The irreverant, politically incorrect Married With Children returns to DVD, this time in its fifth season, and I first want to say, “It’s about time.” How long has it been? I’ve lost count. All I know is, I better not have to wait this long again. Al, Peg, Kelly, and Bud, return to torment the newly divorced Marcy Rhoades and any other poor sap, who gets in their way. In contrast, life dishes out enough misery to the Bundys to keep us all happy for a very long time. It’s a funny dynamic, which the show plays t… the extreme… Bundys hate life, and life hates Bundys. I could watch the two struggle all day (with the Bundys always… well, nearly always… coming out on bottom), and never get tired of it. In this particular collection, we get more of the tragedy and the triumph with some of the greatest episodes heaped atop each other, one after another.
Follow a disgraced Al Bundy as he steps into the role of softball hero and gives one of the most stirring speeches of the series in “Unnatural” (Highlight: “In closing, I just want to say, ‘I hate you all… and I thank only me for this accomplishment.”) Join Kelly as she moves in to her first apartment and kindles Al and Peg’s love in “One Down, Two to Go.” Tia Carrere also finds out how painful it can be to cross a Bundy in “Kelly Bounces Back.” And Al must face the demons of his football past in the classic “All Night Security Dude.” We also get the first appearance of Weenie Tots and Jefferson D’Arcy. With 25 episodes of Bundy classics, being miserable has never been this fun.
What you get in the video department is pretty much what you got when Fox originally aired the series. There wasn’t much wrong with it then, and there’s not a lot now. I noticed the occasional glitch, but these were just common foibles that in no way affect the performance of the episodes… like leaving a comma out (or in) is to a writer, these glitches, usually in the show’s introduction, are nothing to tear your garments over. Married With Children continues to look as it did, and as it always should, even in the digital format.
The most obvious annoyance is the continual omission of the Frank Sinatra MWC anthem “Love and Marriage.” It’s sad that this song, most easily associated with this great series, cannot have a presence in the set. While the new music is certainly in the spirit of the show, it just isn’t “Love and Marriage,” and, thusly, doesn’t belong. Other than that, the 2.0 track, which is pretty much standard for Sony releases these days, sounds as great as it can. But don’t expect too much from it. After all, this is an old-school, shot-before-a-live-studio-audience sitcom – strong on dialogue, okay on everything else.
I’m not even finding Easter Eggs anymore, and that truly is a shame. I know there’s more interesting bonus material than what’s been featured on the previous four seasons, and the lack of fanfare from Sony for this – one of the greatest TV shows of all time – is a bit of a face-slap. Still, I’d rather have this show out than not, and I’ll take what I can get in this area.
All the issues, which have annoyed fans of MWC thus far are still prevalent in this newest collection. However, let’s not forget in all the hubbub that this fifth season is one of the finest the show ever produced. So rather than crying in our soup-thick coffee all day – as Al would do – let’s just be happy we’re finally getting to the meat of this great series, and enjoy these shows for the lovable live-action cartoons they are. The A/V is nothing extraordinary, but the flaws are minimal, and respect the original airings through-and-through. I love this series, and will take it however I can get it. Now let’s just speed up the release schedule to where it was for the first four seasons, and I promise to keep future gripes to a minimum.
Special Features List