An American Family: Anniversary Edition
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In 1973, television viewers watched dramatic life events unfold in the home of an American family in Santa Barbara, California. An American Family: Anniversary Edition is a 2-hour feature-length special capturing the most memorable and compelling moments of the original 12-hour public television series that made TV history.
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It's often erroneously stated that Lance was the first openly gay person on nationwide TV. Although that was never made explicit, it's not difficult to read between the lines. And his family was completely accepting of him -- including his father, who was something of a macho type (he owned a company that sold replacement parts for heavy machinery). Bill's obvious affection for Lance is, to use an old-fashioned word, heartwarming.
This is often considered the first reality show. The difference is that it's real reality, unlike the scripted, manipulated kind all too common in today's shows of that description. Viewing it today, I find it just as engrossing as it was way back when. Highly recommended.
I'll skip this and wait for the real thing.
For the 40th anniversary of the show, WNET worked with the Raymonds to re-edit the 12 hours of film down to 1 hour and 50 minutes. The show aired earlier this year on PBS and is now on this DVD. 53 minutes of Bonus features are here too including an archival panel discussion from 1973 lead by Margaret Mead and new interviews with NET and WNET personnel - including the Raymonds.
It's a fascinating story , though, like a previous reviewer, I felt that it worked best in the longer chapter-ized version, which allowed things to be revealed at closer to real time. But this is still better than nothing. And the additional interviews add more perspective to the story. After all, this was a FIRST for NET - a real series.
The show was shot on film and it shows some age. Those used to the crisp images on TV today will have to settle for some graniness. The clothes (and even Bill Loud's "long sideburns" will bring back the 70s even more than an old Sonny and Cher or Fifth Dimension song.
This is an iconic moment in American TV and it's good that it has been released, even in a truncated version.
Nonetheless, for the uninitiated to the series, it is still a worthy foray into the show with some engaging interviews and background into the show, its historical significance, and its impact on reality television to this day. For more information about the series itself, please check my review on "An American Family"--a plea to the powers that be at PBS or elsewhere to transfer this seminal television artifact to DVD for all to enjoy.