For the most part, when it was first on (from 1987 to 1997), I religiously watched Married With Children. Since 1997, however, I haven’t watched a single episode. Strange, considering I still make references to the show on a regular basis. Maybe I’m terrified that something I so loved wouldn’t hold up?
One specific episode that stuck with me and that I think of often is season six, episode eight: “God’s Shoes”. This originally aired November 3, 1991.
In the episode, Al is knocked unconscious after jumping out the window (upon seeing that Peggy spent $2,500 on a painting of herself). While out, Al sees God and can’t get passed his amazing shoes. From this, Al deduces that his calling in life is to make the perfect shoes.
What’s so special about God’s Shoes? They’re gold, with each toe an individual compartment, and socks built in. Sound familiar?
Perhaps one of the reasons I love this episode so much is the “unhinged dad” component. Nothing makes me love a TV show more than a crazy dad, and they usually go a little crazier when the mom character is not around. Randy Marsh from South Park, Bob Belcher from Bob’s Burgers, Hal from Malcolm in the Middle: all brilliant examples of this concept. In “God’s Shoes” Peg isn’t in the episode, unless you count the painting, allowing Al to go with the whole God’s shoe thing. Normally Peg would have stomped out anything bringing Al joy.
Al and Jefferson go into business together– Jefferson taking all of Marcy’s money to finance their venture, of course, and Al is sent on various cable access-type shows to promote the shoes. Things do not go well.
You can only see a short second of it in the above gif, but this episode features the Scary Mary sock puppet. You’d better believe I used to make similar sock puppets (minus the boobs) and name them Scary ____ (various names including and rhyming with Mary).
Al’s expression when the shoes fall is priceless. It reminds me of those infomercials where people fail hard at something really simple. The blonde woman’s delayed reaction is also pretty amazing.
Back at home Al falls out of the window again, meeting not God, but former Tulsa shoe salesman Sidney Rimhollow. It was Sid all along in Al’s vision of footwear greatness. Previously, Sid tried to sell the shoes, but failed. Sid and Al go in together on a new business plan: Shoe Horn A’Plenty: combination shoe store and burger joint.
Episodes like this are some of my favorites. In addition to “unhinged dads”, I also love standalone episodes that don’t further the plot or develop character. It’s just a bunch of writers and actors having a fun time that lends me the opportunity to laugh at absurdity and not have to invest in a show.
So, does the series still hold up? While I’ve only watched the one episode, I giggled. A lot. And now I want to go back and watch more. What have I done to any semblance of my productivity?!