Today, Jan. 12, marks the 40th anniversary of the CBS show's debut, and it's hard to say if the comedy would've been as influential in today's television landscape.
While there are plenty of shows that feature sex and violence -- and even cartoons like 'South Park' handle some political/cultural issues -- there aren't many that deal with politics, race and sex the way this show did. It was controversial then, but with today's 24-hour news, cable pundits, the Internet and political correctness, it would get a lot of heat (if it made it on the air at all).
So in honor of 'All in the Family's' anniversary, here's our list of 12 great moments from the show. It's hard to pick just a dozen, but these are all classic.
One of them is All in the Family, which airs at 8 a.m. on TV Land, the network with its rack of sour tasting reality shows and shrinking share of old sitcoms and serials that is in danger of becoming the new MTV.
A week ago, one of the show's -- and all of television history's greatest -- gems found its way to my "Now Playing List." That famous episode where Sammy Davis Jr. makes the trek to 704 Hauser Street and gives Archie a big wet one on the cheek. I had not seen this show since I was a kid, back in the 80s when All in the Family reruns flooded my television, but this most recent viewing unveiled an interesting factoid that almost went unnoticed.
As we've told you before, this is the 60th anniversary of the Emmy Awards. The September 21 show, telecast on ABC, will not only celebrate the Best Actresses and Best Dramas of the current prime time lineup, it will also celebrate the many stars and characters and shows of 10, 20, 40, 60 years ago.
ABC has created an ad that features a lot of those stars. A lot of the stars are easy to find and it's a no-brainer that they were included (Marge and Homer, Rod Serling, Dick Van Dyke, Stewie, the South Park guys, etc), but I'm happy to also see some people I didn't think would be in such an ad: Guy Williams as Zorro, Robert Culp from I Spy, Mike Connors from Mannix, Tim Daly from Wings, Wally Cox from Mr. Peepers, among others.
Cleveland is perhaps the most down to earth of Peter's pals on Family Guy, which could make him the perfect centerpiece of a new cartoon series. Zany new characters could be built around him. If history repeats itself, he could be the George Jefferson to Peter Griffin's Archie Bunker, i.e., The Jeffersons spinning off from All in the Family.
Well, other than the cool TV Squad gig, that is. That goes without saying.
What I have are life lessons learned from television, as well as some obscure bits of knowledge I may have overlooked had I led the scholarly life without television in my life.
If I was to pick the Top 5 things I hate about television, the coverage of the NCAA Tournament this month would be near the top of the list. It interrupts regular shows, and I truly don't understand why people get so ga-ga over COLLEGE basketball, unless you went there or something.
But I do like the brackets set up, and we can use it for other things in life, including TV! Jacksonville.com has a tournment of their own going on. They're trying to pick the best sitcom character of all-time and they need your help. Go here and vote for your favorites in Week 1 (the second round is this Wednesday). Make sure you read the directions carefully.
Speaking of brackets, I picked up the new book The Enlightened Bracketologist: The Final Four of Everything. It's a clever idea: get an expert in a particular field to set up a tournament about everything in life (puncuation, sports rivalries, dogs, political issues, etc) and keep on narrowing them down til you get the champ. There's a lot of TV-related ones in the book, including game show catchphrases (by Ken Jennings), animation characters (by New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast), black and white TV shows, talk show hosts, and several more). Lists like these are argument starters for sure, and the entire outcome depends on how you start the brackets, which is rather random (unless you do something like talk show hosts, which you can at least start by nighttime, daytime, or region). Why are certain people/items placed together and not in another bracket? So it's probably not precise, but it's a ton of fun.
[Thanks to Toby for the tip.]
You'll remember Evans from his role as Lionel Jefferson on All In The Family and the spinoff show The Jeffersons. He died of throat cancer last week in California.
Besides his role as Lionel, Evans also appeared in The Streets of San Francisco, Rich Man, Poor Man, Love, American Style, Match Game, and Walker, Texas Ranger. He was also one of the creators and writers of the sitcom Good Times.
I had forgotten this, but he was actually replaced as Lionel Jefferson on The Jeffersons for four years, in the late 70s. He was replaced by Damon Evans, then returned to the show for the last couple of years.
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