End of an Error

On Monday night, Fox's Married With Children concluded a solid decade's worth of back hair jibes, in-law insults, and stale fart jokes. Lasting approximately nine years and eleven months longer than any TV critic had ever predicted, Married With Children wasn't the fledgling network's first success (that honor went to 21 Jump Street), but it was the show that gave Fox its soul, making good on the network's early pledges to "counter-program the rest of the world."

Presenting the dysfunctional Bundys at a time when family shows like The Cosby Show, Family Ties, and Who's The Boss? were dominating the ratings was clear proof that Fox took its alternative-programming charter seriously; in the wake of Married With Children came The Simpsons, In Living Color, 90210, Melrose Place, and The X-Files.

And now that the show's run has finally come to an end, what will happen to the ground-breaking clan? Predictions:

Ed O'Neill will get bit parts as the bad sheriff in made-for-cable Mickey Rourke thrillers. Katy Sagal will lobby strongly to resurrect Hollywood Squares. The once-luminous Christina Applegate, so ashamed of the mallbait character who seemed to fit her like a spandex bodysuit that she's spent the last few years as a member of a new-age religious group called Agape, will surprise everyone by becoming one of Hollywood's most successful directors, a la Ron Howard. And David Faustino? Like every other dwarfish sitcom second fiddle in TV history, he faces a future of tawdry PR arrests and smalltown stripper harassment; at some point, he'll get serious jail time for savagely assaulting a big burly cop.

And where, oh where, will the likes of Tim Conway, Ben Stein, King Kong Bundy, Terry Bradshaw, Pat Morita, and Gary Coleman get guest star roles now?

To that question, there is no probable answer.

-- G. Beato

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