Episode Title: "Oldies But Young'uns"
Production Code: 0518
Reviewed By: Nitzan Gilkis
Rating: 8/10

   "Oldies But Young'uns", better known as "the hmm hmm him episode", does what "Married... with Children" is best at doing - takes a familiar situation we've all encountered in our everyday lives and pushes it to some very funny extremes. We can easily identify with Al's distress here; who among us doesn't know what it's like to hear a great song on the radio or wherever and have all your efforts to find its name end in vain? But I'm sure not many of us thought of holding their family and neighbors hostage or threatening their lives if the song's name wasn't found... which is exactly what Al does here. Ed O'Neill turns in yet another great performance (did he ever not turn in a great performance? *g*) and does a superb job of portraying Al's increasingly unstable mental state, making a surprisingly convincing madman. Whether casually making threats like "Peg, before we're all knee-deep in your blood here..." or earnestly suggesting to name every song ever made until his song is found, he's the clear standout here. But that's not to say the other actors don't do a very good job themselves; the other characters' reactions to Al's growing 'insanity' are just as hilarious to watch, with the highlights including Peggy's terrified "He's mad I tell ya!" phone call to the "Why Me?" radio show and the D'Arcys' immediate servile obedience following Al's "...or the walls will be your tomb!" line.

Al: It's a song from my youth.
Peggy: "Look It's A Wheel"?

"I just poured through my record collection... literally"

   In addition to above-par performances from the cast, the episode also benefits from very strong writing and good directing. One of the things I like best about it is the way the transitions from scene to scene are done. For example, we have Al and Peggy sitting on the couch, Peggy telling Al that if her feelings mean anything to him he will not invite Charlie Verducci over. Then the frame flips and we see Charlie sitting between them. Even better is when Peggy says to the Final Vinyl clerk: "if my husband pays you 60 dollars for that record, I will kiss your..." and the frame flips to Al and Peggy arriving home, Peggy still gagging and spitting. Brilliant. Another thing I like is the script's heavy use of contradictions, one of the show's known trademarks. This short exchange is a good example of what I'm talking about:
Charlie: You came to the right guy.
Al: So do you know the song?
Charlie: No.
Other examples include "A lot of people think that the name of that song is Go With Him, but it's not.", and of course the Final Vinyl clerk recognizing every song but Al's, despite the fact that Al remembers a lot more of his song than the customers before him. Very funny. The dialog is excellent throughout, but especially in the first scene/act, where nearly every line makes you laugh out loud. My personal favorites are the ones about Al's nose/ear hairs; can't get enough of that! ;-)

Vinnie: Well, my family believes - "say it with words".

"I'm going to play this record over and over again until my ears bleed!"

   Hard to find any criticism for this episode. The only thing I didn't really like about it were the Verduccis, Charlie especially. A distinctly unlikeable guy. Can't see why they chose to launch a spin-off about him of all characters... don't think he has more than one good line in his entire scene here; "Why not? They're both Patty Duke!" actually made me wince, even. Vinnie Verducci ("Friends" regular Matt Le Blanc in one of his first TV roles) is basically written as a male version of Kelly (pretty and dumb), and just like her he has times when his 'Vinnieisms' are hilarious (see quotes in this review) and times when they feel forced and stale (e.g. his two quoting attempts in the last scene). I guess part of my problem with him is that it just strikes me as odd to see Kelly begging a guy for some lovin', since it's usually the other way around. Have the same problem with the Carlos episodes in season ten...

Kelly: I am not home.
Vinnie: Then is it okay if I wait?

"I think we're gonna be great friends"

   Bottom line: terrific episode. Would've gotten an even better rating if Charlie Verducci wasn't in it, but still - highly recommended.