I LOVE LUCY
DICK VAN DYKE
MARY TYLER MOORE
ALL IN THE FAMILY
The Classic Sitcoms Guide to...
All in the Family
Season Six: 1975-76
1975-76: THE SIXTH SEASON
Year-End Rating: 30.1 (1st place)
A fresh stable of writers in the sixth year sets the
stage for the family's most notable addition, Mike and Gloria's baby,
little Joey Stivic. The nine-pound source of fresh storylines unites
the Bunker clan as never before, as they embark on all-new debates over
topics ranging from the baby's name to his religious upbringing.
An influx of experienced comedy veterans joins the show's
creative staff in the sixth year, including story editors Milt Josefsberg,
Larry Rhine, Phil Doran, and Douglas Arango; special program consultants
Mel Tolkin and Ben Starr; and producers Lou Derman and Bill Davenport.
Their first-rate scripts in the later seasons lack the passionate fire
of the early shows, but the fine-tuned performances--and assured direction
by Paul Bogart--guarantee well-crafted, if occasionally predictable,
Woody Kling and Lou Derman serve as script supervisors,
and Hal Kanter, Woody Kling, and Norman Lear share the executive producer's
credit over the course of the year.
Gloria is nervous about announcing her unexpected pregnancy
because of Mike's stubborn attitude toward overpopulation.
Teary farewells turn into fireworks when Mike hits Archie
with five years of repressed rage, only to discover that he and Gloria
can't move out for another week.
In the sixth season, Carroll O'Connor was able to bring
in Paul Bogart as the series's new director. The star had known Bogart
since the days of live television, and his arrival marked the beginning
of the series's final, most tranquil period.
Archie tries to impress his boss by making the maximum
contribution to his favorite charity and unwittingly ends up donating
his body to medical science.
The producers aired four episodes at the start of the
season in which Gloria didn't appear, after Sally Struthers sued to
break her contract, which she felt was keeping her from a promising
movie career. The problems were smoothed over, and judging by the first
project she had to turn down--the ill-fated Day of the Locust--the
producers probably did her a favor by keeping her tied to the show.
Archie gets a rude shock when the tall, classy dame whose
life he saved in a taxicab turns out to be a man.
Once again, the celebrated fireworks of Archie's reaction
are no more than a theatrical contrivance compared to the script's real
charm--the finely observed exchanges between Archie and Edith that authentically
capture the tone of a couple who've been married to each other for twenty-six
Mike has second thoughts about natural childbirth when
he gets queasy at the prospect of standing in the delivery room during
Archie's refusal to participate in a chain letter triggers
a string of unlikely events.
Mike becomes the sole support of a growing family when
Gloria loses her job because of her pregnancy.
Archie feels abandoned after Edith begins to volunteer
part-time at the Sunshine Home for the Elderly.
Archie has difficulty keeping his blood pressure down
for a company physical after the family launches into a heavy debate
over the baby's name.
Gloria suspects hanky-panky when she meets the beautiful
blonde Mike's been tutoring after school hours.
Thanksgiving dinner becomes a family battleground when
Archie discovers that Mike and Gloria don't want to impose the family's
religious beliefs on their baby.
Archie gets a lesson in civil liberties when he's arrested
for using outlawed tear gas to protect himself against a mugger.
The producers regularly trotted out episodes that were
designed to offer piercing insights into social issues, such as this
heavy-handed exploration of civil rights and unconstitutional police
procedure. Unfortunately, most of these well-intentioned topical episodes
were about as subtle as an episode of Dragnet '67.
The baby is already nine days overdue, and the stress
is turning Mike and Gloria into nervous wrecks.
Gloria's miraculous three-month gestation period is not
uncommon to sitcom mothers. The medical breakthrough had been observed
a full two decades earlier when Lucy Ricardo gave birth a scant six
weeks after she first announced her pregnancy.
Stuck in a phone booth in an Italian restaurant, Gloria
goes into labor while Archie is busy rehearsing for his lodge's minstrel
Archie's blackface shenanigans were an unfortunate by-product
of the writers' efforts to pad the episode out to two parts; the script
also sets a new record for the show's long-standing--and inexplicable--fascination
with bathroom humor: No less than three laughs are punched by the sound
of a toilet's flush.
Archie arrives at the hospital direct from his minstrel
show--in blackface--just in time for Gloria's blessed event.
The Stivics have a spat when Michael volunteers their
living room for a wedding ceremony without even consulting Gloria.
Archie's buddies form a lullaby quartet when Grandpa Bunker
baby-sits Joey on his poker night.
Incredibly, this innocuous episode caused a furor when
the network objected to a scene that called for total frontal nudity--the
baby's! Despite the censor's objections, the producers trampled another
TV taboo and ran Archie's diaper-changing sequence uncut.
Archie sees a chance to get rich quick when he befriends
an old watchmaker who's got a sure-fire invention.
Mike's integrity is put to the test when he loses a teaching
position to an equally qualified black candidate.
Archie extracts sweet revenge when he turns the tables
on his bleeding-heart son-in-law with a hilarious reworking of the Emma
Lazarus inscription on the Statue of Liberty. Archie's version begins,
"Send me your poor, your deadbeats, your filthy. . . all of them free
to live together in their own separate little sections where they feel
safe and break your head if you go in there."
Energetic Justin Quigley inspires Archie to stick with
the strict diet his doctor has recommended.
Mike and Gloria's sex life suffers after they have to
begin planning their encounters around the baby's feeding schedule.
In another funny and believable talk between mother and
daughter, Struthers shows us how the flighty post-adolescent of the
earliest shows has matured--first as a wife, then as a mother, until
she finally emerges in later seasons as a woman who doesn't feel completely
fulfilled in either of those roles.
After Mike and Gloria refuse to have their son baptized,
Archie stubbornly steals away to a church to anoint the infant himself.
A broken furnace forces Archie and Edith to spend a few
nights under the Stivics' roof during a power blackout.
Edith abandons her stick-in-the-mud husband to liven things
up on her own during an evening out at Kelcy's Bar.
Jason Wingreen would play Harry the bartender for the
rest of show's run, and he would also be one of the few holdovers to
survive the series's transition to Archie Bunker's Place at the
end of the ninth season.