HTF REVIEW: "All In The Family" Season One (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Mar 20, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    [​IMG]

    All In The Family: Season One

    Mister we could use a man like Herbert
    Hoover again

    All in the Family was simultaneously the most
    popular and controversial show of the 1970's.
    The show used controversial themes such as
    sexuality and race relations to make a middle
    ground for the show's story lines. The show
    was actually based on a British Sitcom, "Till
    Death Do Us Part", created by Johnny Speight.
    When writer and director Norman Lear saw "Till
    Death Do Us Part", he decided that if this
    could be done for British TV, it could be done
    for American TV too.
    [​IMG]
    It's interesting to note that when the show
    premiered in 1971, CBS frantically tried to change
    the show's pilot story line that showed son-in-law Mike
    "Meathead" Stivic (Rob Reiner) persuading
    his wife Gloria (Sally Struthers) to have sex
    at eleven in the morning while father-in-law
    Archie (Carol O'Conner) and mother-in-law
    Edith (Jean Stapleton) were at church. If that
    wasn't eye-opening enough, we are treated to
    Archie addressing African-Americans as "black
    beauties", Hispanic-Americans as "spics" and Jews
    as "hebes" in the process.
    Up until that time, Americans had never quite
    seen a show like "All in the Family" which placed
    Archie Bunker as a poster boy for a sitcom that
    dared to satirize bigotry. Americans responded
    well. The show quickly became a landmark success
    with critics giving it most favorable reviews. By
    the beginning of 1972, an estimated 50 million
    people a week were tuning in. And in May of that
    year, the show won several Emmy Awards.
    [​IMG]
    The show ran nine seasons and 210 episodes.
    All in the Family spun-off three other TV shows ...
    "Maude", "The Jeffersons" and "Archie Bunker's
    Place". "Maude" had its own spin-off ... "Good Times".
    Columbia Home Video, continuing their venture
    into DVD television product, has admirably chosen
    "All In The Family" as one of their first releases.
    On March 26th, they will be releasing the entire
    Season One packaged set.
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    The set is identical to The Larry Sanders Show
    in that it arrives in a 3-pane gatefold cardboard
    enclosure with 3 DVDs set in plastic hub housing.
    The first and second discs contain 4 episodes
    each, with the third containing 5 episodes. This
    brings the total to 13 episodes in all.
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    Inside the gatefold enclosure is a small paper
    booklet that contains a synopsis for each episode
    as well as credits for the writers and directors.
    Unfortunately, what we do not get is original
    air dates.
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    The menu system is pretty plain. Popping in
    the disc we are greeted with a simple menu that
    features the cast. The shows can be individually
    be selected by a picture breakdown of episodes.
    How is the transfer?
    I am sorry to report that overall, this is
    one of the worst DVD television transfers I
    have seen to date. Fortunately, I am comparing
    this against a very small amount of TV product
    that is currently available (outside of Columbia
    House).
    [​IMG]
    I watched 3 episodes for this review. Upon watching
    the season's first two episodes, "Meet The Bunkers"
    and "Writing The President", I was immediately
    struck with how dated the picture looked. Picture
    was very soft with colors looking somewhat smeared.
    I also noticed several instances of "haloing" in
    different areas of the show's set. When I watched
    the season's final episode, "The First and The Last
    Supper", I was mortified by the noticeable presence
    of grain, making the picture extremely noisy. Even
    worse, colors were shifting in and out from shot
    to shot with most of the scenes sporting a greenish
    tinge that could be seen in the whites of Archie's
    shirt and along the border edges of the characters.
    You can clearly see this in the screenshot above.
    The transfer is also plagued with a few video
    dropouts that are really of minor annoyance.
    I don't really blame Columbia for how this set
    looks, because I understand the era that it comes
    from and I know how this show has looked from day
    one. It is my guess that Columbia did the best they
    could with a 1971 show where all its blemishes are
    being amplified on a high-resolution format like DVD.
    This is also the first time that I am watching this
    show being blown up on a 57" television.
    The sound is mono, and audio seemed more muffled
    than bright. There is also a bit of harshness in
    the overall audio that can be heard whenever Archie
    starts yelling, or the audience rolls in with a loud
    roar of laughter.
    Final Thoughts
    Perhaps I am being a bit too critical of the
    quality of this boxed set. Should we expect more
    of a television series that was released at a time
    when 19" televisions and mono sound was the reference
    point for a show shot on video? Perhaps we
    shouldn't and just accept the fact that Columbia
    (known for quality releases) probably did the best
    they could with the source material they had.
    With accepting the above, the most important
    factor in whether to buy this set or not now
    depends on how much of a fan you are.
    All in the Family shaped the future of
    television by opening the nation's eyes to issues
    and ideas that the medium had never before
    tackled. It broke through barriers, which allowed
    future shows the opportunity to explore ideas and
    characters that were different from what had
    already been seen on television.
    Release Date: March 26, 2002
     
  2. Jeff_A

    Jeff_A Screenwriter

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    As this is my favorite show of all-time, I had truly hoped the DVD quality would match the subject matter. I suppose that was too much to ask for and wishful thinking on my part. Thank you for the very revealing (albeit deflating) review, Ron. [​IMG]
     
  3. Brian Kidd

    Brian Kidd Screenwriter
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    Give these guys a break. You know as well as I that videotape is a terrible format that degrades over time. I'm sure they used the best available materials. You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. I hope this shows, though, that classic television series that were shot on videotape need to be transfered to digital before they're completely gone.
     
  4. James Miller

    James Miller Stunt Coordinator

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    Perhaps they need to pick a show where they can prove that they can present a great transfer. Just to get the is it the fault of the source material or sloppy mastering question out of the way. Along with the abomidable Larry Sanders show I must say that I have no faith whatever in their TV releases thus far. Took LS back and, unfortunately, have no intention of picking up AitF.

    If I could be convinced that this was the best possible transfer (along with LS) I would love to pick them up, but I don't buy DVDs "just because" they are there. We've all seen movies that looked fins on the initial release, but were followed with significantly better versions later on.
     
  5. John Torrez

    John Torrez Second Unit

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    Can anyone who has the AITF dvd from Columbia House compare the transfer of that to this set? I'd really like to know if it's better or worse.
     
  6. GlennH

    GlennH Cinematographer

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    It's really a shame that this classic show wasn't recorded on film. I remember how Rob Reiner's voice would come on during the final credits saying how "All in the Family was recorded on tape before a live studio audience" as if the "on tape" part was something to be proud of.

    Any chance of ever seeing this show look good in a higher-resolution format was killed from the very beginning when videotape was used instead of film.

    Ron's review mentions "grain" but since film wasn't used I assume this is just video noise.
     
  7. Brandon Gantt

    Brandon Gantt Second Unit

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    I'm guessing Columbia didn't do any restoration on these. The could have used DVNR to clean the episodes up a bit before release.
     
  8. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

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    These problems will plague any other Norman Lear series that come to DVD, as they were all on tape. It is sad that HDTV could mean the decline of seeing many of these shows in reruns ever again.
     
  9. James Miller

    James Miller Stunt Coordinator

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  10. Dave Scarpa

    Dave Scarpa Producer

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    Well the versions that show'd in syndication and on Nick at Night look alot better than thescreen shots they've shown. I'm buying because I'm a big fan and I got a great price, we'll see about a season2 if they release one.
     
  11. Keith_R

    Keith_R Screenwriter

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    I'll be buying this set because I love this show. It is a shame though about the transfer.
     
  12. Brian W.

    Brian W. Screenwriter

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    I have the first CH disc of All in the Family. I posted a full review on here somewhere a while back. I'm picking up the boxed set at Best Buy tonight on my dinner break, so I'll post a comparison tomorrow.
     
  13. Chad Gregory

    Chad Gregory Supporting Actor

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    Brian,

    I think you are going to come back from your dinner break empty handed. This doesn't street until next Tuesday (the 26th).

    But I am looking forward to that comparison.

    -Chad
     
  14. Gord Lacey

    Gord Lacey Cinematographer

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  15. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

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    The Dragon Tales discs look great, too. My son just watched #3 tonight, and we're looking forward to #'s 4 and 5, as you well know Gord! [​IMG]
    And those 3 have the "Play All" feature that AitF left off. Why oh why does stuff like this happen? [​IMG]
     
  16. James Miller

    James Miller Stunt Coordinator

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  17. Brian W.

    Brian W. Screenwriter

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    Thanks, Chad. If only I'd gotten the message before I left. So, to console myslf, I was naughty and bought Training Day for $14.99 and a couple of CDs. [​IMG]
     
  18. Kurt N

    Kurt N Stunt Coordinator

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    Disapppointing transfer or not, my pre-order is on the way and I can't dang wait!
     
  19. Lou Sytsma

    Lou Sytsma Producer

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    Sad to hear about the quality of the DVDs. Fortunately the material is worthy of viewing despite the technical limitations.

    Ooops almost forgot Ron - :b - thanks again for the great review!
     
  20. todd stone

    todd stone Screenwriter

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    ron you were a bit too harsh imo, I am sure they did the best they could do here.
     

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