Entertainment Value - 9
Additional Footage/Content - 8.5
Video Quality - 6.5
Audio Quality - 6.5
Packaging/Special Features - 4.5
Summary : Although every episode is crammed onto one disc, the addition of the original theme song and an uncut experience will bring you back to the late 80's in style.
If you remember a time when seeing a character like Al Bundy on television was a rare occurrence, then you’ll immediately appreciate the appeal of this show. In a day and age when television shows such as South Park and Family Guy populate the airwaves (or should I say digital signals?), it can sometimes be difficult to imagine that there was once a time when this kind of lewd and crude activity was not shown on television. Although we had shows that got close to testing the limits of FCC censorship (such as All in the Family or Roseanne), nothing quite prepared us for the unbridled debauchery of Married With Children.
Here was a series that was not afraid to take a chance, blatantly pushing buttons by referencing sexuality frequently and featuring ridiculous violence. In addition, it was one of the first original series on Fox to break the fourth wall and poke fun at the network for its lackluster lineups, in essence self deprecating and adding a new level of humor to the sitcom. Nowadays, it is a common occurrence to see a character in a Fox television show referencing the network in a derogatory fashion. Heck, even The Simpsons did it.Needless to say, I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for Married With Children. While I’m a little let down with this re-release of the series, I have to say that the positives do outweigh the negatives. Previous releases weren’t exactly fantastic, and they weren’t really complete without the original theme song. That’s right – to my knowledge, the show has never been released on DVD with its original theme song, as they couldn’t seem to get the rights to redistribute the music. However, Mill Creek was somehow miraculously able to get the prints that featured the original song “Love and Marriage,” as famously sung by Frank Sinatra.
If, like me, you would rather watch the show the way it was intended to be seen, it is an absolute imperative to pick up these new Mill Creek sets. That being said, there is a downside to the fact that they got prints with the original theme song. The problem is that they appear to be well used transfers that have seen more than a few repeat airings. The issue is exacerbated by the fact that MCE put all 13 episodes of the first season on one disc. At most, there should be ten episodes per disc for a half hour television show. It isn’t the worst thing we’ve ever seen, and it isn’t exactly an unexpected deviation from what the company typically provides, but it does result in a noticeably inferior image quality.
All that being said, you have to remember the era that this show was made in. First of all, there probably aren’t any film prints because many television shows from this era were shot on video. Second, they were shot and intended to be seen on small tube television sets across the nation, meaning the quality will probably never be better than your average 480i broadcast. When you take into consideration that these transfers were probably taken from what amounts to dog-eared, well-played and well loved video tapes, passed from one network to the next for decades, the image quality has actually held up quite nicely.
My approach while watching this set was to remember how I originally experienced this show for the first time and see if it held up. Not only did the over all quality of the show itself hold up, but the fact that the picture looked less than stellar actually added to my enjoyment in some ways – I felt like I was a kid again, watching something that I shouldn’t be watching. The poor picture quality actually worked in favor of my nostalgia this time around, but that might not be the case for you. Either way, if you want to experience the show with its original Frank Sinatra theme tune, you’ll have to pick up this set and deal with the image quality. Just put the DVD in your player, sit down in front of the TV, stick your hand down your pants and get ready to enjoy one of the greatest shows of the 80’s.