Cousin Liz (Original airdate: October 9, 1977) Written by Barry Harman, Harve Brosten, Bob Weiskopf, and Bob Schiller Directed by Paul Bogart
Yet another cousin is introduced, this one has passed away off-screen. She’s from Edith’s side of the family, so she and Archie schlep out of Queens to attend the funeral and reception afterward. Liz was never married and had no children. Her closest relationship was with her friend and roommate Veronica. Veronica is deeply distraught over her loss and eventually confides in Edith that she and Liz were not roommates but partners, living as a married couple. Edith is stunned at first but quickly accepts this idea, telling Veronica she will let her keep a tea set that was initially bequeathed to Edith. Mrs. Bunker has immediate empathy and doesn’t see Liz and Veronica’s love as any different than she and Archie’s.
Archie the Hero (Original airdate: September 29th, 1975) Written by Lou Derman & Bill Davenport Directed by Paul Bogart
LGBTQ representation on television at the time of All in the Family was a mixed bag of either complete absence or as a villain and predatory. It was even worse when the idea of crossdressing or transvestitism came into the picture. At the time Archie the Hero aired there just wasn’t a language in the common parlance to talk about transgender people and terms got muddled with the two groups mentioned previously. Despite the confusion and lack of education, this is a part of a trilogy of episodes that handled the idea of non-conforming gender with a surprising amount of empathy.
The Wrong Trousers isn’t the first outing of the stop motion characters Wallace & Gromit or even the first short to won Nick Park an Academy Award. That honor belongs to A Grand Day Out, also a great short film. However, The Wrong Trousers was incredibly commercially successful for a short in an era where that form of a movie just doesn’t get much attention or distribution any longer. Park never tries to elevate the themes of his story beyond just pure fun and a well-told tale of a dog, his owner, and an evil penguin.
The Bunkers and Inflation Part 1 (Original airdate: September 14, 1974) Written by Don Nicholl and Michael Ross & Bernie West Directed by H. Wesley Kenney
The landscape of American life was changing drastically in the 1970s, a result of the tumultuous 1960s. There were many excellent and long-awaited changes such as desegregation & the Civil Rights Act, the women’s lib movement, and the growing acceptance of LGBT people. Economically things were getting murky, downright awful for working-class union people. This was an opening salvo by the corporate elite to weaken union power to increase their own. The speculation market was coming to power and with the 1980s looming, the salivating day traders and industry liquidators were on their mark, ready to go.
There are a LOT of bad Stephen King movies out there. The Tommyknockers. Dreamcatcher. Maximum Overdrive. Sleepwalkers. Thinner. I’d argue there are more lousy King adaptations than good ones. But his work resonates with audiences so profoundly that I suspect the films will keep coming for far beyond his and our lifetimes. Here are my personal favorites of movies made based on his work with some thoughts about them.
Archie and the Computer (October 27th, 1973) Written by Lloyd Turner & Gordon Mitchell and Don Nicholl Directed by John Rich and Bob LaHendro
The story here may seem relatively familiar and, while I don’t know the exact chronology, I wouldn’t be surprised if the underlying structure had been done in other shows already at this time. It has undoubtedly been done since. Edith reveals that a computer error has been sending her a continuous rebate for a single grocery purchase and she’s been collecting the quarters in an old cigar box. Being such a good-hearted person, Edith feels guilty about this and refuses to spend the money. When Archie finds out, we see his miserly tendencies come out. The tables are flipped when a letter arrives at the Bunker home declaring Archie deceased, and he has to deal with the ensuing problems.
Archie and the Editorial (Original airdate: September 16th, 1972) Written by Don Nicholl and George Bloom Directed by Norman Campbell
Gun violence and mass shootings are a fairly regular part of the cable news cycle at this point. Just this week three men who planned shootings in three separate states were caught by the authorities before they were able to act. It’s only a matter of time before we see another report about people out enjoying their lives, going to school, or shopping being gunned down by someone wielding highly powerful weapons. At the time this episode of All in the Family aired the nation. New York City, in particular, was experiencing an increase in violent crime that continued until the 1990s.