3 thoughts on “When Did Married…With Children Jump the Shark?

  1. I have always been a fan of “MARRIED…WITH CHILDREN” though I do agree it was always deliberately lowbrow (even if I always respected that they didn’t chase trends with “very special episodes” like virtually every sitcom did during the 80s and 90s, even other “white trash” shows like “ROSEANNE”). It also went through phases and got more “cartoony” and over the top as the seasons went along, even if it was always quite exaggerated.

    Many fans do claim that the introduction of Jefferson D’Arcy (Ted McGinley) as the replacement for Steve Rhodes (David Garrison) during Season 4 (1989-1990) as a “jumping off point,” especially since McGinley’s career is full of those. But I would disagree and I also am with Brian, saying the show was still funny on its own terms during Jefferson’s tenure. I do have a theory; that Steve Rhodes would have wound up where Jefferson wound up, had Garrison remained. At the end of the third season and beginning in the fourth, Steve Rhodes had been fired as a banker and decided he didn’t like working anymore (or when he did, he pursued a love for animals to get a low wage job at a pet store or to go on endless zoo trips with Peggy and the kids instead of looking for work). I think that was when the show’s producers and writers liked the idea of Marcy having a husband who didn’t work so she could be a parallel to Al (and especially for Al to be a hypocrite and befriend a “freeloading” husband while hating his wife for doing the same thing). Once Garrison left, it was decided to just have D’Arcy come in as a trophy husband (though later episodes revealed that D’Arcy was an ex-CIA agent who’d served time after using his position to run a white collar scheme, which Al, of course, bought into). But I could be wrong.

    I agree introducing Seven (during season 7 from 1992-1993) was a desperate attempt to shake things up, but the producers realized it wasn’t working and abandoned him within that season (and mocked themselves with references). Even as the show was almost a live action cartoon by this point, it still was producing some hilarious fare. And I don’t think MWC gets enough credit for correctly predicting the MRA (Men’s Rights Activist) movement with Al’s “NO MA’AM” group in season 8. Most of Al’s friends debuted that season, although there’s been attempts to get Al a “sidekick of color” at the shoe store since Season 8’s “Scared Single,” when they introduced the minor reoccurring character of Aaron Mitchell (Hill Harper). He appeared in 5 episodes as a current version of what Al once was, a guy who was peaking in high school. For whatever reason he left or the show dropped him, and in season 9 they introduced Griff (Harold Sylvester, a somewhat more well known character actor with quite a few film credits before that).

    Even as a fan of the show who likes (and owns) the entire run, I do admit that some of the luster was off the series by around season eight or nine. The plots were just getting too cartoony even for the show’s terms. But since I liked Tim Conway as Peggy’s father, especially since that was one of his last reoccurring live action roles in TV. Conway had reoccurring voicework (and would pop up in some films or direct to video features) and turn up in live sitcoms for guest spots, but MWC was the last time he played a reoccurring character in a live sitcom throughout a season.

    So, yeah, my long winded way of agreeing with Brian that Season 10, Episode 3, “Requiem For A Briard,” is a good spot for a shark jump. In real life, it was done for a fair reason; to allow the canine actor to retire after 70 dog years. But even in the episode itself, it is pretty bonkers. Buck’s soul goes to Heaven, only God is a cat who decides to zap him into the body of a new dog the Bundys adopt named Lucky. I guess you could say it was a late spoof of “ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN,” but that is being very generous. And while I do like season 11’s “Damn Bundys” (which guest starred Robert Englund as the Devil), I’d agree that even on the show’s terms, most of the episodes of seasons 10-11 kind of glaze over and it’s clear the show was running on fumes. So, yeah, blame it on Lucky.

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