TITLE: MARRIED WITH CHILDREN - THE COMPLETE ELEVENTH SEASON
DVD Release Date: October 13, 2009 (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 24
Running Time: 530 minutes
Runtime of Special Features: N/A
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English; Closed-captioned
Special Features: None
It’s time to spend one last season with the Bundys! The Complete Eleventh Season of Married... With Children brings the final 24 episodes of the long-running sitcom that helped build the fledgling Fox TV network. After quite a few temporary cast shakeups and additions in the earlier seasons, the series gets back to the Bundys and the D’Arcys as they try to make it through life being married, and in the case of the Bundys, with children.
The series was not quite the powerful series it had previously been, however. At the beginning of the eleventh season, the series moved from the Sunday night lineup where it had been a mainstay to the Saturday night lineup... where it ended up staying for a whole month before moving back to Sunday nights (though in the Fox 7:30 death slot). By the eleventh season, the series had finally fully evolved from being an almost realistic portrayal of a dysfunctional family to a cartoonish series that focused on outlandish problems with very unfortunate results. Still, this evolution helped to make the series, at times, funnier than it had ever been, and made it stand out from other series on the air at the time. So you will only come to this conclusion: it is time for a few last laughs from one of the first truly dysfunctional families of television.
Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:
Bud creates a fake tornado just to get the girl that he wants in “Twisted,” but Marcy isn’t laughing as the block captain when a real tornado hits Cook County. Kelly agrees to give up sex to do a commercial for extra virgin olive oil and Al gets a chance to be on the TV series Cops (and surprisingly not in the back of a squad car) in “Kelly’s Gotta Habit.” Every Dodge goes to Heaven, and Al is deeply upset when the end days come for his in the two-part episode “Requiem for a Chevyweight.” The Bundys go to Branson, and Peggy and Kelly start a mother-daughter singing duo in “The Jugs Have Left the Building.”
Al’s birthday celebration is put in jeopardy when he is put on trial by fat women in “Crimes Against Obesity.” Peg gets amnesia in “The Stepford Peg,” but will Al want her to get out of it when she becomes the hardworking housewife that he always dreamed of? Al is put on lockdown in the basement when he tries to charge Bud rent in “Crime and Punishment.” Al and Jefferson in the National Guard? It’s for real in “T*R*A*S*H.” Alan Thicke guest stars in the three part episode “Breaking Up is Easy to Do,” where the love and marriage for Al and Peg might be over.
Who is that sexy new stripper at the nudie bar? Al discovers he is sleeping with her in “Live Nude Peg.” Al Bundy sells his soul to live his dream of playing pro-football in “Damn Bundys,” but is there really all that much to sell? They laugh alike, they walk alike, and sometimes they even talk alike, but there is one thing that Marcy and her identical cousin don’t do in “Lez Be Friends,” and that one thing is that one of them is attracted to women. Bud’s pen pal has escaped from prison to rob the Bundy mansion in “Desperate Half-Hour;” meanwhile, Kelly has fallen in love with her getaway car driver. The storyline continues in “How to Marry a Moron,” where Kelly is ready to go down the aisle with him. Gordon Jump and Edie McClurg play the parents of the groom.
Sony has been putting out some of the worst packaging for DVD sets lately, but luckily, this set has escaped the disastrous packaging that we’ve been seeing lately. Once again, as has been the case for many of the previous sets, we have slim cases for this set, which is one of the most convenient forms of packaging in my opinion. They have actually been very creative for this series, despite the fact that slim cases are typically not thought of as the most creative form of packaging. The series has a newspaper theme this time (Why? I don’t know.), with the cover art showing the family and Al holding up a newspaper with a headline proclaiming “EXTRA! EXTRA! EXTRA! THE FINAL SEASON!” Inside, we have two slim cases, which resemble the cover of a newspaper (presumable stolen from the D’Arcy’s), and when you open up each slim case, you see what resembles pages of a newspaper, complete with photos, gossip, classified ads (the Bundy couch and the “Mighty Dodge” is for sale!), and more. They did a very good job with this packaging! The back of each slim case lists each episode, along with a brief description. There are exactly eight episodes per disc. Disc 1 has a picture of Peg on it, Disc 2 has a picture of Al, and Disc 3 has a picture of Kelly and Bud.
Menu Design and Navigation:
There isn’t anything too exciting about the menus, just a standard menu that has a family snapshot, and choices of Play All Episodes and Episode Selections, as well as Previews on Disc 3. Each choice does what it sounds like it should do. The Episode Selections menu takes you to a screen that has a snapshot from each of the episodes, with Al standing at the side of the screen. While there are no scene selection menus, chapters are placed at every commercial break point within each episode.
Video and Audio Quality:
The video and audio on this series has been on a rollercoaster ride for each and every season, always hitting highs and lows. For the final season, we don’t have anything that is necessarily impressive, but everything does look fine. There aren’t any real compression issues or contrast issues as there have been in the past, but the image still doesn’t blow up as well as it should on a high-definition LCD TV. The audio is mostly fine, with levels being a little low at times, but nothing too major. Every episode is presented in Dolby Digital Surround Sound (though it does not exactly impress me) and is also closed-captioned.
It goes without saying that the original theme song, “Love and Marriage,” is missing again, ALTHOUGH the first episode of the set, “Twisted,” does have the original closing music remaining intact. Somebody must have been asleep at the switch over at Sony on that one. We don’t have any awkward still photos on the closing credits with missing scenes this time either (refer to some previous reviews), as this season did not have any closing credit scenes and instead featured short closing tags right before the closing credits. The “Love and Marriage” theme can also be heard inside the episode “Kelly’s Gotta Habit,” while they watch Cops.
The runtimes on this season are somewhat variable, and some of them caused me to be alarmed at first, running as short as 21 minutes. However, this set is a really good example as to why you can not use a runtime alone to determine if something is edited or unedited. I compared one of these very short episodes to an original transcript of the unedited version of the episode, and found that as short as the episode was, it was actually UNEDITED. Still, that doesn’t mean that every episode on the set is unedited, although it does indicate that one need not necessarily panic about the runtimes. I do believe, however, that a few episode recaps are missing on the multipart episodes, which has NOT been a problem with previous sets. This season used less music than many of the previous seasons, but any music that was originally contained within an episode is still intact. Runtimes for each episode are as follows:
Children of the Corns (22:17)
Kelly’s Gotta Habit (22:22)
Requiem for a Chevyweight, Part 1 (22:17)
Requiem for a Chevyweight, Part 2 (21:31)
A Bundy Thanksgiving (22:17)
The Jugs Have Left the Building (2202)
God Help Ye Merry Bundy Men (22:17)
Crimes Against Obesity (22:07)
The Stepford Peg (22:15)
Bud on the Side (22:19)
Grime and Punishment (22:17)
Breaking Up Is Easy To Do, Part 1 (22:02)
Breaking Up Is Easy To Do, Part 2 (21:13)
Breaking Up Is Easy To Do, Part 3 (21:24)
Live Nude Peg (22:20)
A Babe in Toyland (21:17)
Birthday Boy Toy (22:17)
Damn Bundys (22:17)
Lez Be Friends (22:18)
Desperate Half Hour (22:15)
How to Marry a Moron (22:18)
Chicago Shoe Exchange (22:17)
Sadly, the series has concluded with no special features, again. It is unbelievable that with eleven releases of the series, not a single one had any significant special features, aside from the reunion special that Fox aired about ten years ago that landed on the release of The Complete First Season. Why not include interviews or commentaries? What about promos? Anything? No, nothing here at all.
It certainly has been a bumpy road for this series, but I guess that the one positive thing is that every episode has finally been released on DVD. With eleven seasons, that is very surprising. At least we don’t have any closing credit scenes that have been obliterated as has been the case in previous sets, but that is only because none of the episodes had closing credit scenes this time. It is still upsetting to have the original theme song replaced, but in a sense, I think most fans have become numbed (though not necessarily understanding) about that fact several seasons ago. The video quality is somewhat improved over the previous set, at least.
Still, this is a hilarious series, and this season honestly doesn’t disappoint too much as many series do in their final season. Sure, it isn’t exactly as great as it was at the height of the series (which in my opinion was between seasons 3 and 6), but the series didn’t plummet downhill either. It is definitely worth owning this set, as well as the (at times) inferior previous sets to complete your collection of this series. Hopefully, Sony will release a complete series set (as they have done in other countries) with extra bonus features, but unless that happens, spend time with the Bundys with this DVD set.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 0/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
-- Reviewed by skees53 on 10/10/09
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