Release Date: January 11, 2011 (Shout! Factory)
Color / 1977-1978
Packaging: Viva pack
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 24
Running Time: 570 minutes
Running Time of Features: N/A
Audio: English mono
Subtitles and Captioning: Closed-captioned
Special Features: None
Dingbats, Meatheads, Little Ghouls, and Arrrrrchie can’t be stifled anymore! The eighth season of the classic Norman Lear sitcom All in the Family is now available on DVD in a three-disc set from Shout! Factory.
In the next to last season, Archie quits his nine-to-five job to become a five-to-nine entrepreneur after Kelsey sells his bar (and struggles to succeed as an entrepreneur), Edith celebrates her 50th birthday in the worst way possible, Archie becomes a member of the KKK (not intentionally), Beverly LaSalle returns and leaves (for good), and Mike gets a new job that may break up the family dynamic. Let’s take a look at those days!
In the season premiere two-part episode, “Archie Gets the Business,” Kelsey gets out of the bar business, leaving an opening for Archie to take over, that is if he can find a way to get Edith’s signature on a loan application. In “Cousin Liz,” one of Edith’s cousins dies, but Archie and Edith learn a secret about her relationship with her roommate that is surprising to them. Edith celebrates her 50th birthday in the two-part episode “Edith’s 50th Birthday,” but it isn’t so happy when a man attempts to rape her. The help at the bar quits in “Archie’s Grand Opening,” leaving Archie to turn to his family for help.
Things aren’t going so well at the bar in the two-part episode “Archie’s Bitter Pill,” but his solution to the problem lands him in a rehabilitation facility. Archie decides to join an exclusive club in the two-part episode “Archie and the KKK,” but it isn’t exactly what he expects, and only gets worse when he is asked to commit a hate crime against his own son-in-law. We get to see how Mike and Gloria met in “Mike and Gloria Meet.” Family friend and transvestite Beverly LaSalle returns for Christmas in the two-part episode “Edith’s Crisis of Faith,” but it is going to be her last visit.
It is a Super Bowl party at the bar that nobody will forgot in “Archie and the Super Bowl.” In “Love Comes to the Butcher,” Edith becomes the object of attraction for the neighborhood butcher. Mike and Archie get locked in the storeroom and get to know each other much better in “Two’s a Crowd.” Archie’s estranged brother shows up after 29 years in “The Brother.” The season ends with a three episode arc that sets the stage for many changes in the series, beginning with “Mike’s New Job,” where Mike is offered a job in California. A farewell dinner for Mike and Gloria turns into a disaster in “The Dinner Guest.” And everybody is sad as Mike and Gloria make their exit from Hauser Street in the season finale, “The Stivics Go West.”
The episodes on the set appear to be unedited, with all of the original hour-long episodes being presented that way. All episode recaps are placed on the second part of the two part episodes as well. All runtimes as follows:
1/2. “Archie Gets the Business, Parts 1 and 2” (48:18)
3. “Cousin Liz” (24:47)
4/5. “Edith’s 50th Birthday, Parts 1 and 2” (48:13)
6. “Unequal Partners” (24:52)
7. “Archie’s Grand Opening” (24:50)
8. “Archie’s Bitter Pill, Part 1” (25:08)
9. “Archie’s Bitter Pill, Part 2” (25:05)
10. “Archie and the KKK, Part 1” (25:05)
11. “Archie and the KKK, Part 2” (25:10)
12. “Mike and Gloria Meet” (25:09)
13. “Edith’s Crisis of Faith, Part 1” (25:08)
14. “Edith’s Crisis of Faith, Part 2” (25:10)
15. “The Commercial” (24:36)
16. “Archie and the Super Bowl” (24:13)
17. “Aunt Iola’s Visit” (24:37)
18. “Love Comes to the Butcher” (25:06)
19. “Two’s a Crowd” (25:10)
20. “Stale Mates” (24:35)
21. “The Brother” (25:11)
22. “Mike’s New Job” (25:06)
23. “The Dinner Guest” (25:08)
24. “The Stivics Go West” (24:54)
Like many other releases from all of the other studios, the set comes packaged in a standard Viva-pack case. The cover art has a photo of the cast members (although Joey is not included this time) with a green color scheme for the background of the photo and the series title. The back of the case has some episode snapshots, and information about the episodes on the set. Inside the case, we find the three discs, all of which have the same cast photo as seen on the cover. Disc 1 contains episodes 1-7, Disc 2 contains episodes 8-15, and Disc 3 contains episodes 16-24. There is also an insert that contains a listing of all of the episodes, with descriptions and original airdates.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The menus aren’t that fancy, but perfectly functional. The main menu has the theme song playing in the background, with a cast photo on the left and a list of episodes on the right. There is also a Play All option. Once you select an episode, it plays immediately. Chapters are placed throughout each episode.
Video and Audio Quality:
There were some encoding issues in the seventh season set that caused some major chaos on the forums at the Shout! Factory website, but fans will be pleased to know that those encoding issues are not found at all on this set. In fact, the episodes this time look and sound better than I’ve ever seen them before. Still, there is only so much that can be done with episodes that are over 30 years old and shot on tape, but the problems there are still relatively minor. The audio is presented in loud and clear Dolby Digital mono. Every episode on the set is closed-captioned.
There are no special features on the set at all. This is such a historic series, yet none of the sets have had any special features! Hopefully, this can be rectified with the release of the final season, or perhaps there could be a special compilation of the best episodes of the series that includes some special features. Most of all, I would like to see interviews with those involved in the series on the set.
This is a perfectly adequate set, and I think a better job was done on this set than all of the previous ones released by both Sony and Shout! Factory. The continued omission of special features is a little unfortunate, but not surprising (why would Shout! Factory start doing them when Sony never did them?). I am looking forward to seeing this series completed on DVD, and hope that we can also see more of the continuation series, Archie Bunker’s Place, on DVD. But until then, just stifle yourself and enjoy these episodes.