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Offering a hilarious social commentary on the dysfunctional way things really are, as opposed to the way people think they should be, MARRIED... WITH CHILDREN is lowbrow comedy at its best, which is why I love every crude, tasteless and politically incorrect moment of this now classic sitcom. Sure, I have seen each and every episode of MARRIED... WITH CHILDREN more times than I can remember, but I continue to laugh hysterically at every punch line and sight gag. The reason MARRIED... WITH CHILDREN remains highly watchable goes back to its perfect cast. As always, the lionís share of credit goes to Ed O'Neill, who makes that constant loser and otherwise all around everyman Al Bundy one of the most memorable characters in the history of sitcoms. O'Neill never went out of his way for the laugh or defined the character in broad strokes; instead, he played Al Bundy as straight as one could, which succeeded in getting the really big laughs. Additionally, O'Neill always brought a level of sincerity to his performance, which made the absurdity of Al Bundy, not to mention the manís cartoon predicaments, even more hilarious.

The basic premise of MARRIED... WITH CHILDREN follows the hapless exploits of Al Bundy, whose dead-end job as a ladies shoes salesman is the neon sign in his life that flashes the message that Al's glory days of scoring four touchdowns in a single game of high school football are long behind him. Al's home life isn't too much better than his job, with his horny, couch potato of a wife Peggy (Katey Sagal) being the biggest millstone around our poor shoe salesmanís neck. Smaller millstones come in the form of Al's offspring. Al's daughter Kelly (Christina Applegate) is a blond airhead/bimbo, whose skirtís hemlines seemed to get higher, in direct correlation to her IQ getting lower. As for Al's romantically deprived son Bud (David Faustino), he seems to be the only member of the Bundy clan with enough brains to make something of himself, that is, if he doesn't allow his raging hormones and sexual frustration get the better of him. Adding insult to injury is Al's next-door neighbor Marcy D'Arcy (Amanda Bearse), who tries to be a burr in Al's side at every opportunity- the verbal exchanges between Al and Marcie are always good for a few laughs, if not outright hilarity. Finally, we come to Marcy's scheming husband Jefferson D'Arcy (Ted McGinley), whose only jobs seem to be looking good and servicing Marcy in the bedroom.

MARRIED... WITH CHILDREN: THE COMPLETE TENTH SEASON ($40) comes in a three-disc set that features the following twenty-six episodes: Guess Who's Coming to Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, A Shoe Room With A View, Requiem For A Dead Briard, Reverend Al, How Bleen Was My Kelly, The Weaker Sex, Flight Of The Bumblebee, Blonde And Blonder, The Two That Got Away, Dud Bowl II, Bearly Men, Love Conquers Al, I Can't Believe It's Butter, The Hood, The Bud And The Kelly Part 1, The Hood, The Bud And The Kelly Part 2, Calendar Girl, The Agony And The Extra C, Spring Break Part 1, Spring Break Part 2, Turning Japanese, Al Goes To The Dogs, Enemies, Bud Hits The Books, Kiss Of The Coffee Woman, Torch Song Duet and The Joke's On Al. Highlights of season ten include the family dog moving on to his reward; NO MA'AM gets religion, Al and Jefferson try to install a satellite dish, the Bundyís go to spring break and Kelly and Jefferson star in a coffee commercial.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has made all the episodes that comprise MARRIED... WITH CHILDREN: THE COMPLETE TENTH SEASON available on DVD in the proper full screen aspect ratios of their original television broadcasts. MARRIED... WITH CHILDREN was shot on NTSC video during the 1990s, so the look of the episodes isnít exactly stellar. Of course, the episodes look better here than they do in syndicated reruns. Image detail is decent for videotape, which also means that the picture can appear slightly fuzzy in any shot beyond the level a close up. Colors are respectable, but strongly saturated hues can be a bit smeary. Blacks and whites are just fine. The sitcom lighting is flat and the contrast displays the limitations of NTSC broadcast video. Digital compression artifacts are not a problem.

All the episodes featured in MARRIED... WITH CHILDREN: THE COMPLETE TENTH SEASON are presented on DVD with Dolby Digital 2.0 channel surround stereo soundtracks. This is competent sitcom sound that gets the job done without any flourishes. Most of the sound is localized front and center. Fidelity is adequate for the generic music that replaces the series original theme song and other incidental songs. Dialogue is easy to understand. No other language tracks are present, although English captions have been included. The basic interactive menus provide access to the standard episode selection and set up features. No supplements are included.

MARRIED... WITH CHILDREN remains the reining champion of lowbrow comedy hilarity. The episodes look and sound just fine. MARRIED... WITH CHILDREN: THE COMPLETE TENTH SEASON is another must have for fans. Recommended.



Married With Children - The Complete Tenth Season



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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