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Archie Bunker's Place - The Complete First Season


TITLE: ARCHIE BUNKER'S PLACE - THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON


Info:

DVD Release Date: January 31, 2006 (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Color
MSRP: $29.95
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 24
Running Time: Approx. 590 Minutes
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English, Closed Captioned
Special Features: None


Introduction:

Join Archie Bunker (Carroll O'Connor), his wife Edith (Jean Stapleton), new business partner Murray Klein (Oscar-winner Martin Balsam, 1965, Actor in a Supporting Role, A Thousand Clowns), and Stephanie (Danielle Brisebois) at the funniest saloon in Queens. The colorful cast also includes Allan Melvin, Jason Wingreen, Bill Quinn, and Anne Meara. Look for guest appearances from guest stars Sammy Davis, Jr., Andy Garcia, Sheree North, Estelle Parsons, Jerry Stiller and more. This Emmy-nominated first season includes the two-part Thanksgiving Special, featuring the return of Mike (Rob Reiner) and Gloria Stivic (Sally Struthers)!

Archie Bunker's Place first premiered September 1, 1979 as a continuation of the hit CBS series All in the Family. Archie Bunker's Place continued to be a popular series with fans of All in the Family, who tuned in for more laughter with some of television's most endearing and unforgettable characters. Still centering on the opinionated yet loveable bigot, Archie Bunker, this time the focus has shifted from Archie and Edith's home life to Archie's friendly neighborhood bar, Archie's Place, which has expanded into a short-order restaurant. That's not the only thing that's changed. Archie gets a new Jewish business partner, Murray Klein, whose liberal views clash with Archie's conservative ways, and a cook Veronica Rooney (Comedienne Anne Meara of Stiller and Meara). Some familiar faces also return including Archie's niece Stephanie Mills, whom Archie and Edith took in a year earlier after her father abandoned her, as well as many of Archie's old friends who were formerly recurring guest stars, but are now regulars on the show.


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

Archie Bunker's Place aired on CBS for four seasons from 1979-1983. A total of 97 episodes were produced. The series continued to air on the same day and in the same timeslot as All in the Family: Sunday nights at 8PM. It ranked #11 in the Nielsen ratings with a 22.9 rating for the first season. During its four-year run Archie Bunker's Place received four Emmy Award nominations.

Many people think Edith passed away at the start of the series, but she actually appeared in five episodes during the first season. You can tell which episodes she is in as she's listed in the opening credits in her familiar place - above the title after Carroll O'Connor. Jean Stapleton's appearances were in "Edith Gets Hired," "Edith vs. the Energy Crisis," "Thanksgiving Reunion - Part I," "Thanksgiving Reunion - Part II," and "The Shabbat Dinner." Edith died off-screen of a stroke at the start of the second season. The second season premiere episode is set a month after the funeral, as Archie and Stephanie mourn her passing.

There were a number of memorable episodes during the first season. The show still had a good deal of the All in the Family creative team involved with the series, as well as quite a few of the writers. Edith's frantic scurrying does little to satisfy a howling Archie, who is sick over the energy crisis in "Edith vs. the Energy Crisis." Mike, Gloria, and grandson Joey show up on Archie's doorstep for Thanksgiving...then he discovers why, in the first episode of a special two-part story: "Thanksgiving Reunion - Part I." The family reunion brings fond memories that only serve to ignite Archie's temper, spark Gloria's tears and try Edith's patience in "Thanksgiving Reunion - Part II." Murrary turns a deaf ear to Archie's objections and gives "working girl" Dottie a chance at a more honorable profession, only to have good cause for his second thoughts in "Barney & The Hooker." A Shabbat dinner for Stephanie seems headed for disaster when Edith invites both Murray's mother and his girlfriend in "The Shabbat Dinner." None of Archie's pals can believe it when Sammy Davis, Jr. accepts Archie's invitation to visit the bar in "The Return of Sammy."

Notable guest stars included Florence Halop as Aunt Gussie in "Archie's New Partner - Part II" and "The Shabbat Dinner." William Schallert guest starred as Dr. Wakerford in "Edith Gets Hired." Sheree North played Dotty Wertz in "Archie and the Oldest Profession" and "Barney & The Hooker." Sheree was nominated for an Emmy for the role. Edward Marshall appeared as Dr. Sydney Shapiro in "Edith vs. the Engery Crisis." Andy Garcia guest starred as Manuel in "Building the Restaurant." Helen Page Camp played Miss Gucci in "Murray and the Liquor Board." Rob Reiner and Sally Struthers return as son-in-law and daughter Mike and Gloria for the hour-long "Thanksgiving Reunion" special. Estelle Parsons appeared as Barney's ex-wife, Blanche, in "Blanche and Murray." Talia Balsam, Martin Balsam's daughter, guest starred as Beverly Klein-Munoz in "Murray's Daughter." Sammy Davis Jr. returns as himself in "The Return of Sammy." Jack Dodson guest starred as Tom in "Archie Gets Fixed Up." Jerry Stiller, Anne's Meara's real-life husband, appeared as Veronica's ex-husband, Carmine, in "Veronica's Ex."


Packaging:

This three-disc set includes all 24 episodes from Archie Bunker's Place first (1979-1980) season. The packaging is a bit different for this set than what has been used on the All in the Family releases. The DVD cover art features photos of Carroll O'Connor, Martin Balsam, Jean Stapleton, and Danielle Brisebois. This doesn't look like a real cast photo. It probably is individual photos pasted together. Carroll O'Connor and Jean Stapleton's names are listed at the top, along with the Archie Bunker's Place title in a large font. Green is the predominant color of this set. It has a nice St. Patricks' Day/Irish theme throughout the set. There is a synopsis of the set, DVD specs, and a few photos on the back of the box. The photos include shots from the episodes with Sammy Davis, Jr., Rob Reiner, Sally Struthers, and Lori Shannon. The photo of Lori Shannon, who played Beverly LaSalle on All in the Family, seems a bit out of place as I don't believe she ever appeared on Archie Bunker's Place. Perhaps, they just wanted to include a photo of Jean Stapleton in the group. Two plastic slim cases slide out from the left of the outer cardboard box. The slim cases feature some nice cast photos on the cover. There are various bar items like a coaster, ashtray, salt & pepper shakers, candle, matchbook, peanuts, etc. in the background. The episode titles, summaries, and writing/directing credits are listed on the back and inside the cases. It would have been to see them include the original airdates and guest stars, also. An 8-page booklet promoting some other Sony TV on DVD releases is also included. Discs 1 and 2 are in the first slim case, and Disc 3 is in the second slim case. The actual discs are made to look like coasters with a four-leaf clover on them. Disc 1 has episodes 1-8, Disc 2 has episodes 9-16, and Disc 4 has episodes 17-24.


Menu Design and Navigation:

The main menus continue the Irish theme. They feature a shot of Carroll O'Connor in the foreground with photos of Martin Balsam, Danielle Brisebois, and Jean Stapleton. These are the same photos as the cover art, but they are cropped a bit, and it features only their faces lined up side-by-side. A four-leaf clover and the Archie Bunker's Place title is at the top. It would have been great to see them use the real cursive Archie Bunker's Place font that they used in the opening credits. There are options to "Play All Episodes' or "Episode Selection." A green four-leaf clover is next to your selection that turns blue when you pick it. When you select "Episode Selection," it takes you to a sub-menu that features four episodes per screen. There are still images from each episode, and the episode number is in a four-leaf clover. The leaf turns a lighter green when you highlight it, and the bar in the background leaf turns light blue when you select it. A "Previews" option for some other Sony TV on DVD releases and the upcoming "Pink Panther" movie is found on the third disc. There are some well-placed chapter stops within the episodes, but there are no separate menus for scene selections.


Video and Audio Quality:

The video and audio quality is pretty decent I think. I would say they look a bit better than the early seasons of All in the Family, and on par with the later seasons. Archie Bunker's Place aired on TV Land from September 2002 until March 2003. These episodes have been probably digitally remastered a bit, and I think they look better than the TV Land versions. The show was shot on tape, and there are a few tape glitches here and there. The color is generally pretty good, but it fades in and out a bit in a few scenes. Scenes at the bar appear a bit dark and grainy. This was probably by design, as the bar set was tiny and didn't have a lot of lighting. Scenes at the house look bright, just like on All in the Family.

The audio is a basic mono track, which was typical of sitcoms of the late 1970's and early 1980's. It should be noted that Archie Bunker's Place was not filmed in front of a studio audience for the duration of its run. The episodes were played on tape for reactions from the audience. This allowed the actors to speak in a more conversational tone and not have them shout their lines. The volume on this set is at a good level, but you might have to turn it up a few notches. Closed captioning is available for all of the episodes.

Episodes are presented in their original broadcast order. This differs from the order in which they were produced quite a bit. All of Jean Stapleton's appearances were taped consecutively at the start of the season, so she didn't have to come back to work every few weeks. These episodes were spread out over the first half of the season.

All episodes appear to be unedited, running around 24-25 minutes, except for one episode. The premiere episode of the series, "Archie's New Partner - Part I," runs only 22:14. This episode would appear to be from a syndication print. Unfortunately, this is not the first time this has happened with one of Sony's sets. The two one-hour episodes on Diff'rent Strokes first season release were from syndication, also. Archie Bunker's Place had two one-hour episodes during the first season. However, they are presented in two parts on this set.

Here is a list of the episodes and their running times:

Disc 1
---------
1. Archie's New Partner - Part I (22:14)
2. Archie's New Partner - Part II (25:29)
3. Edith Gets Hired (24:52)
4. Archie and the Oldest Profession (24:36)
5. Edith vs. the Energy Crisis (24:44)
6. Bosom Partners (24:21)
7. Building the Restaurant (24:16)
8. The Cook (24:19)

Disc 2
---------
9. Murray and the Liquor Board (25:00)
10. Thanksgiving Reunion - Part I (24:55)
11. Thanksgiving Reunion - Part II (25:48)
12. Barney & The Booker (25:10)
13. Man of the Year (24:43)
14. The Shabbat Dinner (24:52)
15. Barney's Lawsuit (24:55)
16. Blanche and Murray (25:00)

Disc 3
---------
17. Murray's Daughter (24:59)
18. The Ambush (24:27)
19. The Return of Sammy (24:54)
20. Archies Fixes Up Fred (24:46)
21. Father and Daughter Night (24:56)
22. Van Ranseleer's Operation (24:41)
23. Veronica's Ex (24:33)
24. A Small Mafia Favor (24:12)


Special Features:

All in the Family has had no special features, and that tradition is continued here. I know Danielle Brisebois has fond memories from working on the show, and I'm sure she'd be glad to do an interview to talk about it. There are 4 previews on the third disc for the upcoming Steve Martin "Pink Panther" movie and for some other Sony TV DVD releases including Classic Comedy, Classic Urban TV Series, and The Best of WWII Movies.


Final Comments:

I have to say I was pretty shocked to hear that Archie Bunker's Place was coming out on DVD. I really thought they would wait until they were finished with all 9 seasons of All in the Family. It's not fair to compare Archie Bunker's Place vs. All in the Family, as they were basically two different series. Season 1 of Archie Bunker's Place is the most like All in the Family as it still had most of the creative team working on it, and Jean Stapleton was in 5 episodes.

Overall, I think this is a pretty decent set. It is priced affordably, and you can probably pick it up for around $20. The video and audio quality is improved a bit over what TV Land aired a few years ago. Plus, TV Land never aired one of the first season episodes: "A Small Mafia Affair." It's a bit disappointing that the first episode appears to be from a syndication print. This has been a problem a few times before with other Sony DVD releases. The episodes that are most often edited are the episodes that originally aired as one-hour programs. I would love to hear an explanation from Sony on why this happens. Maybe they can't find the original one-hour master copies. It will be interesting to how often Archie Bunker's Place is released. I know most All in the Family fans would like to see Seasons 6-9 released at a more rapid rate. It's taken nearly 4 years for the 5 seasons to be available. Maybe they will begin alternating All in the Family and Archie Bunker's Place every 6 months or so.


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: N/A
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
Overall: 4/5

-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 01/22/06

To order the DVD click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000CCBCCG/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20


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