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STUDIO: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
MSRP: $29.95
RUNNING TIME: 460 Minutes

The Pitch

People can’t get enough of Bea Arthur…no seriously…apparently they can’t.

The Humans

Beatrice Arthur, Bill Macy, Adrienne Barbeau, Esther Rolle, Conrad Bain

The Nutshell

Couldn’t get enough of All in the Family?  Prayed every night before going to sleep that they’d release a spin-off of Edith Bunker’s loud-mouthed-says-what’s-on-her-mind cousin?  Well your prayers were answered.  I’m just glad they were answered ten years before I was born.

The Lowdown

Maude was nominated for several Emmy’s and Golden Globes.  Bea Arthur even won a few of them.  That means this show is pretty good, right?  That it’s aged like a fine wine and is just as funny, sharp, and timely, now as it was over 30 years ago? 

Not really. 

The ‘Zombie Maude’ episode was unexpected and a breath of fresh air.

The problem with the show is that it is so obviously a product of its time, and was made solely to be counter-programming to All in the Family; a chance to push whatever liberal slant on a (then, current) hot-button issue.  This wouldn’t be such an annoyance if that weren’t so obviously the point, and if they actually addressed the issue in a meaningful way.

Case-in-point, the ridiculous two-part episode where Maude finds out she’s pregnant.  Besides not wanting to think about television’s (quite possibly) least attractive on screen couple getting it on, they spend two episodes debating on whether Maude should get an abortion and if Walter should get a vasectomy.  The debate between Maude and her daughter Carol, which happens repeatedly throughout the two episodes, sounds a lot like this:

Maude: “Should I have this baby?”
Carol: “No way!”
Maude: “Why not?”
Carol: “Because you’re liberal!  And this show is edgy!  And you’ll look awful!”
Maude: “You’re right.  Plus kids are annoying.  Does anybody have a valium?”

Edgy, right?  Really cuts to the heart of the issue.

Things weren’t going well for Kevin McCallister.

While Maude and Walter’s vasectomy/abortion conversation sounds a lot like this:

Maude: “Should I have this baby?”
Walter:  “I don’t care, do what you want.”
Maude:  “Do you want me to have the baby?”
Walter:  “Whatever makes you happy.”
Maude:  “Hmm, I don’t think I will then…by the way, did you ever get that vasectomy you promised to get?”
Walter:  “Nope.”
Maude:  “Haha!  Walter, you’re such a nut.  Does anybody have a valium?”

Of course I’m paraphrasing, but that’s pretty much the depth that the show commits to.  Though I suppose I admire the writers for trying to tackle important issues, they shouldn’t even bother if they’re just going to half ass it.  And yeah, everybody is giving everybody else Valium and Ritalin at least once per episode.  They throw that stuff around like they’re popping tic-tacs.

Actual line from this moment: "V for Vasectomy, Walter."

When the show is not pandering (it’s not EVERY episode) it can be a tolerable 22 minutes, though there are certainly better things to do with your time.  Bill Macy is one of the few redeeming qualities of the show for me.  He delivers all his lines either very flat, or he yells them, and generally looks like he’d rather be out enjoying a beer somewhere.  The supporting cast members are all serviceable.  Nobody is outstanding and nobody is all that bad.  The characters are admittedly very strong and consistent.  And like most sitcoms they can go through a change from the beginning to the end of an episode, but by the beginning of the next episode they’re back to square one.  And if one can find worth in the melodious tones of Bea Arthur’s subwoofer voice, then more power to them.  It’s a collection worth getting if you’re 65 and really invested in these characters…but not for much else.

Okay…that there is a young Ed Begley Jr. 
Mr. Begley was in Amazon Woman on the Moon, where he played
the titular character in the Son of the Invisible Man skit.  Now we know why.

The Package

Picture and sound quality are both surprisingly good.  The sound is crisp and the picture is certainly better then watching fuzzy reruns on cable.  As for special features, there’s nothing to see here, folks.

6 out of 10