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The Desperate Half-Hour was the 22nd episode of Married... with Children, also the 257th overall series episode. Directed by and Gerry Cohen, the episode, which was one-half of a two episode story arc, and which also was concluded by the episode "How To Marry a Moron", and which written by Valerie Ahern & Christian McLaughlin, premiered on FOX-TV as both episodes were aired together on May 5, 1997.


Al is kicking Peg and the kids out so he can watch Death Wish 6 3-D in privacy on pay per view. But Bud also needs the house for himself: his pen pal Starla is getting out of prison, and is coming to see him. Unfortunately, Starla decides to try rob the Bundy's at gunpoint. It turns out that she has escaped and is on the run, so she ends up holding the Bundys hostage. Starla also has a dim-witted boyfriend named Lonnie, to whom Kelly becomes attracted to. And the feeling is mutual. Then the D'Arcys, who are about to leave on a charity masquerade cruise, barge in and end up hostages as well!

One can only imagine what Bud has written to her about the French provincial home and the family Porsche. When Starla remarks "My cell is nicer than this dump!", Bud tries to say that he wrote to make him and his family good enough for her. Thus, when Starla and Lonnie arrived at the Bundy home, it was only her intentions to use the home as a hideout from the police, but. when it's also revealed to a TV news bulletin that her boyfriend Lonnie is the son of to the head of Tot Industries and his wife, Earl and Pearl Tot, and thus, also an heir to the family fortune, Starla decides, she having escaped from prison, to hold up the Bundys and their guests hostage! Of course, it's ruining Al's night to watch Death Wish 6 in 3-dimensional and his buddy, Griff! The Rhoades are also part of the trapped, as they were dressed up as Mary and her little lamb for a costume party!

In the end, Starla's plan for escape, and also ransom from the Tot family is foiled, when Lonnie, who is beginning to fall hard for Kelly, is able to knock Starla out cold, in doing so, wrestling the gun away from her, as the Chicago PD arrives.


Main cast[]

Recurring cast/Guest stars[]



  • The title of the episode is a reference to the 1955 film, The Desperate Hours, which, like this episode, involves three escaped convicts holding a family hostage.


  • Tricia Cast, who plays Starla, previously starred in the 1980s sitocm It's Your Move, which was produced by MWC creators Ron Leavitt and Michael G. Moye and starred MWC co-star David Garrison.
  • Kelly reveals that Peggy took her to a male strip club for her 12th birthday and had to drive Peggy home due to her being intoxicated.
  • One of the cops is played by an uncredited Damian Chapa, who best known at the time for his role in the film Street Fighter and Blood In, Blood Out.
  • Along with "Johnny Be Gone", this is one of a few MWC episodes that takes place entirely within the Bundy Living Room/Kitchen.

Cultural References[]

  • Al mentions that he plans to watch Death Wish 6 and notes how it gory it will be in 3-D.
    • Death Wish is a series of films that originally starred Charles Bronson as a New York architect turned vigilante after his family was murdered as well as several other people in his life throughout the series. It was known for its gratuitous violence and spanned 5 films between 1974 and 1994.
    • Technically, there was in fact a plan for a sixth film, titled, Death Wish 6: The New Vigilante, but was cancelled following the disappointing performance of Death Wish 5 in 1994. However, there was a 2018 remake starring Bruce Willis, which takes place in Chicago instead of New York and the main character being a E.R. surgeon instead of architect. It also features actor Dean Norris, who played Al's fellow Polk High Panther, Rodent, in the season 9 episode, "Dud Bowl".
  • Starla told Bud that she looked like supermodel Cindy Crawford, while Bud told her that he looked like actor Brad Pitt.
  • After Lonnie walks into the Bundy residence and sees Starla with a gun, Peggy tells him, "Wake up, Jethro!", in reference to the character, Jethro Bodine from the television series, The Beverly Hillbillies.
  • Al and Griff mention the soft drink brands, Mr. Pibb and Mtn. Dew.




  • Bundy Living Room / Kitchen


  • After Starla shoots the remote control in Al's hand, David Faustino can be seen trying to hold back a smile as Peggy pushes Al aside and cries. Katey Sagal also seems to being smiling for just a moment as she picks up the damaged remoted.
  • During Marcy's rant at Starla after boasting that she would ditch the D'Arcy's Mercedes-Benz into a lake, she tells Starla that she hopes that she gets the electric chair and will personally shave her bald before they strap her in. In reality, the state of Illinois uses lethal injection instead of the electric chair in cases involving the death penalty.
  • Al is shot in the chest and shows that his now bent lucky shoehorn is what saved him, yet his shirt doesn't have a bullet hole or anything else to indicate that he was shot in the first place.
◄ Season 10 Season 11 Episodes  
TwistedChildren of the CornsKelly's Gotta HabitRequiem for a Chevyweight (Part 1)
Requiem for a Chevyweight (Part 2)A Bundy ThanksgivingThe Juggs Have Left the Building
God Help Ye Merry BundymenCrimes Against ObesityThe Stepford PegBud on the Side
Grime and PunishmentT*R*A*S*HBreaking Up Is Easy to Do (Part 1)
Breaking Up Is Easy to Do (Part 2)Breaking Up Is Easy to Do (Part 3)Live Nude Peg
A Babe in ToylandBirthday Boy ToyLez Be FriendsDamn BundysThe Desperate Half-Hour (Part 1)
How to Marry a Moron (Part 2)Chicago Shoe Exchange