Married With Children was something of an anomaly among the pantheon of breakthrough television shows throughout history. Shows such as Archie Bunker and Roseanne broke through the stereotypes of the television family, and showed life much more as it really is in most American households. What made Married With Children especially unique is that while those other shows often-times made very real comments about society through their laughter, this program mainly focused on the American mal…. Al Bundy didn’t ask for much; merely an occasional home cooked meal, a nice quiet place to rest his feet at the end of a long day, and the love and respect of his family, for which he worked such long hours. While other shows went to great lengths to show that life is not all Ozzie and Harriet, Al Bundy made an argument for the days of Ozzie and Harriet. With all the stresses and rudeness in modern society, can’t we just go back to the old days, when a man could come home after a hard day and at least have some control over life in his own home?
Of course, the answer to that question is a resounding “no”, and the meeting of those two philosophies is the basis for the humor. Still, though, it is not every day that viewers come across a show that makes an argument for the simple decency and morality of times gone by through making an endless series of crude and off-color jokes. There is much more to this series than meets the eye at first glance. Underneath all that basic humor, there is a work of genius, for those that are willing to look a little deeper.
The audio on this set is the original stereo broadcast audio. No attempt has been made to restore or sweeten the quality, which means that the only real benefit of the DVD format is to make the problems with the audio more prevalent. It is still east to understand the vast majority of what is being said, but there is a bit of a muddy quality to the sound. The real crime is the fact that the theme song is different on this set than it was during the original broadcast. Frank Sinatra’s “Love and Marriage” is the true theme of this show, but here, viewers are treated to an awkward 50’s style television theme song instead. It is never good when studios have to change the music in a show due to licensing issues, but when it is the theme song, the results are particularly regrettable. To me, a shows theme song is something you simply must get right to keep the integrity of the program.
The video quality of this show was never good, which I always attributed to the fact that it was broadcast on Fox. At the time, Fox was a new network, and nothing looked very good. In fact, in my market, it is still not up to the same standards as the other big three networks. Once the show hit syndication, it also looked bad there, as is usually the case with syndicated shows. I was disappointed to find, however, that the show even looks bad on DVD. The images are filled with overblown colors that bleed over into one another, making for a very messy composition. Bright objects, such as Peg’s hair, lack definition, and look very much like one big solid field of color. Edges are soft, and the images are filled with gain and shudder. This is a poor visual composition.
Technically, there are some promos included in this set for other Sony television products, but that aside, there is nothing here that could be considered an extra. No commentaries, no featurettes, no witty essays… nothing.
This show is a classic, like it or not. Unfortunately, the quality of set that Sony has thrown together is half-hearted at best. Below average picture, muddy sound, no extras and an alternate theme song makes this a title to forget for everybody except die-hard fans.
Special Features List