"Ed McMahon says I owe him $10,000?"
During 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 fourth season of the series marked a strong return for the Bundys, with several episodes that are considered among the best of the series. "Dead Men Dont Do Aerobics" has Peggy winning a week with the healthiest man in Chicago, who doesn't survive the switch to the kind of lifestyle that Peggy leads; "Tooth or Consequences", where Al finds that the famed "Bundy Teeth" aren't as strong as he thought they were; "976-SHOE", where Al gets a loan from Steve's bank for $50,000 to start up a shoe advice line, putting Steve's job at risk; "It's a Bundyful Life", where an angel (Sam Kinison) shows Al what life would be like if he'd never been born; "Who'll Stop the Rain?", where Al tries anything he can in order to fix the leak in the roof, resulting in several falls; "Raingirl", where Kelly gets a job as the new weathergirl on the local news and "Peggy Made a Little Lamb", where Peggy has to take Home Ec in order to get her high school diploma. This season was also the last season that Steve (David Garrison) was a regular on the show.
Note: Apparently, seven episodes on this set are the syndicated (shortened by around a minute or two) versions.
58. 3 Sep 89 Hot off the Grill
59. 10 Sep 89 Dead Men Don't Do Aerobics
60. 24 Sep 89 Buck Saves the Day
61. 1 Oct 89 Tooth or Consequences
62. 8 Oct 89 He Ain't Much, But He's Mine
63. 29 Oct 89 Fair Exchange
64. 5 Nov 89 Desperately Seeking Miss October
65. 12 Nov 89 976-SHOE
66. 19 Nov 89 Oh, What a Feeling
67. 26 Nov 89 At the Zoo
68. 17 Dec 89 It's a Bundyful Life (1)
69. 17 Dec 89 It's a Bundyful Life (2)
70. 7 Jan 90 Who'll Stop the Rain
71. 14 Jan 90 A Taxing Problem
72. 4 Feb 90 Rock and Roll Girl
73. 11 Feb 90 You Gotta Know When to Fold 'Em (1)
74. 18 Feb 90 You Gotta Know When to Fold 'Em (2)
75. 25 Feb 90 What Goes Around Comes Around
76. 25 Mar 90 Peggy Turns 300
77. 15 Apr 90 Peggy Made a Little Lamb
VIDEO/AUDIO: "Married...With Children"'s fourth season is again presented in the show's original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio by Sony Pictures Home Video. Image quality actually seems improved over the prior season sets, with the image seeming consistently sharper and more well-defined throughout. The picture also shows less shimmering and noise, and colors appear slightly warmer.
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. Yes, once again, the original theme song has been replaced due to issues with music rights.
Final Thoughts: "Married...With Children"'s fourth season is one of the show's very best, and contains some classic episodes. It's disappointing that the set doesn't offer any supplements, but audio quality is fine and video quality seems slightly improved over prior season releases.