Tag Archives: Sitcom

TV Review: Maude

Maude was the first spin-off in the fictional comedy universe of All In The Family. The sitcom was centered around the character Maude Findlay who was Edith Bunker‘s cousin. Edith was the main character and wife of Archie Bunker in All In The Family.

The need of the character came in demand to oppose Archie Bunker in the second season because Maude was a feminist and liberal woman, totally contrary to conservative and racist Archie. After Maude received popularity on her debut appearance in All In The Family, her character got her own sitcom which successfully ran for six seasons.

I do not have much knowledge about the significance of feminism in American television history but if this sitcom wasn’t the first then at least this was the first which substantially advocated women’s liberty and freedom of choice.

Just like All In The Family, Maude had many important topics to raise like a satire on high socialites who hesitate to raise funds, daughter Carol Traynor not getting a job because it was not fit for women, child behavioral issue when grandson Phillip gets angry with mother for being more moved towards her new boyfriend, or himself inviting his female friend when the family goes to the party, and many more.

And there was one topic that raised the eyebrows, the episodes “Maude’s Dilemma Part 1 & 2” which spoke highly in favor of abortion when 47-year-old Maude gets pregnant. It was shocking and because personally, I am strictly against abortion, I felt it was very irresponsible of the writers and producers to motivate instead of discouraging. But my opinion aside, I also believe that talking about the pros and cons of abortion in the year 1972 in a comedy show was way ahead of its time.

Maude will also be remembered for the introduction of the character Florida Evans, the Afro-American maid in the Findlays. The writing of Florida’s character-depth was astonishing and got a lot of weight in her supporting role. Her side of the story was so appealing that Florida got her own sitcom, Good Times which also was extremely successful.

Another significance of this show which immensely won my heart was on two occasions centering around the couples Maude and Walter, both occurring at the beginning of the fourth and fifth season. The first was when their relationship is at the edge of breaking when Walter decides to leave if Maude intends to run the election.

The second one was more serious and heart-boiling when Walter goes bankrupt. The writers brought attention from the humor in the rich family that people can suffer and can feel the pain of continuously going helpless. This dark element was badly missing in All In The Family and later in The Jeffersons (second spin-off).

Maude also was pretty careful in the pairing and relationship between Maude and Walter. There had been dozens of moments when things looked bad but somehow any of the two managed to hold and maintain their bond. Walter’s drinking issue got the tone of attention especially when he slaps her, something which is rare to be watched in sitcoms. And a few I wrote above and many more to enjoy.

I miss an element that is quite common now, crossovers. Not a single appearance of cousin Edith Bunker in Maude was bizarre. Not a single time the Bunkers came to meet the Findlays in six seasons which is quite strange. Same network, same producer, same universe, how come All In The Family and Maude were not connected. The same discrepancy in The Jeffersons, not once the Bunkers showed up in 11 seasons as Edith was Louise Jefferson‘s dear friend and favorite neighbor.

Anyway, Maude is one of the most popular sitcoms of the 1970s and a significant step in feminism and liberalism. Beatrice Arthur, who played Maude, was an outstanding actress. So are the other actors in the main characters. Maude was the platform for most of them. Rue McClanahan (Maude’s friend, Vivian Harmon) got The Golden Girls, Conrad Bain (Walter’s friend, Arthur Harmon) got Different Strokes, Adrienne Barbeau (Maude’s daughter) became the voice of Selina Kyle/Catwoman in Batman cartoons.

Recommended to the audience who are willing to watch quality humor and exceptional comic writing.

TV Review – Steptoe and Son

The poor father-son duo of Albert Steptoe and Harold Steptoe run a rag-and-bone business while living in Shepherd’s Bush, London. With time, Harold’s desires and aspirations meet Albert’s rigid tendency of accepting change. His naivety irritates Harold and pretends to be ill if the son leaves to live some portion of his life on his own. Dirty ol’ man Albert lies to unsuccessfully avoid the blame of his mischievous blunders. Albert jeopardizes wherever Harold takes him, say cinema, restaurant, party. The best writing lies in the generational conflict of these two characters for eight seasons and they never disappoint at all.

The old BBC classic sitcoms were always known for their rich content especially a thoughtful theme on which the quality of humor was so delicate and rib-tickling. Steptoe and Son (1962-1974) is an influential and groundbreaking sitcom that made its rounds in British households in the early 1960s, right on time. Because around three million people in Britain were living on the poverty line. So this sitcom was a fit to their sentiments, especially for the Cockneys.

I will not skip mentioning both the leading actors, Wilfrid Brambell and Harry H. Corbett. I mean what better father-son chemistry you will ask for. The generational conflict and comic timing between them were so striking and growing their partnership with the viewers for years being the only two major characters of the show is extremely difficult. Even Sandford and Son needed the assistance of the supporting characters especially Aunt Esther but the original show remained constrained.

Another significance of this sitcom is its cult status in Britain. Steptoe and Son was easily the first well-known British sitcom about a working-class, describing poor working men living without women in different setups. You can take an example of Ronnie Barker‘s Porridge and Open All Hours in the 1970s or most specifically the greatest British sitcom, Only Fools and Horses. The sitcom’s international influence can be measured by the fact that American tv producer and developer Norman Lear adapted the show and created Red Foxx starred Sanford And Son for NBC. 16 of Steptoe and Son episodes were recreated in the American adaptation. Steptoe & Son helped Norman Lear build his legacy in the 1970s when his developed sitcoms on NBC and CBS dominated the decade.

Had Steptoe & Son never happened, I wonder what the state of comedy would be in both regions. This is easily one of the best British sitcoms I have ever watched.

My favorite Steptoe and Son episodes:
01 – Season.1 – Episode.1 – The Offer
02 – Season.1 – Episode.2 – The Bird
03 – Season.1 – Episode.3 – The Piano
04 – Season.1 – Episode.4 – The Economist
05 – Season.2 – Episode.2 – The Bath
06 – Season.2 – Episode.4 – Sixty-Five Today
07 – Season.2 – Episode.6 – Full House
08 – Season.2 – Episode.7 – Is That Your Horse Outside?
09 – Season.3 – Episode.1 – Homes Fit For Heroes
10 – Season.3 – Episode.2 – The Wooden Overcoats
11 – Season.3 – Episode.4 – Steptoe à la Cart
12 – Season.3 – Episode.5 – Sunday for Seven Days
13 – Season.4 – Episode.2 – Crossed Swords
14 – Season.5 – Episode.1 – A Death in the Family
15 – Season.6 – Episode.1 – Robbery with Violence
16 – Season.6 – Episode.2 – Come Dancing
17 – Season.6 – Episode.3 – Two’s Company
18 – Season.6 – Episode.5 – Without Prejudice
19 – Season.6 – Episode.6 – Pot Black
20 – Season.7 – Episode.3 – Oh, What a Beautiful Mourning
21 – Season.7 – Episode.4 – Live Now, P.A.Y.E. Later
22 – Season.7 – Episode.6 – Divided We Stand
23 – Season.8 – Episode.2 – And So To Bed
24 – Season.8 – Episode.3 – Porn Yesterday
25 – Season.8 – Episode.4 – The Seven Steptoerai
26 – Season.8 – Episode.5 – Upstairs, Downstairs, Upstairs, Downstairs
27 – Season.8 – Episode.6 – Seance in a Wet Rag and Bone Yard