I LOVE LUCY
DICK VAN DYKE
MARY TYLER MOORE
ALL IN THE FAMILY
The Classic Sitcoms Guide to...
All in the Family
Season Two: 1971-72
1971-72: THE SECOND SEASON
Year-End Rating: 34.0 (1st place)
Archie's confounding opinions help anchor the series
at the top of the ratings in the show's second year, but the family
emerges as the star of the show in second-season episodes that paint
a bizarre but believable portrait of one man's family, 1970's-style.
Joining producer Norman Lear are script supervisors Michael
Ross and Bernie West, who, along with Don Nicholl, contribute most of
the show's best early scripts. Writers Phil Mishkin and Lee Kalcheim
also make significant contributions in the second year.
Archie is incensed when his sponging cousin Oscar has
the nerve to drop dead in the upstairs bedroom.
Mike has second thoughts after he agrees to let Gloria
pose as a nude model for one of his artist friends.
Archie suffers his ultimate indignity when he's arrested
along with a group of radicals at a protest rally.
A pair of burglars holds the family at bay with Archie's
The homebreakers are Tony Award winner Cleavon Little
and Demond Wilson, who would join Redd Foxx as co-star of NBC's midseason
On the Stivics' first wedding anniversary, the family
recalls the day Archie and Michael met.
Ironically, by the time Archie launches into a chorus
of "God Bless America" to defy his unwanted dinner guest, the script
has already established that the pair's differences have little to do
with their conflicting ideologies. Actually, Archie dislikes Mike far
more for being the interloper who's come to take away his little girl.
As Norman Lear observed, "It doesn't really matter what the men say--the
audience is watching a father and his son-in-law. The behavior is what's
By the second season, Archie has emerged in a more sympathetic
light. An insecure man facing middle age in a world that's changing
much too quickly, he's terrified of the new society that his son-in-law
envisions, afraid there won't be any place in it for him. In defense,
he clings stubbornly to the prejudices of a bygone era that suddenly
looks very rosy. It's an attitude that makes the short verse he sings
at the start of every episode ring with plaintive irony: "Guys like
us, we had it made. Those were the days."
Mike and Gloria campaign for the liberal candidate in
a local election, while Archie places himself in the opposing camp.
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
An unscrupulous black real-estate salesman tempts Archie
to sell his house to a black family at an inflated price.
Gloria is upset when Mike's nervousness over his grades
causes him to become temporarily impotent.
This story met with greater network resistance than had
any script since the original pilot. "CBS didn't want that show done
at all," Norman Lear told interviewers Horace Newcomb and Robert Alley
in their book The Producer's Medium. "It was the first time that
I said, 'If you know what America wants and what America will fall apart
over--then you produce the show.' At the last moment they allowed
us to make the show. Nothing happened, the network didn't fall apart.
States did not secede from the union. America even liked it."
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.
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.
Bob Hastings, the sniveling Lieutenant Carpenter from
McHale's Navy, would appear as Tommy Kelcy, the proprietor of
Archie's favorite watering hole, until it changed hands in the eighth
Edith's feisty cousin, Maude, drops in for a visit during
a flu epidemic at the Bunker House.
Like many All in the Family guest stars, Bea Arthur
was a successful New York actress whom Norman Lear recruited to play
a particularly juicy role--Edith's twice-divorced and fearlessly outspoken
cousin, Maude, the first woman to fight Archie Bunker to a standoff.
The sparks that erupted during their confrontation weren't lost on CBS
program chief Fred Silverman, who convinced the producers that they'd
stumbled onto something. Maude premiered the following fall,
the first spin-off in what would become Norman Lear's prime-time dynasty.
Archie casts a pall on the family's Yuletide spirits when
he complains that he was passed over for this year's Christmas bonus.
Archie gets caught in an elevator, along with a pregnant
Puerto Rican and her husband, an aging hippie, and an erudite black
Naturally, the expectant mother gives birth while stranded
in the elevator. But instead of the unbearable slapstick TV has taught
us to expect from such stock situations, we're treated to a privileged
moment. As each of the passengers succumbs to the charm of the newborn
infant, even Archie Bunker drops his defenses long enough to join the
spontaneous celebration of a new life, and we see the birth through
According to Carroll O'Connor, that sublime moment wasn't
even written into the original script. "The situation was thought to
be a real howl," the actor wrote in TV Guide. "I was sure
the way it was written, crudely and incredibly, would evoke audience
revulsion." The solution came only after the actor stormed off the set,
the pages of his script scattered on the floor. Producer Norman Lear
intervened and finally convinced him to join the other actors in improvising
a new ending, coached by Lear and director John Rich. Their revisions
were incorporated into the final episode, and as O'Connor recalls, "We
found a way to save the childbirth and make it a touching sequence."
Edith is suddenly moody and irritable with the approach
A welcome stretch for Emmy winner Jean Stapleton. The
actress had such a firm grasp on Edith's personality that even the severe
mood swings brought on by her hot flashes seem absolutely in character.
By the second year, the writers played catch-up to keep pace with Stapleton's
portrayal, which had evolved to a depth that was barely suggested in
the early scripts.
Archie's paranoia during a mysterious government investigation
drives him to betray a long-standing friendship.
What separates All in the Family from so many
later, vastly inferior imitations--a few of them produced at Norman
Lear's factory--was that the writers rarely felt compelled to tack on
a tidy or simple resolution. This allegory of the McCarthy era witch-hunts
is no exception. Once Archie and his neighbor betray each other over
what amounts to a routine investigation, it's already too late to shake
hands and make up. So they don't. Instead, Archie sits alone and contemplates
his tragic folly with the halfhearted rationalization "All that best-buddy
stuff . . . that's all for kids anyhow."
An old girlfriend of Mike's suddenly arrives at the Bunkers'
with a four-year-old boy who she claims is his son.
Archie refuses to get involved with the police, even though
he's the only witness to a neighborhood mugging.
The Bunkers are on their own for eight days after Mike
and Gloria go off to spend a week at a commune.
The series's most accomplished comic drama to date, a
twenty-three-minute sketch that offers a touching look at the rich fabric
of a marriage that's still going strong after a quarter of a century.
After Mike and Gloria go off to find their utopian dream of a week's
stay at a mountain commune, the camera lingers behind on Archie and
Edith as they settle down to face the more commonplace realities of
their own life together. In the aftermath of a tense quarrel, they quietly
share the litany of lost dreams and failed promises they've both endured
over the years, as they come to realize what a gift their durable union
has been. By the time Mike and Gloria come trudging home, disillusioned
by their tour of Shangri-La, Archie and Edith are swaying to the strains
of "The Moonlight Serenade" on Edith's phonograph. They may not have
found utopia either, but they've come awfully close.
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.
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.
When the producers discovered that Sammy Davis, Jr. was
a big fan of the series, they couldn't resist inviting the diminutive
star to meet Archie on camera. According to director John Rich, Archie's
part-time job as a cab driver was introduced in an earlier episode largely
to set up a plausible excuse for the famous nightclub performer to enter
the Bunkers' Queens living room in this one.
Edith arbitrates a dispute between Archie and the irate
proprietor of a laundromat.
Archie is disturbed to discover that Edith once spent
an entire weekend with an old beau.
The Bunkers attend the wedding of cousin Maude's daughter,
This episode served as the pilot for Maude. In
the series, Maude's daughter would be played by Adrienne Barbeau.