In the early years of Fox, "Married...With Children" was an example of a perfectly cast series that was offensive and edgy, yet brilliantly so. It was also certainly one of the network's few early hits, continuing on for ten years. While tasteless, nearly every one of the show's lines of dialogue remains brutally funny, delivered to perfection by the cast, especially Ed O'Neill, whose Al Bundy is still a television icon. Years later, some of the "cutting edge" humor doesn't seem so edgy anymore (especially with Fox's recent animated sitcom "Family Guy" overtaking "Married" for the title of most offensive network show), but the jokes still connect often. As irritable and sarcastic as the show's humor could be, there was still very much the occasional hint of genuine care between the characters.
The first season shows the development of the characters, including the intro of neighbors Marcy and Steve, who provided both the perfect enemy and, in Steve, an example of a guy who's on the border of becoming another Al. Of course, the show stars 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. Although the following episodes began to work Kelly's brillant idiocy and Bud's unsuccessful chase of any nearby women in, these early shows focus more on the dysfunctional relationship between Al and Peg. Unfortunately, they also introduce Al's skirt-chasing and unfunny co-worker Luke, who I believe was dropped after the first season.
The second season continued the show's development, with Steve and Marcy becoming a greater presence and Marcy becoming a greater force against Al. There's also a little less focus on the kids, with Bud becoming more of a skirt-chaser and Kelly becoming more in-tune with her idiocy.
The third season of the series isn't one of the show's strongest, but this run of the show does offer some perfectly fine episodes, and even a few classics. "The Computer Show" has Peggy buying a computer that hilariously begins to taunt Al; "Life's a Beach" has Al dragging the family to the lake when he feels that they need some time together, only to see his plans fail spectacularly; "He Thought He Could" has Al becoming infamous locally after he finds a book in the house that's 31 years overdue. "A Dump of My Own" is a classic - it has Al trying to create a space of his own with a brand new bathroom that's just for himself; "A Three Income Job, a No Income Family" is a hilarious episode that has Al laughing when Peg doesn't realize that selling cosmetics to herself doesn't exactly result in a profit; "The House That Peg Lost" has Steve and Marcy understandably upset when they leave Peggy to look after their house and come home to an empty hole; finally, there's "The Dateless Amigo", where Bud gets a reputation with the ladies based upon scoring with a mannequin everyone thinks is a girl.
36. He Thought He Could
37. I'm Going to Sweatland
38. Poke High (aka The Red Grange Story)
39. The Camping Show (aka A Period Piece)
40. A Dump of My Own
41. Her Cups Runneth Over
42. The Bald and the Beautiful
43. The Gypsy Cried
44. Requiem for a Dead Barber
45. I'll See You in Court
46. Eatin' Out
47. My Mom, the Mom
48. Can't Dance, Don't Ask Me (aka Kelly's Dance)
49. A Three Job, No Income Family
50. The Harder They Fall
51. The House That Peg Lost
52. Married ... with Prom Queen (1)
53. Married ... with Prom Queen: the Sequel (2)
54. The Dateless Amigo
55. The Computer Show
56. Life's a Beach
57. Here's Lookin' at You, Kid
Note: Apparently, due to rights issues, the "Love and Marriage" Sinatra theme song so familiar to "Married" fans is not found here. It has been replaced by a generic piece of theme music. Although I can understand the rights issues not being cleared up (I'd rather have some Bundys than no Bundys), I can't believe a better piece of music than what they used here couldn't be found.
VIDEO: Presented in 1.33:1 full-frame, the second season episodes of "Married...With Children" appear to offer the same sort of image quality as one sees during broadcast re-runs of the series. Sharpness and detail are generally pretty decent, although some darker or dimly-lit scenes can appear noticably softer. Some mildly noticable compression artifacts pop up from time-to-time, as did some shimmering, but these issues aren't too terribly distracting. The elements used seemed clean, with no visible wear or damage. Colors are generally accurate, with no serious problems.
SOUND: The stereo soundtracks provide clear dialogue and a balanced mix between sound effects, laugh track and dialogue. Played back in Pro Logic II, some ambience is directed to the surrounds on occasion.
EXTRAS: 10 "Easter Eggs" are hidden in the menus, each offering some interview footage. I wish they'd just make these available in the menus instead of hiding them. There's also a "lost episode", "I'll See You In Court", included. In the episode, Al and Peggy stay at a hotel and find that they've been videotaped by the management.
Final Thoughts: "Married..."'s third season does have some great episodes, but it doesn't quite hit the heights of the prior two seasons. The DVD offers fine audio/video quality and a couple of supplements. The theme song edit is disappointing, but I'd rather have this than no episodes at all. Recommended.