Ah, those were the days. Archie and Edith agreeing in song, “Gee, our old LaSalle ran great.”
We realize it’s a little odd to be waxing nostalgic about the Bunkers waxing nostalgic, but this much is certain: The All in the Family theme song—she wailing, he demonizing “the welfare state,” they embraced in the end over thunderous, authentic applause—had as much to do with setting the voice and tone of the working-class show as Meathead, George Jefferson and anti-Semitism. That’s because sitcom theme songs used to matter.
Part Two: The Moments of 2011 What’s in a 2011 moment? Certainly a few things we never thought we’d see: Charlie Sheen’s crack-induced webcam vlog, a Facebook-inspired revolution in Egypt, a Seal Team Six smackdown on Osama Bin Laden, the discovery of another earthly planet…
On February 28th, 1983, 121.6 million Americans tuned in to watch the series finale of M*A*S*H, surpassing the single-episode ratings record that had been set by the Dallas “Who Shot J.R.” resolution. It remained the most-watched television broadcast in American history until Super Bowl XLIV overtook it (in total viewership) in 2010.
WE’RE IN THIS THING TOGETHER: Honeymooners, All in the Family, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Roseanne
The remains of the World Trade Center were still smoldering less than a week after 9/11 when The Late Show with David Letterman returned to regular programming, the first non-news broadcast to do so. The show that night opened in silence – no music, no credits, no monologue – just a pensive, shaken David Letterman seated at his desk.David Letterman: Welcome to The Late Show. It's terribly sad here in New York City. We've lost [thousands of] fellow New Yorkers, and you can feel it. You can feel it. You can see it. It's terribly sad. Terribly, terribly sad. And watching all of this, I wasn't sure that I should be doing a television show, because for twenty years we've been in the city, making fun of everything, making fun of the city, making fun of my hair, making fun of Paul—
Letterman gestures to his loyal sidekick who, true to form, smiles and bows his head in deference. The audience laughs. Not a big laugh, but certainly the biggest on national television that week. And as Archie Bunker once said…
In a pretty bleak scene at the top of Moneyball, Billy Beane looks on as the stadium crew dismantles a trio of 10-story-high banners featuring Jason Giambi, Jason Isringhausen, and Johnny Damon: the team’s marquee players who’d fled Oakland for more money and more wins in more exciting markets. Once the final banner falls to the ground, Beane is left staring at a nondescript, cement façade -- fractured and ordinary.
Part One: “We Gather Together”—The Cosby ShowPart Two: “The 20 Year Callback”—The Newhart Finale
“Delightful Accidents and Fortuitous Blunders" Friends, The Jack Benny Show, Seinfeld
On a cold morning in 1930, Ruth Graves Wakefield, the innkeeper/chef at the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts, was preparing her famous Butter Drop Do chocolate cookies when she realized she was fresh out of baker’s chocolate. Improvising, she found a semi-sweet chocolate bar (that had been given to her by Andrew Nestle) and cut it into little pieces, expecting the pieces to liquefy and absorb into the dough.
To Ruth’s chagrin, though, the tray she (carefully) removed from the oven did not contain Butter Drop Do chocolate cookies. It did, however, contain butter cookies stuffed with slightly softened chocolate chunks. And so began America’s braying waddle toward childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes.