In which Archie Bunker gets to loudly voice his opinions at his bar instead of at home.
Archie Bunker's Place was a Work Com (with some Dramedy elements) and a continuation of the classic sitcom All in the Family, which began airing on CBS in 1979. Although never as popular or acclaimed as its predecessor, this show still maintained a large enough audience to last four seasons, ending its run in 1983.
Following from the previous series, Archie (Carroll O'Connor) and his wife Edith (Jean Stapleton) continued to nag each other and deal with Archie's very conservative views, all while attempting to raise their adopted grandniece Stephanie Mills (Danielle Brisebois), who was rapidly growing up. The major difference in this series was that most of the stories were set at the eponymous neighborhood tavern, which Archie had purchased in the eighth-season premiere of AITF. The tavern was the place for him to sound off on current issues, get support from his friends, and argue with liberal, Jewish co-owner Murray Klein (Martin Balsam) and wisecracking cook Veronica Rooney (Anne Meara).
Although lacking the involvement of AITF's creator Norman Lear – who pretty much disowned it and even tried to prevent it from going on the air – and unavoidably standing in the shadow of the earlier series, Archie Bunker's Place still had a number of memorable moments. The show is probably best known for its heartbreaking second-season premiere, "Archie Alone", which deals with the aftermath of Edith's offscreen death from a stroke (Stapleton having already left the series midway through the first season, due to her belief that she'd done all she could with the character); the episode earned O'Connor two Emmy Awards for his performance, as well as the prestigious Peabody Award.
Archie Bunker's Tropes:
- After Show/From the Ashes: It's a retool of All in the Family, shifted away from the family life of the Bunkers and their children and simply onto Archie and his wife. And later, just Archie.
- The Alcoholic: Veronica is a recovering one, though she temporarily falls Off the Wagon in season 2's "Tough Love".
- All Jews Are Cheapskates: Archie gets off on the wrong foot with Murray in the very first episode by making a crack about this.
- The Bus Came Back: The season 1 episode "Thanksgiving Reunion" has the Stivics (from AITF) returning for a visit from California, while the season 3 two-parter "Gloria Comes Home" has Gloria returning to reveal that she and Mike divorced, which was done to set up Gloria. And season 4's "Store Wars" has Murray returning to sell off his share of the bar.
- Camp Gay: Veronica's nephew Fred, who worked as a waiter for Archie in season 1.
- Celebrity Lie: Inverted in the episode "The Return of Sammy".
- Cerebus Syndrome: While All in the Family itself got more serious in its later seasons, this incarnation was more dramatic in tone yet.
- Character Death: Edith dies off-screen between seasons due to a stroke. A major part of the Season 2 opener is Archie trying to cope with her death.
- Christmas Episode: The "Custody" two-parter (season 2), "Father Christmas" (season 4).
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: After being a semi-regular since the All in the Family days, Archie's pal Hank Pivnik disappears without explanation following season 1. Veronica Rooney disappears early in season 4, as does Ellen Canby.
- Continuity Nod/Ironic Echo:
- Murray calls Archie a "meathead" in the first episode.
- While arguing with Mike in "Thanksgiving Reunion", Archie brings up his inviting a draft dodger for Christmas dinner and getting a vasectomy, both of which happened in All in the Family episodes.
- Cousin Oliver: Stephanie, though she was introduced in AITF. Though instead of being used as a ploy to keep innocent and childish storylines prevalent, she actually brought a lot of dark episodes, and matured and grew up like any adolescent.
- Crappy Holidays: In "Thanksgiving Reunion", Mike and Gloria come home to visit from California, but at dinner it's revealed that Mike lost his job after participating in a nude anti-nuclear protest, causing Archie to (naturally) hit the roof and storm out of the house. They do ultimately patch things up, however (including one last heartwarming scene between Archie and Mike), and the episode ends with a nice scene of the Bunkers and Stivics enjoying leftover turkey together in the kitchen.
- Disappeared Dad: Stephanie's father, Floyd Mills. He had appeared on and off since the final season of AITF to beg the Bunkers for money and/or to try to take his daughter back. His final appearance came in the 1981 episode "Growing Up is Hard to Do", where a now 13-year-old Stephanie is celebrating her bat mitzvah. Floyd shows up drunk and to beg for more money... which Stephanie finally obliges. Her act of selflessness (which impresses Archie) marks the last time Floyd is seen or heard from... his fate left unresolved (perhaps a nod to real life).
- Heroic BSoD: Edith's death numbs Archie so much that he spends most of the second-season premiere stubbornly refusing to acknowledge the reality of her death (signing off on her insurance, cleaning out her belongings, etc) or even discussing the matter. He breaks down when he's alone at the end of the episode, though, and laments that he didn't know she died until he tried to wake her by shaking her body.
- Norman Lear had one in real life, as he had grown so attached to the characters on that he felt like he was killing a real person.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Archie softens up a bit in later seasons, especially when he gains custody of Stephanie.
- Left Hanging: The show was abruptly cancelled at the end of the fourth season without resolving all the loose plot threads from the series.
- Love Cannot Overcome: It's revealed that Mike's political views (and infidelity) overwhelmed Gloria and finally broke their marriage.
- Mouthy Kid: Stephanie was sometimes this with Archie, at least early on.
- "Not So Different" Remark: When asked why he should get custody of Stephanie, Archie says that whereas Stephanie's mother ran away from a life of leisure and married a bum, his own daughter not only stayed in poorer conditions but moved in a husband (one he considers a better man than Stephanie's father). This turns out to strike a chord with Judge McGuire, as he later talks about his own family: his father is described as similar to Archie and his two daughters took vastly different paths in life.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: The Season 2 opener features a genuinely heartbreaking scene where the usually gruff, cantankerous, and uncaring Archie breaks down and sobs at the loss of his wife of over thirty years, Edith. Despite all the crap he gave her, Carroll O'Connor's tear-jerking monolouge when Archie discovers a slipper of Edith's he forgot to throw out shows he really did love her and doesn't quite know how to move on.Archie: It wasn't supposed to be like this. I was supposed to be the first one to go. I always used to kid you about you going first. You know I never meant none of that and that morning when yous was laying there. I was shaking you and yelling at you to go down and fix my breakfast. I didn't know. You had no right to leave me that way ... (holding the slipper to his face, he starts to cry) ... without giving me just one more chance to say I love you.
- Out of Focus: Edith Bunker, who appears in just four season 1 episodes. Again, this was due to Jean Stapleton's belief that the character had exhausted her potential and her subsequent decision to leave the series.
- Parental Substitute: A big reason that Judge McGuire rules to let Archie keep custody of Stephanie. As he says, two years is a long time to establish a parental relationship and not something to casually rip apart.
- Passed in Their Sleep: The tearjerker episode "Archie Alone", which explained Edith's death due to a stroke suffered in her sleep. When Archie finally lets go of his emotions, he bemoans being unable to figure out why she was unresponsive as he shook her repeatedly, hoping to wake her up so she could fix breakfast.
- Poorly-Disguised Pilot: "Gloria: The First Day" was intended to be one of these for the Gloria spinoff. But CBS rejected it, and when the show was finally picked up, it was given a completely re-written pilot episode instead (The original was subsequently included in the syndication package, however).
- Put on a Bus: Murray gets married and moves to California at the end of season 2.
- Put on a Bus to Hell: Mike Stivic, albeit offscreen. In "Gloria Comes Home", it's revealed that she and Mike divorced after he left her and Joey to join a commune with another woman.
- Rearrange the Song: The show features new, instrumental versions of AITF's opening ("Those Were the Days") and closing ("Remembering You") themes.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Judge McGuire, who takes charge of a custody battle between Archie and Stephanie's wealthy and snobbish grandmother Estelle over Stephanie. He acts very impartial, as is willing to give each side a voice. He eventually decides in Archie's favor.Estelle: What can he do for her now? He's a totally uneducated man!McGuire: Mrs. Harris, my father was an ignorant laborer and he drank too much and I became a judge. I raised two daughters. One is an attorney and the other dropped out of high school and is handing out flowers at the airport. We all do the best we can. And I'm sure Mr. Bunker will do okay!
- Running Gag: Archie (or sometimes other characters) greeting the blind Mr. Van Renseleer and waving a hand in front of his face.
- Sassy Black Woman: Ellen Canby, who Archie hires as a housekeeper following Edith's death.
- Secretly Wealthy: Mr. Van Renseleer, the blind patron of Archie's bar.
- Sequel Series: To All in the Family.
- Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: McFeeney's, a (topless) rival bar and grill in the same neighborhood.
- Special Guest: Sammy Davis Jr. (who'd previously guested on AITF), in season 1's "The Return of Sammy"; Reggie Jackson, in season 3's "Reggie 3, Archie 0".
- Studio Audience: As with the final season of AITF, this show was not taped live in front of an audience. Instead, episodes were shot on a closed set and then screened after completion for audiences attending live tapings of One Day at a Time so that their reactions could be edited in.
- Transatlantic Equivalent: All in the Family started off as an adaptation of the British sitcom Till Death Us Do Part, but Archie Bunker's Place was a completely original continuation of Family. However, Till Death creator Johnny Speight thought a sequel program like Place was such a good idea that he developed one for his own show, In Sickness and In Health, which premiered in 1985 and ran intermittently until 1992. In fact, several episodes of Sickness were adapted from Place, including their own version of "Archie Alone", which was written after actress Dandy Nichols, who played Else Garnett, died in 1986.
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Much like in the original series, the source of most of the comedy comes from Archie's usually-reactionary (and always loudly expressed) cultural and political opinions, and his resulting arguments and conflicts with other characters.
- Very Special Episode: Several relating to teenage pregnancy, drug and alcohol use, although much like its predecessor, none of them were specifically called "very special episodes". And then, there was the episode where viewers learned about Edith's death.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Archie and Murray's relationship kind of approaches this over time, similar to Archie's relationship with Mike on AITF.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Billie is uninterested in "Father Christmas" over her estranged father now trying to reconnect with her. After hearing one too many complaints, Stephanie finally unloads on her, calling her ungrateful and saying she wishes her own father cared enough to just send a card.
- Work Com: Overlapping (somewhat) with Dom Com in the first season.