Al Bundy is an American hero. The television program Married With Children, which originally aired on Fox but now airs on FX, was a great show back when we were younger and the show seemed more cynical than reality based. Al bundy, an angry man who worked at a shoe store was so disgruntled by his wife and the various obese women that came into his store that he often threatened violence or suicide. What a lot of people never really picked up on was that the actual pilot episode of the show was meant to be a little more serious, and like a family drama. The laugh track was still there, and Al was as trigger happy with the insults as ever, but the overall tone was a little stranger.
It's a sad story, you see when the original pilot aired the audiences were so horrified at what they saw that there had to be a recut of the program. It's funny that the episode itself was meant to be funny, as though someone had really tried to get at something real but failed. There's no credited director on the pilot, titled "The Bundys Go Broke" and the original copies of the program were destroyed when Fox had a ritualistic fire burning of their unwanted programs. They often do this to stop pirating, and because the earlier episode often confuse audiences, that always expect the simple and predictable. Plenty of the lost tapes are in that fire, smoldering like delicious marshmellow smores.
The episode started almost normal, with Al sitting on the couch reading a serial comic titled "GEORGE JETSON DESTROYS THE UNIVERSE". "This is bullshit." He says, and puts his hands in his pants. The audience claps at him touching his pubic area as usual.
His beautiful wife Peg walks in, exclaiming, "The cookies are ready!"
Al shrugs and replies, "Keep the oven on, I'm going to put my fucking head in there in a few minutes." The audience laughed rather loudly, but there were the sounds of dogs barking mixed in with the laughs.
"Al, you never treat me right since you had the operation." Peggy sighed.
"I should've gotten a lobotomy and you have a smelly vagina." He picks up a sandwich off a plate and punches it into the wall to the sound of a hideous crack. He looks really..dishev-..mad. The sandwich just stays there, pinned to the wall, with a smiley face cut out of it. "Well, off to the fucking shoe store."
I was offended by the cursing. He picks up a noose and goes over to the corner. He ties it and makes a Droopy Dog face which zooms in as he giggles. He steps on a barstool, puts his neck in the noose and jumps off, kicking the barstool away! Al falls, as a pin that was sticking the rope in the roof popped out and pulled across the roof. "Just kidding!" Al Bundy smiled rather dramatically. The audience laughed very loudly at the "prank" until the rope continued to pull across the roof, eventually dragging some cable embedded into the wall. The cable pulled the cable out of the television which unplugged it from the wall, and the picture popped and exploded before going to black. There was the sound of crying, it was Al's voice.
The audience started to laugh, but it sound more dog like. More and more horrifying dog sounds enveloped the screen as Al became more frantic. The dogs started to sound like demons, hissing violently as though they were lispy and it felt slightly uncomfortable, as though there was a penny embedded in my earlobe.
There's a shot of a massive, six foot roach stuck in a giant glue trap in the kitchen. It scratches and scratches its disgusting leg back, making hissing noises with its head, which is a tiny skull. Pieces of its massive, disgusting sheddings are all over the kitchen as it squirms against the trap. "Boo!" Al's daughter Kelly runs out in a Halloween costume, runs to open the door and finds it's only a brick wall. She stops dead there and collapses, seeming fatigued. "That's not how it happened." Al sighed.
The next shot is of Al at the shoe store. He was sleeping on a broken box on the floor. He starts frantically going through some notecards. He reads some aloud. "Look at this." He calls Steve Rhoades over. Steve didn't even work at the shoe store, he was wearing a chicken suit and holding balloons. Al seemed a little different.
"What!" He looked really paranoid.
"Read this." Al said, handing them over to Steve. "Read this." He read aloud. "Don't you get it?" He flipped the notecard. He read it. "Steve: Read this." It was what he was supposed to say.
"How do they know what we're going to-" He stopped, looking down to see the note card stopped there too. "I'm just gonna change-" What? There was a split for two different responses. And the third. In fact the responses started to branch out the more he read the script. "WHO'S WRITING THIS?!" Al screamed, taking out the sandwich that was smashed into the wall and taking a huge bite. All of a sudden, a manatee entered the store. It was a large manatee that floated across the shoe store disturbingly. It had a monocle and a tophat and was holding a cane, its favorite. Al takes out a cane and starts to sing.
"I hate shoes,
Shoes I hate
The store is closed, it's getting late
You might think those shoes are free
Because you are a manatee
You may have your time to gloat
Soon you'll be killed by a boat"
"I WANT SOME SHOES!" The manatee groaned, spitting seaweed covered saliva all over the shoe store. "SOMETHING THAT COMPLIMENTS MY SPARKLING PERSONALITY!" The dialogue seemed a little forced.
Al sneered. "The only thing that sparkles on you is the forkful of whipped cream as it enters your manatee gullet." The audience barked very loudly, my ears began to hurt. The manatee started to cry as a boat fell through the roof. Evidently the mall had a boat store on the second floor. Al opened an ice cold beer and started leer around, paranoid. He looked at the camera in the women's changing room, which was the camera the audience was seeing through. He became very paranoid, and put his hand over the lens.
Al Bundy wakes up screaming in horror. It's not his house, though it's someone else's. A maleficent figure is in the corner. He gets into his shitty Pinto and drives home. None of the keys to his house fit into the door. He struggles and struggles to unlock it the door as he squints painfully. He looks in the window and sees them acting as normal. Eventually he breaks the lock with a knife and forces entry. Steve D'Arcy, Marcy's husband was sitting on the couch. What's weird is that at this point in the show's canon he would not even exist, replacing Steve Rhodes in later seasons. He jumps up, sees the knife and runs out of the room. "What's going on." Al said, as he sees his daughter Kelly. She looks about five years younger and a little less slutty than she was on the show. She freaks out at the sight of Al, he looks unfamiliar to her. "It's me," Al said. He advances toward you and she runs away, locking herself in the closet near the front door. Al starts beating the door with a shoe. "It's me..." He knocks at the door, politely. "Just let me in," he whispers in a very creepy manner.
His wife Peg, or who he thought was his wife runs in. "What's going on!?" she cries, at the unfamiliar stranger.
His head jerks to the left. "I'm your wife you three toad sloth red haired wooly mammoth transvestite with bunions on her feet and a smelly vagina." The audience laughs really loudly. "Did you hear that?" Al snapped, perking his ear up.
"There's one in here too!" He runs over to the camera and smashes it with his shoe as the police enter and there's some brutal fighting with a lot of crying. You can't see any of it because the camera is smashed, but there's very loud barking as a bipedal dog man who I guess is supposed to resemble Buck appears on the frame at 1/4th opacity and starts to dance around. It might've been funny if the costume the actor was in wasn't really frayed, and the sounds of yelling and crying were in the background. "I'm telling you!" Al screams. "That's my family!" You can hear glass breaking, as though he's smashing glass plates and eating sandwiches. Al woke up.
"Could've used mayo," a voice whispered.
The scene cuts to Al with his family, again. Now he looks really paranoid. The dog man is sitting at the table with them. There's no dialogue, they're eating like a normal boring family, and the lighting is very bad. The house is really dirty. Al finishes the sandwich and goes over to the television and turns it on. The camera flips around to show the opposite side of the room, the fourth wall where the studio audience would be is completely empty, but the dogs are still barking. The television he would watch only shows the room he's in show the room he's in in an infinite loop. At the center of the loop is a picture of him on a cardboard box. "NOT THIS SHOW!" he screams. "NOT THIS SHOW!" He picks up the tv and smashes it. It was then that I noticed that Peg, Kelly and their son Bud weren't who they appeared to be. They were a little stranger up close, and less animated. I then realized that they hadn't been talking for this entire scene. "Who are you?" Al said, pulling Peg's Wig off. It was some bald man. His mouth was glued shut, and the makeup was more apparent now. He pulled the "arms" off, which were just cloth arms meant to look like real arms. The real figure had no arms, they were amputated. He tried and tried to pry their mouths open, ultimately pulling the knife out of his pocket that he used to unjam the door. He looked at the knife, confused. He uses the knife to cut the space of the lips open as the creature gasps for breath and starts to scream and scream as though it's on fire. The dogs barked and barked. "I didn't burn the house down." Al said. "We ran out of money." He hears the barking. "Shut up!" he screams. "Shut up! Shut the fuck up you goddamn-!" He cuts off his ear and puts it in a sealed envelope. He folds it in with the notecards and runs to the door... a brick wall. The manatee was at the window, suspended as a skeleton, leering and smiling. The dog man came in and offered Al a tray of sandwiches. The barking grew louder and louder as a shot of M'arcy having lesbian sex behind Steve's back was shown. At this point I felt like the program had just gotten completely insane. He nervously fumbles for the note cards, not knowing what to say. "It feels like something is in my intestines." Al said. "It's clawing me apart, help me bitches." He pulls out a book about extermination, reading a passage about how chewing gum mixed with cheese can make a mouse or rat jam its intestines and die a slow and painful death.
The familiar Married With Children theme played as the home started to collapse into smoke and flames. Peggy had left the oven on at the start of the episode, and indeed the house had caught fire because of it. Now no one knew who anyone was, not even Al himself. Al, not being able to use the front door, started to force his head into a mouse hole cut into the wall. He seemed to see something happening in there, as the camera stayed on him staring into it as the dogs continued to bark. His own wig fell off now, revealing his bald and shaven head. A picture of the twin towers was tattooed to the back of his skull. There was a brief shot of his head swelling up and exploding like a delicious cantaloupe.
He woke up for real this time. He was sleeping on a cardboard box on the floor in the corner. Rats crawled the corners near his dirty body. The home was empty, abandoned. It was the home from the show, but burned down, old and worn. He was...barefoot. He must have been fantasizing about working at a shoe store for that very reason. Al looked homeless and it seemed he had just been squatting here with no water or electricity. He had crumbs on his face. There was an aquatic painting above the mantle. He opened up pictures of his family in his ragged wallet, struggling to connect what was happening. He flipped one of the pictures over, revealing it was just a Sears Catalogue model he had cut out and tucked in there. He withdrew more and more, realizing he had been dreaming. And there were dreams within the dreams. But what if he was still dreaming? He opened his eyes wide, struggling to wake up. Nothing happened. He curled up on the box, cold, and closed his eyes, while a rabid dog barked outside the fence of the other yard. I heard the grating ending noise of a prison door slamming shut, and the screen froze with the same executive producers as usual.
Then I woke up.