Sunday, April 29, 2012

Oy, These Kids Today...

My 19 year old nephew visited me this past weekend. During his stay he excitedly told me about pretty much every single TV show he'd watched since the last time I saw him. I'd never seen or even heard of most of the shows he was going on about.

For the past couple of months I've been watching the first five seasons of the classic sitcom All In The Family on DVD. When I mentioned the show to my nephew, naturally he said he'd never seen even a single episode. He had at least heard of it though, which surprised me. Since he's such an avid TV aficionado, I told him he needed to rectify this appalling gap in his viewing and learn about his TV heritage.

So I fired up the DVD player and showed him what is probably the most famous AITF episode of all: Sammy's Visit, in which entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. visits the Bunker household.

You know the one; Archie's driving a cab part time to make some extra money and picks up Sammy Davis Jr. as a passenger. Later he gets a call from Sammy, saying he left his briefcase in Archie's cab. Archie invites Sammy to his house to pick up the briefcase. When he arrives, Archie falls all over himself to make a good impression on "one of the good coloreds," to the chagrin of his family and Mr. Davis. The episode culminates in Sammy giving the bigoted Archie a big kiss on the cheek, and reportedly generated the biggest and longest laugh of the series, forcing the director to turn off the cameras until the studio audience could compose themselves.

So we watched the episode and my nephew seemed to enjoy it a lot. He laughed in all the right places and marveled that back in the 1970s there was a show that dealt so openly with race and prejudice. He said there's no way such a show could be made today, which is no doubt true.

I was pleased that I'd introduced him to a forgotten branch of pop culture that he had no idea existed.

Then right before the big kiss scene, my nephew turned to me and said, "Was Sammy Davis Jr. a real person, or was he just a character they made up for this show?"
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Excuse me while I go take my rheumatiz medicine. I need to go lie down before I fall and break a hip.

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