The Camping Show (aka A Period Piece) is the fourth episode of Season 3 of the FOX sitcom Married... with Children, as well as the 39th overall episode in the series. Written by Sandy Sprung and Marcy Vosburgh, the episode was directed by Gerry Cohen and premiered on FOX on December 11, 1988.
A guys-only fishing trip with Al, Bud and Steve turns sour when Steve invites Marcy who then invites Peggy and Kelly on the trip — and things get worse when all three of the women have their periods simultaneously.
On Al's week off, Steve treats him to a week-long fishing trip at a cabin in the woods. But the rest of the family spoils the fun by insisting they come along as well. Soon after arrival, Al, Steve, and Bud mourn what might have been a great week when it turns out to be the wrong time of the month for Peggy, Marcy, and Kelly.
- Ed O'Neill as Al Bundy
- Katey Sagal as Peggy Bundy
- Christina Applegate as Kelly Bundy
- David Faustino as Bud Bundy
- Amanda Bearse as Marcy Rhoades
- David Garrison as Steve Rhoades
- Buck the dog as Buck Bundy (uncredited)
- Frank Foti Jr. as Grizzly Bear (uncredited)
- [Al is sitting next to Peg on the couch and wiping his mouth after eating fast food for dinner ]
- Al: Well another great meal, Peg. [closes up the foam hamburger container, and then puts his arm around Peg] You know, honey, you're incredible! You ignore the children, you neglect and still you find time to let the dinner get cold before you serve it. How do you do it?
- Peg: Well, Al, I guess I care enough about me to not care about you [they both laugh and kiss each other on the cheek]
- [Al is reviewing the note he wrote to Peg and the kids as he plans to go fishing with just Steve]
- Al: [reading to himself] Dear Peg. By the time you read this, there will be nothing you can do about it! I was called away on an emergency fishing trip. I'll be away a week. I wouldn't blame you if you took the kids and left me [grins] But if you do,... [bitterly] take the dog too! I guess this is goodbye. Love, Al. [pauses and then scribbles out a line] ...Al.
- [The Bundys and Rhoades arrive at the cabin. Kelly arrives last and carries in the fishing poles, then looks around]
- Kelly: What a dump [throws Al's fishing poles down]
- Al: Kelly, honey, [walks over to her] let me explain something about fishing rods: When you throw them down, you break them... and daddy can't fish. If daddy can't fish, he's stuck with mommy [gestures pointing back at Peg with his thumb]. If daddy's stuck with mommy, nobody leaves here alive!
- Kelly: [snarky] I didn't ask to come and I didn't ask to be born! [walks away from Al and Peg]
- Al: [stunned] Peg!
- Peg: Well, its her time of the month, Al.
- Al: What the hell did we bring her for, then?!
- [Al, Bud and Steve arrive back at the cabin after they went fishing together]
- Al: Hey, girls! What do you say to this?! [the three males are proudly smiling as they individually hold up the fish they caught]
- [Marcy, Kelly and Peggy are sitting down, clutching their lower abdominal region, rocking back and forth, looking at the males with hate and contempt in their eyes, while muttering to themselves. The looks of satisfaction quickly disappears from the men]
- Al: Oh no!
- Steve: What is it, Al?
- [The ladies are shown again as they clutch their lower abdominal region, rock back and forth and look at the males with hate while muttering to themselves.]
- Al: [scared] Periods, Steve... three of 'em! [Bud quickly hides between Al and Steve]
- Steve: Now, Al, let's not panic. What women need at a time like this is compassion, love, and understanding. [gets up and puts his hand on Bud's shoulder while talking to Al] "Partners through life! Partners through strife!"
- [Steve walks over to Marcy, who is reclining on a chair with an ice pack over her forehead and sleeping bags propping her legs up]
- Steve: Marcy, let's talk.
- Marcy: [removes the ice pack and becomes noticeably upset] Fine! Let's talk about 14 months ago when I wanted to see that movie and you were too tired! And about the time you wore that gray sweater! I hate that sweater! I hate you, Steve! Everything about you, every breath you take, every move you make! You sir, stink! [suddenly starts crying] I feel so bloated and so ugly! [turns to Peg] See how mean he is to me, Peg.
- [The three women give Steve a dirty look, causing him to retreat back to the table with Al and Bud]
- The original title "A Period Piece" is a common phrase for a piece of fiction set at a specific time in history but in the context of the episode it refers to the 3 women who start to menstruate during the camping trip.
- However, FOX Network censors were concerned about the title and the episode as a whole to be offensive to women (even though the episode was written by two women and the episode title never appeared on screen) and requested that the title be changed.
- "The Camping Show" simply refers to the Bundys and Rhoades' going on a camping trip.
- As indicated by the production number, it was the first episode filmed, but the forth episode that aired.
- This episode was originally set to air as the season premiere but since the FOX censors were concerned about it being too offensive, the air date was postponed.
- TV Guide, November 12-18, 1988: Fox Delays Married "Period" Episode, by Jeff Kaye
Fox Broadcasting executives have been wondering what to do with a completed but unaired episode of Married . . . with Children that appears to break new ground in sitcom subject matter. The episode, the series' first to be taped this season, has had its air date postponed. It's entitled "A Period Piece" and addresses the topic of menstruation. More specifically, it tells how the Bundy and Rhoades families go on a fishing trip together, only to find that Marcy Rhoades (Amanda Bearse), Peggy Bundy (Katey Sagal), and Peggy's teenage daughter Kelly (Christina Applegate) are all starting their periods simultaneously. "I'm sure [the episode] will be scheduled later in the season," says Fox spokesman Brad Turell. "Running it as the season premiere, we felt, was not necessarily the best thing to do. You have to be responsible to the viewers." Married executive producers Ron Leavitt and Michael Moye don't hesitate to opine about why Fox hasn't run the episode. Says Moye, "If your typewriter makes a clucking sound, that will tell you the story." Adds Leavitt, "They're a shade nervous [at Fox]. It's funny, Geraldo [Rivera] burns babies in prime time and we're just saying women have periods."
- Michael Moye has mentioned in an interview that the idea for the episode came from a newspaper article about women who spend a lot of time together synchronizing their menstrual cycles, known as Menstrual synchrony, which was brought to his attention by the female writers. He trusted them to write this episode as he was sure they would know what is offensive to women and what is not when it comes to the topic of menstruation. To this day, the process of menstrual synchrony has not been proven.
- Kelly, Peggy and Marcy experience many common PMS symptoms in this episode including irritability, abdominal cramps, fever, dizziness, headaches, mood swings, sadness, bloating, weight gain, increased sex drive, fluid retention, back pain, and food cravings. These symptoms can vary from person to person and may not necessarily occur every month.
- Peggy wears a very modest and loose nightgown that differs significantly from her usual silky and figure-accentuating nightgowns/negligees. This might indicate that the nightgown she wears in this episode is one she only wears when she is on her period, similar to many women having specific underwear that they reserve for their time of the month, as it is likely more comfortable.
- Steve mentions that wild animals can sense when women are menstruating. Moye got the inspiration for this plot point from the Silver Spoons episode "I'm Just Wild About Harry", where an orangutan was brought in and suddenly got very distracted during the shooting of a scene so the trainer said that if a woman on set is menstruating, that is what upsetting the orangutan.
- This is a myth that emerged in 1967 when two women, one of whom was menstruating, were attacked by grizzly bears in Glacier National Park and in response a brochure called Grizzly, Grizzly, Grizzly, advising women to "stay out of bear country during their menstrual period" was published by the National Park Service and United States Forest Service. However, it has since been stated that "there is no evidence that grizzly bears are overly attracted to menstrual odors [...] and there is no statistical evidence that known bear attacks have been related to menstruation".
- Marcy mentions how she hates it when Steve refuses to ask for directions. In Build a Better Mousetrap Steve tells Al how he finds it irritating when he is out driving with Marcy and she wants to ask for directions.
- Al forgets the kids names and refers to them as "Sid and Nancy", referring to the couple Sid Vicious, the bass player for the British punk band, The Sex Pistols, and his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen. The couple was known for their drug fueled tumultuous relationship which ended up with Sprugen dying from a stab wound in October 1978 and Vicious dying from a heroin overdose a few months later in 1979.
- Notably, there was a 1986 biographical film about the couple titled Sid and Nancy.
- Kelly parodies Bette Davis' line from the 1949 film Beyond the Forest when she looks around the cabin and says "What a dump!"
- After Marcy suggest that they all go on a nature hunt, Al sarcastically suggests to Marcy that they should all get naked and sing the American folk song, "This Land Is Your Land".
- When describing how she hate everything about Steve, Marcy tells him that she hates "Every breath you take. Every move you make", referring to the song "Every Breath You Take" by The Police.
- After discussing the problem of women having periods, Al mentions the only good woman was Veronica Lodge from the Archie comic book series.
- Al sarcastically refers to the women as members of the Seven Dwarfs from the fairy tale and cartoon Snow White.
- Al and Steve hum and air-play the song "Dueling Banjos" from the 1972 film Deliverance.
- There has been some online debate whether or not Ed O'Neill made his acting debut in that film as a deputy. Ed O'Neill himself has said he is not in the movie, and does not know where this piece of information originated. His first movie was Cruising in 1980.
- Al and Steve hum and air-play the song "Dueling Banjos" after announcing the trip to the cabin.
- Bundy Residence
- Michigan Cabin
- Bundy Living Room/Kitchen
- Michigan Cabin
- On the second morning at the cabin, the caption "Day Two...6:52 AM" is shown. No more than three minutes later, Peggy says "Al...it is 7:30 in the morning!"
Links & References
- The Camping Show at the Internet Movie Database
- A Period Piece on Bundyology
- A Period Piece - First Draft Script on albundy.net
- A Period Piece - Transcript on albundy.net
- #40 The Camping Show - MWC Podcast on Horrorphilia