Back to Classic Sitcoms Home Page

I LOVE LUCY
HONEYMOONERS
DICK VAN DYKE
MARY TYLER MOORE
ALL IN THE FAMILY
M*A*S*H
BOB NEWHART
BARNEY MILLER
TAXI
CHEERS

Order Classic Sitcoms now at Amazon.comVisit Our Bookstore!
HomeClassic Sitcoms BookstoreAbout Vince WaldronContact UsOther ChannelsImportant Legal StuffComing Soon to This SiteSite Map
The Classic Sitcoms Guide to...
All in the Family
Season Nine: 1978-79



THE PILOT EPISODES: 1968-69
SEASON ONE: 1970-71

SEASON TWO: 1971-72
SEASON THREE: 1972-73
SEASON FOUR: 1973-74
SEASON FIVE: 1974-75
SEASON SIX: 1975-76
SEASON SEVEN: 1976-77
SEASON EIGHT: 1977-78
SEASON NINE: 1978-79
CREDITS
EMMY AWARDS

Click Here To Order
"All in the Family" on Video or DVD

1978-79: THE NINTH SEASON

Year-End Rating: 24.9 (9th place)

The show's final--and not entirely unworthy--season is redeemed by a handful of first-rate scripts, though the Bunkers almost never recover from the deadening pathos that arrives with the introduction a nine-year-old on Hauser Street. Even so, the writers manage to explore the ever-deepening bond between Archie and Edith, who continue to evolve as the most plausibly romantic couple on television.

Most ninth-year stories are scripted by a talented writing stable that includes story editors Mel Tolkin and Larry Rhine, producer Milt Josefsberg, and story consultant Phil Sharp. Script consultants Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf once again contribute a number of memorable scripts, as do newcomers Patt Shea and Harriett Weiss.


180 Little Miss Bunker    First Aired: September 24, 1978
Writers: Mel Tolkin, Larry Rhine
Director: Paul Bogart
Guest Stars: Marty Brill, Bhetty Waldron, Santos Morales, Bern Bennett

Edith's cousin Floyd abandons his nine-year-old daughter, Stephanie, on the Bunkers' doorstep.

Danielle Brisebois, the littlest orphan in Broadway's Annie, joined the cast as Edith's niece, Stephanie Mills. The introduction of a child into the Bunker household created a hazardous breeding ground for gross sentimentality at a time when the show's critics were already lambasting Carroll O'Connor for letting Archie go soft in the show's old age. O'Connor later dismissed the criticism in the pages of TV Guide when he insisted, "We're not going to have him yell 'coon' every week just so we can keep up the reputation of a socially pungent show."


181 End in Sight    First Aired: October 1, 1978
Writer: Nate Monaster
Director: Paul Bogart
Guest Star: Phil Leeds

Archie spends a night wallowing in self-pity when an insurance physical reveals an ominous spot on his liver.


182 Reunion on Hauser Street    First Aired: October 8, 1978
Writers: Milt Josefsberg, Phil Sharp
Director: Paul Bogart
Guest Stars: Estelle Parsons, Gloria LeRoy

The Bunkers attempt to reunite Blanche and Barney Hefner after her latest fling with an exterminator fizzles.


183 What'll We Do With Stephanie?    First Aired: October 15, 1978
Writers: Larry Rhine, Mel Tolkin
Director: Paul Bogart
Guest Star: Abbey Lincoln

The Bunkers decide to keep Stephanie after her father fails to reclaim her as promised.


184 Edith's Final Respects    First Aired: October 22, 1978
Writers: Bob Schiller, Bob Weiskopf
Story: Sam Greenbaum
Director: Paul Bogart
Guest Stars: Howard Morton, Charles Siebert

Edith is the sole mourner at her Aunt Rose's funeral.


185 Weekend in the Country    First Aired: October 29, 1978
Writers: Phil Sharp, Milt Josefsberg
Director: Paul Bogart
Guest Star: Estelle Parsons

Once again, Archie and Edith try to preserve peace between Barney Hefner and his extremely wayward wife.


186 Archie's Other Wife    First Aired: November 5, 1978
Writers: Bob Schiller, Bob Weiskopf
Director: Paul Bogart
Guest Stars: Eugene Roche, Harvey Lembeck, Jonelle Allen, James J. Casino

At an American Legion convention, Archie awakens facing a beautiful black airline stewardess who swears they were married the night before.


187 Edith Versus the Bank    First Aired: November 19, 1978
Writers: Mel Tolkin, Larry Rhine
Director: Paul Bogart
Guest Star: John Harkins

Edith is disillusioned when her bank refuses to grant a loan without her husband's signature.

When she discovers that her husband is as narrow-minded as the bank manager, Edith demands that Archie pay her a token five-dollars-a-week payment for her labors as a housewife. Using her own unique logic, she extracts exactly what she wants from Archie in the end, proving once again that in the realm of common sense, this dingbat has no peer.


188 The Return of the Waitress    First Aired: November 26, 1978
Writers: Milt Josefsberg, Phil Sharp
Director: Paul Bogart
Guest Star: Janis Paige

Edith finally confronts the waitress who tempted Archie's fidelity after Harry unwittingly hires her to work at Archie's Place.

Edith bears no malice toward the waitress, but thanks her for helping to strengthen her union with Archie. He ends the episode with the observation, "Edith, you're a pip." The expression, employed as Archie's most disparaging put-down in the early years, suddenly rings with a tenderness as compelling as Ralph Kramden's classic declaration of devotion, "Baby, you're the greatest."


189 Bogus Bills    First Aired: December 3, 1978
Writers: Bob Schiller, Bob Weiskopf
Director: Paul Bogart
Guest Stars: Sandy Kenyon, John Finnegan, Charles Hallahan

Edith is arrested for passing phony $10 bills she got from Archie's Place.


190 The Bunkers Go West    First Aired: December 10, 1978
Writers: Mel Tolkin, Larry Rhine
Director: Paul Bogart

After Mike and Gloria cancel their trip home for Christmas, the Bunkers decide to travel west for the holidays.


191 California, Here We Are (one hour)    First Aired: December 17, 1978
Writers: Milt Josefsberg, Phil Sharp (first half); Bob Schiller, Bob Weiskopf (second half)
Director: Paul Bogart
Guest Star: Cory Miller

The Bunkers arrive in Santa Barbara for Christmas and soon discover that all is not right with Mike and Gloria.

More disturbing than the Stivics' heartbreaking announcement of their separation is Archie's reaction when he discovers that Gloria has been unfaithful to her husband: For the first time in nine years, he turns his back on his daughter and sides with Michael. The script, rife with disturbing details of the petty cruelties that have already poisoned the Stivics' marriage, avoids the easy out of a tidy resolution. Mike and Gloria do effect a spontaneous reconciliation under the tree, but the tentative exchange lacks the conviction of a permanent reunion. They've been through enough to know, as we do, that the optimism of Christmas morning doesn't always stand up to the cold light of the new year.

The script's only nod toward romanticism is suggested by Edith and Archie, who never felt as thankful for the years they've shared together as they did on that eventful Christmas morning.


192 A Night at the PTA    First Aired: January 7, 1979
Writers: Mel Tolkin, Larry Rhine
Director: Paul Bogart

When Edith develops laryngitis on the eve of her singing debut at Stephanie's PTA recital, Archie steps in to understudy the duet.


193 A Girl Like Edith    First Aired: January 14, 1979
Writers: Bob Schiller, Bob Weiskopf
Director: Paul Bogart
Guest Stars: Theodore Bikel, Giovanna Pucci

Edith meets butcher Klemmer's new sweetheart, a woman who just happens to be her spitting image.

Edith's Teutonic double is played by Stapleton in a dual role, a technical stunt that would have been impossible to pull off while the show was still taped with a live crowd. The producers had done away with the live studio audience at the start of the ninth season to please O'Connor, who preferred to tape in a cold studio and dub in the laughs later.


194 The Appendectomy    First Aired: January 21, 1979
Writers: Phil Sharp, Milt Josefsberg
Director: Paul Bogart
Guest Stars: George Wyner, Tracy Bogart

Edith and Archie rush Stephanie to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy.


195 Stephanie and the Crime Wave    First Aired: January 28, 1979
Writers: Larry Rhine, Mel Tolkin
Director: Paul Bogart
Guest Star: Davis Roberts

The Bunkers are at odds over Stephanie's punishment after they catch her stealing petty items from around the house.


196 Barney the Gold Digger    First Aired: February 5, 1979
Writers: Bob Schiller, Bob Weiskopf, Phil Sharp, Milt Josefsberg
Story: Winston Moss
Director: Paul Bogart
Guest Star: Peggy Rea

Barney Hefner is suicidal when Blanche finally deserts him, until Archie fixes him up with an overweight but wealthy widow.


197 Stephanie's Conversion    First Aired: February 18, 1979
Writers: Patt Shea, Harriett Weiss
Director: Paul Bogart
Guest Stars: Clyde Kusatsu, Michael Mann

Archie is forced to reevaluate his religious prejudice after Stephanie tries to conceal the fact that she's Jewish.


198 Edith Gets Fired    First Aired: February 25, 1979
Writers: Patt Shea, Harriett Weiss
Story: Mort Lachman
Director: Paul Bogart
Guest Stars: Angela Clarke, Dolores Sutton, Michael McGuire, Leonard Stone, Victor Kilian, Gerald Castillo

Edith loses her job at the Sunshine Home after she honors an invalid woman's final wish to be allowed to die with dignity.


199 The Best of All in the Family    First Aired: March 4, 1979

(ninety-minute special)
Director: Walter Miller
Guest Star: Norman Lear

Norman Lear hosts an affectionate look at the high points of his ground-breaking TV series.


200 The Return of Archie's Brother    First Aired: March 11, 1979
Writers: Bob Schiller, Bob Weiskopf
Story: Bob Schiller, Bob Weiskopf, Tom Sawyer
Director: Paul Bogart
Guest Stars: Richard Mackenzie, Ellissa Leeds

Archie's brother, Fred, arrives with his latest wife--a child bride of eighteen.


201 The Family Next Door    First Aired: March 18, 1979
Writers: Mel Tolkin, Larry Rhine
Director: Paul Bogart
Guest Stars: Richard Ward, David Byrd, Isabel Sanford, Janet MacLachlan

Archie hits the roof when Edith rents out the old Jefferson house to a black couple.


202 The Return of Stephanie's Father    First Aired: March 25, 1979
Writers: Mel Tolkin, Larry Rhine
Director: Paul Bogart
Guest Stars: Ben Stack, Victor Kilian, Rick Plastina, Charles Wagenheim, Hugh McPhillips

Stephanie's father, Floyd, finally arrives with a devastating proposition for the Bunkers: They can keep Stephanie if they agree to pay him $1000 cash!


203 Too-Good Edith    First Aired: April 8, 1979
Writers: Patt Shea, Harriett Weiss
Director: Paul Bogart
Guest Star: George Wyner

Archie is hurt and outraged when Edith tries to hide a serious illness from him.

There's a funny exchange between Archie and Edith in one of the very last episodes that reveals with pristine clarity the underlying optimism of the show. Archie is railing at the top of his lungs--dead-set against befriending the black family that's just moved in next door. Edith patiently waits for him to finish and continues preparing sandwiches for the new neighbors.

Miffed by her lack of sympathy, Archie moans, "You know damn well there's certain things about me I ain't never gonna change. But you keep asking me to make out like I'm gonna."

Edith pauses, then replies with a comical certainty, "That's right."

And so the series ends as it began, with Archie cursing the darkness, as Edith lights a candle and patiently waits for some small sign of progress. Things haven't really changed much since we first met the Bunkers at their twenty-second anniversary party so many years ago. Then, as now, Archie held forth in blustery ignorance as he demanded that Edith stifle herself at the first sign of rebuttal. And yet there is one small--but very encouraging--difference: This time, it's Edith who gets in the last word.

It's a telling irony that, by the time All in the Family left the air in 1979, so many of the sweeping societal changes that had taken place during our nine years with the Bunkers had alread started to seem like they'd never taken place. The show dawned during the peak of Nixon's reign and reached its inevitable conclusion just as another Republican readied his own assault on the White House.

By the end of the decade, equal opportunity for blacks in television appeared to be just another program trend that had run its course. And for all the vaunted inroads All in the Family made in prime-time sophistication, by 1979 the most-watched show in the land was a slight comedy about a bachelor who shared a disarmingly platonic arrangement with a pair of perky female roommates.

Of course, it was Norman Lear himself who warned against pinning too much hope on what was, after all, just a television show. As he admits, "If a couple thousand years of Judeo-Christian ethic have not solved the problems of bigotry and narrow-mindedness, I'd be a fool to think a little half-hour situation comedy is gonna do the trick."

 

HomeClassic Sitcoms BookstoreAbout Vince WaldronContact UsOther ChannelsImportant Legal StuffComing Soon to This SiteSite Map