“A Dump of My Own”, “You Better Shop Around – Part 1”, “You Better Shop Around – Part 2”, “No Chicken, No Check”, “I’ll See You In Court”.
Controversial, rude, sleazy and mean-spirited, “Married With Children” was also occasionally brilliant, witty and acted with nearly perfect comedic timing. Years later, some of the “cutting edge” humor doesn’t seem so outrageous anymore, but the jokes still hit with remarkable consistency. The show, which had a remarkable ten-year run as one of Fox’s biggest hits, starred Ed O’Neill as Al Bundy, a former high school football “legend” who now finds himself with a wife he hates (Peggy Segal) and two children (David Faustino and Christina Applegate) who he can’t stand.
While it’s great that the series is finally arriving on DVD, this first “Outrageous Episodes” release is certainly an injustice to the show and its fans. Less “Outrageous” than “Random”, these episodes are fine, but certainly not among the highlights of the show’s 10-year run. “I’ll See You in Court” is advertised as a “lost” episode, but it’s really one of those things that should have stayed lost – the tale of Al and Peggy (and neighbors Marcy and Steve) suing a local hotel for filming their overnight stays is only rarely funny. The other episodes are better examples of the show’s greatness, including “You Better Shop Around” (a two-parter), which has the Bundys living in the supermarket and winning a shopping spree after Al’s new ancient air conditioner causes a power outrage – and the neighbors to riot.
Although it was often tasteless, the show’s writers seemed to have an endless supply of hilarious insults, new ways for Al to demand Peg actually make him a meal and idiotic things for Applegate’s Kelly to say. Although the show changed in tone on occasion throughout its run, it never lost its charm or its sense of humor. The episodes here may not be the best of the series, but the brightest moments in these five episodes only make this fan want full-season sets more.
VIDEO: The 5 episodes of “Married With Children” included here are presented in the show’s original 1.33:1 full-frame broadcast aspect ratio. Surprisingly, all of the episodes look somewhat better than they do in repeats, as sharpness, detail and general clarity were all above what I’d expected. The presentation’s only real faults included some minor shimmering and a couple of very slight traces of pixelation. No edge enhancement or other issues were spotted. “Married” was never a particularly colorful show, but colors do look natural and clean here.
SOUND: The show’s 2.0 soundtrack clearly presents both the score and dialogue.
EXTRAS: The only extras include a promo for a “Salute to Sinatra” album (what does that have to do with “Married with Children”?), a trailer for “The Sweetest Thing” and a promo for other Columbia/Tristar comedies on DVD.
Final Thoughts: One of the most hilarious sitcoms ever, “Married With Children” should certainly have been released in full-season sets than these “Outrageous” volumes, which look to be a test of interest of the show on DVD. As for this volume, it’s nice to have at least a few episodes on DVD, but there were better episodes over the show’s ten years.