Married with Children... All Things Episodic


 0101  -  "Pilot"

"Die, commie bimbo!"  (Bud to Kelly)

One obvious danger with trying to restart the review system I've been working
with is that I've still got Seasons 10 and 11 in my head, even though I only
got through half of Season 11. So the instant thing upon seeing the pilot now,
after nearly 70 episodes previously, is basically a series of laughs along the
theme of "how they've changed! Look, he's got more hair! And that chap with the
big nose is in it again!". This would get boring fairly quickly though, so I'll
confine myself to only a few observations. As noted elsewhere, Al and Peg are
far more cosy with one another, using words like "honey" and "sweetheart";
Kelly's hair is so bleached as to be almost white, while Peg's is smaller and a
darker red. Bud is clearly pre-adolescence and hence it's less weird seeing him
so different. There are deeper differences, though, in the sense of plot and

"Fine, Al, but before you go I'd like to say three things. The bank book is
in both of our names, the credit cards are in both of our names, and the
store is still open."  (Peg)

Firstly there's a much sharper edge to the series as a whole. The arguments
between Al and Peg are just that, arguments, rather than a series of comedic
gripes as they were later on. Ed O'Neill's expressions verge on the savage at
times, such as his line about "slow death". Perhaps this is a fact of the actor
being younger, but this Al is more convincing as a father with a dysfunctional
family, even a funny one. The episode focuses far more on him and Peg than on
the children, which is understandable since neither of them seem to have much
character here. David Faustino is not so much acting as clowning around with
his unconvincing lines, while Kelly acts and dresses far too restrained to be
what she later became - especially that blue woollen jumper. Buck, by the way,
does not speak at all. I wonder when they invented that. The first half of the
episode also seems to be obsessed with plants. There are plants everywhere in
the Bundy house and the bandage on Al's hand is the result of a cactus. There
are plants and ferns in the shoe store. What is it with plants? 

"That's not my sign, Ma'am. That's the former owner's. He was killed
tragically on this very spot when a size nine exploded tragically in his
face!"  (Al)

Having got past the sight of Peg smoking and actually being at home - in later
years, it's surprising how often she isn't on the couch (shopping, at Marcy's,
etcetera) - and the Al/Peg argument (and an advert break too), we finally get
to Steve and Marcy. This brings in a much stronger hint of later MWC, being a
well-plotted and much smoother instant corruption of the neighbours by Al and
Peg. Like later MWC you can see what is happening, but it is very funny anyway.
Marcy is a quiet, almost gentle character until Peg's words bring out a more
neurotic side of her, which again reminds me of one of her character's later
themes - the darkness hiding behind an apparently normal suburban woman. Steve,
on the other hand, is a much more developed character, at first glance. He has
come to the decision to please his wife as much as possible but has sacrificed
a little too much, and when he first gets a glimpse of some alternative (Al and
Peg) he rapidly begins to realise exactly how much. He is very easily-persuaded
into recovering a little of that - and so we have an instant understanding of
what his character will be like.

"Do you have PMS?"  (Peg)
"No."  (Marcy)
"Get it."  (Peg)

So, overall then, this is like watching Original Star Trek after starting with
The Next Generation. It's rougher, less polished - an altogether different 
show, almost, with only cosmetic resemblances. Which of course does not 
necessarily mean bad at all.

Rating: 8/10

By Grail


send your MWC review to me

home on the range