Release Date: January 21, 2014 (Mill Creek Entertainment)
Packaging: Standard DVD Case
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 35
Running Time: 812 minutes
Running Time of Features: N/A
Audio: English Stereo
Subtitles and Captioning: Closed-Captioned
Special Features: None
The Bundys are back in action on DVD! Over a decade ago, Sony (or Columbia-Tristar Home Video, as they were known at the time) began releasing Married... With Children on DVD, eventually wrapping up the entire series a few years ago. Now, for those who missed out on it the first time, Mill Creek (a name well-known for releasing great products at a budget price) is bringing the first two seasons of the classic Fox series to DVD, available individually or in a bundle that packages both of the first two seasons together.
The series begins with the pilot episodes, where we get to meet the Bundys as they meet their new neighbors Steve and Marcy for the first time. Peg puts the family on a diet in "Thinergy." In "But I Didn't Shoot the Deputy," Steve and Marcy buy a dog to protect themselves from a robber, and in the meantime, Al buys a gun... these two things end up not going well together. Al and Peg get involved in Steve and Marcy's dispute over what to do about a new room for their house in "Whose Room Is It Anyway?" In "Have You Driven a Ford Lately?," Steve gets a vintage Mustang, and it is keeping the guys away from their wives. Al can't afford a 16th wedding anniversary for Peg, and it might be her fault in "Sixteen Years and What Do You Get." In "Married... without Children," Al and Peg take a vacation, which leaves the kids in the capable hands of the Rhoades. Steve loses his paycheck in "The Poker Game." In "Peggy Sue Got Work," Peggy is upset when Al won't buy her a VCR so that she can watch both Phil Donahue and Oprah, and decides to take a job to be able to afford one on her own. Al is tempted by another woman in "Al Loses His Cherry." In "Nightmare on Al's Street," Marcy is having erotic dreams... but what is even worse is who those dreams are about! Al threatens to quit his job in "Where's the Boss?" Season one ends with "Johnny Be Gone," where Al and Peg are trying to go to their favorite hamburger joint before it closes permanently.
The second season begins with the two-part episode "Poppy's By the Tree," where the Bundys take a trip to Florida... but this is no trip to Disney World or the beach, it is a trip to a town where the biggest thing in town is the man who met Andy Griffith (and things only get worse when an axe murderer is on the loose!). A million dollars is missing from Steve's bank in "If I Were a Rich Man," and Al may just be a suspect. Buck is on the verge of getting neutered in "Buck Can Do It." In the two-part episode "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," Marcy loses her wedding ring... in the underwear of a stripper! The Bundys lose their phone service after Al refuses to pay for a call to Canada in "For Whom the Bell Tolls." In "Born to Walk," Kelly is happy to get her driverís license, but unfortunately, Al loses his. Al and Peg end up in a bowling game against Peggy's high school rival and her family in "Alley of the Dolls." Steve gets the boot from Marcy after refusing to shave his beard in "The Razor's Edge," and ends up moving in with the Bundys... which turns out to be Al's dream come true when Steve actually cooks and cleans, something unheard of in the Bundy house. Kelly is in love with a boy whose father is Peg's ex-boyfriend in "How Do You Spell Revenge."
In "Earth Angel," an artist stays with the Bundys, and most people are happy... except perhaps Marcy. The Bundys have their first Christmas in "You Better Watch Out," but it doesn't go so well when somebody of major importance dies in the Bundy backyard. Al and Steve sell one of Marcy's collectible Barbie dolls in "Guys and Dolls," which turns out to be a huge mistake when she discovers the "kidnapping." Al tries his best to trap a mouse in "Build a Better Mousetrap." In "Master the Possibilities," Buck Bundy gets a credit card in the mail, which has the family living the good life... at least for a while. Peg wants nothing for Valentine's Day except for Al to tell her "I love you" in "Peggy Loves Al, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah." In "The Great Escape," the Bundy house is being fumigated for termites, which leads to the family spending the weekend at the nicest place possible... Al's shoe store. Steve drive's Marcy's new Mercedes in "Impo-Dent," but when he wrecks it, it seems to cause more problems for their love life. Al, Peg, Steve, and Marcy end up on a game show where loved ones have to torture one another in "Just Married... with Children." Al wins big at the race track in "Father Lode," but is trying to keep his winnings from the big red beast. The second season ends with "All in the Family," where we get to see our very first glimpse of Peggy's insane relatives in Al's dream (something that we'll find out later is essentially accurate).
The episodes on this set are mostly unedited, but I wouldn't say that the edits are too significant. The first edit is on the episode "Married... Without Children," where the original Beastie Boys music has been replaced with a very convincing soundalike. However, this replacement is not new for this DVD set or even for the Sony DVD set, and is actually one that was made decades ago in syndication, everywhere in the world as far as I can tell. Other minor edits include a very short line of dialog in the episode "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," which doesn't really contribute anything to the episode, but it is hard to understand why it was gone. In the end, though, these episodes are the same ones presented on the Sony DVDs, including the original theme song on THESE seasons (whether or not Mill Creek will include them on future seasons, where Sony did not include them, remains to be seen... we'd guess no).
Runtimes are as follows:
Season 1/Disc 1:
1. "Pilot" (22:51)
2. "Thinnergy" (23:17)
3. "But I Didn't Shoot the Deputy" (23:24)
4. "Whose Room is it Anyway?" (23:18)
5. "Have You Driven a Ford Lately?" (23:16)
6. "Sixteen Years and What Do You Get?" (23:15)
7. "Married... Without Children" (23:20)
8. "The Poker Game" (23:21)
9. "Peggy Sue Got Work" (23:19)
10. "Al Loses His Cherry" (23:17)
11. "Nightmare on Al's Street" (23:17)
12. "Where's the Boss?" (23:21)
13. "Johnny Be Gone" (23:15)
Season 2/Disc 1:
1. "Poppy's By the Tree (Part 1)" (23:13)
2. "Poppy's By the Tree (Part 2)" (23:13)
3. "If I Were a Rich Man" (23:11)
4. "Buck Can Do It" (23:12)
5. "Girls Just Want to Have Fun (Part 1)" (23:13)
6. "Girls Just Want to Have Fun (Part 2)" (23:13)
7. "For Whom the Bell Tolls" (23:13)
8. "Born to Walk" (23:13)
9. "Alley of the Dolls" (23:14)
10. "The Razor's Edge" (23:14)
11. "How Do You Spell Revenge?" (23:13)
Season 2/Disc 2:
12. "Earth Angel" (23:14)
13. "You Better Watch Out" (23:13)
14. "Guys and Dolls" (23:12)
15. "Build a Better Mousetrap" (23:13)
16. "Master the Possibilities" (23:16)
17 "Peggy Loves Al, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah" (23:06)
18. "The Great Escape" (23:09)
19. "Impo-Dent" (23:10)
20. "Just Married... with Children" (23:15)
21. "Father Lode" (23:13)
22. "All in the Family" (23:12)
The packaging for this set is perfectly fine for a value-priced release. It comes packaged in a standard DVD case, with a photo of Al holding a photo of his family on the cover, and several episode snapshots and a description of the series on the back. Inside, you'll find the three discs stacked on one center hub (it isn't ideal, but it is a whole lot better than Mill Creek's past history of using those horrible paper sleeves). The disc artwork consists of screenshots of episodes from the set, with different screenshots on each disc.
Menu Design and Navigation:
Mill Creek has always impressed me with their menus, but I think in this steady release mode that Mill Creek has moved in with these Sony releases, they've somewhat simplified their menus... but they still look and work just fine. The main menu is silent (typically theme songs play on the main menu of Mill Creek releases), with a cast photo and options of Play All and Episode Select. Episode Select takes you to a list of every episode on the disc (with the same cast photo). Once you select an episode, it plays immediately. Chapters are placed at all of the appropriate places within the episodes.
Video and Audio Quality:
As an 80s show that was shot on videotape, it is fair to say that you can't really expect anything too great on this set. The video and audio quality isn't anything special, but it really doesn't look much worse than it does on the previous DVD releases or in syndication... just a somewhat dated looking series from the 80s mostly. What surprises me is how the compression of these DVDs (i.e. putting 13 episodes on one disc) doesn't seem to affect the quality all that much. Each episode is closed captioned.
There are no special features on this set. The original Sony releases included some special features, most notably the 2003 reunion that aired on Fox with all of the original cast which was included on the Sony first season DVD set. That was one of the few worthwhile special features throughout the whole series, and it is a shame that Mill Creek didn't carry that over.
While we do make the distinction that this differs from the original release in that it is a "value-priced release," it is important to note that going forward, this will be the ONLY release of this series on DVD (unless a re-re-release occurs in the future). The original Sony releases of this series are slowly falling out of print, including their complete series release, so this is the only way to watch the show on DVD from now on. With that being said, though, I'm actually impressed with what Mill Creek has done here. I was honestly terrified when I saw that they were throwing 13 episodes on one disc, but honestly, I'm not finding any major issues in the quality of this set. Once again, Mill Creek has really made the best of this situation, although I'm still disappointed with the removal of the reunion special.
As for these seasons of the series, I always had mixed feelings about the really early seasons of the show. They are interesting in some sense, as the Bundy family seemed to be at least somewhat normal in the early seasons (and of course Marcy and Steve were the flawless neighbors at this point). On the other hand, all of that dysfunction that came around in later seasons is really what made the show what it was. Regardless, if you're a fan of this series and you don't own the original season 1 and 2 releases, this is the perfect opportunity to own them at a great price.