Welcome to a new Sitcom Tuesday! Our coverage of Mad About You has been preempted for a five-week series of reruns. Designed to give yours truly some time to finish this semester (where I’m working on wrapping up a feature-length screenplay and an original pilot) and then load more “best of” lists into the queue, these upcoming entries are a FIRST in our nearly five-year Sitcom Tuesday run. Regular programming will resume on May 22nd, but in the meantime, I’m excited to dive into the archives and re-share five posts initially published from 2014-2016.
My intention is to provide a link to each original piece and then offer a tiny bit of updated commentary, either on episode picks I’d call differently now (like in my famous “Regrets” post) or on something broader, like evolving thoughts on the year/series as a whole. I’ve picked a few goodies, so I hope you’re as excited as I am about revisiting our favorites… But please be gentle! Many of the posts you’ll see were written a while ago. The standards here have changed as I’ve changed. (There are plenty of typos, juvenile “hot takes,” and places where more information would now be appreciated.) Also, the Wildcard Wednesdays accompanying this series will be gift-offering entries — scripts and videos — related to the Tuesday subject!
This week, I’m rerunning… The Five Best ALL IN THE FAMILY Episodes of Season One, which you can find here: https://jacksonupperco.com/2014/09/30/the-five-best-all-in-the-family-episodes-of-season-one/
All In The Family has been on my mind a lot lately. Not only was I briefly involved with a Norman Lear project for Sony, but I also recently gave a lecture on the series to my colleagues at USC and am currently writing a screenplay in which the show’s creation serves as a plot point. This first season list would look different if I was crafting it today. My thoughts on the series’ general trajectory remain unchanged — it was designed for the Nixon era and floundered after he left office, as the scripts continued to decline with a baby, two departures, and a Stephanie — but when it comes to the debut season, in particular, I think I should have given a little more consideration to the show’s topicality. That is, I basically picked whatever episodes I considered the most laugh-heavy, and while that’s a fine, fair metric for adjudicating a situation comedy (next, as always, to character), a lot of All In The Family‘s magic at the time of its premiere — when it was the rawest and most issue-based — came from its treatment of hot-button issues. As a result, today I would swap out a relatively forgettable entry like “Archie Is Worried About His Job” for something like “Judging Books By Covers,” which was so controversial that President Nixon infamously discussed it with his aides in the oval office. I’d also probably deliberate now over whether to retain the light-hearted “Edith Has Jury Duty” (over, say, “Lionel Moves Into The Neighborhood,” which sets up the thematically strong season finale, “The First And Last Supper”), yet I think I’d ultimately keep it — it’s a great showcase for her developing character, and that’s still of obvious value… But, anyway, check out the original list above again, and feel free to share your thoughts on the series and its trajectory in the comments below!
Come back next week for the next in our rerun series! And tune in tomorrow for a related Wildcard Wednesday!