An often devastatingly funny show like "Married ... With Children" doesn't need gimmicks like 3-D to give it an extra boost. But networks being networks, Fox dug up this old idea from the 1950s, grafted it onto a typical episode, sold special 3-D glasses at 7-Eleven outlets and touted the show as if it were some kind of breakthrough. In the end, though, it was the lovably irresponsible characters and writer David Castro who carried the half-hour -- not the promotion.

An often devastatingly funny show like “Married … With Children” doesn’t need gimmicks like 3-D to give it an extra boost. But networks being networks, Fox dug up this old idea from the 1950s, grafted it onto a typical episode, sold special 3-D glasses at 7-Eleven outlets and touted the show as if it were some kind of breakthrough. In the end, though, it was the lovably irresponsible characters and writer David Castro who carried the half-hour — not the promotion.

At best, the 3-D effect was slight. Effects like rain falling outside the Bundys’ doorway and a Frisbee flying toward the viewer made little impact.

More to the point, this episode, as directed by Sam Obender, was another free-swinging example of how this show plays upon our everyday frustrations and blows them up as far as the writers’ sadistic imaginations can take them. Here, our hapless career shoe salesman Al Bundy (Ed O’Neill) has his heart set once again upon watching an allegedly rarely shown John Wayne movie (“Hondo”) on the tube. But that terminal couch-potato wife of his, Peg (Katey Sagal), makes him go to the store to exchange batteries.

At the store, of course, Murphy’s Law runs amok. Everything that could possibly delay Al from getting back home in time for the pic happens — including a computer shutdown that locks everyone in the store. That provokes another of Al’s periodic Howard Beale speeches exhorting the rabble to overthrow the computer age, accompanied by a funny flashback to a simpler time before electronics (with everyone from the cast in Wild West period costume).

The Bundys’ feather-brained, promiscuous daughter, Kelly (Christina Applegate), and would-like-to-be-promiscuous son, Bud (David Faustino), have little to do in this episode other than entertain their dog Buck, who gets some typically wry lines via the voice of Cheech Marin. Their pseudo-feminist neighbor, Marcy (Amanda Bearse), and her kept husband, Jefferson (Ted McGinley), also make peripheral appearances firmly in character.

Married ... with Children Special 3-D Episode

(Sun. (8), 9-9:30 p.m., Fox)

Production

Filmed in L.A. by ELP Communications for Columbia Pictures Television. Executive producer, Michael G. Moye; co-executive producer, Katherine Green; producers, Stacie Lipp, John Maxwell Anderson; co-producer, Larry Jacobson; supervising producer, Kim Weiskopf; director, Sam W. Obender; writer, David Castro.

Crew

Camera, Thomas W. Markle; editor, Larry Harris; art director, Richard Improta; sound, J. Mark King, Laura Osborn, Scott Glickman, Alan Zema; music, Jonathan Wolff.

Cast

Cast: Ed O'Neill, Katey Sagal, Christina Applegate, David Faustino, Amanda Bearse, Ted McGinley, Jan Hoag, Jean Speegle Howard, BiffYeager, Cynthia Frost, Craig Benton, Brian Reddy, Gary Simpson, Cheech Marin.

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