I LOVE LUCY
DICK VAN DYKE
MARY TYLER MOORE
ALL IN THE FAMILY
The Classic Sitcoms Guide to...
All in the Family
Season Three: 1972-73
1972-73: THE THIRD SEASON
Year-End Rating: 33.3 (1st place)
By the third year, the creators trust the material enough
to downplay the earsplitting polemics in favor of scripts that chronicle
the more mundane, though no less interesting, everyday hopes and frustrations
of life at 704 Hauser Street.
Norman Lear assumes the role of executive producer when
director John Rich takes over the show's production reins as well. Story
editors Michael Ross and Bernie West continue to write most of the season's
scripts, along with story consultant Don Nicholl.
After he rails against gun control in a TV editorial,
Archie meets his two biggest supporters--a pair of stickup artists who
rob him at gunpoint.
John Rich takes a break from directing to get his bearings
as the show's new producer. The veteran sitcom director never planned
to stay with the show past the first episode. "When Norman and Bud Yorkin
asked me to direct the pilot, I said I'd sign on for just two episodes,"
Rich recalled. But one season led to another, and by the show's third
year, Rich found himself producing the show and directing the actors
while associate director Bob LaHendro directed the cameras from the
Archie is audited by the IRS after he fails to report
income he made driving Munson's taxicab.
Archie can barely contain himself when the attractive
young wife of an old Army buddy spends an eventful night in the Bunker
Gloria tests Mike and Archie's male chauvinism quotient
with a riddle that stumps the men but is easily answered by Edith.
Archie is aghast to find out that his visiting niece plans
to go out dancing with Lionel Jefferson.
Edith is worried that she may be a kleptomaniac after
she absentmindedly takes a wig from a department store.
O'Connor and Stapleton get stiff competition from scene
stealers Barnard Hughes and James Gregory in this episode. Both actors
soon landed regular roles on a pair of other classic sitcoms: Gregory
appeared as Inspector Luger in Barney Miller, and Hughes played
Bob's father on The Bob Newhart Show before MTM featured him
as Doc in his own CBS series in 1975.
Edith unwittingly invites a pair of wife-swapping swingers
to dinner when she responds to a newspaper ad for pen pals.
This wasn't the last we'd see of the swingers. Vincent
Gardenia would return the following season as the Bunkers' neighbor
Frank Lorenzo, and Rue McClanahan was Bea Arthur's best friend on Maude,
a role she'd continue for six seasons before the pair renewed their
friendship in 1985 as two of The Golden Girls on NBC.
Mike sparks the latest family feud when he donates $200
to George McGovern's presidential campaign instead of paying Archie
for room and board.
On the Stivics' second anniversary, the family recalls
the comedy of errors that transpired on their wedding day.
In the tradition of The Dick Van Dyke Show, the
script illuminates the characters in an extended flashback that gives
the writers an opportunity to take a revisionist look at events long
past. The episode suggests that Archie has actually mellowed somewhat
under Mike's influence--he was even more narrow-minded and stubborn
in the flashback.
The Stivics' wedding is jeopardized when Michael's uncle
insists, over Archie's virulent objections, that the marriage be performed
by a Catholic priest.
The Meathead's Uncle Cas is played by the late Michael
Conrad, best remembered as Sergeant Esterhaus of Hill Street Blues.
Gloria is outraged when Mike insists that a male doctor
perform his appendix operation.
Archie schemes to bilk the Jeffersons out of their winnings
from a lottery ticket that Edith bought for Louise.
Archie loses his spot on a top bowling team to a black
Archie tries to cheat the insurance company out of $300
after Edith misplaces her family-heirloom locket.
Archie befriends the other patient in his semiprivate
hospital room, unaware that he's black.
The comic shenanigans over Archie's black bunkmate merely
underscore what we already know: Poor Archie gets along fine with his
fellow man--until he sees the color of his skin. The producers let us
in on the gag at the outset, placing the audience in a superior position
to the folly of Archie's bigotry. But the results would have been more
interesting had the show challenged our own prejudice by concealing
the neighbor's color from the audience, as well as Archie, until the
An old school chum tries to convince Archie that his fears
of growing old are all in his mind.
Edith and Gloria end the latest family brawl when they
storm out of the house to spend the night on their own.
The wives hide out at a sorority slumber party to await
their husbands' overdue apologies, setting the scene for one of Edith's
classic flights of fancy. After she and Gloria conjure romantic visions
of their spouses returning the way Cary Grant always came back to Irene
Dunne, or Bette Davis to Humphrey Bogart, Edith cautiously intones,
"You were never sure about Bette Davis. Sometimes she'd come back. .
. and sometimes she'd just die."
Archie refuses to tag along to Edith's thirtieth high
school reunion--until he finds out that one of her old beaus will be
Archie buys an expensive watch of dubious pedigree and
has to find a jeweler who'll fix it with no questions asked.
As Archie schemes to profit from his blunder, he reveals
his ancestral ties to Ralph Kramden, another blustery New Yorker who
was similarly undone by his own greed.
Archie wakes up to find a swastika painted on his front
A classic episode in which Archie questions the basic
tenets of his political extremism when he discovers just how much he
has in common with the terrorist who defends them. In one of the series's
most unsettling finales, the family's would-be protector is murdered
outside their window as the family looks on in horror.
It's Rashomon Bunker-style when the family recounts
vastly different versions of their disastrous encounter with a pair
of handymen in the Bunker kitchen.
Archie attends night-school classes to qualify for a high-school
Mike and Archie discuss their differing perspectives
on manifest destiny in a sharp scene that mines humor from Archie's
desperate attempts to guard his ignorance in the face of his growing
After an attempted sexual assault, Gloria turns to the
family for guidance as she suffers through the legal aftermath of reporting
In a foul mood, Gloria lambasts Edith for her constant
acquiescence to Archie's whims.
The writers clearly established that Gloria's irritation
stemmed from premenstrual stress--a character motivation that brought
more outraged mail than any other episode in the show's history. Writer
Michael Ross defended his script when he told interviewer John Brady,
"We didn't do the menstrual episode for shock value. We needed Gloria
irritated to the point where she would blow up at Edith. In fact, we
got the idea from Sally Struthers herself."