All In The Family and 704 Hauser Street

All In The Family (1971-1979)
704 Hauser Street (1994)
Type: Spin Off
Group: 1

    This is one of the damndest spin offs in my book for a variety of reasons.

    First of all, it's a spin off in which, none of the main characters ever appeared in any way shape or form on the original show. Instead it's the location that ties the new show to the old - the house where the Bunker family lived. The only character tie to the old show was in the first episode when Joey Stivic, Archie Bunker's grandson, came by to visit his grandparents' former home.

    704 Hauser Street was a sitcom about a black family that was living in Archie Bunker's former home. The idea was to make a show very much like All In The Family but updating it for a new generation.

    All the characters were almost polar opposites of the original Bunkers. Unlike the Bunkers, in this family the father, Ernie Cumberbatch, was the liberal. His wife Rose was no "dingbat" but very sharp. Instead of a liberal daughter and her liberal husband, they had a conservative son and his wife. In this case, though, while the main family was black, the son's wife was white and Jewish. Dad might have been liberal but apparently everyone has their limits and that was Dad's. Thus you still got a similar mix of tensions between the two male leads as in All In The Family but in a new way.

    Another reason this spin off is a pisser is this: not only was it a spin off based on a spun off location rather than a spun off character, it also came years after the original show was cancelled. I think you can count on one hand the shows that have had spin offs post-cancellation. And unfortunately, most of them had about as much success as 704 Hauser - none. After a five episode trial run and appeals from producer Norman Lear for people to watch and the network to give it more of a shot, it was cancelled. A shame because the episodes I saw of it were pretty funny. When the original All In The Family debut, it took some time to find an audience as well. It just happened that 704 Hauser hit the air at a time when networks were not in a mood to nurture shows to success. If a show didn't hit quickly, it was history.

   Interestingly, the father on the show was played by John Amos who also starred as the father in a spin off of a spin off of All In The Family: Good Times.

    Norman Lears inspiration for the show was that he for some reason had kept all the sets from All In The Family in storage for years. The company storing the sets called to ask him if he wanted to continue to store them and he suddenly had to ask himself why he was holding on to them. He was struck that if he was going to the trouble of keeping them, why not use them? And that's when he got inspired for an All In The Family update.

    Kind of sad that it didn't work, considering it was a much more intelligent spin off attempt than the last try they had made (Gloria). I think the title might have hurt it as far as recognition goes. I'm not sure how many people realized 704 Hauser was Archie Bunker's old address. Higher recognition of its connection to All In The Family may have broaden its audience.

Other All In The Family Crossover Links
All In The Family and Archie Bunker's Place
All In The Family and Gloria
All In The Family and The Jeffersons
All In The Family and Maude

Links To All In The Family Web Sites
Archie Bunker's Fansite

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