I LOVE LUCY
DICK VAN DYKE
MARY TYLER MOORE
ALL IN THE FAMILY
The Classic Sitcoms Guide to...
All in the Family
Season Eight: 1977-78
1977-78: THE EIGHTH SEASON
Year-End Rating: 24.4 (4th place)
In what was originally conceived as the show's final
season, the writers pull out all the stops to create a handful of the
series's most memorable dramatic episodes--including the departure of
Mike and Gloria at the season's end--many of them scripted by Bob Schiller
and Bob Weiskopf, the veteran writing team who signed on as script consultants
for the show's final two seasons.
In addition to contributions from the familiar bullpen--including
story editors Mel Tolkin and Larry Rhine, and producer Milt Josefsberg--memorable
scripts are written by Phil Sharp, Erik Tarloff, Chuck Stewart, and
Archie, desperate to realize his personal dream and buy
Kelcy's Bar, forges Edith's signature on mortgage papers.
Archie's graduation from wage earner to entrepreneur
opened up a wealth of new story possibilities, even as it changed the
essential character of the show. No longer a downtrodden member of the
working class, Archie the small businessman had less reason to vent
his outrage than in days past, and the show mellowed considerably in
its final two seasons.
At the funeral of Edith's cousin Liz, the Bunkers are
shocked to learn that she'd been living with a lesbian roommate for
Edith misses her birthday party when a rapist holds her
at gunpoint in her own living room.
Schiller and Weiskopf faced built-in compromises when
they chose to depict such a singularly violent crime within the confines
of a television comedy, especially when the victim was one of the most
beloved figures on prime time. Though the creators were justifiably
applauded for their efforts, the episode wasn't entirely successful;
the shocking drama and unsettling suspense of the first half hour makes
for an uneasy blend with the head-thumping slapstick of Mike and Archie's
ill-advised comic relief in the second half hour.
Edith ruins Archie's weekend fishing trip when she stages
a wedding in the Bunkers' living room.
The family steps in to serve drinks and tend bar at Archie's
tavern after his staff deserts him on opening night.
Archie takes a few pep pills to keep pace with the increased
demands of running his own business and winds up with an amphetamine
A despondent Archie retreats to his bedroom, until Harry
offers to bail him out with a partnership offer for the bar.
Archie is nominated for membership in a mysterious fraternal
order that turns out to be the local branch of the KKK.
Archie devises a plan to prevent the Klan from burning
a cross on Mike and Gloria's lawn.
A flashback explores Mike and Gloria's first blind date.
Rob Reiner would cast co-star Christopher Guest as one
of the leads when he directed the 1984 rock 'n' roll satire This
Is Spinal Tap.
Edith's religious faith is shaken after her friend, female
impersonator Beverly LaSalle, is brutally murdered by street thugs at
Archie's Place is robbed on Super Bowl Sunday, the busiest
day of the year.
Edith has a chance to appear in a TV commercial but finds
herself unable to lie when she begins to doubt the quality of the sponsor's
Archie refuses to let Edith's elderly aunt move into their
spare bedroom, even after she's been turned away by every other relative.
Archie is jealous when a lonely butcher lavishes attention
Mike and Archie have a long talk when they find themselves
locked in the storeroom of Archie's Place.
Carroll O'Connor and Rob Reiner are splendid in this
compelling exploration of their frequently tempestuous relationship.
Locked in the quiet solitude of a cold cellar, each reveals a part of
himself that's always been well guarded. And in the shadows of the dark
basement, they begin to see each other in a new light. In Archie's touching
monologue, he recalls the reverent devotion he always felt toward his
father, and then dozes off in sorrow at the painful realization that
he never earned the same respect from his own daughter. Michael doesn't
say a word, but quietly reaches over to cover him in the warmth of the
cellar's lone blanket. The sleeping King Lear never stirs when he finally
earns a small gesture of fatherly respect--bestowed not by a daughter--but
Mike and Gloria are convinced that the romance has gone
out of their marriage when even a weekend in the Poconos fails to reignite
Archie's estranged brother returns, after twenty-nine
years, to smooth things over before he enters the hospital for a serious
The Stivics prepare to move to California when Mike is
offered a teaching position in Santa Barbara.
Edith is crushed when Mike and Gloria make other plans
after she's prepared a special farewell dinner in their honor.
The Bunker house is the scene of many tearful good-byes
when Mike and Gloria finally leave for California.
When the cast concluded taping this classic episode,
there was hardly a dry eye in the house, onstage or off. The sentimental
ceremonies that attended the season's final show were originally planned
as a wrap party for the entire series. When Reiner and Struthers first
announced their intention to leave at the end of the season, Norman
Lear couldn't conceive of carrying on without them. "I'm confident you
are watching the last full season of All in the Family," he told
reporters in January, as he announced his own plans to leave television
and return to the greener pastures of feature-film production.
Carroll O'Connor was equally adamant about his own retirement.
"Television's like a good neighborhood gone bad," he told columnist
Marilyn Beck, "and I'd like to get out." But that was before CBS stepped
in with an eleventh-hour offer to keep the ratings powerhouse going
at least one more year.
"I don't see why we should deprive the American public
of one their favorite shows," was CBS president Bob Daly's public rationale
for luring Carroll O'Connor back to the fold with a salary that exceeded
$100,000 per episode--in addition to a lucrative production deal with
the network. The actor helped convince Jean Stapleton to return, and
to everyone's surprise, All in the Family entered a ninth and
final season--without Mike, without Gloria, and without Norman Lear.