ARCHIE BUNKER'S PLACE
Review by Michael Jacobson
Carroll O'Connor, Jean Stapleton, Martin Balsam, Danielle Brisebois,
Allan Melvin, Anne Meara
Audio: Dolby Mono
Video: Full Frame 1.33:1
Length: 24 Episodes
Release Date: January 31, 2006
here is WORSE than Pearl Harbor...this is a day that will live in
most beloved bigot is back, and keeping it all in the family.
Bunker's Place picked up in 1979 where the groundbreaking All in the Family left
off. Archie (O'Connor) had gone
into business for himself, buying Kelcy's Bar and planning to turn it into a
restaurant and saloon. His daughter
Gloria and husband Mike had moved off the show and away from the coast, taking
up residence in California. His
longsuffering wife Edith (Stapleton) was still around, but not for long.
And Edith's niece Stephanie (Brisebois) had come into the family, giving
Archie one more thing in his life to fret about.
fact, apart from Archie himself, there wasn't much in the way of holdovers from
the old show. In Archie Bunker's
Place, the classic character was given pretty much a new family to deal
with, including his surprise new Jewish partner Murray Klein (the excellent
Balsam), a tough but goodhearted cook Veronica (Meara), and a loveable troupe of
bar patrons to keep the atmosphere lively.
first season set contains all 24 episodes from the premiere year, and there are
a few gems, starting with just how Archie and Murray came into being in business
together. There are even some
visits from old friends, including Sammy Davis, Jr., and Mike (Rob Reiner) and
Gloria (Sally Struthers), who show up for a new two-part Thanksgiving Day
premise is generally entertaining, but fair or unfair, following on the heels of
such a classic as All in the Family was a daunting task, and Archie
Bunker's Place, despite its charms, sometimes rings hollow in comparison.
I was surprised, for example, at how much more darker the mood frequently
was. All in the Family was
never afraid to tackle big issues or taboo topics, whether it was the Vietnam
War or breast cancer, but they always managed to drive a serious point home and
make you think while making you laugh at the same time.
the early days, the atmosphere was ripe with Watergate, Nixon and Ford, and the
writers had a comic field day with them. In
1979, Jimmy Carter was president and the malaise of his administration was in
full bloom. The creators seemed
much more reticent to tackle Jimmy than Dickie.
In fact, in one episode, Archie says "To hell with President
Carter!"...and the studio audience erupts in cheers.
I had a feeling that Norman Lear was turning over in his grave...and he
the biggest complaint is that the show went where so many sitcoms went before,
and would do so frequently in the future...they buckled to the idea of bringing
in a cute kid to liven things up. Call
it Cousin Oliver Syndrome. All
in the Family became the must-see show of the 70s without a cherubic face.
Danielle Brisebois is okay as Stephanie, but every time I watched her
interactions with Archie, I felt that someone somewhere had really caved in and
Carroll O'Connor was always the ingredient that made the show work, and his
presence continued to navigate the replacement series through some rocky waters.
His ability to make what should have been an unpleasant character
thoroughly likeable, and even pitiable, was a testament to his genius as an
actor. Archie Bunker became as
indelible as Lucy Ricardo or Ralph Kramden, and like those classic counterparts,
he will always be a part of our popular culture.
Archie has to deal with Murray's Judaism (and, in a stroke of irony, his niece's
as well), a gay waiter, a prostitute who picks up men in the bar, a duo of
female bandits, and Edith's new job, but the series in the first year didn't
really seem to delve into uncharted waters.
Martin Balsam was superb as Murray, and the chemistry he shared with
O'Connor is largely what made the show work.
The sharp-tongued Anne Meara was also a good foil.
Edith...poor Edith. Jean Stapleton
had been ready to move on, but the powers convinced her to come back at least in
a supporting role for the inaugural season.
She's only in a handful of episodes, and Edith would soon die off so that
Ms. Stapleton could pursue other interests. Given her limited role here, she didn't have much of a chance
to keep audience's hearts warm to her. Such
is the nature of the business, I guess.
don't mean to sound overly hard on the show...it's just that all who know me
know that I consider All in the Family the greatest sitcom ever.
As a fan, I was happy to see the show continue on in any form, even if
marched less proudly and plodded more. Archie
Bunker's Place kept the spirit somewhat alive for a few more years, and
that's something we fans can raise a toast to.
a late 70s sitcom shot on video, Archie Bunker's Place has held up quite
well. It certainly shows noticeable
improvement over the earliest seasons of All in the Family.
Colors and detail levels are generally good, with some inescapable
source limitations here and there. Certainly
nothing to shy away from.
pretty much all about the dialogue, and as such, the mono track is quite
serviceable. Dynamic range is
limited but not missed, and the opening and closing music sound fine.
but some previews of other Sony television DVD titles.