Married with Children... All Things Episodic



Reviewed By:  John P. Stevenson

	THOUGH the final season of Married... With Children has few high points, this is
definitely one of them.  This is the last installment of the MWC Christmas episodes, and it
doesnít disappoint.  From the opening scene, we know that Al and the Bundy Bunch are in for
another of their dysfunctional holiday celebrations.  These usually are some of the best episodes
of a given season, and that holds true with this one.

	By this point in the seriesí history, most of the original production staff had moved on, 
and it showed in the finished product.  Ludicrous plots (i.e. DAMN BUNDYS, THE STEPFORD PEG, THE 
JUGGS HAVE LEFT THE BUILDING); poor writing; and extraneous characters had the show dropping in
the ratings.  FOX had lost interest in what had once been itís flagship series, and fans and
insiders both felt as though MWC was nearing the end of itís run.  Only the superb acting of the
regular cast; and the surprisingly good direction of cast member Amanda Bearse (who helmed most
of the later episodes) kept the seriesí head above water.

	But even at this point in time, the quality and humor that had once been this shows
trade-marks could occasionally be seen, this episode being a prime example of that.

	The writing on this episode is crisp, with dialogue that is both natural and well-suited
to the characters, something of a rarity for an eleventh season ep.  This episode also features
another late series rarity:  Multiple plotlines that actually work.  Though multiple plots were
nothing new to MWC, it was seldom that they were well-done; often, the sub-plots would be better
that the main plot they were intended to support.  Several times, the whole would wind up being
less than the sum of itís parts.

	But here, plot and sub-plot balance well, both equally hilarious and enjoyable.  The
acting shines, especially Harold Sylvester as Griff, one of the few added characters that I
really like.  The only weak point in the episode, and I donít know if it was the fault of the
director (Bearse) or Christina Applegate, and that is Kellyís imitation of James Cagney.  One, it
really doesnít work in this setting; and two, itís too much of a stretch to believe that Kelly
Bundy would even know who Cagney is, much less how to impersonate him.  Itís simply not helpful
to the scene, and shouldnít have been included.

	 Still, that is the only discordant note in this episode, and a minor one.  This is
really a very good episode, not just as the Christmas eps. go, and should be on everyoneís
holiday watch list.

RATING:  **** out of Five!


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