NPR

'All In The Family' And 'The Jeffersons' Revival Delivers Nostalgia — For What?

ABC's two-hour live special re-created classic episodes of celebrated sitcoms with famous actors — and original creator Norman Lear. TV critic Eric Deggans found it both triumphant and bittersweet.
Woody Harrelson and Marisa Tomei starred as Archie and Edith Bunker in ABC's re-creation of All in the Family and The Jeffersons, a live event staged in front of a studio audience and broadcast in TV's prime time. Source: Eric McCandless

There was a bittersweet quality to ABC's triumphant two-hour live sitcom special on Wednesday night. At least, for me there was.

On the sweet side, watching talented stars like Jamie Foxx and Woody Harrelson re-create classic scripts from All in the Family and The Jeffersons was a shot of pure, uncut nostalgia. There are few spectacles as entertaining as these guys mugging their ways through impressions of classic characters like George Jefferson and Archie Bunker — in live performance.

For those of us raised on the original stuff — the as Archie — even the distant echoes evoked by Foxx and Harrelson on ABC's live special were entertaining. And, of course, Foxx stole the show by improvising his way through an inevitable line flub. ("It's live," he said, turning to the audience while his costars struggled to keep straight faces. "Everyone sitting at home ... think they TV just messed up.")

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