Picks and Pans Review: All in the Family
E! (Sun., Aug. 27, 9 p.m. ET)
Not every old show that gets the True Hollywood Story treatment truly merits a behind-the-scenes documentary. Earlier this month, for instance, E! told us everything we ever wanted to know about Eight Is Enough. But in terms of ratings dominance and groundbreaking content, All in the Family (currently in Nick at Nite reruns) was one of the most important series in TV history.
Norman Lear's audacious CBS sitcom, built around the bigoted Archie Bunker (Carroll O'Connor), consistently topped the Nielsens between 1971 and 1976 as it took on touchy topics from race to rape. Yet its success was by no means assured. This two-hour program—featuring fresh interviews with Lear, O'Connor and costars Jean Stapleton and Rob Reiner—is particularly informative about the producer's early struggles to get his controversial creation on the air. (Former ABC programming chief Leonard Goldberg still looks pained at that network's decision to pass on the show.) But we'd have a better understanding of the constant conflict between Lear and O'Connor had E! offered specific examples of the creative points they fought over.
Bottom Line: Family album's worth a look