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"The Draft Dodger"
Season 7, episode # 15
# 147 overall in series (205 episodes)
"All in the Family" episode
Series: All in the Family
Network/Country: CBS-TV / USA
Air date December 25, 1976
Production code 715 (7x15)
Written by: Jay Moriarty & Mike Milligan
Directed by: Paul Bogart
Guest starring: Liz Torres
Eugene Roche
Renny Temple
IMDb logo.png IMDb: The Draft Dodger
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The Draft Dodger is the 15th episode of Season 7 of All in the Family, the 147th episode in the series. Written by Jay Moriarty and Mike Milligan, the episode, which was directed by Paul Bogart, originally aired on CBS-TV on Christmas Day, December 25, 1976 (though the storyline is depicted as taking place on Christmas Eve).


"The Draft Dodger"
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Synopsis

Archie blows a fuse at Christmas dinner when a friend of Mike's reveals that he is a "draft dodger", in that he moved to Canada to avoid being drafted to serve in Vietnam.

Storyline

It's Christmas Eve, and Archie has invited his close friend Pinky Peterson (Eugene Roche) to the house for Christmas dinner, and has even bought a gag gift for him: a battery-powered Santa head that sticks its tongue out and squirts water from its mouth when its tie is squeezed. Archie tries it out on Edith, but it doesn't work until he turns it around to fix it, and Archie gets water all over his own shirt.

While Archie goes to change, Edith answers the door for a young man named David Brewster, an old high school friend of Mike's from Chicago who is now living in Canada; he decided to pay a surprise visit to Mike for Christmas. Edith invites David to stay for dinner, which he accepts, and when she goes to check on her cookies, David and Mike (now with Gloria) have a private conversation, and Mike asks if David is taking a chance on coming back to the States as he is still a fugitive, but David attempts to compartmentalize his worry by saying that it's worth it with the Holidays. Gloria tries to reassure him saying that they're among friends and that there's nothing to worry about-- until they hear Archie complaining about starched shirts from upstairs.

Now wearing a dry shirt, Archie comes back down and is introduced to David. Archie asks where he is from, to which Gloria quickly answers "up north", from which Archie deduces he is from Rhode Island. David offers to help Edith out, but when he asks what part of Rhode Island he is from, Edith unwittingly blurts out that he's from Canada. When Archie continues asking what David does up in Canada, Mike distracts him with the Santa gag gift he bought for Pinky, and again it backfires on Archie, but this time he decides not to change his shirt. Pinky arrives at the door, but before Archie answers, he cautions them to not say anything about Pinky's son Steven, who was recently killed in Vietnam. Pinky gifts Edith with a poinsettia plant, and Archie shows Pinky the Santa gag, but again it backfires on Archie, and while he goes upstairs to again chance his shirt, David, who overheard what Archie said about Pinky, introduces himself to him.

Later, they all sit down to dinner, and when Pinky decides to tell a Christmas story about his late son Steven, Archie decides to tell a sad one on himself about how one year as a boy he cried when got heavy underwear for Christmas instead of a bike, which is all he really wanted; when he mentions that heavy underwear still makes him cry, Edith adds that it also makes him itch. When Archie asks David if he has a family story to tell, David begins telling about Christmas with his family in Chicago, but when Archie recalls Edith saying he was from Canada, David casually mentions that he prefers living in Canada. Archie continues pressing David, asking why he prefers Canada over America, and David finally reveals the truth to him and to everyone at the table: he fled to Canada to avoid being drafted into Vietnam-- in other words, he was and still is a "draft dodger". David reveals that he even wrote to the president about his feelings, saying that the president "just couldn't come up with as many reasons for killing people as I could for not killing them".

Seeing Archie's anger begin to rise, David is ready to excuse himself and leave, and when Gloria, Edith, and especially Mike try to defend David, Archie will have none of it and tries to put David in his place, screaming that what he did was wrong. When Pinky speaks up, Archie, believing that Pinky will back him up, yields to him saying that "your opinion matters more than anyone else's in this room." But Pinky's tone is far more conciliatory; he states that even though Steven also hated the war, he did what he felt he had to do, just as David did the same. He then points out that "David is alive to share Christmas dinner with us, and if Steve were here he'd want to sit down with him, and that's what I want to do." In a healing gesture of forgiveness, Pinky wishes David a Merry Christmas and extends his hand to David, which David meekly shakes.

Everyone else sits back down at the table, but Archie, now confused and distraught at the turn of events, is about to excuse himself until Edith stops him and points out that he was the one who asked Pinky what to do, and that he should follow Pinky's example. Archie just sits back down at the table when a group of carolers start singing outside, and Archie, as only he can, goes to the door and scolds the carolers for singing while he and his family are eating...

Did You Know?

  • Less than a month after this episode aired, President Jimmy Carter signed an executive order unconditionally pardoning more than 200,000 draft dodgers from the Vietnam war, including nearly 600 others who were imprisoned for refusing to be drafted. [1]Carter did this during his first full day in office on January 21, 1977, fulfilling one of his major campaign promises when he ran against incumbent Gerald Ford in the 1976 Presidential Election.
  • Carroll O'Connor's angry line sparked controversy, but also much discussion among fans and in the media, though it was generally agreed that Archie would have indeed said what he said. But CBS censors forced Lear to overdub Archie's profanity with "...that rotten damn war no more!", possibly for fear of more repercussion as they had previously let the word "goddamn" slide once in the earlier episode "We're Having a Heat Wave". It should be stated that the edited line attenuates much of the dramatic intensity of the moment.
  • A "draft dodger" is a person who avoids the conscription policies of the country in which he or she is a citizen by going into hiding or emigrating to another country.
  • A "Gold Star" defines a parent of a member of any branch of the U.S. armed forces killed while serving active duty during a time of military conflict, or who died as a result of such service. Accordingly, Gold Star parents displayed service flags with a gold star to denote that they lost a son in combat. In contrast, blue stars represent each member of a family serving in the military during any specified conflict, while silver stars represent family members injured in combat.
  • Teresa does not bring a date or boyfriend to Christmas dinner and kisses David under the mistletoe, which is curious as she claims in the very next episode to be in love with Brian Schlemmer.
  • The episode was recreated for Live in Front of a Studio Audience in 2019.

Scene Excerpt

Quotes

  • David Brewster: Lyndon Johnson couldn't come up with as many reasons for killing people as I could for not killing them.
  • Mike: (to Archie) When the hell are you going to admit that the war was wrong??
    • Archie (fuming): I ain't talkin' about that war!! Goddammit, I don't want to talk about that Goddamn war no more!! I'm talkin' about somethin' else!! And what he done was wrong! Sayin' he won't go! Whaddya think, the old people of this country can say whether or not they wanna go to war? You couldn't get a decent war off the ground that way! All the young people would say no - sure they would! Cause they don't wanna get killed! And that's why we leave it to the Congress, cause them old quacks ain't gonna get killed! And they're gonna do the right thing, and get behind the president and vote yes!
    • Pinky: Arch, if my opinion is of any importance...
    • Archie: Certainly your opinion is important! Gold Star Father. Your opinion is more important than anyone else in this room. And I wanna hear that opinion - I want these young people here to hear that opinion! Now you tell 'em, Pinky, you tell 'em.
    • Pinky: I understand how you feel, Arch. My kid hated the war, too. But he did what he thought he had to do, and David here did what he thought he had to do. But David's alive to share Christmas dinner with us. And if Steve were here he would want to sit down with him. And that's what I want to do. Merry Christmas, David. [offering his hand to David, who timidly accepts]
    • David: Merry Christmas, sir.

Connections

References

Soundtracks

Soundtrack Credits
  • "Feliz Navidad" (uncredited) - Written by José Feliciano, Portion sung by Liz Torres
  • "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" (Traditional) - Sung by carolers

Cast (in Credits Order)

Main Cast

Guest Stars/Recurring Cast

More External Links



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