An early milestone in urban TV comedy, "SANFORD AND SON" was an immediate critical and audience favorite when it debuted in the early '70s, signaling the arrival of one of TV's most memorable characters: Cantankerous-but-lovable junk dealer Fred Sanford (Redd Foxx). An African American answer to "Archie Bunker," widower Sanford and his "Dummy" son Lamont (Demond Wilson) run a family junk business in Watts, dreaming up schemes to strike it rich. Outspoken and outrageous, Sanford serves up big laughs as he skewers stereotypes, forever threatening, "How'd you like one across your lip?" Aided by a colorful cast that includes acid-tongued Aunt Esther (LaWanda Page), "SANFORD AND SONS" provided a showcase of black talent of all generations, freaturing guest stars like Lena Horne and episodes written by Richard Pryor. Timely and topical during its highly-rated five-year run (1972-1977), "SANFORD AND SON" emerged as one of the decade's biggest TV hits, inspiring producer Norman Lear to develop more barrier-breaking shows like "The Jeffersons" and "Good Times".
This three-disc boxed set compiles all 24 episodes from Sanford and Son's second season, which began on September 15, 1972. The sitcom quickly vaulted to the No. 2 spot on the network ratings--right behind creators Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin's previous effort, All in the Family. The second season brought no changes to the show's basic format--comedian Redd Foxx remained the focus as cantankerous junkman Fred Sanford, with Demond Wilson as his son and perennial foil, Lamont. What the second season did bring was several new characters and some of the series' funniest episodes. The second season supporting cast was filled out by some of Foxx's fellow comics, including Leroy and Skillet ("A Visit from Lena Horne") and LaWanda Page as Aunt Esther, who became a recurring character after "The Big Party." Also joining was Don Bexley as Bubba ("By the Numbers"), Nathaniel Taylor as Rollo ("Have Gun, Will Sell"), and Barney Miller's Gregory Sierra as neighbor Julio ("The Puerto Ricans Are Coming!").
But Sanford and Son's strength remained in Foxx's sharp-tongued and often improvised performance, which was ably abetted by the scripts (a number of plotlines were taken directly from Steptoe and Son, the U.K. series that inspired Sanford). Richard Pryor and Paul Mooney penned two of the collection's most laugh-filled half-hours, "The Dowry" and "Sanford and Son and Sister Make Three," but every episode has its share of hilarity thanks to Foxx and his costars. Though only English and Spanish subtitles are offered as extras, series fans should be pleased with the set, especially as a reference for Fred's best zingers ("I'm gonna stick your face in a bowl full of dough and make gorilla cookies!"). --Paul Gaita