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The Complete Second Season
Running Time: 528 minutes
Starring: Carroll O'Connor, Jean Stapleton, Rob Reiner, Sally Struthers
Directed by: John Rich
Retail Price: $29.95
Features: TV Comedy Favorites Preview
Specs: 1.33:1 Full Screen, English Mono, English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Episode Selections, Three-Disc Set
Released: February 4th, 2003
There will probably never be enough words to describe "All In The Family" and the impact that it had throughout the world, pop culture and television. Based on the British sitcom "Till Death Do Us Part," television genius Norman Lear pioneered and broke so many barriers with the American version that is so recognizable to nearly everyone. Every a few test pilots that didn't go over so well, Lear finally got his choice casting that was pitch perfect, and on January 12th, 1971, "All In The Family" made its television debut (with that now famous disclaimer before it). The show did okay in the ratings, but more people discovered it during reruns that summer and it became a smash hit.
For the two of you who don't know what "All In The Family" is about, it focuses on working class man but lovable bigot Archie Bunker (Carroll O'Connor in his arguably most famous role) who dealt with the world mainly with those around him. Archie always butted heads with his son-in-law Mike "Meathead" Stivic (Rob Reiner) and his liberal views. Of course, you also have Mike's loyal wife Gloria (Sally Struthers) and Edith (Jean Stapleton), who, despite her sense, kept things in place.
Despite the writing and the concept, the chemistry and skill of the actors all brought it to life. While Sally Struthers is often mocked now, and some argue her acting skills weren't always up to par, she truly makes a great Gloria and does play well off the actors. Before Rob Reiner made his mark as a director, he captured the spirit of Mike as well as his intensity. The role of Mike is key, because of his relationship with Archie, it is essential that you believe his feelings and that he works well against Archie, and Reiner does that. I really couldn't imagine anyone else as Edith, and Jean Stapleton is always in command and perfectly brings all the mannerisms and ideals of Edith to life. But it, and always has been the late Carroll O'Connor who steals the show who made Archie Bunker just that - Archie Bunker. His expressions, his face, the way he talked and his body language... Connor's delivery was always solid and perfectly on par with the character.
"All In The Family," in my opinion, was a show that came out at the right place and right time. A lot of the themes and topics discussed may seem somewhat tame now for primetime television, but at the time, they were quite taboo. There was a lot of controversy concerning the show in that way, as Archie always had something to say about everything. Be it religion, birth control, sex, morals, the world itself and more. Yet it wasn't always in a serious matter. Yes, the arguments were poignant and made good points, but it used humor with them. The wit and dialogue in this show is always hilarious, and there is always something to laugh at. And over thirty years later, the show is still hilarious and everything remains rather valid.
But because of all this, "All In The Family paved new ground and for that, "All In The Family" will always be one of the best and most influential shows of all time. It truly changed the look of television as far as storytelling and sitcoms go, not to mention the successful (and not so successful) spin-offs it raised. So here is the second season where you get all twenty-four episodes of the season uncut. Simply put, the second season is one of the best and you'd be hard pressed to find a dull or even good episode here - everything here is hilarious and EXCELLENT (I wonder if this is because of John Rich, who directed EVERY episode of the season - very impressive). Some of the highlights include the ever-famous Sammy Davis Jr. appearance, the introduction of cousin Maude (which in turn would become a spin-off of the show), when Archie sees a mugging, Archie's "common man" view on Nixon's economic policy and of course, "Edith's Problem." So what are you waiting for? Pull up a chair and enjoy a spectacular season of one of the most groundbreaking and best television series ever made.
The first season of the show looked pretty good on DVD, and the second season looks a little bit better to my surprise (still presented in 1.33:1 full screen!). Yes, at times the transfers look a little soft and the contrasting isn't the best. But detail is rather decent, fleshtones are good and the colors are nicely saturated and stand out pretty well. There's also some noise and shimmering here and there, but it's never too distracting. In all, very nice transfers for a now thirty year-old show.
Even if there is some action here and there in "All In The Family," much of the show is a bunch of talking. The two channel English mono tracks sound good and do their job just perfectly. The dialogue is clear and easy to hear, there are no sound faults (like hissing) in the tracks and you can hear everything else just fine - the music, the laughtrack... it's all good. Again, I doubt remixing - if possible - would really enhance the experiences and I definitely prefer the original mono tracks. Also included are English subtitles, English closed captions and Spanish subtitles.
No supplement material is presented here... and I'm not getting my hopes up for the third season. There is a TV Comedy Favorites Preview which lasts two minutes and advertises other comedy shows Columbia/Tristar offers on DVD (and why not? a lot of credit must be given to them for pushing TV on DVD so much... besides, they're trying to make money too). A booklet is included inside the case that also advertises other TV shows the studio puts out on DVD, plus another booklet highlighting the awards this season won, episode descriptions and episode credits. Oh, and the episodes themelves don't have chapter stops either.
As great as the first season of "All In The Family" was, the second season certainly matches it - and perhaps even surpasses it. The second season broke more ground and certainly created some of the most memorable episodes of any show in television history. The DVD features good presentations of the episodes, but again, the lack of any real extras is a major disappointment. Nonetheless, this second set is 10 dollars cheaper than the first and given its content, its certainly worth picking up.