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Married With Children - The Most Outrageous Episodes! - Volume #1 By Brian Jacks
Three years before Fox's The Simpsons refined the airwaves, it was the virgin television network's Married With Children that ravaged the concept of the traditional American sitcom. For eleven seasons, the show kicked family values in the junk with a cast of characters the likes of which would have made Ward Cleaver blow his brains out.
Starring the zealously cynical Al, his wife Peggy, son Bud, and his positively delectable daughter Kelly (Christina Applegate), Married With Children was a decade-long ratings hit that featured a pumped-up dysfunctional family in absurd situations. Now, six years after the show's cancellation, Columbia TriStar is bringing the zany group back in The Most Outrageous Episodes, the first volume in a planned series of DVDs.
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Volume One contains five episodes, and while the "outrageous" claim is downright arguable, there's no denying that most of them are pretty dang hilarious. The show's initial shock humor has been dampened a bit by changing times, as many jokes which were cutting edge in their vulgarity back in the late '80s are considering the norm today. That said, funny is funny, and age can't take that away.
The five episodes are:
A Dump of my Own: Sick of being locked out of the family bathroom, Al decides to build his own private restroom, sans a sink but featuring the greatest toilet ever constructed, the mighty Ferguson. Peggy, cash-strapped with her husband's money going towards his new project, begins to steal everything not nailed down to fund a lottery ticket.
You Better Shop Around: A two-parter (both of which are included). The first episode sees the family suffering under a terrifying heat wave. While Al is content to relax in his wadding pool, Peggy and the children force him to buy an air conditioner. Al relents, but ends up purchasing Erwin Rommel's massive machine for ten dollars, which quickly implodes, cutting off electricity to the entire neighborhood and eliciting a mob action from his neighbors. A bikini-clad Christina Applegate jogging in place highlights this episode. The second part finds Al moving his family into the local supermarket where they've set up lounge chairs. A quick cut in line then pits Al and Peggy against Marcy and Jefferson for a $1000 shopping spree, with the group ending up with the most food collecting the prize. Hilarity ensues when it becomes a no-holds-barred shopping cart grunge match.
No Chicken, No Check: One of the most highly-regarded episodes. Here we find Kelly and Bud joining forces to jointly purchase a car. Al, to save money on insurance, registers the automobile as a farm vehicle, thus requiring a chicken to be aboard at all times. The tension comes when the kids double-date at the drive-in, minus the chicken. Seriously, the writer who dreamed this up is a genius.
I'll See You In Court: This is billed as "The Lost Episode," which is a bit of a misnomer because while it never aired during the original run, it's been broadcast several times in syndication. Here we find Al, Peggy, Marcy and Steve heading to court for a lawsuit against a motel owner who unknowingly videotaped the couples having sex. I have a nagging suspicion that the reason behind the episode's axing was due more to it sucking than any sort of censorship restriction. While not the most terrible episode (towards the end of the run, they would get much worse), many of the jokes fall flat and it simply drags on way too long. In any event, it's certainly not one of the most "outrageous" episodes.
Married With Children is presented in its original 1.33:1 full-screen aspect ratio. Considering the age of the show and the fairly low-budget nature of it, a THX-certified transfer shouldn't be expected. What we end up with is video quality marginally better than what'd we see on cable, with grain present throughout, particularly in the earlier episodes, and a subdued color palette. If you're interested in this, it'll be for the comedy, not for the presentation. Which is just as it should be.
Likewise, the Dolby 2.0 Surround audio track is what one would expect for a sitcom, with artificial pushing of minimal sound to the rears with all dialogue coming from the center channel. Quality differs from episode to episode depending mainly on age, but as a whole it's acceptable.
On the supplement front, The Most Outrageous Episodes is almost completely barren of extras, containing only a trailer for The Sweetest Thing and a promo for the Salute To Sinatra CD.
The Show: B. While the "Lost Episode" inclusion is questionable, the four other episodes contain enough laughs to make you remember why this series was once king of the hill.
The Look: C+. A few problems but, considering the age, it's hard to fault the quality.
The Sound: C+. Ditto.
The Extras: F. No real extras to speak of.
Overall: B-. Married With Children is a classic, and while this collection could have been handled better, fans of the show will get their money's worth.