In the early years of Fox, "Married...With Children" was an example of a perfectly cast series that was offensive and edgy, yet brilliantly so. It was also certainly one of the network's few early hits, continuing on for ten years. While tasteless, nearly every one of the show's lines of dialogue remains brutally funny, delivered to perfection by the cast, especially Ed O'Neill, whose Al Bundy is still a television icon. Years later, some of the "cutting edge" humor doesn't seem so edgy anymore (especially with Fox's recent animated sitcom "Family Guy" overtaking "Married" for the title of most offensive network show), but the jokes still connect often. As irritable and sarcastic as the show's humor could be, there was still very much the occasional hint of genuine care between the characters.
Of course, the show stars Ed O'Neill as Al Bundy, a former high school football "legend" who now finds himself with a wife he hates (Peggy Segal) and two children (David Faustino and Christina Applegate) who he can't stand. Although early episodes focused a bit more on Bud's unsuccessful attempts with women and Kelly's incredible stupidity, the remaining seasons achieved a better balance between the misadventures of the children and the unholy turmoil of Al's life and Peggy's general indifference. There's also neighbors Marcy (Amanda Bearse) and Jefferson (Ted McGinley), who consider themselves better than the Bundys, but by this point had started sinking to their level more often.
By the seventh season, the series had already crafted some classics (season 5's "We'll Follow the Sun", Season 3's "Poke High" and many others) and saw a fairly major cast change when David Garrison was replaced by Ted McGinley. While there are some terrific episodes in season 7, the season also saw the show's most controversial change of all - one that still dismays fans of the series. The addition is called: Seven. In the opening episode ("The Magnificent Seven") sees Peggy's relatives coming over to visit, much to the horror of Al and the kids. After the relatives leave, they realize that they've left their kid - Seven - behind.
Seven seems more like a network directive to add a cute kid to the series than anything else, and the character was eventually written out later in the season ("Peggy and the Pirates", where he's put to bed and then never seen again, aside from a few brief appearances in the season after) He wasn't funny, the series was never about "cute" (or nice, for that matter) and he never seemed to fit in with the stories. While I never thought the series "jumped the shark", some fans thought the addition of Seven was the point where it did.
Again though, season 7 isn't without its great moments, such as "It Doesn't Get Any Better Than This", where Al's fishing trip (wearing a shirt that says, "I Fish, Therefore I Am") is interrupted by Peg and Marcy, who spend the entire time arguing. Other highlights include: "The Old College Try" (Peg and Al steal Bud's scholarship money, forcing him to move back into the Bundy house), "The Chicago Wine Party" (Al leads a protest after a beer tax goes into effect), "'Tis Time to Smell the Roses" (Al has to go back to work after Peggy gets into his retirement money), "Death of a Shoe Salesman" (Peggy and Al realize that they only have enough money to set aside for their funeral to be buried in the same casket) and "Heels for Wheels" (Al runs into trouble - literally - when he takes Kelly's new motorcycle out.)
132. 7- 2 13 Sep 92 Magnificent Seven
133. 7- 3 20 Sep 92 T-R-A-Something-Something Spells Tramp
134. 7- 4 27 Sep 92 Every Bundy Has a Birthday
135. 7- 5 4 Oct 92 Al on the Rocks
136. 7- 6 11 Oct 92 What I Did for Love
137. 7- 7 25 Oct 92 Frat Chance
138. 7- 8 1 Nov 92 The Chicago Wine Party
139. 7- 9 8 Nov 92 Kelly Doesn't Live Here Anymore
140. 7-10 15 Nov 92 Rock of Ages
141. 7-11 22 Nov 92 Death of a Shoe Salesman
142. 7-12 13 Dec 92 Old College Try
143. 7-13 20 Dec 92 Christmas
144. 7-14 10 Jan 93 The Wedding Show
145. 7-15 24 Jan 93 It Doesn't Get Any Better Than This
146. 7-16 7 Feb 93 Heels on Wheels
147. 7-17 14 Feb 93 Mr. Empty Pants
148. 7-18 21 Feb 93 You Can't Miss
149. 7-19 28 Feb 93 Peggy and the Pirates
150. 7-20 14 Mar 93 Go for the Old
151. 7-21 28 Mar 93 Un-Alful Entry
152. 7-22 11 Apr 93 Movie Show
153. 7-23 25 Apr 93 'Til Death Do Us Part
154. 7-24 2 May 93 Tis Time to Smell the Roses
155. 7-25 9 May 93 Old Insurance Dodge
156. 7-26 16 May 93 Wedding Repercussions
157. 7-27 23 May 93 The Proposition
Note: Apparently, due to rights issues, the "Love and Marriage" Sinatra theme song so familiar to "Married" fans is not found here. It has been replaced by a generic piece of theme music. Although I can understand the rights issues not being cleared up (I'd rather have some Bundys than no Bundys), I can't believe a better piece of music than what they used here couldn't be found.
VIDEO: Presented in 1.33:1 full-frame, the seventh season episodes of "Married...With Children" appear to offer the same sort of image quality as one sees during broadcast re-runs of the series. Sharpness and detail are generally pretty decent, although some darker or dimly-lit scenes can appear noticably softer. Some mildly noticable compression artifacts pop up from time-to-time, as did some shimmering, but these issues aren't too terribly distracting. The elements used seemed clean, with no visible wear or damage. Colors are generally accurate, with no serious problems.
SOUND: The stereo soundtracks provide clear dialogue and a balanced mix between sound effects, laugh track and dialogue. Played back in Pro Logic II, some ambience is directed to the surrounds on occasion.
Final Thoughts: "Married..."'s seventh season stumbles with the addition of Seven, who really never fits in with the series. However, despite this error, there are still some definite highlights here and the season still gets some solid laughs at times. The DVD set offers no extras, but fine audio/video quality. Recommended.