Married With Children: The Complete First Season

Married With Children: The Complete First Season (1987)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Cast: Ed O’Neill, Katey Segal, Christina Applegate, David Faustino
Extras: Reunion Special, Trailers

The long wait is over and finally Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment is releasing the entire first season of the cult comedy series ’Married With Children’ on DVD in a 2-disc set. Considering that we are looking at 13 episodes running over 300 minutes in total, it is a bit surprising that Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment decided to squeeze it all on only two discs, practically without supplements.

The show is presented in its original fullframe aspect ratio here and the transfer is mediocre at best. Soft and washed out throughout, the transfer lacks the sparkle we’ve seen in other TV series releases, even those older than 15 years. The budget on the show may have been low, but not that low. Video noise is evident as well, giving the image an appearance as if you’re watching it through a milk-glass window with little detail and faded colors. While not edge-enhancement is evident, the compression of the material also shows its signs with light artifacting constantly riddling the image.

The audio on the disc comes as the show’s original, untreated stereo track. It has a narrow frequency response, sounding harsh and tinny, and there is quite a bit of sibilance audible in the transfer.

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment has squeezed 9 episodes on the first disc, creating a running length of approximately 225 minutes, which his way too much for a decent presentation quality. The second disc contains the remaining four episodes of the season, complete with a reunion special featuring 45-minutes worth of interviews with the cast members, as they discuss various aspects of the show. It is very exciting and full of interesting tidbits and anecdotes, and this special is clearly the only highlight of the release.

Some trailers are also included, rounding out the release.

First it takes Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment forever to bring this show to DVD, then they do it such a disservice. I don’t know what to say, really, other than that I’m utterly disappointed. I never understood why the show was cancelled in the first place, but given the stature of the series one would have expected that Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment would at least try to please the fans. Instead they take the easy way out and serve up a mediocre release riddled with quality issues and no extras to speak of. Why didn’t they try to put it all on a single disc, I wonder? That way they could have saved even more money, and could have made the release a bit more disappointing, still.