Married with Children... All Things Episodic


0222  -  "All in the Family"

"Aaaargh! I'm blind!" (Al)

The return of Peg's mother - and indeed, quite a few members of her family.
Not as well treated as other episodes with her relatives - the best of these
has to be Magnificent Seven with Bobcat Goldthwait and Linda Blair - but All
in the Family is nonetheless an episode which is extremely enjoyable. The
best scene, however, is not with Peg's family at all, but with Steve and
Marcy. This is recognisably a season finalé in the way it treats these two;
they are in their house and they have just one scene. However, it's a true
classic, harking right back to their very first scene in the pilot episode.
They begin with a candlelit romantic dinner, preparing to make love - then
in walks Al. From being united in wanting him out, they gradually slip into
an argument about each others' in-laws, watched gleefully by Al, who is
suddenly cheered up by it all. Eventually Peg arrives to drag him back to
the rest of the plot but the last shot of the scene - Steve and Marcy
sitting apart, both sulking in some form or other - is a perfect completion
of this little vignette. And Steve makes a chicken joke...

"Do you know what the difference is between Steve's mother and a bowling
ball? A bowling ball doesn't have a beard!" (Marcy)

Meanwhile, the main plot itself is pretty thin. This is the third episode
this season which revolves around a basically ineffectual character - the
other two being Buck Can Do It and Earth Angel. Like these two, it's flawed
for this very reason - the triplets are human, just as was Tiffany, and yet
they merely stand in the background and nod, smile or shake their heads
while everyone else joins in. It means the episode comes across as rather
unbalanced, which is not something of which to be proud. On the other hand,
both Uncle Irwin (King Kong Bundy, later to appear as himself in Flight of
the Bumblebee) and Uncle Otto are funny characters, especially the "cats and
dogs" line and the "beating" respectively. Al's progressive despair as he
watches his normally hellish family life get worse is comical and effective;
in previous episodes Ed O'Neill has been the focus and this is an ensemble
piece, which - through this restraint - allows Al to get some interesting
observations in. 

"Cats and dogs, cats and dogs...sorry, I was just hungry." (Uncle Irwin)

So, here we are at the end of the season, a season which has seen some
dramatic improvements. From the disappointing start of Poppy's by the Tree
has come something as polished, assured and enjoyable as this episode. Again
the kids have little to do, but this is becoming progressively harder to
justify given an episode like The Great Escape, which showed that Christina
Applegate and David Faustino have drastically improved their acting skills.
The only real criticism of this episode would have to be the "it was a
dream" semi-ending, which seems pointless. The only reason I can think of is
to show that Al has no escape just by using the shotgun because Peg's family
Will Return. But it's still pretty unreasonable. However, this doesn't stop
the rest of the episode from being good.

Rating 8.

By Grail


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