by pat howard

DVD Wish List | “Unhappily Ever After”

In DVD Wish List on April 15, 2009 at 9:41 am

For such a seedy, adult-themed show, Unhappily Ever After was surrounded by babies. I was a mere child when it premiered in 1995, and so was its originating network, The WB (now memorialized as a web video portal). Also babies (or at least baby-faced): each of the Malloy children. More on that in a moment.

Unhappily Ever After (alternately known as Unhappily…) was the store brand of Fox’s runaway hit crappy-family sitcom Married…with Children. Both shows share a co-creator in Ron Leavitt. Both feature classic tunes as their title themes; in Unhappily’s case, the cast’s cover of Ray Charles’ catchy “Hit the Road, Jack” even referred to schizophrenic patriarch Jack Malloy (Geoff Pierson). And both featured casts that went on to greater success in higher-profile shows.

I never got into Married…with Children, but I fell for Unhappily… hook, line and sinker. Its strongest advantage over its more popular predecessor was talking bunny Mr. Floppy (Bobcat Goldthwait), whom only Jack could communicate with. The two swapped stories and advice in the family’s basement, which Jack had been relegated to after a dispute with wife Jennie (Stephanie Hodge).

The eldest of the scene-stealing Malloy children was Ryan, played by Kevin Connolly (now much more famous for his role in Entourage). He was the perpetual underachiever, always trying and failing to win his parents’ approval. Youngest son Ross (Justin Berfield, Malcolm in the Middle‘s Reese) played the straight man in a house full of crazy people; his “forgotten child” status was often used by the writers to excuse his lack of screen time in a particular episode.

Then there was middle child Tiffany (Nikki Cox, whose more recent credits include NBC’s Las Vegas), the family and audience favorite. It was no secret that her stunning physical appearance perpetuated her appeal, and this was something the show relied on heavily for tongue-in-cheek material.

For Unhappily…, in a pre-South Park era on a fledgling broadcast network, there were no sacred cows. The show spent four and a half seasons sending up The WB, formulaic sitcoms, Hollywood, ridiculous rich kids, class warfare, and anything else in its path — which often included the characters themselves.

DVD status: Condemned

Prognosis: Negative. One would think this would at least merit inclusion among The (new) WB’s online offerings. But given how many times the show was retooled, as well as the fact that it was produced by Touchstone and not Warner Bros., this one feels likely to remain off the radar.

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