It’s no secret that I am a huge Married…With Children fan. I was introduced to the show at an early age. I discovered it around its 5th season (and the absolute best season of the show, in my opinion) thanks to my grandmother of all people. That’s just how cool of a woman she is.
Anyway, since then, I have watched the show religiously, both when it was still new on the air and when it went into syndication. It’s still in syndication to this day, and yes, I still watch it all the time, whether on TV or on DVD.
Married…With Children, despite never winning a single Emmy, is considered one of the funniest and most successful sitcoms of all time. It ran for 11 seasons, making it the longest running live action sitcom series in FOX history. It’s success has spanned across the globe, having been translated into countless languages and even remade shot-for-shot, episode-for-episode in other countries. The Bundys are one of the most favorite sitcom families in history, with Al Bundy constantly ranking in the top ten of TVs best characters and sitcom dads.
Fans of the show may agree with me completely; others may not agree at all. Either way, I think we can all agree that these five episodes are classic and deserve their high praise. I had a hard time picking and choosing which ones to include here, and the list changed several times. However, these five episodes always stick out in my mind. While I could have chosen numerous other episodes to be on here (and I may do so for another list one day), these episodes have always been favorites of mine, and I still laugh at each and every one of them very hard when I watch.
HONORABLE MENTION: Something Larry This Way Comes (season 9, episode 9.20)
Okay, I lied. This list includes six episodes. I just had to include this one though, if for no other reason than my friend Kelly Ravelli is a huge Larry Storch fan and she laughs every time this episode is mentioned. F-Troop’s Larry Storch guest stars as himself, and he is also Kelly’s acting coach. He and Kelly are set to do a scene from Phantom of the Opera for friends and family. Meanwhile, Al and Griff are doing a “Midnight Madness” sale at the shoe store in order to improve business. Larry Storch is Al’s idol, and Al wants to meet him before the play since he will have to miss it due to work.
As Larry drops by the shoe store to say hi to Al, he is confronted by Al’s boss Gary, who was once business partners with Storch in the Larry Storch School of Heating and Air Conditiong and was screwed over by Storch in the process. Gary knocks Storch out in frustration, forcing Al to take his place in the play as the Phantom, unbeknownst to Kelly. The scene with Kelly is hilarious, especially when Al reads the following line to the crowd: “I’ll just sit here and play with my organ.”
5. How Green Was My Apple (season 8, episode 8.16)
While there were numerous episodes featuring the Bundys engaged in ridiculous feuds of varying degrees, this one is my favorite due to the fact that the feud starts over nothing but an apple falling from a tree on the wrong side of the fence. After Al sees Jefferson eating an apple that he claims is from his apple tree (Jefferson found it in his yard), the Bundys and D’Arcys have a property survey done in order to determine where the actual property line lays, as well as the rightful owner of the apple tree.
After a surveyor (played by Danny Bonaduce) determines that the tree actually belongs to the D’Arcys, Al finds a flaw in the survey that shows he actually owns a different part of the D’Arcys’ yard. The two neighbors trade off taking over parts of each others’ property that actually belong to the other neighbor, eventually resulting in Jefferson blowing up the Bundy household with a rocket launcher.
4. The Proposition (season 7, episode 7.26)
I think the reason this is one of my favorites is because Al not only has some great lines throughout, but comes up with some of the best facial expressions I’ve ever seen (not to mention a hilarious goof that was accidentally left in the episode). Al discovers that world-famous model Coco (played by Vanna White) is actually a former ex-girlfriend of his from Polk High. Of course, the rest of the family doesn’t believe him. Turns out Al is telling the truth, as Coco comes into town, looking to get Al back into her life. After meeting the rest of the Bundy household, Coco buys Al from Peggy for the sum of $500,000.00. Peggy initially accepts the offer and sets off to move away with the kids, but both her and Al quickly realize that, despite all of the hatred over the years, they actually kind of like each other, resulting in Peggy calling off the deal.
3. All Night Security Dude (season 5, episode 5.16)
This episode’s greatness often goes overlooked, but it is a classic episode, and Ed O’Neill’s personal favorite. Al is forced to temporarily leave the shoe store due to remodeling, and in order to make ends meet, takes a job as the night watchman at Polk High. During his first shift, the school’s football championship trophy is stolen while Al is taking a bathroom break, resulting in his termination. It turns out that the trophy was stolen by Spare Tire Dixon (played by the late Bubba Smith), Al’s rival from the championship game.
Dixon agrees to give the trophy back, provided that Al can score on him in a quick play. What follows is one of the most hilarious scenes in the show’s history, as Al and Spare Tire battle it out in a ridiculous slow-motion play, set to the theme from Chariots of Fire. Al eventually crosses the line and wins the trophy back, but he and Spare Tire are in great pain due to their age and simply pass out on the floor.
2. Hi I.Q. (season 6, episode 6.20)
This episode almost made the number one spot on this list. The performances by Al and Jefferson throughout the episode are classic. In fact, I was actually talking about this episode the other day with my sister as we were putting together my daughter’s birthday present from my grandmother (the same one I mentioned). We dumped the box out, saw all the little pieces and were immediately reminded of this episode. Fortunately, it didn’t take us days to put the gift together. Anyway, Kelly gets an invitation to join Alpha (a play on the Mensa genius group), despite being a dullard. Bud decides to follow her to the party, as he suspects something’s up.
Meanwhile, Al has bought a new work bench for the garage. Jefferson comes over to help him put it together, resulting in them working at it for days and resulting in numerous injuries to both men as Peggy and Marcy look on and take pictures. Kelly soon discovers that the party she was invited to was Alpha’s version of a “pig party”, with all of the Alpha members inviting stupid people as their guests. Her and Bud wind up beating up nearly everyone at the party as Al & Jefferson continue to struggle putting the bench together. Eventually, Kelly figures out how to finish the bench for her dad, despite her intellectual shortcomings.
1. You Better Shop Around, Parts 1 and 2 (season 5, episodes 5.21 and 5.22)
Okay, I lied again. I used seven episodes for this list. However, since this was a two-parter, I’m only counting it as one. This is not only Amanda Bearse’s favorite pair of episodes, but mine as well. In fact, part 1 is the very first episode I can remember watching late at night with my grandma, and I think that’s the main reason why I like it so much.
Marcy protests, telling the store owner that the Bundys cut in line. The owner decides she and Al will compete for the prize instead, with whoever getting to a grand in groceries first winning, a la Supermarket Sweep. Al designs a custom shopping cart that includes oil slicks, a spring-loaded boxing glove, Ginsu “attitude adjusters” and more (aka “The Cart of Death”), ensuring certain victory. His plan works, and the Bundys win the shopping spree, but not before Peggy accidentally stabs Al in the stomach with the front of the cart.
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