In case you missed it, last night ABC ran a reboot of the classic 1970s TV shows”All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons.”
Norman Lear–creator of both shows—endorsed the remakes, and the 90-minute live special began with Lear–sitting in Archie Bunker’s famous chair–giving a somber speech on “how much work we still needed to do in this country we love so much,” expressing hope that the reboot would spark the much-needed conversation on the issues that the original series did 40-plus years ago.
Unfortunately what followed was a ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit–or—after Jamie Foxx entered the stage as George Jefferson—an ‘In Living Color’ skit. Reportedly Lear told the actors–notably Woody Harrelson as Archie and Marisa Tomei as Edith–not to imitate the original actors–the great Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton, respectively–but to make the characters their own. That didn’t happen–it appeared as though they were mocking the characters, not honoring them. And Sean Hayes was simply awful as the flamboyant neighbor Frank Lorenzo.
As you can probably imagine, the critics have been kind. Heaven forbid they would suggest that the 96-year-old Lear is past his prime, as Sally Struthers–the original Gloria– said outright in an interview:
“Norman Lear is in his 90s,” Struthers said. “I think he should just have fun and travel, and stop trying to make another mark on TV. He’s made enough marks.”
Agreed. Fortunately the original is readily available on both cable and free TV.