Married with Children



"You're sure you're my father?" (Bud)
"You think I didn't run for a blood test?" (Al)

An episode which sees the return of the Mighty Ferguson, A Man's Castle
is one of those rare beasts - it's a sequel, in this case to A Dump of
My Own, two years previously, in which Al built a second bathroom in the
garage (which, incidentally, moves itself across the garage in a few
seasons' time). After taking a class in interior decorating, Peg turns
Al's manly bathroom into a pink feminine horror, complete with a
photograph of herself. The good news is that this episode is much better
than its predecessor, being an infinitely cleverer exploitation of Al's
delight in affairs of the toilet. With one stroke Peg assaults so much
of what Al values - his masculinity, the American Dream ideal of the
"tough man", his illusion of being master of his own home. Hence the
title, because in this episode Al's illusion is crushed - he doesn't
have a castle any more, he is reduced (in his eyes) to being an equal
and not the master. In that sense, this episode is another turning point
for the series, marking the beginning of a greater independence for
Peggy. As late as Dance Show, she was still worrying about Al
restricting what she wanted to do with her life. Here she has suddenly
broken free, just as Kelly (moving out briefly, getting a modelling
career) and Bud (getting his driver's license in Sue Casa, His Casa)
have begun to do by themselves. Al's family world is changing and this
episode is a reflection of that. Where can he go?

"Take all your clothes off." (Al)
"You finally wanna do it?" (Peg)
"Since I'm not going to eat I need something to kill my appetite." (Al)

The answer is simple, but it's a long time coming. Happily for all of
us, it's an enjoyable ride getting there. Al doesn't waste time
conveying how much he hates the bathroom - he comically faints. And
later, when persuaded to try the bathroom for once, the Al's-eye-view of
his entry, complete with thumping heartbeat, is very funny indeed. This
is another example of what MWC does so well; taking a tense or special
moment from a film or television show and sending it up so well that you
can't watch the original in the same way. In this case, it's any kind of
horror film you choose to imagine, with a special nod towards Hitchock's
Psycho (which earns it extra marks for being a rare Psycho parody that
doesn't try and send up the shower scene!). Driven from the house, Al is
prompted into another speechmaking moment outside a gas station public
lavatory, a typically mundane location for some high Bundy philosophy.
The crowning glory, however, is his meal at the table. Ed O'Neill does a
superb job of this, culminating in the wolfish "it's ready" grin, which
is truly brilliant. It's also another rarity - an episode where Al wins
a victory. Ironic that such a titanic conflict only takes place in his
own home, isn't it?

Rating : 7.5.

By Grail


send your MWC review to me

home on the range