Episode Title: “Honey, I Blew Myself Up”
Production Code: 0814
Reviewed By: Nitzan Gilkis (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Rating: 10 out of 10
As you can tell by the rating, this is one of my favorite episodes, so be forewarned that this review will contain mainly praise and very little criticism.
“Honey, I Blew Myself Up” is one of those MWC episodes where the plot seems fairly simple and not too promising – Peg gets Al a sexy photo of herself for his birthday and the photographer decides to hang a mammoth-sized version of it outside Al’s store to advertise his business – but its comic potential is exploited to the maximum. Usually, you can tell when an episode is written by someone “from the outside” (that is, not a member of the regular writing staff), but not here. Writer Wayne Kline (who is nowadays a staff writer for the Tonight Show with Jay Leno) makes a superb debut, with a polished script that is so full of one-liners and little jokes that you’ll have to press the Pause button more than once to catch your breath. There is a lot of the sharp witty dialog that is MWC’s trademark, and the pace is quite fast most of the time, making for a very entertaining watch. Nothing deep, nothing too meaningful (which is quite common in MWC’s later seasons), but a great fun way to spend 22 minutes of your time. Just empty your brain and brace yourself for a major laugh-attack.
“have you seen his wife??”
The episode begins with a fairly standard but still mildly amusing Al-torturing-a-fat-woman scene. Much funnier are Al’s reactions to Aaron and Jefferson’s presents (“I’d prefer Hot Dog the hot dog” to Aaron, and hugging Jefferson after finding out about the true nature of the carwash). And we have another quick glimpse of Al’s marriage philosophy (“Speechless maybe, headless naturally, but never ever topless” about wives), more of which will come later on in the episode. I’ve noticed that more than anything else, Aaron’s character serves as a vehicle for Al to express his “accumulated wisdom” on women, marriage and other aspects of life (ep. 808 is another good example for it), with Al seeing himself as Aaron’s tutor.
Peg makes a cake as only she can
The next two scenes are in my opinion among the funniest in the show’s history. The first is a good example of MWC’s constant “continuity slips”. Why are Peg, Kelly and Bud celebrating Al’s birthday and getting him presents? I’m sure it’s been mentioned more than once in other episodes (703 and 721 are the first two that come to my mind) that Bundys don’t celebrate birthdays, and usually don’t even remember when they are. But the show’s writers have never troubled themselves too much over such trivialities, with the motto being “who cares, as long as it’s funny and serves the plot”, and I fully agree. I’m sure the average MWC viewer doesn’t even notice these slips anyway. But enough blabbering… This scene is full of gems, and even if I were to quote only the funniest lines, this review would be twice as long. I loved it when Al comes into the house, everyone starts to say “Happy Bir-“ and Al yells “Shut up!”. Classic MWC and well performed. The Wife-O-Meter is a great idea, and I loved the “you look… nice” motif which is later repeated by Bud and Aaron. You can almost imagine the two of them visualizing something similar to the Wife-O-Meter before saying the word “nice”. Subtle but very funny. Other highlights here include Kelly misunderstanding Bud’s offer to switch presents, and Peg’s line about Al’s paycheck defeating the purpose of going to work. Al refuses to take Peg’s picture to work and thus help her “mark her territory”, but as usual she gets her way in the end and once again we learn who really wears the pants in the Bundy household.
Al searches for the right words
The following shoe-store scene is even better, and if you don’t find yourself hiccuping by the time it’s over there is something wrong with your sense of humor. Al desperately trying to deny his jealousy after the humongous picture is hung outside his store is a joy to behold, splendidly written and performed, with him seeming on the verge of a nervous breakdown towards the scene’s end. Kline leaves no opportunity for laughs missed and the jokes flow at breakneck speed; blink and you might miss something. It’s funny seeing Al claim not to be jealous a second after beating up two guys for making sexist remarks about the picture, or when he says to Peg: “See? I told you people were complaining” right after some gentleman walks over to her and does quite the opposite of complaining. Such discrepancies are very typical to MWC and are always fun to watch. We also get one of Al’s classic, erm, poems (“I’ve seen her from the front, I’ve seen her from the back…”, aka Al’s “wife” chant), as well as a very funny overexcited speech to Aaron about the once mighty Mahi-Mahi (where does he find those analogies? <g>).
“Great Ceasar’s ghost!”
After Jefferson fails his mission to get the picture down, Al is forced to go where “truly no man has gone before”, a FANG meeting. This scene is in my opinion the weak point of the episode. It’s not bad but not up to the standards of the others, and slows down the relentless pace the episode has till then. Al’s speech is rather routine and expected, and the physical humor of Marcy hitting Al isn’t particularly funny. But it isn’t nearly enough to spoil the great taste that watching this episode leaves you with.
“Ray Charles would see it”
The ending is somewhat untypical: Al actually gets what he wants and the picture is taken down by the FANGsters. I loved the ironic ending, with Al claiming to be against exploiting women’s bodies and then heading off to the topless carwash. A great conclusion to a great episode.
By the way, this is in my opinion a very good episode to use if you want to introduce someone to MWC. I watched it with my family a few weeks ago and everyone laughed out loud a lot, including my father, who usually doesn’t watch this kind of “uneducational crap”. Since then, every time I watch MWC in the living room I’m joined by him and sometimes other family members as well. So it’s a good one for converting “non-believers”.
“It’s all fixed now. Here you go”
In conclusion: other than the FANG scene and the dispensable Bud-and-Kelly-getting-the-same-presents-all-the-time subplot, an almost flawless episode.
Click here to view the transcript of this episode.