Celebrate July 4th With The ALL IN THE FAMILY Best Episodes Block Party on getTV!
Half a century after Norman Lear created him, Archie Bunker is having another moment in the spotlight. More than ten million people watched ABC’s recent primetime tribute to Lear’s All In The Family (and its spin-off The Jeffersons), and the groundbreaking 1970s sitcom is enjoying more critical accolades today than it has in decades.
For some of us, the live special was an opportunity to revisit a world (we’ll call it “The Bunker-Verse”) we’ve loved all our lives. For others, it was an introduction — and an important reminder that timeless TV has no expiration date. Whichever category you fall in, getTV has you covered this Independence Day! Starting at 6a ET on July 4, we’ll present the best of the Bunkers with 24 hours of All In The Family!
From the 1971 introduction of loveable bigot Archie (Carrol O’Connor) and his patient wife Edith (Jean Stapleton), to the arrival of testy neighbor George Jefferson (Sherman Hemsley) and his wife Louise (Isabel Sanford), to the departure of feminist daughter Gloria (Sally Struthers) and liberal son-in-law Mike (Rob Reiner) in 1978, All In The Family’s most important episodes have been selected by getTV’s programmers. The result is a day of curated programming that will tell you — or remind you — everything you need to know about the Bunker-Verse!
Plus, we’ve got two vintage 1970s specials that offer a rare glimpse at the All In The Family phenomenon as it was happening. At 10p ET on July 4, Oscar winner Henry Fonda hosts an hour-long celebration of the show’s first 100 episodes. And at 11p ET, we’ll present a ninety-minute, Lear-hosted retrospective that originally aired a month before the series finale in 1979.
And, for you night owls, we’ve got three multi-part story arcs airing in the overnight hours: “Archie’s Brief Encounter” with a diner waitress (Janis Page) from 12:30–2a ET; the four-part episode where Archie’s union goes on strike (2a–4a ET); and “The Unemployment Story,” the 1976 two-parter where Archie loses his job.
So, brew a pot of coffee and settle in for an episode — or 40! And remember, if you can’t stay up for 24 hours straight, getTV is proud to present All In The Family every weeknight from 7p-10p ET!
Here are ten can’t-miss episodes airing on July 4 — with airtimes, so you don’t miss them (like a dingbat):
1. Meet The Bunkers (Season 1, Episode 1) — July 4 at 6a ET
The first episode aired was actually the third pilot produced by Lear and partner Bud Yorkin. All three featured O’Connor and Stapleton as Archie and Edith, but each had different actors playing Gloria and Meathead. “They were afraid,” Lear said of ABC, the network that ordered the first two pilots, but stalled on committing to a series. CBS stepped in and picked up the groundbreaking sitcom based on the British comedy Til Death Us Do Part.
2. Lionel Moves In To The Neighborhood (Season 1, Episode 8) — July 4 at 7a ET
This episode introduces Louise Jefferson four years before she, George and son Lionel (Mike Evans) moved on up from Queens to the East Side of Manhattan. The house two doors away from the Bunkers is up for sale and widower Jim Bowman (Vincent Gardenia) decides to sell to an African-American family, despite the wishes of his neighbors. Archie’s first meeting with Louise is priceless, as he assumes (in true Archie style) that she’s the cleaning lady, not the homeowner. Sanford would go on to appear in 25 more episodes and Gardenia would return as two other characters.
3. The First And Last Supper (Season 1, Episode 13) — July 4 at 7:30a ET
Archie and Mike have tickets to the Mets game, but Edith has made plans to have dinner with the Jeffersons. George Jefferson is referenced, but his brother Henry (Mel Stewart) shows up in his place. (Sherman Hemsley was committed to the Broadway show Purlie and would not appear on All In The Family for another two years.) Oddly, when Hemsley finally joined the cast in 1973, Henry was never mentioned again (not even on The Jeffersons).
4. Cousin Maude’s Visit (Season 2, Episode 12) — July 4 at 11a ET
All In The Family inspired more spin-offs than any other show in TV history, and this episode led to the first. Edith’s liberal cousin Maude Findlay (Beatrice Arthur) visits the Bunker house when Archie, Mike and Gloria are all sick with the flu. Maude and Archie debate anything and everything – until Maude herself ends up with a bug. Arthur made one more appearance in March of 1972 before the Lear-created spinoff Maude debuted in September of 1972.
5. Archie And The Editorial (Season 3, Episode 1) — July 4 at 1p ET
A few weeks before the 1972 election, All In The Family opened its third season with a controversial episode about gun control. It begins with Mike and Archie debating the merits of the Second Amendment, which conservative Archie supports and liberal Mike opposes. It ends with Archie delivering his now-famous TV editorial in support of gun rights – and getting robbed afterwards at Kelsey’s Bar (later to become Archie Bunker’s Place). Sorrell Brooke (The Dukes Of Hazzard) makes his first appearance on the series.
6.The Bunkers And The Swingers (Season 3, Episode 15) — July 4 at 2:30p ET
Open marriage and “wife swapping” may have been hot topics in the 1970s, but they certainly weren’t subjects for network sitcoms. So, when Archie and Edith inadvertently had a “date” with a married couple in 1972, it raised eyebrows. Vincent Gardenia (his second character) and Rue McClanahan play a middle-aged couple looking for new “friends.” Only when neighbor Louise sets them straight do Edith and Archie realize what’s on their dance card.
7. Everybody Tells The Truth (Season 3, Episode 21) — July 4 at 4p ET
The refrigerator is broken, so the Bunkers go out to dinner. There they recount a visit from a refrigerator repairman (Ken Lynch) and his apprentice (Ron Glass), each remembering the experience very differently. This episode (written by Emmy nominee Don Nicholl) is one of the broadest, most laugh-out-loud funny in the show’s run, and the Roshomon-style flashback structure is brilliantly inventive. Twenty-seven-year-old Glass — who went on to earn an Emmy nomination as Harris on Barney Miller — gives an unforgettable performance in his TV debut.
8. Henry’s Farewell (Season 4, Episode 6) — July 4 at 5p ET
This episode was restaged on ABC’s primetime special Live In Front Of A Studio Audience, and with good reason: it’s George Jefferson’s introduction and Sherman Hemsley’s TV debut! After vowing not to enter the Bunker home for years, George finally crosses the threshold — and TV history is made! Sherman Hemsley appeared in just 15 episodes of All In The Family, but they are some of the show’s best.
9. The Jeffersons Move On Up (Season 5, Episode 17) — July 4 at 7p ET
George and Louise say goodbye to Queens and Edith (though not Archie, as O’Connor does not appear). This pilot for The Jeffersons introduces Berlinda Tolbert as Jenny Jefferson and Franklin Cover and Roxie Roker as her parents Tom and Helen Willis. (These characters had appeared on All In The Family previously, but played by different actors). We also meet the Jeffersons’ neighbor Mr. Bentley (Paul Benedict) and doorman Ralph (Ned Wertimer). The hilarious Zara Cully is the only Jeffersons cast member who returns from the Lionel’s Engagement episode.
10. Two’s A Crowd (Season 8, episode 19) — July 4 at 9p ET
The penultimate season brought a lot of change to All In The Family. In the premiere, Archie buys Kelsey’s and renames it Archie Bunker’s Place. And in the season finale, Gloria and Mike move to California when Mike gets a teaching job. A few episodes before he leaves, Mike gets locked in the storeroom at the bar and the father and son-in-law talk through the last eight years. It’s an extraordinarily touching episode and an important reminder that the Archie/Meathead relationship is as central to the show as Archie/Edith. It’s also the closest we get to an “origin story” for Archie’s bigotry.
The All In The Family Best Episodes Block Party airs Thursday, July 4 starting at 6a ET. The series also airs weeknights from 7p–10p ET. For more, visit the getTV schedule.