Episode Title: “Christmas”
Production Code: 0712
Reviewed By: Nitzan Gilkis
Rating: 9 out of 10
This episode deserves the 9/10 rating just for the marvellous ’74 flashback scene (probably my favorite MWC scene ever), but there are plenty other gems to be found here, such as the Bundy version of “The 12 Days Of Christmas” which is a true classic. The plot bears some similarities to season four’s “It’s A Bundyful Life”: both episodes have Al somehow earning/saving enough money for x-mas presents but then losing it all, and both show the other three family members turning on each other to get Al to spend all the money on them (there it’s the bedroom scene, here it’s the flashback scene). But our episode has a happier ending, and also takes itself a lot less seriously, which is typical of the fun and lively season seven.
The flashback scene is easily the best here. Al and Kelly’s dialog where Kelly keeps forgetting what she wants to say (prompting some of Al’s funniest facial expressions ever) had me on the floor the first time I watched the episode, and remains just as hilarious countless viewings later. Ed’s wig is very funny, too. But the clear show-stealer is Baby Bud. How can you not laugh your guts out at the sight of him sitting in that oversized baby chair in those ridiculous blue pajamas? The way he gets overexcited during his “Playboys, hooters” banter with Al is one of Faustino’s comedic peaks; heck, the whole ‘Playboys-hooters’ motif is great, especially the way it continues on to the’92 scenes, with Peg wiping the chin of the now fully-grown Bud and all. The nitpickers among us will probably wonder how come Buck was already alive in 1974 (which would mean he was 21 when he died), but we’ll let it slide.
“Playboys! Hooters! Playboys! Hooters!”
What prevents this episode from getting the full ten points is the D’Arcys’ unnecessary ‘pity appearance’ in the scene where Al is Santaing at the mall, which was most likely tossed in halfheartedly by the writer just so the two actors would have something to do. And so once again we get to see Al making fun of Marcy’s breasts, Marcy making fun of Al’s body odor and penis size, and Marcy being mistaken for a boy. None of it is done in a very funny or original way, so it all winds up feeling like going through the motions and nothing more. Jefferson mistaking the two boys for Marcy is especially unconvincing, since Marcy has a rather feminine hairdo in this episode, and besides, one of the boys has black hair. I did, however, like the part where Al overhears Jefferson telling Marcy about the pump-up bra he got her. The “Bundy the no-man” song Marcy and Jefferson sing with all the children at the mall didn’t really do it for me, though Al’s reactions to it are laughable.
The connective scenes at the Santa bar aren’t particularly funny either, but the first one contains a great moment of black humor, when one of the charity Santas says to Al: “if you do good to others, you are repaid ten-fold”, and Al bursts out towards him, shouting “why, you son of a…”. That’s probably my favorite bit in the episode. Another funny moment is when Al tells the bartender: “I was dreaming I gave my son breasts”.
“Look, Ma, hooters! Hooters!”
Seven is clearly on his way out here (hurrah!). He gets only one line – “wow, much cooler than a bike” (which, to be fair, he does a decent job delivering) –and it’s obvious that at this point he was just a pain in the writers’ ass. The ending is very Bundyish – Al uses violence (well, we don’t know that for sure, but I don’t think the bartender gave him all the stuff he uses as presents out of his free will) and thus avoids coming home empty-ended this time. Bud gets a used dart-board, Kelly gets a TV set complete with its own wall, Seven gets a set of beer mugs. Not rolling-on-the-floor funny, but still pretty satisfying.
Bundy the no-man
Bottom line: not as classic as “It’s A Bundyful Life” or as polished as “The Worst Noel”, but highly enjoyable nonetheless.