After a pair of "Most Outrageous" volumes that dismayed fans seeking full season sets, "Married With Children: Season One" has finally arrived. In the early years of Fox, "Married" 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.
13 Episodes: Pilot, Thinergy, Sixteen Years and What Do You Get? (Peg and Al's wedding anniversary proves a highlight, as Al doesn't get a present), But I Didn't Shoot the Deputy, Have You Driven a Ford Lately? (one of my favorites, as Steve and Al go to work on an old car they bought from one of Kelly's boyfriends), Whose Room Is It Anyway? (Steve and Al want a pool room; Marcy and Peg want an exercise room), Al Loses His Cherry, Peggy Sue Got Work, Married...Without Children (Peg and Al leave the kids with Marcy and Steve), The Poker Game, Where's the Boss?, Nightmare on Al's Street, Johnny B. Gone (Peg and Al try to get into the last night of their favorite restaurant, but the problems of their kids get in the way).
VIDEO: Presented in 1.33:1 full-frame, the picture quality on these episodes is actually quite good. Sharpness and detail are first-rate and although definition does vary a bit, the picture never really looks soft.
Flaws do appear, but they don't distract terribly: a bit of shimmering does appear here and there, while some slight compression artifacts are occasionally noticed. Edge enhancement isn't seen. Colors - the show isn't exactly colorful - are accurately rendered.
SOUND: The show's soundtrack is presented in Stereo, with clear dialogue and an only somewhat intrusive laugh track.
EXTRAS: The only supplement is the recent 40-minute reunion special that recently aired on Fox. While it doesn't focus that much on the first season, it's a great overview of the series.
Final Thoughts: Although these early episodes aren't really the best of the series, the 13 episodes included do offer some early highlights. Fans will certainly be pleased, as hopefully future seasons are coming soon.