Welcome to this month’s failed pilot review. This is in unofficial partnership with the Longbox Heroes podcast. Head over to their site this Friday to hear their review.
Remember when Married with Children was the biggest show on TV? Well, I don’t. I was not allowed to watch it. The Simpsons was fine. Looking back there was no issue with Night Court or Cheers. Sexuality on shows wasn’t the problem, it was how it was portrayed. The Bundys were not welcome in my home and thus my knowledge of specific episodes or characters is lacking. Maybe one day it will be my marathon show.
Thankfully, none of that matters for this episode. The show was huge and thus a spin off was attempted. Al Bundy is the only regular character to appear on the show and only in a bookending role. Top of the Heap lasted for 7 episodes and the pilot episode aired as episode 20 in season 5. The same episode aired as episode 1 of Top of the Heap.
If recycled episodes are your thing, then you’ll love this show!
Top of the Heap features two minor Married with Children characters. Friends of Al. Charlie and his son Vinnie live in a slum apartment in Chicago. They try to go from the poor house to the penthouse. They want to join High Society. Be part of the Club. Unfortunately the closest they’re able to come is magazines under the mattress with those same titles.
Charlie (Joseph Bologna) is good at 90% of a con. He can come up with a plan, fakes it well, but everything ultimately falls apart. Frequently at the fault of his dim witted collaborator and son, Vinnie (Matt LeBlanc). Vinnie has taken too many shots to the head, but it a good person beneath it all. Sure he wants to be rich, just like his dad desires, but without selling his soul.
His dad is most likely too far gone. The episode starts with him throwing Vinnie’s cat Mr Fluffy, out the window. Charming. Vinnie tells his dad of a legit job as a bus boy for some high society club. Charlie instead comes up with a plan where the two of them pretend to be rich, get into the club, and Vinnie gets hooked up with a job at one of the members’ companies. Shenanigans ensue and in the end the plan doesn’t work. I would like to say a lesson is learned but there’s lots of things I would like in life that I don’t get.
Matt LeBlanc shows as much potential as he did on Friends but the real surprise here is his hair. He has TGIF heartthrob hair. Where are the Top of the Heap themed issues of Tiger Beat?
The real surprise here is for any Kevin Smith fans as the one and only Joey Lauren Adams plays the unrequited love interest who lives in the same building. Mona is 17 (Adams was in her 20’s at the time) and in love with Vinnie. Vinnie is a moral upstanding young adult. Who also has no interest in jail time. She is funny, devoted, overly flirtatious, and honestly the best part of the show. Maybe I’m biased as a long term fan.
None of this is enough to support a show and there’s no real “heart” to the series. I would have liked to see Vinnie as the lead just trying to make it in a big city all on his own. With Mona as sort of a will they/wont they love interest. But that damn underage thing really makes it difficult. While many sitcoms have the audience cheering when two people finally hook up there’s something wrong about cheering for a girl turning 18.
In this series of failed pilots, there’s been better and been worse. The most damaging part of Top of the Heap is it’s just there. Bland. Eh. No reaction is worse than a bad reaction. Other than Mona I’ve already forgotten most of the episode and it’s ultimately forgettable.