Either your browser's javascript has been disabled or it needs an update! Please re-enable your javascript program or update your browser to view this page as designed. Nolan's Pop Culture Review 2001 Banner! Number 66 (Vol 2, No. 26).  This edition is for the week of June 25--July1, 2001.
Remembering you: Carroll O'Connor"
and the impact of "All in the Family"

Last week saw the passing of one of the all-time great influences in TV sitcom history and television in general. Mr. Carroll O'Connor, star of the '70s show "All in the Family", and later "In the Heat of the Night" in the '90s. He died at the age of 76 from a heart attack brought on by complications from diabetes.

The thing I enjoy telling people most about when I first saw "All in the Family" is that I didn't get the joke!  Plain out and out didn't get it. It's not that I thought it wasn't funny, per se. I was just terribly confused at what I was supposed to be laughing at. Of course, in the intervening years, as I've "matured", what Archie Bunker (Carroll O'Connor) was screaming about makes lots more sense!

Carroll O'Connor as Archie Bunker The first episode introduced the bigoted Queens, N.Y. resident, his ditsy wife Edith (Jean Stapleton), his daughter Gloria (Sally Struthers), and future son-in-law, Mike "Meathead" Stivic (Rob Reiner). It was clearly designed to showcase the largest generation gap in our nation's history in a half-hour sitcom, pulling no punches.

I was used to pratfall comics, sci-fi series and sketch/variety TV. This show, however, was from another type of life I barely identified with. Of course, realize at the time I was around 14 years old and the country was in the midst of a social revolution--the kind preaching the exact opposite of everything Archie Bunker stood for. The fact that "All in the Family" was a spoof was lost on me. How could everyone say one thing in the daytime and then go home at night and laugh howlingly loud at Archie Bunker's blatant racism? Seemed hypocritical.

Well, of course, that was kind of the point. By showing this in the format chosen it exemplified what was so ridiculous-sounding about racism, especially coming from someone like Archie Bunker who felt his generation was the one who paved the way for future generations to make fools of themselves. OH.....now I got it!

I never cared for the character of Gloria, or Sally Struthers, the actress who played her. Rob Reiner is a great movie director now and I liked his portrayal of Mike Stivic, who was not a particularly likable character, altho I agreed with most of his views. (In fact, I've often commented that the left-wing establishment--among which I counted myself at one time--has always had a problem with poor spokesmen.) That "Meathead" and Gloria were not terribly likable, but had more popular views, and yet Archie spoke hateful rhetoric, but was the most likable, down-to-earth character of the bunch, had to be the ultimate subversive inside joke by the producers.

For this reason, the character of Archie's long-suffering wife, Edith (charmingly played by Jean Stapleton, in her own right just as much a genius as O'Connor), was necessary to provide a balance to the show--the "voice of reason"---an effective chorus of reflection the audience was always ready for.

O'Connor went on to make a TV series version of "In the Heat of the Night", but I saw very few of these episodes. What I saw of it was fine, but I just didn't get into it. I should point out tho, that O'Connor was extrememly dedicated to the show's success as he defended its integrity to the end and for that he deserves a separate applause.

Announcements
Just this: by now, most of you have seen the commercial for "Murder in Small Town X" on FOX Television promoting their new reality series. As reported in PCR #? it was to debut on July 17th. But, the new commercial announcement has it moved up one week to July 24th. Why the sudden delay? According to the series' head make-up man, Corey Castellano, the postponement has nothing to do with the series being ready or not. It has to do with a marketing meeting of TV affiliates that happens to be that week. Someone overlooked it previously (or it was suddenly scheduled) and the FOX producers wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to create more "buzz" before the series' debut.

Letters to the Editor

Mike "Deadguy" Scott
Re: my flippant answer to Mike's defense of Jar Jar Binks in my response from issue 65.---Nolan

You can BITE me about the Jar-Jar thing....LOL!
   For the record, I did like SOME of the appearances of Jar Jar, and I've never hidden that, however, most of the scenes spent too much attention on him for my tastes. I still hold true though to the concept that if a character is DESIGNED to be annoying, it should be no big shock to folks when he IS annoying. He annoyed the hell out of me in most scenes, but I know that's what his purpose was anyhow, which is why Qui-Gon was also partially annoyed with him, and Obi Wan initially didn't want any involvement with him.
   Also, I should mention that in your Jar Jar-less edits (I joked about re-editing "The Phantom Menace" last issue. Among the edits would be removing Jar Jar Binks.---N), it should be interesting to see if Episode 2 makes any sense without Episode 1 having Jar Jar in it... (he's more pivotal than you might realize in Episode 2).

I'm Episode 1, I'm specifically wondering how
"#1 the Jedi's learn about the Gungans,
#2 the Jedi's FIND the Gunmans' secret location,
#3 the Jedi's travel halfway around the planet on foot to get to the humans rather than in a Gungan submarine journey through the "core".
#4 if they can only learn about the Gungans from the humans, they'd never know that they are actually warriors, NOR would they have any reason to believe that contacting them would be a useful step. (Don't forget that the Gungan/human relationship was very racist on both parties.)
   So.. if the Gungans are not involved at all, who handles that aspect in the main battle? Or do your re-edits ignore all of these items entirely?
heh heh
-Mike
To George Lucas: I'M NOT SERIOUS about re-editing "Phantom Menace"! But I think you've drastically misjudged your audience.
   As long as we're fantasizing, I'd re-shoot CGI scenes entirely, substituting more human actors and re-modifying the story to account for any plot holes. (Only possible exception: the final battle-droid..er..battle.) To repeat what I said before, Jar Jar would disappear, the Gungans' role would be diminished considerably, there'd be tons more Darth Maul, and the pod race would be diminished or substituted with something less "video game-like".---Nolan


Mike's Rant!

Hello gang! Quite a few items this week. Shall we begin?

FROM LAST WEEK
Well, the "Batman" casting choices are in. The one that intrigued me, though never occurred to me, was Ben Affleck. Ironically, the day after I saw "Dogma" I remarked to Kevin Smith that, in the scene where Affleck is descending from the church (in his guise as an angel), it hit me that Affleck would make the perfect Superman. Kev agreed.

MUSICAL NOTES
Yes, indeed. The Monkees are back on tour. They were her in KC on June 2nd. This coming Tuesday my son and I are going to see Lynard Skynard, Ted Nugent and Deep Purple. A review will follow. This past Friday evening, the pavilion in the casino my theatre is in hosted none other then Diamond Dave himself, David Lee Roth. I got a copy of the play list, and was shocked to find that the majority of his set was Van Halen stuff. He didn't even do his three solo hits (California Girls, Just a Gigolo or Yankee Rose). His encore was "Jump." Does this fuel the rumor that the original group is getting back together? By the way, tickets were $95.00!!! For DAVID LEE ROTH!!! I'd pay $100.00 for Van Halen...........the whole band. Sorry, for $95.00 I'd have to hear the following when my ticket was torn: "Right this way, Mr. Smith. Would you like your blow job before or after the show?"

I LOVED IT
Got to love those people in the SONY Pictures advertising department. It seems that inventing a critic to rave about their films wasn't enough. Now it's been discovered that they used members of their advertising team in "man on the street" television commercials. You know the kind.............they interview excited moviegoers in the lobby after they've come out of a screening. SONY was roundly chastised by filmmaker Spike Lee for having "whitewashed" the American Revolution in "The Patriot." Their response was a television spot featuring three African Americans giving the film a "thumbs up." One couple smile brightly into the camera and proclaim the movie, "a perfect date film." The couple in reality were SONY employees Tamaya Petteway and Anthony Jefferson. Wonder if they'll be in the spots for this weeks "Baby Boy?"

SAD TO REPORT
Two sad celebrity passings this week.
JOHN LEE HOOKER: veteran bluesman whose foot stompin and voice on such songs as "Boom Boom" and "Boogie Chillen" inspired generations of musicians, died last Thursday at age 83. Born in the Mississippi Delta, Hooker estimated that he had recorded more than 100 albums. He won a Grammy Award for his version of "I'm in the Mood," and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991. Among those whose music have drawn heavily on Hooker's style are Van Morrison, the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen and Bonnie Raitt.
CARROLL O'CONNOR: an actor, best known for his groundbreaking performance as Archie Bunker in "All in the Family," also passed away last Thursday at age 75. Cause of death was listed as a heart attack. After working two decades on stage and in television and film supporting roles, O'Connor was picked by producer Norman Lear to play the blue-collar worker from Queens. It was a role he would play for 13 years, through two different series. It was also a role that would earn him four Emmy Awards as Best Actor in a Comedy Series. After "Family" ended, he reprised the Rod Steiger role in the television version of "In the Heat of the Night." As Police Chief Bill Gillespie, he ruled over the town of Sparta, Mississippi and worked side by side with Detective Virgil Tibbs, played by Howard Rollins, Jr. He was active in many aspects of the show, even writing several episodes. It also gave him an opportunity to work with his only child, son Hugh O'Connor. Plagued by demons brought on by his drug abuse, Hugh O'Connor shot himself in a drug-related suicide in 1995. After his son's death, O'Connor turned his grief into an anti-drug crusade and a quest for legal retribution against the man who sold his son the drugs he was on when he killed himself. The man was later sentenced to a year in prison.
    On a more personal note, for several years I would hold a celebrity auction during annual Academy Awards festivities at my theatre. Each year, I would send a letter explaining my goals and what charity I was sponsoring. And each year, I could count on receiving something unique within two weeks of my letter from three generous celebrities: Jack Lemmon, Jackie Chan and Carroll O'Connor.

GOODBYE #8
This week Baltimore Oriole 3rd Baseman, Cal Ripken, Jr., announced that he will retire at the end of this year. My son's favorite player, I have had many opportunities to meet Cal and have many great memories of his career. The highlight, of course, was my son Phillip and I witnessing his breaking Lou Gehrig's consecutive game record in 1995. Truly a part of baseball history that, in my opinion, will NEVER be repeated. THE STREAK captivated baseball in the year after the strike, and Cal is credited for having brought fans back to baseball. A star of the highest magnitude, Cal learned from his father how to play the game the "Oriole" way, both on and off the field. In an age where rookies shun fans, Cal is there before and after every game, willingly signing autographs. During the week before he broke the consecutive game streak record, he would stay at the stadium until 1am signing autographs for fans who had lined up before the 7th inning. A true ambassador of the game, Cal's influence on all he touches will be missed.

HEY MATT
Don't forget to pick me up something nice and "Jawsy" this week when you're at Martha's Vineyard. (See "Matt's Rail" below---N) Say hi to James Taylor if you see him!

Well, that's it for this week.


Matt's Rail       by Matt Drinnenberg

Hello everyone.
Must begin by expressing my sorrow on the passing of our friend, Stevie Sousa, who left us WAY too early. My memories of him are a lot like Mike's, which is no surprise since Mike and I were joined at the hip for about 10 years. Stevie was a very bright and kind guy. Surely all of us would find it doubtful that there is even one person who knew him who isn't in mourning. A true testament to the person, himself. May he find his comfort in God's loving arms.

4th OF JULY
Hard to believe that the 4th is quickly approaching, meaning that summer (which has just begun) is about to end. In New England, anyway. All the more reason to make the most of it, which I intend to do, for you see, I'm off to Martha's Vineyard. Yes, Amity Island, herself. As you know, I'm a JAWS maniac, so this is a very exciting thing. We're staying on South Beach, which is where Brody found Chrissie Watkins, or what was left of her. Naturally, I'm taking my Jaws soundtrack along! And my buddy, Tom? He's bringing his red Corvette convertible. Oh Yeah!!!!! ("You're in the cage....cage is in the water...shark's in the water. Fairwell and adieu all you fine Spanish ladies..."---N)
   As I'm down to crunch time on some work-related endeavors, I must make this brief, but wish everyone a great weekend, and watch out for the drunk drivers, who will undoubtedly be starting the 4th festivities this weekend. Incredible, there are such selfish people in the world who still believe it's perfectly okay to hold others' lives at risk, but sadly there are. So BE CAREFUL!

And as always, take care and God bless
Matt


"Mike's Rant" is ©2001 by Michael A. Smith    "Matt's Rail" is ©2001 by Matt Drinnenberg    Thanks to "Deadguy" Scott for his letter and add'l commentary.    All contents this page are ©2001 by Nolan B. Canova.

Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of  Nolan B. Canova, ©2001