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January 12, 2021 11:26 am  #1


How TV Changed Forever Exactly 50 Years Ago Today

At first glance, January 12, 1971 doesn't look like a very auspicious day in TV history. But it was. 

It was a Tuesday night in primetime, when this disclaimer aired at the beginning of a CBS show no one had ever heard of. 

‘‘The program you are about to see is "All in the Family." It seeks to throw a humorous spotlight on our frailties, prejudices, and concerns. By making them a source of laughter, we hope to show—in a mature fashion—just how absurd they are.’’

Love it or hate it, that single first episode would forever change the nature of network TV and what was acceptable coming into your living room. It was the night television grew up and, while there were still a lot of bubble gum programs that made it to air afterwards, it can be argued nothing was ever the same following that first show. 

As the story below shows, the route from pilot to series was a long and arduous one, filled with many cast changes, numerous pilots and a constant battle with censors. 

Would TV have grown up if CBS hadn't taken the chance to air it after other networks turned it down? Probably. But it wouldn't have happened as fast and a lot of other classic programs that also tried to be more adult in tone might never have been made at all. 

As the famous theme song noted, "Those were the days." But on Jan. 12, 1971, that WAS the day. 

Looking Back on the Legacy of ‘All in the Family’ 50 Years Later

 

January 12, 2021 11:52 am  #2


Re: How TV Changed Forever Exactly 50 Years Ago Today

And let's not forget "All In The Family" was not an original idea.Till Death Us Do Part is a British television sitcom that aired on BBC1 from 1965 to 1975. The show was first broadcast as a Comedy Playhouse pilot, then in seven series until 1975. In 1981, ITV continued the sitcom for six episodes, calling it Till Death.... The BBC produced a sequel from 1985 until 1992, In Sickness and in Health.Created by Johnny SpeightTill Death Us Do Part centred on the East End Garnett family, led by patriarch Alf Garnett (Warren Mitchell), a reactionary white working-class man who holds anti-socialist views. His long-suffering wife Else was played by Dandy Nichols, and his daughter Rita by Una Stubbs. Rita's husband Mike Rawlins (Anthony Booth) is a socialist layabout from Liverpool who frequently locks horns with Garnett. Alf Garnett became a well-known character in British culture, and Mitchell played him on stage and television until Speight's death in 1998.

 

January 12, 2021 11:59 am  #3


Re: How TV Changed Forever Exactly 50 Years Ago Today

newsguy1 wrote:

And let's not forget "All In The Family" was not an original idea.Till Death Us Do Part is a British television sitcom that aired on BBC1 from 1965 to 1975. The show was first broadcast as a Comedy Playhouse pilot, then in seven series until 1975. In 1981, ITV continued the sitcom for six episodes, calling it Till Death.... The BBC produced a sequel from 1985 until 1992, In Sickness and in Health.Created by Johnny SpeightTill Death Us Do Part centred on the East End Garnett family, led by patriarch Alf Garnett (Warren Mitchell), a reactionary white working-class man who holds anti-socialist views. His long-suffering wife Else was played by Dandy Nichols, and his daughter Rita by Una Stubbs. Rita's husband Mike Rawlins (Anthony Booth) is a socialist layabout from Liverpool who frequently locks horns with Garnett. Alf Garnett became a well-known character in British culture, and Mitchell played him on stage and television until Speight's death in 1998.

Ironically, the actor who played Alf Garnett was both Jewish and a socialist. Also Anthony Booth who played Mike (the same role that Rob Reiner played in the US version as "Meathead") went on to be Tony Blair's father-in-law. 
 

 

January 12, 2021 12:38 pm  #4


Re: How TV Changed Forever Exactly 50 Years Ago Today

It was a different time.  I mean, for crying out loud, this was the first show that featured the sound of a toilet flushing. 

But the U.S. is funny that way.  Even after all these years, you can see someone getting their head blown off (I mean their cranium, smartasses) but heaven forbid you allow an innocent nipple slip to make it to air.
 

 

January 12, 2021 1:08 pm  #5


Re: How TV Changed Forever Exactly 50 Years Ago Today

Peter the K wrote:

It was a different time.  I mean, for crying out loud, this was the first show that featured the sound of a toilet flushing. 
 

Brady Bunch wasn't even allowed to show a toilet in the bathroom scenes, let alone this show. 
Sound effects are as close as it gets.

 

 

January 12, 2021 1:53 pm  #6


Re: How TV Changed Forever Exactly 50 Years Ago Today

Yes North American network TV is not afraid to show a little gore or violence but if the topics get socially uncomfortable or too sensual then that is when scenes get cut.  Canadian network TV is a little bit more progressive than our US counterparts and will sometimes let the swearing and the nudity go uncut.  But we are not as liberal in this regard as most of Europe and some other parts of the world.  In Europe sex is treated as fun, funny, healthy and completely natural which of course it is.  In North America on network TV even in 2021, it is often treated as seedy, sometimes violent, embarrassing and something that can be talked about but not actually shown.  

Back around 1995 NBC and City tv showed Mississippi Burning on the same night and both as network TV premieres.  It wasn't a simsub since City started the movie half an hour earlier than NBC. One of the reasons that City started earlier was likely because they didn't edit the movie.  All of the swearing was in tact and all of the sad and graphic scenes were still in the movie.  Over on NBC the movie was sliced and diced, no swearing and at least three rather important but hard to watch scenes were either gone completely or edited down to about 10 seconds.     

 

January 12, 2021 2:58 pm  #7


Re: How TV Changed Forever Exactly 50 Years Ago Today

Peter the K wrote:

It was a different time.  I mean, for crying out loud, this was the first show that featured the sound of a toilet flushing. 

Which was not only an innovation that got huge laughs from the audience, I think it was the first time a toilet was even acknowledged on TV. If memory serves, when shows like Leave It To Beaver had scenes that took place in a bathroom, there was no commode to be seen. 

You have to wonder what "All In The Family" what have looked like had the original casting come to pass. Norman Lear had originally asked Mickey Rooney to play Archie Bunker. Rooney thankfully declined, noting that the public would kill everyone associated with such a show. (According to a book called "Forbidden Channels," his exact quote was: "If you go on the air with that crap, they're going to kill you dead in the streets!")

But that wasn't the only casting faux pas they almost made. The producers originally cast a very different actress in the part of Gloria, which eventually went to Sally Struthers. Their original choice: Penny Marshall, later of Laverne & Shirley fame. They decided she was too hard edged for the part and gave it to the more innocent looking blonde-haired actress instead. But if they'd had their druthers, it wouldn't have been Struthers!

Casting is far from a perfect science. As a final example, you know who they wanted to play Det. Columbo, a role that made a star out of Peter Falk? Try and picture this - the first choice was Bing Crosby! He turned it down because he thought it would get in the way of his daily golf game.  

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January 12, 2021 3:02 pm  #8


Re: How TV Changed Forever Exactly 50 Years Ago Today

Radiowiz wrote:

Peter the K wrote:

It was a different time.  I mean, for crying out loud, this was the first show that featured the sound of a toilet flushing. 
 

Brady Bunch wasn't even allowed to show a toilet in the bathroom scenes, let alone this show. 
Sound effects are as close as it gets.

 

Kind of ironic when you think that the proverbial household throne could not be shown in two prime time TV network shows of the late 60s and early 70s...

But on the daytime/afternoon "Soaps", commercials regularly featured products for household cleaning of the loo... and because the all mighty dollar speaks, the Crane or American Standard of the day was regularly featured.

Remember the Ty-D-Bol man in his little boat ???

 

January 12, 2021 3:19 pm  #9


Re: How TV Changed Forever Exactly 50 Years Ago Today

Thanks for highlighting this day in television history.  There never will be any show like it. If you put together the top 100 Sitcom episodes of all time, an argument could easily be made that the top 10, maybe even the top 20,  were  All In The Family episodes.  For me, the number one epsiode of all time was on February 19th, 1972, the night Sammy Davis Jr. plays himself. Non stop hysterical scenes and lines, beginning to end. Among them was classic Archie: "Sammy I wanted to ask, you being coloured, I know you had no choice about that.. but whatever made you turn Jew?"  The ending where Archie's friend Munson comes in with his camera, Sammy wants a picture with Archie,  and on the count of 3, Sammy kisses Archie on the cheek that he holds for about 5 seconds. The live audience goes wild. 

 

 

January 12, 2021 3:21 pm  #10


Re: How TV Changed Forever Exactly 50 Years Ago Today

It's been reported that kiss scene was one of the longest live audience laughs in TV sitcom history. I believe they had to trim it down it went on so long. 

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January 12, 2021 3:34 pm  #11


Re: How TV Changed Forever Exactly 50 Years Ago Today

LorneH wrote:

Thanks for highlighting this day in television history.  There never will be any show like it. If you put together the top 100 Sitcom episodes of all time, an argument could easily be made that the top 10, maybe even the top 20,  were  All In The Family episodes.  For me, the number one epsiode of all time was on February 19th, 1972, the night Sammy Davis Jr. plays himself. Non stop hysterical scenes and lines, beginning to end. Among them was classic Archie: "Sammy I wanted to ask, you being coloured, I know you had no choice about that.. but whatever made you turn Jew?"  The ending where Archie's friend Munson comes in with his camera, Sammy wants a picture with Archie,  and on the count of 3, Sammy kisses Archie on the cheek that he holds for about 5 seconds. The live audience goes wild. 

In 1997, the U.S. TV Guide published an issue called "The 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time," a ranking of what it called the best of television up till that time. The Sammy Davis Jr. All In The Family show came in at #13.
 
(The Mary Tyler Moore Show episode called "Chuckles Bites The Dust," in which Chuckles the Clown, dressed as a peanut, is mauled to death by a rogue elephant during a parade, was #1.)

https://i.ibb.co/k2ZtMzX/TV-Guide-All-In-The-Family-Episode-13-1997.jpg


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January 16, 2021 3:38 pm  #12


Re: How TV Changed Forever Exactly 50 Years Ago Today

I had stopped watching all television a few years before this. But this show, I could not resist.  For more than three years after, All in the Family was the only television that I watched.

 

January 18, 2021 9:25 am  #13


Re: How TV Changed Forever Exactly 50 Years Ago Today

On that Tuesday night in January 1971, All In The Family's lead in was the soon to be cancelled Beverly Hillbillies/Green Acres/Hee Haw combo. Hee Haw would live on in first run syndication for an additional twenty two seasons.

 

January 19, 2021 9:30 am  #14


Re: How TV Changed Forever Exactly 50 Years Ago Today

This is completely subjective, of course, but they've ranked the Top 25 AITF episodes of all time. No surprise what's at #1.

25 best ‘All in the Family’ episodes ranked
 

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