Married with Children... All Things Episodic


0305  -  "A Dump of My Own"

"Smell Dad's socks!" (Kelly)
"Sniff his shoes!" (Bud)

Another example of Al-versus-his-family, pursuing his dreams, and so
this episode isn't one of the most original on record. In fact, this
episode is probably the worst of the Season Three stories that I've seen
so far. It contains many elements of MWC lore; the Ferguson, Al's golden
family memories, Kelly failing school, Peg as inadequate housewife,
Steve and Marcy as Ordinary People; unfortunately, taking so many of
these traditions means there is neither time nor space to bring in
anything new. Odd lines are funny, such as the Kelly-Bud exchange above
or Steve's line about the goldfish, but the plot itself - a single one
with no subplots, merely Al building a bathroom against the will of the
others - is so mundane as to be boring. Peg crushingly observes that
Al's dream is "just pathetic", but whereas the pathos of Al's situation
can be tragic (He Thought He Could, Poke High, It's a Bundyful Life) or
comic (All Night Security Dude), here it has little resonance with the
rest of us or with any kind of comedy.

"If you don't help he might not finish. He might use our bathroom. Like
last week." (Marcy)
"He killed our goldfish." (Steve)

With the neighbours making only a token appearance this is a Bundy
family episode, and dysfunctional or not, they are recognisably a
family and their situation is portrayed convincingly enough. Various
combinations are seen throughout the story - Al with Bud, Peg with
Kelly, Peg with the children and finally Al with Peg - giving an
impression that they are indeed together. They argue over what they all
wants, particularly child-to-child and husband-to-wife, but in the end
things are settled as Al gets his bathroom and life returns to
semi-normal. Noticeably, while Al has no problem cutting off his
children's allowance and refusing his wife money so he can build his
room, Peg protests that the only reason she does not let Bud and Kelly
have what they want is that she doesn't have the resources. True or not?
It does illustrate Al's position as the breadwinner, as he pretty much
runs over his own family's desires here, as often. One of the major
problems of the Bundy family is shown right here; that they communicate
with one another, but they never share.

"When I was growing up I had two dreams. One was being an astronaut and
landing on the planet Jayne Mansfield - the other was having my own
bathroom. Then I was blown off course and crashlanded on a much darker
planet." (Al)

The episode ultimately fails to work because it is the first example of
MWC falling back on its own traditions, something that was to become the
chief problem of Season Ten but which, here, is just about allowable.
These traditions are barely established and so it's not noticeable to
viewers, except when reviewing from the position of nine years in the
future. To summarise, therefore, this episode is not actively bad; it's
just that it rests back on its own laurels and hence sits oddly in a
season that until now has been enjoyably innovative.

Rating 4.

By Grail


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