Married with Children



"Look, it's the other three dwarfs. Puffy, Crabby and Horny." (Al)

One of the traditional things in a sitcom - any sitcom - is the trapping of
a small number of characters in a limited place, allowing them to fight out
their own differences. A Period Piece is a little different because it
actually features all six characters together, much to Al's distress. It's
also one of the rare examples of Bud-Steve interaction; having watched two
seasons now, I find that certain pairs of characters very rarely go
together. Bud & Steve is one pair; Peg & Steve is another; Marcy & Kelly is
a third, for example. Here, however, Al, Steve and Bud find themselves
allied against Peg, Marcy and Kelly, all of whom have reached the fabled
'time of the month'. For the first time, too, the children are being treated
as somewhere approaching equal with the adults. Bud is allowed to go off
with Al and Steve; Kelly is classed alongside Peg and Marcy. It certainly
hints that the series has found its feet after an intermittently superb
second season and an experimental first. So the assuredness of this episode,
of the characters interacting together, is the first thing that caught my

"You promised to do all those things, like consummate marriage....nah,
that's more of a do-it-yourself job." (Peg)

One thing that was missing from this episode, on the other hand, was Al
being uncomfortable with the "problem". In The Great Escape he'd rather
sleep next to Peg than listen to Kelly talk about menstruation, for example,
yet in this episode he is well aware of everything and how to deal with it.
A little odd? Also a little odd is Steve's apparent naivety when faced with
an irritable Marcy; calmly he goes over to talk to her, and we get the
episode's high point; a rant by Amanda Bearse that is hilariously
aggressive. No wonder Steve flinches, the poor guy. But still, after nearly
two years married to Marcy, why does this seem to be his first experience?
Did Marcy go and visit her mother every 28 days? Did Steve visit his every
28 days? The premise of the episode just falls down here, because in order
to be funny the men's reactions are at the same time less than convincing. 

"If Daddy can't go fishing he's stuck with Mommy. And if Daddy's stuck with
Mommy nobody gets out of here alive." (Al)

About halfway through the episode the writers seem to get bored and settle
for what would become a staple in later seasons; Al doing something stupid.
The costume of the Mighty Horns and the hooks on the jacket is funny, but
what happens afterwards isn't. It reminds me of the car-wash scene in Get
the Dodge Out of Hell and is equally embarrassing. With a few exceptions, Ed
O'Neill can't really do purely physical comedy - his genius is in his voice
and facial expressions, not in his actions or gestures. So (curiously
enough!) the women put in much better performances than the men, especially
Amanda Bearse and Christina Applegate, but since they're the "threat" the
episode wants to rely on the men - and can't. A bit of a mixed bag in all.

Rating: 5.

By Grail

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