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The Unnatural was the fourth episode of Season 5 of Married... with Children, also the 84th overall series episode. Directed by Gerry Cohen, and written by Katherine Green, the episode originally aired on FOX, premiering on October 14, 1990.

SynopsisEdit

Al is replaced (after a unanimous vote including all the other Bundys) by a more talented softball player during the championship games. When the new player is injured, Al takes over. 

DescriptionEdit

Peggy, Kelly and Bud are walking in through the door depressed about losing their softball match, but are praising each other for playing well, until Al, hunching over in pain, comes in and they all place the blame on him. He tries to defend himself as he makes his way in, saying it was just some old lingering injuries and he would be able to play well again for the next match, before suddenly having a spasm and goes face down into the couch. Seeing this, the rest of the family try to convince Al that they're massaging him and helping him breathe through the pain, when in reality, Peg is stealing his wallet from his back pocket and splitting the money between her and the kids.

The unnatural 4

Marcy laughing at Al's defeat

After Al gets up, Peg tells him that it was embarrassing to see him miss everything in the game, but he tries to convince Peg, that he'll be playing well soon, enough to be batting 400. He's also convinced that it wasn't his injures that cost them the game, but rather the umpire's personal bias towards Al. As it turns out, it was Marcy who was the umpire for the game, as she comes in to the Bundy residence in full gear, taking pride in telling him how bad he played today. Al tells her that her bad 10 minute long calls were the reason they lost, but she defends herself, saying it was a lot more entertaining for the crowd than seeing a sullen Al walking back to the dugout after another miss. Peggy tries to convince Marcy to lay off of insulting Al and should just sit down next to them to talk about something else. After a brief moment of silence, they both go back to insulting Al and then Marcy rubs it in that she'll be the umpire again for their next game and looking forward to calling him out. He then goes back up dejected to take a shower and convince himself that he's not getting old, as he struggles to make his way up.


The unnatural 5

Peg admiring Al's replacement, Sven

Later on, Bud and Kelly come down the stairs to let Peg know that Al has a "ice pack on his back, heat pack on his neck and a six pack down his throat", making him "sweaty, drunk and blue", which Pegs says described him the night Bud was conceived. The doorbell rings and Peg is greeted by members of the New Market Mallers who come in and tell the family that the championship game is next week, but to face the fact that Al is horrible at softball and suggest that they dump him. Shocked at the suggestion, Bud and Kelly try to convince the team that taking softball away from him is like "locking him out of his own bathroom". Peg tries to calm Bud down and remind everyone that since its a championship game, they can't play one man short. But Smith, the team's manager,  informs them that just happen to have a replacement, a muscle bound giant named Sven, who tells an obviously smitten Peg that he "bats 380, has a cannon for an arm and runs like children from your husband". The team decides to take a vote, with the majority (including Peg)  voting Al out, leaving Bud and Kelly as the only ones who still support Al, claiming that they love him, plus Bud points out that he would kick the living crap out of them if they denied him the right to play. But the teams reminds them that need a unanimous vote, including theirs, to make it happen.

Just then, Al comes down to greet them and sees Peg clinging to Sven. The team then informs him Sven is going to be his replacement because he stinks at softball. Al then decides to remind them about all he has done for the team, telling them about the "Bundy Era" that began on May 6, 1982

"Oh, stink, do I? Let me paint a picture for you... May 6, 1982. New Market Mallers, 0 and ten. But then, out of the shoe fields came a fresh
The unnatural 6

Al reminding the team about the Bundy era

faced kid, with fire in his eye and thunder in his bat...enter the Bundy era. Lets remember some great moments from the man whose jock strap none of you are fit to carry.

Remember with me, if you will, June 9, 1983. The game on the line. The opposing team drills one to left field where, you, Norris, were standing frozen. Bundy, sprints to the fence and spears it. Mallers win it and Bundy...MVP.

Let us remember now Bundy on the base paths. A little dribbler hit by you, Nesson. Bundy, needing to score to win the game, lowers his head into the toughest catcher in the game and takes Mrs. Shephouse, separating her shoulder and ending her career. Mallers win and Bundy...once again...MVP. You still wanna bench me?"

But still, the team reminds Al that they don't care about his past wins, because he still sucks now. Al tell them his family loves him and at best, it would be a 6-3 vote, before realizing Peg sided with the team for Sven, making it 7-2 now. Smith tries to sway the remaining votes by telling Bud and Kelly that with their vote, they can finally give the New Market Mallers a chance at their first championship win. Seeing that it didn't work, he then tries to sway them with a free meal at his restaurant. Seeing this, Al tries to convince his kids with a song.

Al, now benched after his kids decided to voted him out, hears over the loudspeaker that Sven Hunkstrom will be playing for him. Peggy then takes a seat next to him and tries to convince him he can still be of some use to the team by fetching them ice cream and then tries to tell him that the team did it for him because they care, but as Al tries to tell her how much she hurt him by not siding with him, she interrupts him to watch Sven play. As the game plays out while "Born Under a Bad Sign" plays, Al still sits and looks sullen, seeing the team lose to Irv's Smelters. Bud gets ready to bat, as Peg reminds the team that the bases are loaded and they have only one out. Bud goes up to Al and asks him to wish him good luck, but he ends tripping him on his way out, possibly as revenge for voting him out. He hits and almost got a home run, but its caught. As Marcy does her exaggerated call to tell him he's out, she end up accidentally knocking out Sven with a punch to the face.
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Al kicking Sven's unconscious body out of the way

As Smith is now surprised at what just happened, he realizes that Al is the only person left and then the team looks to him to see if they can convince him that they need him now.  Peggy tries to convince him, even though he reminds her how the entire team told him that he stinks and voted him out, but finally agrees to do it by getting Peggy, Kelly and Bud to first sing him the song he sang to the kids when he was trying to get their votes. He is announced over the loudspeaker and starts to dust his cleats over Sven unresponsive body, then kicks him to roll his body and hat off the field.

Getting ready to bat, he deliberately misses the first two pitches. Peggy tells the kids that at this point, she's ready to leave and let the opposing team carry Al off on their shoulders, but Smith and the crowd try to encourage Al to hit it this time. Knowing this, he points out with finger, indicating that's planning to knock it out of the park and he finally does on with the 3rd pitch, causing a loud uproar. He runs all the bases making a fire engine sound and as he approaches the home stretch, he deliberately slows down, just a few inches from scoring the last homerun. As the team looks in surprise and tells him to hurry it up, so they can win, Al asks for a microphone and gives a speech:

"Before I cross homeplate and bring home the first ever championship for the New Market Mallers, I would just like to say... Today, (today...today...) I consider you (you..you...) the luckest team on the face of the earth (earth...earth...). And in closing I'd like to say that I hate you all, I thank no one but myself and as of today, I, Al Bundy, am finished with baseball"

He then drops the mic, takes a step saying "M", then another saying "V" and finally jumps onto homeplate with both feet together and screams "P", earning the cheers of the team and crowd, but the teams seems to ignore Al, as they get together to celebrate and he walks away unnoticed from them.

A transition occurs where now 2 different softball teams (Cremators Vs. Bra World) are playing in a large field surrounded by mountains. A year has passed, as it is now 1991 and taking place in Kankakee, Illinois.  A young blond hair man is greeted by a balding middle aged man with a mustache and takes a seat on the bleachers to watch the game. As they watch the game, the middle aged man points out that the center fielder is going to get burned. As the New World batter bats, we now see Al, in a Cremators uniform, getting ready to catch the ball. As he successfully catches it and throws it, the two men look in awe, before the older one realizes its Al Bundy and asking the younger g
The unnatural

Al in the final scene

uy if he had ever seen him play. As the young man tells him that he only heard of him, a female voice mentions that she saw him play. As they turn to see who it is, we see that its Peggy wearing a pair of sunglasses and telling them that Al was the best at batting, running and selling shoes. As the younger man asks Peg if that's Al in the field, the sound of a bat can be heard and then Al is seen running for it again and catching it. After a moment, Peg then tells them that its not Al, as he had said that he had enough of the game. The scene ends with Al taking off his cap and hold it in the air with a grin of satisfaction.

TriviaEdit

  • The title of the episode is a reference to The Natural while the final scene is a spoof of Eight Men Out, both of which are 1980s films about the early era of major league baseball.
  • This episode marks the final appearance of the New Market Mallers and any sort of reference of the Bundy family playing softball together.
  • The song played during the championship game is "Born Under a Bad Sign" by Albert King.
  • The Cremators' jerseys say "We Burn Your Loved Ones" on the back.
  • The ending is rather unique as there is no laugh track/audience applause for the entire final scene (the match between the Cremators Vs. Bra World), which gives the final frame with Al smiling an almost sad or eerie feeling.
  • Even though Al claimed he was done with playing baseball after winning the championships for the New Market Mallers, he is seen playing with the Cremators at the end of the episode. Also, in a later season, he, along with NO MA'AM, organize their own baseball team and play other teams across America after the major league teams went on strike ("A Man For No Seasons".
  • The kid watching the baseball game with the man with the mustache at the end is Ian Ziering, best known for playing Steve Sanders on Beverly Hills 90210, one of the major powerhouse shows, along with Married...With Children, on Fox during the 1990s. That show made its series premiere 10 days before the airing of this particular episode.
  • The softball game being played at the end scene is an actual game played by the show's production crew. The woman walking backwards to the catcher's spot is Stacie Lipp (producer/writer) and the 3rd baseman is Ron Leavitt (co-creator/writer).
  • In the original first draft of the script, seen here, various differences can be seen, such as different dialogue about the Bundy era, Sven being temporarily blinded instead of knocked out by Marcy, a shorter ending and a completely different speech after Al wins the game.
  • In the original first draft of the script, the teams that the New Market Mallers played during the Bundy era were Bob's Cheese Factory and Shephouse Knittters, followed by an unnamed team in 1989 and also indicates different teams members were with him in those games.

GoofsEdit

  • The final scene shows a softball game being played with a subtitle "Kankakee, 1991" and there are mountains in the background; Kankakee is an actual city in Illinois, about 50 miles south of downtown Chicago and is located on the prairie, where there are no mountains within hundreds of miles.
  • Even though they are playing softball, Al keeps referring to it as baseball. Softball usually relies on underhand pitches, larger ball, smaller field and use aluminum bats instead of wooden bats, all of which can be seen throughout this episode.
  • When Marcy comes into the Bundy house, she removes her chest protector and leaves it by the couch. When she leaves to go home and practice calling Al out for the next game, she leaves the chest protector as she walks out and also leaves the door wide open.

Guest starringEdit

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