Again, getting this out of the way early, because I figured I was going to have to watch some of these eventually- Norman Lear was *the* sitcom guy in the seventies and All in the Family and its spinoffs formed a little interconnected world on CBS.
I saw a lot of this in syndication, I don't really remember it on first run.
I chose these three episodes at random, each series has two or three "very special" episodes, but I wanted to watch something more representative of the series as a whole.
Maude- Nostalgia Party (12.30.74) Wow. Some things just don't age well. Maude is throwing a New Year's Eve party and she throws a come as you were party. She does a Gypsy Rose Lee dance to "The Stripper". Bea Arthur plays the Bea Arthur character. The canned laughter is annoying. The political jokes are even less amusing than they were then. The odd thing that was a treat was one of the party goers is dressed as Hunter S. Thompson.
The Jeffersons - Florence in Love (12.15.76) Florence, the Jefferson's maid, has a boyfriend. Hilarity ensues. Dated. Canned Laughter. Best thing: Florence has made coffee in a Pyrex percolator.
All in The Family - Class Reunion (2.10.73) Edith's class reunion is coming up and Archie doesn't want her to go. When faced with the prospect of her reuniting with her high school sweetheart, Archie gets upset- hilarity ensues. (An odd moment that I'll probably address in another blog- Rob Reiner (Meathead) and Sally Struthers (Gloria) have a moment where they're mimicking Groucho Marx and Mae West, there seemed to have been a strange cultural blip where the classic stars were on the radar again- perhaps because of movies in syndication and revival houses?)
Of the three, I think the All in the Family held up best, because it was a classic comedy set up and didn't rely too much on contemporary references. The alleged studio audience laughter still was grating though- at least semi-appropriate with stage set shows like these- when there's canned laughter for shows like the Brady Bunch that REALLY makes my teeth hurt.