All in the Family: The Complete Eighth Season

All in the Family: The Complete Eighth Season
You know, you just don't hear the terms "chink" or "fag" much on prime time network television anymore. Although, it wasn't that long ago that "fag" was quite ubiquitous in the world of comedy. I can remember Bill and Ted referring to each other as such while on their Excellent and Bogus journeys. Of course, that was a good 15 years after the eighth season of All in the Family had aired, so most of the other colourful adjectives uttered by Archie Bunker – chiefly, the N-bomb – had been relegated to R-rated movies keen on breaking popular taboos. In fact, these days, I think television censors would be more comfortable with the C-word than anything racially-oriented, except maybe a good gag about Germany or Poland, since they tend to be the go-to countries for prime-time humour when fat jokes get tired. Archie Bunker is less specific about his bigotry though; he slams blacks, Jews, gays, lesbians, Italians, Polish folk and even the Catholic religion. Perhaps this is why, in an episode titled "Archie and the KKK," he is approached by the sheet-wearing brigade to join their ranks and burn a cross on his son-in-law's front lawn after he has a vaguely Communist letter printed in the local paper. But Archie resists flat-out hate crimes, since, just a handful of episodes earlier, he was granted a loan for a bar by a black, female loan officer that politely made a joke about Roots while he made cracks about Aunt Jemima. Speaking of which, Archie's new bar is the main distinction of this season, aside from the episode where someone tries to rape Edith, which is actually played for laughs. Racism and lesson-based format aside, the episodes that dole out 15-minute conversations between lead actors, such as the one where Archie and Meathead are locked in a storage room, or the one where Meathead and Gloria take a vacation to rekindle their marriage, are quite impressively rendered, especially considering that this was filmed in front of a live studio audience. It is easy to see why this series lasted for so long and garnered so much acclaim: the entire cast brought their A-game and the writers knew how to create believable conflict. Unfortunately, as is common with many older shows on DVD, no supplements are included with the three-disc, 24-episode set. (Shout! Factory)