Married with Children


Episode: 0525 - Top of the Heap
Reviewer: Marriedaniac
Date aired: April 7th, 1991 
Date reviewed: June 2003
Rating: 2/10 

Oh dear. What the hell was this? When you're expecting just a normal Married with Children
episode to appear on your TV screen, it can be quite a shock. I knew something was up when the 
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER credits were not covered in their usual slime. 

This episode is a Pilot for a Married with Children spin-off, to strike while the iron is 
hot, but as Michael Moye in the True Hollywood Story put it, "the iron wasn't hot enough". Three 
of the main characters are introduced in this episode: Charlie, Vinnie (actually, Charlie and Vinnie
were really introduced a few episodes earlier, in "Oldies But Young'Uns") and a babe-for-a-
neighbour, Mona. Mona only has the one brief scene near the beginning of the episode and the best way 
to sum her up is to quote Vinnie from a later Top of the Heap episode, "she's a Barbie doll who 
wants to be a blow-up doll." The actress playing Mona is Renee Zellweger look-alike Joey Lauren Adams, 
who appeared in MWC on two other occasions, playing two different characters. (She once claimed that 
she was the one responsible for taking Bud's virginity in 0713 ["Wedding Show"] but that's another 
day and another review!) Cigar-wielding Charlie Verducci is pretty much the Italian-American version
of Al. No wonder they're friends. He even uses the word "hooters". Vinnie Verducci is the male version
of Kelly Bundy - good-looking and not very bright. He even has his share of 'Kellyisms'. Perhaps the 
producers were thinking that if it worked for MWC, it might work for TOTH. But it didn't.

The opening scene quickly establishes their living situation - a cruddy, lower working class
apartment in a cruddy, lower working class neighbourhood. With hardly an inspired storyline, and
while MWC had more than its share of not-so subtle/original/inspired storylines, they are  
executed well, but this does not really live up to its parent show. A simple rundown of the simple
plot: Charlie Verducci comes up with one of his "Verducci Master Plan"s and they somehow manage to 
crash a high-society party in hopes of getting Vinnie to "marry a millionaire". 

Al: I don't have to go to sleep after sex, I WANT to go to sleep after sex... I welcome the

Not to say that Bologna and Le Blanc are bad actors, which they aren't - though LeBlanc wouldn't 
really come into his own until Friends - they just haven't got very much to work with. Which
is a shame, really, as Ed O'Neill gets some great lines in his brief shoe store scene while the 
Verducci actors get one or two, tops, in their scenes. They do play quite well off each other, though.
As the ONLY Bundy to appear in the episode (I feel robbed!) Al is undoubtedly welcomed by the studio 
audience (I mean, more than usual) and his scene is a good one, even if it did end too soon. Al's 
scene reveals some funny Bundy moments, like Al's recollection of conceiving his children (watching
Get Smart!) Turns out Al bet his TV on Vinnie winning his boxing match and therefore lost it. 
Strange, as in "Kelly Knows Something" (0823), Al says they've had their TV for 20 years. Damn sitcom 

Then, alas, Al's gone. What happens after that? Not a lot. Charlie and Vinnie dress up in 
tuxedos and gain access to a high class party (by sneaking in) and try to pass themselves off as high
society people. They just about manage to. 

The ending of the episode is a bit muffled, and quite frankly, boring. In short of saying this
episode is a great pile of {insert word of choice here}; whatever expectations it had, it does
not live up to, and brings disappointment to many a Married with Children fan. What is remarkable
is that Top of the Heap did actually become a series - albeit not a very long 
one. At just seven episodes short, it failed miserably in the ratings, but it did feature the 
occasional appearance from the Bundy offspring. Even if TOTH was given more of a chance, I doubt
it would've had the same effect on viewers as MWC, because, you know, it's, like, already been
done. The later spin-off attempt, Radio Free Trumaine (0926), would have made a better series.

Maybe what can you keep you watching this episode is knowing that Al will again appear at the 
end. Or maybe you want to see Matt Le Blanc pre-Friends. Or big, fluffy, gorgeous cats that can
box. Either way -- be warned.


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