloon in Queens.
DVD Verdict: With 'Archie Bunker's Place', Carroll O'Connor had much more creative control than he did on 'All in the Family'. Too bad he didn't have Jean, Sally and Rob to back him up, with the exception of a two part episode. Rob Reiner was supposedly reluctant to return, but being newly divorced, he needed the money. The post-Edith episodes are much more maudlin than the first season, and it's depressing to see a sadder Archie. We saw much less of 704 Hauser St., and when it was shown, it looked a lot darker and emptier.
About a year before it was cancelled, Sally Struthers, who really had nothing better lined up, was talked into doing a spin off featuring her Gloria character, now separated from Mike Stivic. Before the show was cancelled, there was talk of possibly having Rob Reiner return occasionally as Mike, but Rob had become an established director and had no desire to reprise Meathead. Gloria was now a veterinary assistant, and the trainer from Rocky was the veterinarian that let her sleep in an extra room in his house where his practice was.
That said, and playing Devil's Advocate, for a hot second, this first season will bring many people good memories too. There is the Thanksgiving Reunion Two-part episode that features Gloria, Mike, and Joey coming back for a visit after moving to California. And there is another good episode where Sammy Davis, Jr. makes a second appearance on a Archie Bunker show, first being the one second season episode of All In The Family.
Unfortunately, not enough people were interested in seeing a single Gloria, who had matured since the original series. I remember seeing the first show back in 1979, and thought the show was awkward even back then. Having now sat through all 24 episodes of this "groundbreaking hit show" (the back covers words, not mine!) once again, back to back, well, my opinion still hasn't altered.
It was an attempt to show a single woman struggling to make it on her own (and that's been done before, what, at least a couple times ie: Mary Tyler Moore, That Girl, anyone?). Also, being that continuity is always at the helm of every great show, as the camera dollies along the "Queens" street to the bar in the opening credits, a palm tree is briefly visible behind the set buildings! Come on now, didn't anyone ever catch that?! These are all Full Screen Presentations (1:33.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.
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