I LOVE LUCY
DICK VAN DYKE
MARY TYLER MOORE
ALL IN THE FAMILY
The Classic Sitcoms Guide to...
All in the Family
Season Four: 1973-74
1973-74: THE FOURTH SEASON
Year-End Rating: 31.2 (1st place)
Archie is matched with two worthy new opponents in his
fourth season of contentious controversy--Betty Garrett's Irene Lorenzo,
a staunch believer in women's rights; and Sherman Hemsley's George
Jefferson, an opinionated bigot with even less patience
Once again, story consultant Don Nicholl and story editors
Michael Ross and Bernie West are responsible for more than half the
season's scripts. John Rappaport and Austin and Irma Kalish also make
outstanding contributions in the fourth year.
Henry Jefferson joins Archie in trying to prevent a Hispanic
family from moving into the neighborhood.
Betty Garrett and Vincent Gardenia signed on as neighbors
Irene and Frank Lorenzo during the show's most tempestuous period offscreen.
All in the Family had become the most astonishing success story
in CBS's history, and Carroll O'Connor thought that he deserved a bigger
share of the stupendous profits the show was pulling in--which he got--as
well as greater creative control, which Norman Lear and his producers
staunchly refused to yield.
It was in the midst of this turbulence that the series
gained--and lost--the services of Sada Thompson, the award-winning Broadway
actress who later brought her gifts to the role of Kate Lawrence on
ABC's Family. She'd been the producers' original choice to play
the Bunkers' feisty neighbor, Irene, but O'Connor didn't share their
enthusiasm. After less than a week on the tense set, she tired of O'Connor's
cold shoulder and returned to New York. The part went to Betty Garrett,
a musical-comedy star from MGM's heyday and a friend of O'Connor's who
posed no threat to the testy star.
Vincent Gardenia, another New York transplant, also left
the show after only a handful of appearances. He made his frustrations
known at an infamous testimonial dinner for Norman Lear, where more
than one actor voiced his opinion. As the producer stood at the podium,
the actor heckled from his seat, shouting, "I love ya, Norman. I don't
know what I'm doing in the show, but I love ya!" Not surprisingly, Gardenia
left the series shortly thereafter.
As the Lorenzos settle in, Archie grows jealous of Edith's
friendship with Irene.
Betty Garrett's Irene gave Archie his first new female
contender since Bea Arthur left to carve out her own prime-time grubstake.
Less strident than Maude, Irene's even-tempered logic was her strongest
weapon in the war against Archie. But his greatest fear was realized
when, under Irene's influence, Edith began to lash out against his petty
household tyranny. To Archie's dismay, he discovered that he'd lost
a dingbat and gained a partner in marriage.
Edith befriends a lonely old man, though Archie is less
than thrilled to have a constant reminder of his own advancing years
hanging around the house.
Actor Burt Mustin had seemingly cornered the market on
affable grandfather types from his very first appearance as Gus the
fireman on Leave It to Beaver. He and Ruth McDevitt continued
to make occasional visits throughout the fifth and sixth seasons.
Gloria brings home a Rodin replica for the living room,
but the erotic sculpture makes Archie cringe.
A half-hour meditation on art and romance that begins
with Edith's hilarious paean to Henry Mancini's "Moon River"--proof
positive that beauty lies in the eye of the beholder.
Edith is deeply disturbed to find out that Archie's been
playing the horses after he promised never to gamble again.
Archie finally meets George
Jefferson at Henry's going-away party.
Sherman Hemsley inherited the part of Henry Jefferson's
brother, George, after Mel Stewart opted out of the series to star in
Roll Out!, a short-lived M*A*S*H-style military sitcom.
Edith receives a small fortune in quarters as a result
of a computer error, while another computer informs Archie that he's
been officially declared dead.
Mike childishly refuses to accept criticism during an
informal group therapy game.
"We're always looking for important subjects," writer
Michael Ross once told a reporter, "but we've also found that a simple
topic--like the family sitting around playing a little game of group
therapy--often makes as funny and exciting a show as the big topic,
if we do it right."
Archie thinks that Irene Lorenzo is trying to convert
Edith to Catholicism.
Locked in his cellar with a bottle of vodka, Archie spends
a long night contemplating his life through the haze of a drunken stupor.
Gloria is insulted when Michael's ardor is renewed after
she dons a cheap dime-store wig.
Archie and Edith rekindle their romance during a second
honeymoon in Atlantic City.
An influential politician attempts to dissuade Archie
from pressing charges against his son after the boy robs Archie in Munson's
Irene challenges Archie to a pool match, but he begs off,
complaining of a sore back.
During the Christmas holidays, Edith tries to hide the
fact that she may have breast cancer.
The Yuletide season was invariably a dramatic time around
the Bunker household. Archie spent the series's first holiday show grousing
that he was broke, and this year Edith nervously awaits the results
of her cancer test. In a later Christmas episode, Edith's faith is shaken
when she loses a dear friend to a gang of muggers; and in the series's
final year, the Bunkers awake on Christmas morning only to discover
that Mike and Gloria have separated. Makes you wonder why they didn't
just leave town during the holidays.
The Stivics' love life reaches another impasse when Michael
is put off by Gloria's romantic aggressiveness.
Archie refuses to attend his own birthday party.
Archie sabotages an old friend's efforts to land a job
at the loading dock because he's afraid that the man might be in line
for his position.
Archie's misconceptions run amok when Gloria befriends
the retarded box boy from the local market.
Archie squares off with George Jefferson's mother when
he and Edith attend Lionel's engagement party.
George Jefferson is as dismayed as Archie that Lionel's
fiancée hails from an interracial marriage. The basic situation
would be retained when the Jeffersons began their
own series the following year, but most of the roles
would be recast--with the notable exception of Zara Cully as George's
The Bunkers are in a panic after Archie eats a stew made
from mushrooms that might have been contaminated.
Gloria is bewildered after she falls temporarily out of
love with Michael, until she discovers that her mother went through
the same thing with Archie.
A gentle episode that defied the series's popular conception
as a show where communication took place only above seventy-five decibels.
"You only have twenty-two minutes and thirty seconds to touch your audience,"
Lear once explained. "You have to hit them hard." And yet, many of the
show's finest moments take place in an atmosphere of quiet introspection,
as in this moving episode that contains nothing more strident than a
mother and daughter comparing notes at their kitchen table.
Archie unwittingly passes George Jefferson a counterfeit
$20 bill and sets off a string of hilarious exchanges as the family
attempts to rectify the error.
Archie's spirits soar on Mike's graduation day, until
he discovers that his meathead son-in-law has accepted a fellowship
and won't be moving out for another year.