Married with Children... All Things Episodic
0219 - "Im-Po-Dent"
"Al, why can't you be more like Steve?" (Peg)
"...and Steve's impotent!" (Marcy)
"My god... Al, you are like Steve!!!" (Peg)
A masterful episode with only a few hitches here and there, Im-Po-Dent is
one that belongs right up there with the best. Easily as polished as the
later season episodes, it features good lines and roles for all four of the
adults (again, the kids are relegated), whether it be Al - once again
playing masterful manipulator as with Girls Just Wanna Have Fun - or Marcy,
once again forced to consider the balance between what she believes in and
what she wants to get, just like in The Razor's Edge and several other
stories. So no, this is a tale which is not particularly original, but
somehow it doesn't quite seem to matter. As with all Steve-Marcy episodes,
this is about the difference between public moral positions and private
desires; unlike Al and Peg, Steve and Marcy have not quite learned how to
compromise with one another. This would be fine if not for their neighbours,
who take gleeful pleasure in showing them the consequences of not doing so.
Could this be a moral episode of MWC?
"Hey, Steve, what's up?....oops." (Al)
I was a bit disappointed not to get more jokes out of the impotence itself -
sensitivity on the part of the writers, or on the part of the network
executives? Certainly by the time of 'Til Death Do Us Part there doesn't
seem to be any problem in making an entire episode based around the issue of
male sexual performance. Here, of course, it turns out to be an Al-inspired
wheeze, and the final scene with him and Steve is a gleeful bit of male
bonding, which again follows on from Girls, as he has been "corrupted" by Al
into manipulating Marcy as ruthlessly as Al would like to do with Peg.
Indeed, since the latter is far more streetwise, Steve actually does a
better job of this kind of thing than does Al (or has a better chance,
anyway). I find myself torn on this episode when it comes to the question of
sympathy for Marcy, however; what are we expected to feel towards her?
Somehow it's hard to see her as a victim, yet she ought to be.
"Hey, what say we go down to the ice-cream van and get a... softie." (Al)
Some other good parts; Al betraying Marcy (twice), the "oh, Steve!"
discovery and Marcy's reactions to Al's advice. Another good point is how
Marcy tries to protest the cause of women but then admits Al was right and
she hit a fire hydrant in the Mercedes (incidentally, since Steve bought the
car in If I Were a Rich Man, a nice bit of continuity). If there's one
criticism to be made, it is that the plot is somewhat disjointed, being
easily divisible into three points - pre-impotence, problem, solution - and
that in some ways it's nothing more than a series of setpieces. But I'm
nitpicking; Im-Po-Dent is a brilliant episode.
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