The inimitable (and Talmud-quoting) Norman Lear gets love from the A.V. Club on the release of a new boxed set of DVDs of six Lear shows. Not all the titles are winners. One Day at a Time and The Jeffersons are singled out as second-rate, though without the latter there’d be no Diff’rent Strokes or Fresh Prince of Bel Air. And a world without those gems would be like a world without rainbows.
More frequently, Lear created universes populated by the cantankerous, opinionated likes of Archie Bunker, Maude Findlay, and James Evans. The legacy they left is “not in today’s best sitcoms—which tend to be gag-oriented and stingless, not achingly relevant—but in the sports analysts and political pundits yelling at each other all across the cable TV spectrum. The problem is that none of those bozos are as funny or endearing.”
The Norman Lear Collection [AV Club]