When "All In the Family" premiered on CBS in 1971, the network felt compelled to offer a cautionary announcement, saying the show, "seeks to throw a humorous spotlight on our frailties, prejudices and concerns . . . to show -- in a mature fashion -- just how absurd they are."
Never before had a series dealt so bluntly with racism, sexism, abortion, birth control and other sensitive subjects. Indeed, from the perspective of almost-anything-goes 1991, it is hard to look back and remember just how daring the sitcom really was. And that's why tonight's rebroadcast of the spring special "All in the Family's 20th Anniversary" is worth watching.
It's at 8 on Channel 11, and the repeat is all the reason needed for the following short trivia quiz on the series which some have called the most influential in television history.
1. What program from another country was the model for "All in the Family," and what was the title of the original pilot episode starring Carroll O'Connor and Jean Stapleton (but not yet Rob Reiner and Sally Struthers)?
2. Beyond its ground-breaking frank language and topical subjects, the series was a TV first in a technical area. What was it?
3. Co-producer Norman Lear (with Bud Yorkin) had earlier been producer of a musical variety series which, in contrast to the abrasive "All in the Family," was known for its wholesome, all-American tone. Can you remember the show?
4. Actress Sally Struthers (Gloria) was a virtual unknown when the show started. But what comedy shows had she appeared briefly on earlier?
5. "All in the Family" ranks as the second longest-running comedy series on TV (including its latter seasons re-titling as "Archie Bunker's Place"). What holds the first spot?
Bonus question (a toughie for true trivia nuts): What was the Bunker's address?
ALL THE ANSWERS (with thanks to Alex McNeil's compendium, "Total Television"):
1. "Til Death Do Us Part" was the name of a British series whose rights Lear purchased as the foundation of "All In the Family." But two pilot episodes, turned down by ABC, were titled "Those Were the Days" (after the theme song).
2. The series was the first to be regularly produced on videotape rather than film.
3. In 1965 and 1966, Lear was producer of "The Andy Williams Show," which featured The New Christy Minstrels and the Osmond Brothers.
4. Struthers was seen on "The Smothers Brothers Show" in the summer of 1970, and the short-lived "Tim Conway Show" in the fall of that year.
5. "All In the Family" ran 12 1/2 years, second only to the 14-year run of "Ozzie and Harriet."
Bonus: The Bunkers lived at 704 Houser St. in Queens, N.Y.