Customer Reviews: All in the Family: Complete Second Season
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on December 29, 2002
At last, Season Two of "All in the Family," arguably the best comedy series ever made, is coming to DVD! Here are the episodes from season two, as they were aired and in the order they should be on on DVD:
#1 The Saga of Cousin Oscar -- Archie is incensed when his sponging cousin Oscar has the nerve to drop dead in the upstairs bedroom.
#2 Gloria Poses in the Nude -- Mike has second thoughts after he agrees to let Gloria pose as a nude model for one of his artist friends (David Soul).
#3 Archie in the Lock-Up -- Archie suffers his ultimate indignity when he's arrested along with a group of radicals at a protest rally.
#4 Edith Writes a Song -- SOOOO funny!! A pair of burglars (Cleavon Little and Demond Wilson, who would go on to be Lamont in "Sanford and Son") holds the family at bay with Archie's own pistol.
#5 Flashback: Mike Meets Archie -- On the Stivics' first wedding anniversary, the family recalls the day Archie and Michael met.
#6 The Election Story -- Mike and Gloria campaign for the liberal candidate in a local election, while Archie places himself in the opposing camp.
#7 Edith's Accident -- A priest pays a call to reward Edith's honesty for leaving a note on his car after she accidentally dents it with a large can of cling peaches.
#8 The Blockbuster -- An unscrupulous black real-estate salesman tempts Archie to sell his house to a black family at an inflated price.
#9 Mike's Problem -- Gloria is upset when Mike's nervousness over his grades causes him to become temporarily impotent.
#10 The Insurance Is Canceled -- Archie lays off a Puerto Rican worker during a cutback at the dock; and his homeowner's policy is canceled when his neighborhood is redlined as a bad risk.
#11 The Man in the Street -- Archie Bunker anticipates becoming the voice of the American working man when his man-on-the-street interview is scheduled to appear on Walter Cronkite's Evening News.
#12 Cousin Maude's Visit -- Edith's feisty cousin, Maude (Bea Arthur), drops in for a visit during a flu epidemic at the Bunker House.
#13 Christmas Day at the Bunkers -- Archie casts a pall on the family's Yuletide spirits when he complains that he was passed over for this year's Christmas bonus.
#14 The Elevator Story -- Archie gets caught in an elevator, along with a pregnant Puerto Rican and her husband, an aging hippie, and an erudite black businessman.
#15 Edith's Problem -- Edith is suddenly moody and irritable with the approach of menopause.
#16 Archie and the FBI -- Archie's paranoia during a mysterious government investigation drives him to betray a long-standing friendship.
#17 Mike's Mysterious Son -- An old girlfriend of Mike's suddenly arrives at the Bunkers' with a four-year-old boy who she claims is his son.
#18 Archie Sees a Mugging -- Archie refuses to get involved with the police, even though he's the only witness to a neighborhood mugging.
#19 Archie and Edith Alone -- The Bunkers are on their own for eight days after Mike and Gloria go off to spend a week at a commune.
#20 Edith Gets a Mink -- Archie is too proud to let Edith accept a mink stole from her cousin Amelia, until he sees a chance to make a $300 profit.
#21 Sammy's Visit -- Sammy Davis, Jr., encounters Archie Bunker in all his glory when the star ventures out to Queens to retrieve a briefcase he left in Munson's taxicab.
#22 Edith the Judge -- Edith arbitrates a dispute between Archie and the irate proprietor of a laundromat.
#23 Archie Is Jealous -- Archie is disturbed to discover that Edith once spent an entire weekend with an old beau.
#24 Maude -- The Bunkers attend the wedding of cousin Maude's daughter, Carol. This episode served as the pilot for "Maude".
The second season of "All in the Family" gave us a more sympathetic Archie to care about, and was also when the entire ensemble of actors came to work together, completely in their characters now. Few tv comedy shows ever came close to it, either before or since, and what a pleasure to have these on DVD! Let's hope maybe there are a few nice "extras" on this set though, as Season One had ZIP!
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All things considered, the Second Season of "All in the Family" ends up being the best year of the classic situation comedy that gave birth to the Relevance Era of prime-time television programming. After all, the show was originally a mid-season replacement and there were only 13 episodes that first season. In 1971-72 "All in the Family" was the top-rated program on television, earning a 34.0 Nielsen rating, and winning second consecutive Emmy awards for Outstanding Series: Comedy and Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Comedy Series: Jean Stapleton, as well as Carroll O'Connor's first Emmy for acting, one for Sally Strothers in her supporting role, and the awards for Directing (John Rich for "Sammy's Visit") and Writing (Burt Styler for "Edith's Problem"). Poor Rob Reiner, the forgotten figure in the ensemble (as if being Carl Reiner's son was not enough of an onus).
The second season continues to provide the ranting and raving of Archie Bunker, but it is the entire family that emerges in these two dozen episodes as we get beyond Archie arguing with Mike, telling Edith to stifle, and Gloria to stop crying . There are also the show's most notable guest stars in terms of Sammy Davis, Jr., David Soul, Cleavon Little, Beatrice Arthur, and, in one episode ("The Elevator Story," January 1, 1972) Roscoe Lee Brown, Eileen Brennan, and Hector Elizondo. Clearly this was the hottest show on television and the entire idea of Archie driving a cab part-time was used mainly to set up an excuse for Archie Bunker to meet Sammy Davis, Jr.
There are several possibilities for the key episode in Season Two, including "Flashback: Mike Meets Archie" (October 16, 1971) where we discover that even when Archie drove Mike from the house by singing "God Bless America," the conflict between the two is much more father and son-in-law than ideology. Life continues to deal Archie a series of blows at the start of the season as his sponging cousin Oscar drops dead in the bedroom upstairs ("The Saga of Cousin Oscar," September 18, 1971), he is arrested along with a group of radicals at a protest rally ("Archie in the Lock-Up," October 2, 1971), and his house is broken into ("Edith Writes a Song," October 9, 1971). But the biggest problems come from his wife, Edith, who suddenly becomes moody and irritable as she beings menopause ("Edith's Problem," January 8, 1972), and Edith's radical liberal cousin, Maude ("Cousin Maude's Visit," December 11, 1971). However, the sweetest moment of the season comes with the Bunkers dancing to "The Moonlight Serenade" after they are forced to live on their own for a week with the kids out of time ("Archie and Edith Alone," February 5, 1972).
Mike has enough troubles without taking into account his constant verbal sparring with Archie. Gloria poses in the nude for one of his artist friends ("Gloria Poses in the Nude," September 25, 1971), has an old girlfriend dumping off a four-year-old boy she claims is his son ("Mike's Mysterious Son," January 22, 1972), and becomes temporarily impotent worrying about his grades ("Mike's Problem," November 20, 1971), in what was the most controversial episode since the show's original pilot because of the, uh, touchy subject. Although it was a supporting part, the show did puncture Mike's liberal views the same way it did Archie's conservative diatribes.
If anyone emerges from Archie's shadow it was Edith, who asserts her individuality by leaving a note on a car after she accidentally dents it with a large can of cling peaches (in heavy syrup) ("Edith's Accident," November 6, 1971), and who ends up arbitrating a dispute between her husband and the owner of the Laundromat (Jack Weston), who knows Edith is honest, even if Archie does not ("Edith the Judge," February 26, 1972). I always thought that Carroll O'Connor's mugging grew over the years as an attempt to stop Jean Stapleton from constantly stealing every scene from him.
However, if there is anybody who takes Archie down a peg or two during the second season, it is Archie himself. It is Archie who has let his voter registration lapse ("The Election Story," October 30, 1971), Archie who lays off the wrong person at the loading dock when he picks the Puerto Rican instead of Stretch Cunningham ("The Insurance is Cancelled," November 27, 1971), Archie who loses his Christmas Bonus ("Christmas Day at the Bunkers," December 18, 1971), who betrays a long-standing friendship ("Archie and the FBI," January 15, 1972), and who refuses to get involved when he witnesses a mugging ("Archie Sees a Mugging," January 29, 1972). Still, there were those who thought Archie Bunker was the conscience of the nation, and applauded his conservative politics ("The Man in the Street," December 4, 1971).
By the time Season Two ended with what was the pilot for the spin-off series "Maude" (March 11, 1972), with the Bunkers attending the wedding of Maude's daughter Carole (who was played by Marcia Rodd and not Adrienne Barbeau at that point), "All in the Family" was the best show on television. It is the only series in the history of television to finish #1 in the Nielsen ratings five seasons in a row. "I Love Lucy" did not do that and neither did "Gunsmoke" or "The Cosby Show." But then all of those shows had an impact on their respective genres while "All in the Family" made relevant topics viable on every program on the tube.
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I watched "All in the Family" every week from its inception in 1971 through the last episode of the last season. I watched the summer reruns. When earlier years made it to daytime TV I watched them as well. As far as I was concerned, "All in the Family" was the funniest half hour on television. Once the DVD's came out I picked them up as well and have watched all of them at least twice.

Season 2 has so many classic episodes that I almost feel like listing all of them as among my favorites. Here are a few of the best:

"Archie in the Lockup." Archie goes to look for Mike and Gloria when he hears that a demonstration in which they were involved has turned violent. Somehow he gets arrested and thrown in a cell with a bunch of radicals. Mike has to come to bail him out, a procedure that doesn't go smoothly because Archie makes a negative comment about Mike being a Pole right in front of Sergeant Pulaski.

"Flashback: Mike Meets Archie." The Bunkers and Stivics recall the evening of Mike's first visit to the Bunker household, an evening that starts going awry when Archie discovers that Mike is Polish and soon degenerates into a shouting match when Archie makes a stereotypical comment about black athletes.

"Edith's Accident." Edith drops a can of cling peaches in heavy syrup on a car in a supermarket parking lot. She leaves a note for the owner, who contacts her. It so happens that the car owner is a priest, of whom Archie is immediately suspicious. (Archie thinks that he may be a "deflocked priest.") This episode contains some of most memorably funny lines of the entire nine seasons.

"Cousin Maude's Visit." This is the episode in which Maude (Bea Arthur) visits to help out because the entire Bunker household has the flu. The mutual antipathy between her and Archie becomes immediately evident. Along with the final episode of Season 2, in which Archie manages to cause the cancellation of the marriage of Maude's daughter to a Jewish fellow, this episode forms the basis for the spinoff of "Maude."

"Archie Sees a Mugging." Archie refuses to testify to a mugging because he becomes paranoid about the Mafia taking revenge on him.

In my estimation, Season 2 is when Carroll O'Connor, Jean Stapleton, Sally Struthers, and Rob Reiner begin to really get comfortable in their respective roles and are able to develop their character.
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on February 11, 2003
I have to give this set a split review. To do otherwise would be unfair.
First the material itself:
All In The Family, as you probably already know, was one of the greatest television shows ever. With simple architypal characters, the producers give us a lens to focus in on issues of the day.
The shows themselves are funny. Carroll O'Connor was a top rate performer (I find it really interesting that he was an English teacher before he went on to butcher the language as Archie). Jean Stapleton, Rob Reiner and Sally Struthers are perfect as supporting characters.
This season received seven Emmy awards, including awards for O'Connor and Stapleton. Classic episodes in this season include apparences by Edith's cousin Maude (Beatrice Arthur) and others. Classic bits include Edith's accident with a can of cling peaches in heavy syrup, Archie appearing on Walter Cronkite's newscast only to find out that his television set is busted (and his pleading with an Orthodox Jewish television repairman to fix the set even though it's a Friday night and he can't work because it's the Sabbath!), Archie getting stuck in an elevator with an African-American and a Hispanic couple (who's wife is about to give birth in the elevator) and Edith's going through menopause. This was the season that really put All in the Family on the televison map.
Now the bad news.
First of all, there are no extras at all. But that's not so bad. The season sets of M*A*S*H have no extras too, but I can live with that. But at least the season sets of M*A*S*H have chapter stops in the episodes. In the AITF set, however, there are no stops at all (not even for the opening and closing credits). If you want to go to a specific spot in the episode, you have to fast forward all the way there. You can't even just skip the opening credits, you have to fast forward through "Those Were The Days." At the very least, a chapter stop after the opening credits would have been helpful. It's clear that whoever designed this set did not give much thought to how it would be viewed. Hopefully, they'll get it right for season three.
In addition, I've also noticed some glitches when the episodes are watched. Nothing that made the episode unwatchable, but nonetheless, the glitches were noticable.
So, content-wise, I give this DVD set 5 stars. Techincal-wise, it only rates 1 star. But if you're a true AITF fan, go for it.
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on October 1, 2014
There is nothing so timely and funny as Archie Bunker, Edith and the whole cast of characters. I bought this DVD set to watch with my Dad, who has mid-stage Alzheimers, and it is one of best ways I know for him to engage (his long term memory is great) and laugh...we have lots of conversations about Archie and his biases...laughter is the best medicine, and thanks to this set, my dad's sense of humor is exercised every time we watch.

It is a great timeline for just how far we have come, personally, and as a realize that issues that we discuss openly now were so controversial and explosive, not that many years ago.

If you want a great walk down memory lane, this is the set for you!
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on November 16, 2010
Highly regarded by most "All in The Family" fans as being one of the best years both in story and acting form, season two would go on to produce 24 episodes and propel the show to #1 in the national Nielsen Ratings with over 21 million fans watching weekly.

Some of the better episodes in the 1971-1972 season were "Cousin Maude's Visit" when Edith's cousin Maude comes to visit to care for the Bunkers when all are sick with the flu. This would encourage both series creator Norman lear, and CBS to give Beatrice Arthur her own sitcom the following year; "Edith's Accident" dealt with Edith accidentally damaging someone's car with a can of peaches and Archie's hilarious attempt in not paying; "Mike's Problem" continued the show's portrayal of real-life issues when Mike discovered he was impotent; and the highlight of season two was "Sammy's Visit" when Sammy Davis Jr., a real fan of the show, made a guest appearance as himself.

Like other DVD sets there are no special features, but thankfully all nine seasons with be available for purchasing before the middle of 2011.
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on November 25, 2003
Columbia TriStar has done it to us again. They present us with 1 or 2 seasons of a classic television show, and then stop. In addition to All in the Family, The Jeffersons appears to have been abandoned as well. I was really looking forward to purchasing Good Times, but don't want to begin another incomplete collection. I believe I speak for a lot of people who collect classic TV on DVD. These classics should be released in their entirety. They are our only escape from today's prescribed politically correct crap.
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on September 3, 2003
Just wanted to let everyone know that I heard a rumor that Columbia Tri-Star was considering "ditching" this series due to "poor sales" I want to encourage everyone to write Columbia Tri-Star to NOT do this and do whatever nesacary to convince them that we want to see the continuing release of All in the Family all the way through season 9 and even more frequent releases than they are now. Thanks
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VINE VOICEon December 29, 2006
NBC loves to hang the moniker "greatest ____ ever" on its TV shows as if saying so makes it so. First, The Cosby Show was the greatest sitcom ever, then Seinfeld, then Friends. Of course, according to NBC, ER is the greatest program in the history of television, so we all have to discuss comedy programs in and of themselves. If NBC spent nearly as much time creating good new shows as it does in shamelessly overhyping their old shows, they probably would still be ahead of CBS in the ratings.

For my money, no sitcom will ever top the great All in the Family in any respect -- acting, writing and overall influence. To get an idea of what dire straits TV comedy was in before All in the Family, take a look at an episode of one of the other sitcoms that was on the air at the time: Family Affair, The Brady Bunch, the last, sad days of Bewitched, The Beverly Hillbillies. The country had grown up, but television sitcoms had stayed rooted in the same dated themes of the 1950's and 1960's: either sterilized white bread families or gimmicky hocus pocus that took the place of the quality writing of classics like I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners and The Dick Van Dyke Show. Subjects like Vietnam, flower children, drugs, poverty, racism, homosexuality and rape were taboos.

Enter Archie, Edith, Mike and Gloria who dealt with all those issues and more head on in every episode. While Carol Brady scolded her children for saying the word "stinker," Archie Bunker held a lengthy dissertation on the phrase "god damn it." While Samantha Stevens was still dealing with her wacky witch and morlock relatives, the Bunkers were coming face to face with a transsexual. While the perpetually backwards residents of The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction and Green Acres discussed barn dances and pig raising, the Bunkers talked about the bombing of Cambodia and Watergate.

To be sure, Archie Bunker was a caricature -- a personification of all the old time, outdated prejudiced values that were so out of step in the early 70's. Creator Norman Lear's political perspective is cleary on the side of Mike and Gloria Stivic rather than Archie or Edith. However, Lear, who modeled the character of Archie on his father, wisely gave Archie Bunker a good soul. It's clear that deep down, Archie is a good person who can't deal with the changes in his life and the country without lashing out angrily at them.

The supreme achievement of All in the Family is that it takes all that anger and controversy and makes them funny. In the episode where the Jeffersons move into the neighborhood, for example, Archie's bigoted opposition to letting a black family could have made the situation ugly and very, very unfunny. However, Archie's opposition and fear is lampooned, making the point that discriminating on the basis of race is ridiculous. It's certainly deeper and more meaningful than Soup Nazis or finding out which two members of the Friends ensemble will sleep with each other next.

In addition, the cast is probably the best ever assembled for sitcom with the possible exceptions of The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Carroll O'Connor as Archie, Jean Stapleton as Edith, Rob Reiner as Mike Stivic and Sally Struthers as Gloria are absolute magic together and still manage to convey how much they love each other even while they argue about and disagree about everything. In addition, the supporting cast would later include so many great actors and actresses as so many great characters that All in the Family would spawn five spinoffs. A true measure of how much the characters come to mean to the audience is in the episode "Gloria's Pregnancy." When Gloria miscarries, Archie goes to comfort her. Even though he can't find the right words to say, the look that passes between Archie and Gloria is extremely moving and touching. The characters yell and scream the most horrible things at each other, but when push comes to shove, they are a real, loving family.

No matter how much NBC and other networks may hype their sitcoms as being the best ever, All in the Family will always be king. The show made television grow up and meet the issues of the day head on while still making the audience laugh and care.
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on February 15, 2003
Although several reviewers complain about the lack of "extras", these discs do have what I would consider "bonus footage". For TV syndication a brief "final act" for each show had been cut. The episodes on the DVD are complete. The final scenes of each episode contain some very funny material that I have never seen before, knowing these shows only from syndication.
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