Category Archives: All in the Family

Bea Arthur, RIP

Edith’s cousin Maude Findlay going toe to toe with Archie Bunker.
(I suspect the changed intro music is there for some copyright reasons.)
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Of course, Bea Arthur was also a star of Golden Girls, as well, as well as a song and dance person, as this Mark Evanier find showed.

ROG

Roger Answers Your Questions, Scott and Gordini

The blogger Scott, husband of Marcia and father of Nigel, one of those people who still cares about the NHL, was kind enough to ask:

1. What do you think are the chances of us seeing another “Subway Series” this October?

You must have me mistaken with someone who has any idea. I had the St. Louis Cardinals losing every round they played (and won) last year.

That said, highly unlikely. In fact, much to my surprise, I think the Yankees have a better chance of getting there than the Mets, much to my disappointment. I’m rooting for the wild card to come out of the NL West (and for the Mets to win their division) because I think THEY think they can’t beat the Phillies in a second round matchup, whereas the Yankees could beat Boston, if they get past the first round. Though the Yanks have had a difficult time with the Angels this season, so if the Angels beat the Red Sox, the Yankees may be in trouble. Incidentally, yesterday was the centennial of the birth of original Angels’ owner, Gene Autry.

(When you asked a few days ago, the Mets were up by 2 games. Now they’re tied with a game to go, with no guarantee that they’ll even get IN the playoffs.)

2. What do you consider your favorite TV Drama of all-time?

Quite possibly St. Elsewhere, although Hill Street Blues and Homicide are up there. My favorite show as a kid, though was the Defenders, a lawyer show with E.G. Marshall and a pre-Brady Bunch Robert Reed. I was also fond of East Side/West Side with George C. Scott. There was an anthology show called The Bold Ones, and The Senator segment with Hal Holbrook was great, got Emmy love, but it lasted but a season. Was Twilight Zone a drama? That gets its own special mention.

3. What do you consider your favorite TV sit-com of all-time?

The Dick van Dyke Show. The perfect balance of home life and work life. Great physical comedy by DVD. MTM’s capri pants. And Richard Deacon from Binghamton, NY. Lasted five years – not too short, not long enough to wear out its welcome, which I’m afraid M*A*S*H, arguably a better show in its prime, did for me.

Though I must give some consideration to the Mary Tyler Moore Show, with a magnificent evolving cast, also did home and work well, as did, now that I think of it, the Bob Newhart Show, the one where he plays the shrink.

A comedy that evolved into a good show was Barney Miller, which scrapped any real pretense of a home life after the first season (Barbara Barrie played Barney’s wife), and found its voice.

4. What scares you the most about Lydia growing up?

I suppose I’m dreading that inevitable teenage period when she thinks I’m an irrelevant, archaic druid. But I have to say that the great thing about having no idea what you’re doing as a parent – in that most of my preconceived notions about fatherhood could be tossed into the Dumpster – is that I don’t think too much about her Growing Up; I’m trying to take care of her Now.

I am reminded, again, about racism and racialism. I had never heard the latter term until I watched some Nelson Mandela speech right after he was released from prison. Some people use the terms interchangeably, but I feel a distinction. To me, racism is blatant inequity under the law or in society; e.g., the Jena 6 charged more harshly for their crimes than the white students who had assaulted black kids. Whereas, racialism is more the “damn fool” things people say and do, such as Bill O’Reilly.
I just started reading Anti-Racist Parent. By “just”, I mean yesterday; interesting stuff.

Back to TV: Lydia decided just this week that she wanted to put on her right sock, then her right shoe, left sock and left shoe. This reminded me of a conversation that Mike Stivic had with Archie Bunker (a sock, sock, shoe, shoe guy) on All in the Family; that was a good show, too.
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Meanwhile, blogger Gordon, newly re-minted Chicagoan, podcaster, and most importantly, March Piscean, writes: “OK, well, here’s a question that I think you can answer: do you ever have a moment where you think ‘I’m so full of hot gas?'”

Immediately, I started writing this rambling epic indicating how there are several areas where I have no opinions at all, that the opinions I do have are often based on reason and experience, and that I don’t love the sound of my own voice as much as many do. I noted how, in keeping with a conversation he and I had privately, that I read other viewpoints; in fact, I spent some time this week listening to some of the speeches on the White Nationalist News Network, which I found by clicking Next Blog.

I addressed how an old girlfriend accused me of Male Answer Syndrome, which I rejected, not because it wasn’t possibly true, but because the thing I was answering (about alpacas being more pleasant than llamas) I actually DID know from research in my job. (And not so incidentally, claims that I have MAS has dropped SIGNIFICANTLY since I appeared on that game show. And there was other stuff about my good listening and observing skills.

But, sure, OK, don’t we all feel like we’re fakin’ it sometimes? Don’t at least many of us feel as though we’re about 11 and are pretending to wear grown-up clothes periodically?

So, Gordon, I could have just said “Yes.” But somehow, I thought you wanted a little more than that.
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Oh, and another one of my favorite reads, Tom the Dog, who has been on one more game show than I have, says nice things about me. Right back at you.

ROG

Skating away

I told my wife that Eddie Albert had died last week at the age of 99 of pneumonia and Alzheimer’s. She said that she figured he was already dead. I suppose that was a reasonable assumption.

When I was a kid, I admit to not only watching Green Acres, but liking it. (I also enjoyed Switch, but there was no shame in that.) Maybe it was because it was another show in the same Hooterville universe as Petticoat Junction. (Think Buffy/Angel on TV, or Marvel Comics crossovers.) Or maybe it was that it had Green in the title. I realized that Oliver Wendell Douglas (Eddie Albert), who initiated the move to the country (check out the theme lyrics) remained a fish out of water, confounded by Mr. Haney, Arnold Ziffel the pig, and their handyman Eb. Lisa Douglas (Eva Gabor), on the other hand, seemed to take it as it came in “Hootersville”. Like most supposed “airheads” on TV, she was probably smarter than her husband, the lawyer. I’m not defending it as Great Television, just not as bad as it has been portrayed.

Eddie Albert sang the title song (Eva Gabor more or less talked it). It is unusual for a star to sing the title song, I thought. Oh, there’s Dean Martin, Tom Jones, Jimmy Durante, and Happening ’68, hosted by Mark Lindsay of Paul Revere and the Raiders, but those were entertainment shows. And, of course, there’s Mr. Rogers. But I’m thinking scripted comedies or dramas. There was Erica Gimpel on Fame, but that was an ersatz performing arts school.
The only other ones I could think of were Drew Carey (Drew Carey Show, “Moon over Parma” -first season only) and Linda Lavin (Alice, “There’s a New Girl in Town”). Oh, and I nearly forgot the classic Carroll O’Connor/Jean Stapleton rendition of “Those Were the Days” on All in the Family, so notorious that it had to be recorded twice. (No one could understand, “Gee, our old LaSalle ran great.”)
But then I checked out some of my Television’s Greatest Hits CDs and discovered Tony Danza (“Hudson Street”) and Marla Gibbs (227, “There’s No Place Like Home”). And how did I forget Will Smith (with Jeff Townes, a/k/a DJ Jazzy Jeff) on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”? But the leader in this category, as far as I can tell is Greg Evigan from My Two Dads (“You Can Count on Me”) and the title song of “B.J. and the Bear”; this is in quantity, not necessarily quality. For my money, Green Acres told the story as well as any theme.

CBS canceled Green Acres and the Beverly Hillbillies in 1971, part of its de-ruralfication, despite its still strong ratings. Would that happen now? Maybe, with emphasis on “demographics”, the coveted 18-49 market. But these days, some cable outlet (TNN?) would have snatched them up.

But my everlasting recollection about the Green Acres theme is the routine performed by the ice dancing duo of Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto. The couple, who won a silver medal at the World Championship in Moscow in March, do a goofy, sexy exhibition featuring the Green Acres theme segued with the theme to Deliverance. (BTW, I didn’t look this up. My wife watches skating; now, I’m watching skating. I know more about the new international scoring system than I care to.)

So, as Eddie Albert skates away to a new existence, Green Acres lives on, not only in reruns, but on the ice as well.