Release Date: October 5, 2010 (Shout! Factory)
Color / 1976 - 1977
Packaging: Viva pack
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 25
Running Time: 600 minutes
Running Time of Features: N/A
Audio: English mono
Subtitles and Captioning: Closed-captioned
Special Features: None
Archie, Edith, Gloria, and Meathead--err Mike--are back once again for the seventh season of All in the Family! Norman Lear’s classic sitcom that wasn’t afraid to tackle the most controversial of issues returns to DVD, this time from Shout! Factory (the previous releases were all from Sony) in a three disc set containing all 25 episodes of the 1976-1977 season of the series. The series ran for nine years on CBS and was essentially a spin-off machine, spawning other series that were just as popular (if not more so), including The Jeffersons, Maude, and Good Times.
By now, Archie and Edith have taken on a boarder with Teresa, as Mike and Gloria have moved in to the Jeffersons old house next door with little Joey with them. The seventh season begins with a revelation that could break up Archie and Edith’s long-running marriage and Archie facing the prospect of being unemployed. Will they keep it all in the family and grow together? Find out in The Complete Seventh Season of All in the Family!
The season opens with “Archie’s Brief Encounter,” a three-part episode where Archie’s encounters with a waitress could spell divorce for Archie and Edith. It’s up to Mike and Gloria to save the marriage. Archie loses his job in the two-part episode “The Unemployment Story,” but that is only the beginning of the problems. While being unemployed, Archie undergoes surgery where he receives blood from a black blood donor in the two-part episode “Archie’s Operation.” Archie fixes up one of his friends with female impersonator Beverly LaSalle in “Beverly Rides Again.”
The Bunkers take on a boarder in “Teresa Moves In.” In “Mike and Gloria’s Will,” Archie and Edith are less than thrilled when they find that Mike and Gloria don’t leave them custody of Joey in their will. In “The Baby Contest,” Archie enters Joey into a beautiful baby contest (without telling Mike and Gloria). Will Mike get a vasectomy? Gloria is insisting that he get one in “Gloria’s False Alarm.” Mike brings a draft dodger to the Bunker Christmas dinner in “The Draft Dodger.” In “The Boarder Patrol,” Archie and Edith find Teresa with her boyfriend in an intimate moment.
Archie must go to great lengths to get his chair back after Mike breaks it and it ends up in a museum (ironically, the chair is in a museum now in real life) in “Archie’s Chair.” Archie’s friend dies in “Stretch Cunningham, Goodbye,” but the biggest shock to Archie is that his friend was Jewish! Gloria and Mike try to help Archie and Edith spice up their sex life in “The Joys of Sex.” When push comes to shove, that is exactly what Mike does in “Mike, the Pacifist.” It’s a fire at the Bunker home (and a ripe opportunity for Archie to pull an insurance scam!) in “Fire.” In “Archie, the Liberal,” Archie wants to allow a black Jewish guy to join his lodge, but surely there is a catch, right? Archie runs over Barney’s dog with his cab in “Archie’s Dog Day Afternoon.”
All of the episodes on the set appear to be unedited, with runtimes as follows:
“Archie’s Brief Encounter, Part 1” (25:01)
“Archie’s Brief Encounter, Part 2” (24:58)
“Archie’s Brief Encounter, Part 3” (24:50)
“The Unemployment Story, Part 1” (24:50)
“The Unemployment Story, Part 2” (24:55)
“Archie’s Operation, Part 1” (24:51)
“Archie’s Operation, Part 2” (24:50)
“Beverly Rides Again” (24:36)
“Teresa Moves In” (24:52)
“Mike and Gloria’s Will” (24:49)
“Mr. Edith Bunker” (24:51)
“Archie’s Secret Passion” (24:53)
“The Baby Contest” (24:50)
“Gloria’s False Alarm” (24:49)
“The Draft Dodger” (24:52)
“The Boarder Patrol” (25:02)
“Archie’s Chair” (24:51)
“Mike Goes Skiing” (24:51)
“Stretch Cunningham, Goodbye” (25:08)
“The Joys of Sex” (25:06)
“Mike, the Pacifist” (23:52)
“Mike and Gloria Split” (24:54)
“Archie, the Liberal” (25:07)
“Archie’s Dog Day Afternoon” (24:46)
The packaging for this set is very similar to the re-released versions of the Sony sets for this series. Originally, the Sony sets came in digipaks, but they were recently re-released in standard DVD cases, with all of the discs on one hub. Fortunately, that poor design was not used for this set, but instead, we have a Viva-pack style packaging with three discs. The cover art on the set is nearly identical to the Sony sets, with this set using burgundy color scheme with a cast snapshot on the front. The back of the case has basic information about season seven, along with a few snapshots. The three discs inside all have a cast photo (the same one seen on the cover art). Disc 1 contains episodes 1-8, Disc 2 contains episodes 9-16, and Disc 3 contains episodes 17-25. There is also an episode guide included, with a brief description of each episode along with original airdates. It is very nice that Shout! Factory made this set “compatible” with the previously released Sony sets.
Menu Design and Navigation:
Like many other recent Shout! Factory releases, the menus are very basic. The main menu has the theme song playing with an option of Play All as well as a listing of all of the episodes. Chapters are placed throughout each episode.
Video and Audio Quality:
This is the one area of the set that was much less than impressive. Compression seems to be a major issue on this set, and it is not something that I’ve seen on Shout! Factory sets in the past. Of course, they did put 25 episodes on three discs, which isn’t typical for Shout! Factory, but it is very much in line with the “three discs per season” mode that Sony used. The video quality is generally pretty clear, but the compression is out of control on some of the episodes. The episodes really do not look so great on a large screen TV, at all. The audio is mostly fine, although a tad bit low at times. Compression doesn’t seem to affect the audio as much as it does the video on this set. Each episode is closed-captioned.
Just like the Sony sets, this set contains absolutely no special features at all--a major disappointment! I was hoping with Shout! Factory taking over, that there would finally be something on this set. It would be nice to have some interviews with the cast members (most are still alive) or even Norman Lear. Perhaps a featurette about the controversial nature of the series would be appropriate also.
This would be a great set if not for the video compression problems that it suffers. I’m not exactly sure what went wrong here. Still, the set is otherwise great, with all unedited episodes (as far as I can tell, anyway). I only wish that some special features could have been included on this set. Why is it that such a great series as this is lacking on special features?
Hopefully we’ll get the final two seasons of the series soon, and I would love to see Shout! Factory finish up some other Norman Lear series, particularly The Jeffersons. But for now, it is good to see that the Bunkers are getting closer to completion on DVD, even if the DVDs could stand a little improvement quality-wise.