What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this '70s cartoon is a real period piece. Although the show professes an intolerance for racial stereotypes, the characters themselves are stereotypes. The main character's best friend is an unabashed racist with a negative comment about every minority from Jews to Italians to Latinos and beyond. It's clear that he's crazy, but the comments may still upset children -- and he does remain Harry's best friend. That said, this cartoon take-off of All in the Family is actually less edgy than that program was and, for older kids, could serve as a decent intro to the era.
What's the story?
In 1970s time-capsule cartoon WAIT TILL YOUR FATHER GETS HOME, titular dad Harry Boyle (voiced by Tom Bosley) lives with his reasonably happy family: wife Irma (Joan Gerber), slacker son Chet (David Hayward), overweight daughter Alice (Kristina Holland), and precocious son Jamie (Jackie Earle Haley), who feels like a precursor to Alex Keaton of Family Ties. The Boyles' changing times are reflected by the contrast between the more liberal attitudes of the older kids and those of Harry's commie-hunting, pinko-hating vigilante best friend Ralph (Jack Burns).
Is it any good?
The extreme views on both sides of the spectrum allow Harry to be the heroic voice of reason, and it's actually quite satisfying to see him stick to his own idea of what's right and not be swayed by either side. The show's writing is clever, and the animation (done by Hanna-Barbera) has a clean-background Schoolhouse Rock feel to it. The issues of the day were different, but the extreme perspectives on both the left and the right will likely remind contemporary viewers of our own times -- and maybe offer a little perspective, too.
Because Wait Till Your Father Gets Home was created in a different era, tough issues are addressed, but in a less-graphic way than we might see today, which makes it useful. Parents of tweens can use the issues showcased in each episode as a way to introduce various moral dilemmas. Should you testify against a criminal if you feel sorry for him? Should you allow someone to criticize your beliefs in your own home? Just be ready to put some of Ralph's rants in context.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how things have changed since this program originally aired (from 1972-1974). How does the series reflect its own tumultuous times? Why does Ralph see hippies, commies, pinkos, etc. as threats? Do people still share his beliefs today? Are the Boyles, even with their disagreements, a happy family? Every episode of this show presents a mini morality play that provides ample opportunity to discuss one of the many institutions that was under fire during that decade.