Married with Children... All Things Episodic


0507  -  "Married...With Aliens"

"Peg, some little green men came in here and stole my socks!"  (Al)
"Honey, were they green before or after they stole your socks?"  (Peg)

It's not going to be news to anyone if I make the point that the first episode
of any show you see is often your favourite, unless you've been a loyal viewer
from the beginning. I never had that opportunity with MWC but now, nearly eight
years after I first saw the show, we've come full circle as Sky are now airing
those same episodes that were once on at 11:30pm on an obscure regional channel
here in the UK. Married with Aliens is actually the second MWC episode I ever
saw, but it's a good deal more memorable than the previous Kelly Bounces Back
(despite the absence of Tia Carrere). The reasons for this are hard to pinpoint
on a second viewing, perhaps, but this doesn't stop the episode from being the
first story to abandon reality totally and because of this it's a milestone in
the show's history. With earlier episodes and seasons it's been possible to
criticise an episode because of plot holes. Suddenly that's no longer possible
as the show has thumbed its nose at the strictures of situation comedy and gone
all-out to encompass pretty much anything it can. Is this desperation or a
genuine broadening of the show's appeal? I'd like to think it's the latter.

"One more thing, guys. Are you sure you don't want the redhead for your alien 
zoo?"  (Al)

As the show became more successful the characters are beginning to be less of a
family, too. The scene with Bud, Kelly and Peg on the couch at the very
beginning of the episode is a case in point; previously we would have seen the
children waiting while Peg brought Al home. Or, alternatively, perhaps the men
at home while the women came back from shopping. Now it's very much the case
that if one family member gets into problems then the others just stand back
and watch. It began with Can't Dance, Don't Ask Me; it's complete now. Al finds
himself alone and isolated with nobody to believe him simply because he's weak
and behaving oddly. This is Middle Period MWC; events that would normally be
devastating to people are handled humorously, but not so lightly as to stop us
from realising what's happening if we really think. As Bud was to observe in
Every Bundy Has a Birthday, Bundy psychological scars run so deep you can
almost see them; this is an episode to show how the scars might develop.

"Peg, haven't you learned yet that nothing reveals itself in this bedroom
while you're talking?" (Al)

All this philosophising and I haven't yet touched upon the episode. The alien-
abduction phenomenon was just beginning to grow in the States at the time this
episode was shown (still pre-X-Files), so this is another example of MWC being
ahead of the times. The aliens themselves are a good parody of both Whitley
Strieber (heads) and Flash Gordon (costumes), with their motivation - revealed
in a Star Wars/Star Trek scrolling message accompanied by a familiar tune -
close to brilliant. This is the ultimate example of Al Bundy, down-to-earth scum
half the time, the other half a hero who saves us all, without even realising
it. The episode is totally about Al and with good reason, leaving the other
four cast members to do nothing but support him. Amanda Bearse gets the best
moment in scaring him around the closet but it's Ed O'Neill's baby really. Some
superbly terrified facial expressions, especially the long close-up during the
aliens' first visitation, certainly seem to get the audience going; however,
for me, it's moments like the closet sequence, or his resigned acceptance of
their final visit ("Kzuzu!"). A true gem in the history of MWC, being the first
pointer towards the style of later seasons, I think this episode more than
deserves being called a classic.

Rating: 10/10

By Grail


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