Sunday, November 6, 2016

A Classic Continued: Archie Bunker's Place (1979)

All in the Family had come to an end, but the story of its patriarch hadn't. At least, not in the eyes of fans and CBS executives.

And, so, the series continued by shifting the focus from home life to a new business venture in Archie Bunker's Place, which ran for four seasons (1979-83), anchoring the post-60 Minutes portion of CBS' Sunday lineup.

On Family, Bunker (Carroll O'Connor) had acquired the former Kelsey's Bar, giving up his old job to concentrate on his new venture. At first, bartender Harry Snowden (Jason Wingreen) was Archie's business partner, but then Snowden sold his share to Murray Klein (Martin Balsam). Cue the familiar tirades!! However, Balsam left the show after 2 seasons.

Archie also felt the pain of emotional loss with the passing of his wife, Edith (Jean Stapleton), who was written out during the first season, and eventually killed off during the 2nd season, if memory serves me correctly. In season 3, after Balsam departed, Denise Miller (ex-Fish) joined the show as Archie's niece, bringing along her boyfriend, Gary (Barry Gordon, ex-Fish), who acquired Murray's stake in the bar to continue the political tirades. The ensemble also included, carrying over from Family, Allan Melvin and Bill Quinn, and, joining the cast two months into season 1, Anne Meara, who left after the 3rd season.

Archie's adopted daughter, Stephanie (Danielle Brisebois), was spotlighted in a number of episodes to showcase the actress' talents as a singer and dancer. It's the former that factors in this clip from the first season, in which O'Connor & Brisebois, accompanied by Balsam at the piano, perform "Always":

Brisebois would re-enter the spotlight more than a decade later as an alternative rock musician, and even joined up with New Radicals on their one and only CD. Archie Bunker's Place was America's formal introduction to a fabulous talent.

Rating: A.

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