The ninth and (sniff) final season of All in the Family is finally being released on DVD by SHOUT! Factory. Thank you so much Shout! for picking up the pieces after Sony left the release of this series in shambles. I certainly hope you obtain the rights to Archie Bunker's Place, not as classic as AITF but still a fun series and many people would love seasons two, three and four on DVD
After "little goil" and "meathead" left for California at the end of last season this season finds Archie and Edith starting out alone. Soon enough, in the first episode as a matter of fact, Danielle Brisebois joins the cast as Stephanie and adds a fun dynamic by giving us a look at Archie and Edith as parents of a young child (I always watch these episodes and think of them as a look back on what it might have been like for Gloria growing up, despite Archie having mellowed considerably since then). After a truly great eighth season, though one with many multipart arcs, the final season switches back to more of a one topic per episode format with the exception of the spectacular Christmas episode.
This final season contains the following 24 episodes (27 if you count the restrospective):
Little Miss Bunker (9/24/1978)
Edith's cousin Floyd abandon's his nine year old daughter Stephanie on the bunker's doorstep.
End in Sight (10/1/1978)
Archie wallows in self-pity after an ominous spout is found on his liver during an insurance physical.
Reunion on Hauser Street (10/8/1978)
The Bunker's try to reunite Barney Hefner with his wife Blanche.
What'll We Do with Stephanie? (10/15/1978)
When Floyd fails to pick Stephanie up as promised the Bunkers debate keeping her.
Edith's Final Respects (10/22/1978)
When her Aunt Rose dies, Edith is the only mourner at her funeral. (A lot of Edith's relatives seem to die throughout the course of the series).
Weekend in the Country (10/29/1978)
A weekend at Barney and Blanche's cottage goes wrong when a game of monopoly sparks a fight and Archie spends the night with Barney and Edith with Blanche.
Archie's Other Wife (11/5/1978)
Archie wakes up at an American Legion Convention to find a beautiful african-american flight attendant in his hotel bed who swears they were married the night before.
Edith Vs. The Bank (11/19/1978)
Edith wants to buy Archie a new television for their 30th anniversary but when the store won't let her sign alone and the bank won't give her a loan because she's a housewife she arrives home upset only to find Archie may be sexist himself.
Return of the Waitress (11/26/1978)
When Harry hires the waitress who Archie once cheated on Edith with to work at Archie Bunker's Place, Edith finally confronts her.
Bogus Bills (12/3/1978)
Edith gets arrested for using fake ten dollar bills she got from Archie Bunker's Place.
The Bunkers Go West (12/10/1978)
Archie, Edith and Stephanie make the trip out west to visit Mike and Gloria when they can't come home for Christmas because Mike has supposedly hurt his back.
California, Here We Are (12/17/1978)
The Bunkers arrive in California and get to see Mike and Gloria's new home and little Joey. It isn't long before we learn that Mike and Gloria are actually putting on an act and that the real reason they didn't come home is because they have separated.
California, Here We Are (2) (12/17/1978)
After Mike and Gloria get in a fight on Christmas eve Edith, and soon after Archie, learn of their marital troubles. Things get more complicated when it is revealed it may not be all Mike's fault. Though Christmas morning brings a reconciliation of sorts there is much to be worked out.
(All in the Family always chose to do their most series episodes over Christmas. Edith's lump in her breast, the draft dodger, the death of Beverly Lasalle. Odd choice but it always seemed to work for them)
A Night at the PTA (1/7/1979)
Edith is supposed to sing a duet with Stephanie for the PTA recital but when she develops laryngitis Archie steps in. (Really how much worse could he be?)
A Girl Like Edith (1/14/1979)
Edith invites butcher Klemmer over for dinner but when he brings a Russian girl who looks just like Edith she begins to realize he may be more interested in her than his date.
The Appendectomy (1/21/1979)
On the eve of Stephanie's tenth birthday she begins getting serious pains in her side. When Dr. Shapiro says she will need an appendectomy Archie gets in an argument over wanting the older more experienced Dr. Shapiro to do the operation. Can Archie put aside his issues this once for Stephanie's sake?
Stephanie and the Crime Wave (1/28/1979)
Archie and Edith discover Stephanie has been stealing their, and her teacher's, favorite items. A deeper psychological issue emerges though when she tells them its because she wants to remember them when she inevitably leaves.
Barney the Golddigger (2/4/1979)
Barney Hefner is suicidal when Blanche leaves him again, until Archie sets him up with an overweight but wealthy woman.
The Return of Archie's Brother (2/11/1979)
Archie's brother Fred visits for dinner to discuss a new business but when his 18 year old wife Katherine may have more in common with Stephanie than with Edith the night takes a turn for the awkward. (An episode up to the classic AITF standard, IMO)
Stephanie's Conversion (2/18/1979)
When Edith is told that Stephanie is Jewish she and Archie disagree on how to raise her. Another issue arises when Stephanie reveals she kept her background secret in fear of Uncle Archie not loving her anymore. (Another GREAT episode)
Edith Gets Fired (2/25/1979)
After agreeing with an elderly woman's wishes to sit with her while she passes away, Edith is fired from the sunshine home and verbally attacked by her angered family members.
This is where the All in the Family Retrospective hour and a half special would fit (3/4/1979)
The Family Next Door (3/11/1979)
Louise Jefferson returns to enlist the help of Edith in selling their old house next door. Archie hopes this will allow him to keep the neighborhood white.
The Return of Stephanie's Father (3/25/1979)
Edith's cousin Floyd returns offering to let the Bunker's keep Stephanie for $1000 in cash. When his offer turns into a threat to take Stephanie away unless he is paid the Bunker's have to think fast if they want to keep Stephanie where she belongs.
Too Good Edith (4/8/1979)
St. Patrick's day is approaching and will be a busy day for Archie Bunker's Place. Edith gets sick and is told to stay off her feet but wants to be there for Archie who keeps asking for her to help prepare. When her illness worsens the doctor arrives and blames Archie for forcing Edith to work despite doctor's orders only to learn Edith never told Archie. Archie goes upstairs and lays by Edith's side telling her how much she means to him.
A good season to go out on. The three part story where the Bunker's go west and reunite with Mike and Gloria only to learn they have been separated is truly the highlight of this season much like the Thanksgiving episode in the first season of Archie Bunker's Place. Anytime the original cast gets back together there's something electric, they are just perfect together and feel like family. Also this season are the wondeful episodes where the Bunker's deal with Stephanie in emotional moments in several episodes, The Family Next Door really helps tie the final season to the first and finally there is Too Good Edith, which is in retrospect a tuly touching episode to end on with a final scene that really sums up the series.
Not technically a special feature but supposedly being included as one, the All in the Family 200th episode retrospective. Norman Lear hosts an affectionate look back on high points of the groundbreaking and much beloved series.
While not as classic as early seasons of the show, and not quite the same without Rob Reiner and Sally Struthers the show still retains a heart and has its share of laughs. Five Stars for me but if by some chance someone is new to All in the Family and looking at this, go get the earlier seasons first, two is the strongest season to start with and three is ironically a close second, IMO and based on initial ratings anyways.
P.S. Why isn't Stephanie on the box cover? No arguments here so long as it's released but I feel she should be, maybe I'm the only one.