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Season 3, Episode 21: The Graduate

Alright, show, you already did the plot where an old woman comes onto Balki, so what’s the deal here?

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We find the Caldwell in the midst of the stillness that often follows a heavy rain: the world drawn into itself, processing what it has taken in, paused in appearance only, the Paoli’s Pizza sign the only indication that inside, catalysis is taking place, a silent promise of new blossoms on the coming morn.

Inside, we find Larry quizzing his cousin on American history facts, reading from what is obviously a novel. Hey, black people aren’t the only things that all look alike! Without a dust jacket, all books look alike too, right? But Balki is obviously strained from hours repeating facts about presidents.  He’s likely thinking back to simpler times, when all he had to do was put on a Ronald Reagan mask.

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Balki is slow to respond and Larry slaps his thigh with a ruler and jeez, okay, show, I can see you’re quizzing me, too. I didn’t forget about this:

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You just hadn’t given me a good opportunity to use it!

Evidently, Balki has one final left, and if he gets 100% on it, he’ll graduate at the top of his class.

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Cousin Larry starts throwing shade at former high school classmate Becky Jo Quinn, to whom Larry lost the valedictorian title because he missed Mr. Planchard’s trick question on his geography final. Larry mentions that Balki would be the first in the family to be a valedictorian.

But then Balki confuses valedictorian and vegetarian, and it’s official, folks: they don’t teach English at Adult Night Classes Memorial High School.

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Larry hooks Balki with the idea of giving a speech, and yeah, honestly, we need one from him at this point. I wanted one way back when we met Elaine last season (around this time), and all Balki did then was mix up words. Depending upon where you look, this episode is either episode 19 or episode 21 of season 3, but honestly, I wouldn’t have been surprised for this to have been intended as the season finale.  Hell, I’d even believe that it could have been intended as a series finale.  There’s no real reason to have Balki graduate high school right now; the beginning of the season demonstrated that perhaps only a week had passed between seasons.

Whatever kind of finale it was or wasn’t, it’s late in the season and we need some major sign of progress. We’ve had Larry’s birthday (given what we knew about his past at the time, an accomplishment), Larry barely placing in a contest, and Larry getting a shitty job. I’ve complained before about how much the show focusses on Balki’s dreams to the detriment of Larry’s, but have any of Balki’s stuck? He doesn’t play baseball, practice Karate, or go to the gym anymore. Mr. Casselman sits alone in his office, waiting, 100 raisins arranged in rows on his desk, hoping that one day his secretary will tell him that a B.A. Bartokomous is on line 1. Suprides has vague memories of the man who would dance with him, but even those will soon be gone. And since there’s no way in hell this show’s ever going to let Balki pronounce Appleton correctly, we’ve got to have some sort of milestone for Balki. What do the last three seasons mean to Balki?

Three seasons in, though, and Larry is still trying to live vicariously through others, feed off their success, and endlessly plan things in the middle of the night. He wants Balki to get that 100, so that he…

Okay okay okay stop

stop stop stop

just stop

I don’t like to toot my own horn, mainly because I’m trying to live my life by the precepts of this show and threw all my horns away, but I’m a smart guy. Smart, at least, when it comes to making good grades on the types of things they test for in school. Thanks to the awful ways that public school teachers get rated and paid in this country, I put good money in many of their pockets over the course of 11 years (I skipped two grades). Heck, in middle school they even put us smart kids in classes with the kids who didn’t do well on tests one year, which I suspect was a move to balance out the reporting to the school district. So let me tell you how grades on your finals work.  When I was in college, I would overhear people talking about how the grade they’d get on the final would determine whether they got an A versus a B (or a B versus a C, whatever). It always struck me as indicative of poor overall performance that one single grade could have such an impact; why would they expect, all of a sudden, that they’d do so much better than they had up to that point?  Once or twice, right before the end of the semester, I did the math for how poorly I could do and still make an A in the class; in one situation I could have done this with a 30 on the final.

What I’m getting at is… was Larry going over NOT ONLY Balki’s grades but somehow everyone else’s to determine that Balki needs to get 100 on one test to be valedictorian?  I’ll tell you why you weren’t valedictorian, Cousin Larry, it’s because you don’t get how dumb Balki probably is.

Look, Larry, like I said, I’m a smart guy, and I’ve learned a thing or two from this show. The best way to make Balki smart is by having Mary Anne in the room. Go get Mary Anne.

Larry doesn’t go get Mary Anne, he just shouts at Balki some more.  Balki says he’s going to bed because he’s exhausted, and me too.  We’ve stayed up past midnight multiple times this season.  I’m tired of season 3 already, and not just because I feel like it’s re-covering some of season 2’s ground. I’m tired of this self-imposed moratorium on gay jokes. I’m tired of asking for good story and good jokes in the same episode. I’m tired of Larry not realizing by now that Balki’s going to do perfectly on everything because he’s a wish-fulfillment character for the children in the audience.

Then the do that “you do”/”I do” thing again.

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Then they just do a rapid-fire quiz about the Battle Between the States, Larry asks Balki who the publisher of the book was, and then the horrible truth comes out: Larry’s geography teacher asked them how many pages were in the textbook on the final.

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That’s some fucked-up shit right there, show. You earned another one:

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And if I’m remembering correctly from a book I read once, that’s good writing to have characters make reveals in the heat of an argument, or while drunk.

Larry says that the only person who knew the answer was “that tramp Becky Jo Quinn”. Yeah, that little slut! I bet she, um. Slept with the textbook?

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Larry asks Balki if he wants to be valedictorian or a nobody, and they puff their chests out and then slump a few times to punctuate each state of being. Linn-Baker adds a nice touch during one slump of shaking his head and mouthing “nope”.  And, okay, good!  This is where Balki needs to be!  Balki is finishing school–possibly the first structured school he’s been to–and he’s really only familiar with its immediate rewards.  What really should just be indicators to the teacher about what students are interested in, or alternately could use a little help with–or potentially what they themselves are not teaching well–become rewards in the eyes of the students, a goal in and of themselves.  Balki doesn’t realize that valedictorian is only important for the duration of the ceremony where you are (or aren’t) it, and that no employer in his future is going to care.  Larry likely knows this by now, even if he’s not admitting it to himself; or maybe he’s used the one question on a geography final to explain and excuse his subsequent “failures”.  Balki’s only just reached this stage due to his circumstance; Larry’s stuck there because of his pomp.

Dad’s trying to live vicariously through his son, I made a pomp & circumstance joke in an entirely organic way, this is shaping up to be a good episode, folks, and we’re only 4 minutes in.

Balki: Alright, Cousin, let’s go for the mold!

well shit

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Some music that sounds as close to the Jeopardy theme as ABC’s lawyers would allow comes on and the scene switches to that of the Cousins, asleep. They wake up to find their muscles in excruciating pain to find that Balki is late for his history exam.  But there’s always time for catchphrases:

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and physical comedy:

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Larry picks up Balki and the coats and heads out the door.

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A painful Asian stereotype hands his completed test to Mr. Jones and says “Mr. Jones, I’m finished with my test” since there’s no fewer than 80 different reasons why he might be handing the teacher the test. Let it not go unnoted that this is the third time ever both cousins were off-screen at the same time.

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I guess the cousins’ tactic is to distract the whole class from the test by talking loudly and doing physical comedy.

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Oh no! Balki only has 20 minutes to take the test. Balki says it will take him 20 minutes to read it, and holy shit, I was laughing about it all season but that’s a true rug pull, holy shit, why don’t they teach English at this school, holy shit, holy shit, look at that portrait of Lincoln, why is it good framing practice to have more matte at the bottom than the top, I just don’t get it, holy shit

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Mr. Jones tells Larry to take a hike, so Larry trips over a desk, sticks his foot in a trash can, and then there’s some happy saxophone music over the scene change.

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Balki stands over the shoulder of Mr. Jones commenting on the test grading.

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Balki got a 100!

The cousins do the Dance of Joy!

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But Balki finished 2nd in the class because Larry still isn’t good at math and didn’t account for other people getting 100 too.

Mr. Jones gives Balki the same chance he gave Mr. Henry Fong–to answer the extra credit

Oh, no! It’s the publisher’s name!

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Balki pretends to play a trumpet while Larry turns into Dudley Moore.

Balki can’t remember it, and Mr. Jones tells him not to feel bad because no one’s ever gotten one of his extra credit questions.  Larry proceeds to beat the ever-loving whiz out of Mr. Jones, scoring a big one for those of us who have perfect eidetic memories as long as we know what to focus on.

Nah, j/k, Balki remembers the publisher as he walks out the door.

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Larry makes a rude gesture at the memory of that dirty whore Becky Jo Quinn, and the cousins leave so Balki can write his speech.  But–oh no!–there’s no graduation ceremony!

Then they find out there’s no prom!

Then they find out there’s no class picture!

What’s next? A years-long recession after Black Monday?

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Balki leaves, and like any good parent Larry stays behind to talk up his kid.  This is a pretty accurate depiction of how the American school system works: parents yell at the teachers, who have no control over how the school is run.

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Larry gets applause, and it’s completely earned! This may just be one of those episodes that’s a gimme because the story’s so necessary, but I’m actually impressed they let Cousin Larry have a moment (even if that moment was him saying how great Balki was, and even if it’s undercut when the teacher says no and Larry cries).

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The teacher says they’ll go talk to the principal, but that she’ll eat Larry alive.

is fat marsha the principal

please lord

Back at the apartment, Cousin Larry dunks a cookie too long in milk and it falls apart, so he ragequits eating the cookie.

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Balki realizes he didn’t know about all those useless things like proms and class pictures and your uncle telling you to go into the plastics field until Larry told him about them, but it’s enough for him that he graduated with his cousin’s help. He swears up and down that he’s mature, Larry tells Balki about the graduation ceremony he’s planned, and, well, I don’t have to tell you this was coming:

Balki: Kawabunga!

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Hey, didn’t we have a guy doing that to Larry around this time last season?

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Larry offers Balki the valedictory speech he wrote years ago, which he didn’t give because Becky Jo Quinn is a filthy harlot whose panties are filled with demons.

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Whoa! All the women are here together for the graduation!

Lydia brags to Jennifer that she was voted most likely to succeed.

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Gee, I wonder what Jennifer was voted? I mean, when you’re having a conversation, you reciprocate and continue talking about an established topic.  Jennifer, uncomfortable with Bechdel space, brings the conversation back to the cousins. Larry comes in with a boombox to play “Pomp & Circumstance”, and let it not go unnoted that someone was on-it enough to get some older Asian extras to come in to be the Fong family. Henry even smiles at them when he walks by!

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Let’s hope that Larry’s smart enough to keep quiet that it was his idea that all the students should pay $100 for gown rentals.

Mary Anne (Sagittarius) comments on what a coincidence it is that they played Pomp & Circumstance at her graduation.  (She’s so dumb, what with her good memory and everything.)

Here it comes, everybody! Here comes Balki’s important speech.

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Balki reminisces about his days on Mypos tending sheep, where already American culture was seeping in and destroying his world through such items as Sony Walkmans. It also turns out Balki’s experiencing a little bit of impostor syndrome, fearing that someone will come in and tell him that it was only a dream. But he has a credit card and pays taxes! He even speaks up his classmates, among whom are Ryan Stiles and Jeff Garlin, but tellingly, no Gina or Carol…

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Anyway, Balki tells us that, having accomplished his individual dream–achieving the widely-accepted baseline for entering American adulthood–now has a new one: giving back, and doing what he can to continue making America great. Look forward to season 4, where Balki will begin putting down the newer foreigners!

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Now that the graduation’s over, it’s party time!

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Larry set up a prom for Balki! He got a mirrored ball and everything! He’s also prepared Balki’s first spiked punch bowl, his first upstairs bedroom drunken sex, and even put some mints by the toilet bowl for when he inevitably vomits.

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Well, we’re almost done with this season: Balki’s achieved his dream, Larry’s working towards whatever his is at this point. If only Mary Anne were in a prom dress every week, then mine would be fulfilled as well.

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And if you thought this week was a party, wait until next week when I review “Bye Bye Biki”! I’m 100% sure that it’s going to be a really fun episode!

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Catchphrase count: Balki (0); Larry (1)

Boner count: Balki (0); Larry (0)

Coner count: I’m grading on a curve:  Jennifer touches Larry’s arm in one scene, and that’s probably as close as she’ll ever come to actual human feeling. (1)

Dance of Joy running total: 11

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Season 3, Episode 20: You Gotta Have Friends

Welcome back, everybody!

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We open at the Chicago Chronicle, where Balki is pretending to be able to read the newspaper.  Usually Balki’s doing the work of eleven men, so I guess him fiddle-farting around means Gorpley’s not here this week.

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Cousin Larry, on the other hand, shows off his athletic prowess by carrying a stack of books and archival storage boxes down the stairs.  But before he can turn three linear feet into three square inches on page D26, Balki runs up the stairs and starts shouting at him.  Larry is adamant that he’s got it, but then Balki forces the issue, causing Larry to turn around on the landing.  Larry spills the books, but Harriette knows that stacking books is for dumb white blondes trapped in cabins and stays out of the way.  The lesson the episode demanded is that Balki should be wrong for not believing in his cousin, but because Larry said “I’ve got it” instead of “I have got it” (the latter being more appropriate for newspaper writing), he was wrong.  The music comes on, the cousins hug, Balki says something funny.

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Join me next week for “The Graduate”!

_____________________________

Catchphrase cou–

What?

Shit.

Larry is doing research for a feature article on old people. Balki says that he loves “the Elderly Brothers” (which got a laugh out of me) and then gives us Reason #16 that you’re more likely to find an Everly Brothers CD in Best Buy than the Complete Perfect Strangers: “Bye Bye Love”.  Balki then tells his cousin that they’re going to see a movie that night: Benji the Hunted.  It’s a nice character detail for Balki that he’d want to see it (especially as it featured a lead character that, after coming ashore, makes his way through the American “wilderness”), but I’ve talked before about how I don’t really care for dogs, so I’m with Larry on not wanting to watch an almost entirely dialogue-free children’s movie. Larry says that he has to spend all night on his research (this show keeps making fun of me, but yes, that is why I’m watching this Sausage Party and not the one that came out last week).

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Balki insists that he’ll stay home with Larry and read him the stuff he’s supposed to take notes on.

Look, I’ve tried that method before, and even without someone who reads as haltingly as Balki, it’s a terrible thing to agree to. But Balki is dead-set on being annoying while Larry needs to concentrate, so he starts playing with the pencil sharpener.

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He does it for awhile.

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It’s annoying. Instead of just saying that he wants the apartment alone to himself so it can be quiet, Larry tries to make it about Balki missing the movie.  I want to comment on this because it’s advice I know the show will never give you. I decided years ago (after reading Claude Steiner’s Scripts People Live) to be upfront and explicit about what you want and why.  This way, if it doesn’t match (or works against) what someone else wants, you won’t end up butthurt and feeling ignored because they didn’t somehow magically realize what you wanted.  In other words, if you make something about the other person, it stays only about that other person.

Balki: If you need a helping hand, Balki will be there to jump in with both feet.

It’s a good thing I’ve got a moratorium on gay jokes until the end of the season, because, uh… I don’t even know what I would have done with that one.

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And despite the episode earlier this season where the cousins endlessly practice closing a briefcase, Balki picks up Larry’s and spills everything on the floor.  Balki is the entropic force, making everything convert its potential energy into kinetic, likely to result in chaos by ⅔ through the episode.

At the apartment, Balki shows off his own athletic prowess by running in and jumping on the couch, something he wasn’t allowed to do back when that was his bed.

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But the fact that Larry hasn’t even loosened his tie (not to mention that he’s surrounded by papers, is writing, and is asking repeatedly to be allowed to finish) doesn’t register with Balki, who keeps shaking Larry’s arm. Like, didn’t we establish early on this season that Balki had a superior work ethic?

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But he keeps following Larry around the apartment, talking about the innovative cinematographic choices of Benji the Hunted, and sits on Larry’s files.  Larry then asks Balki to “hang on” and to “let me finish”, but Balki seriously cannot contain himself at this point.  Gee, if only there had ever been a situation that these cousins were in where they came to the conclusion that talking about something instantly after it happens was not a good idea when one of them had an important time-sensitive work task ahead of them.

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Balki went to the Night Mart, where they let you make your own hot cocoa. Again, glad I’ve got this moratorium, because, yeah. No idea.

Balki keeps following Larry around the apartment, talking about the deep understanding of food chemistry necessary for stirring hot cocoa, and sits on Larry’s files.  Though I’m glad we’re getting to see a side of Balki not on display since the courtroom episode, I’m with Larry on this one. Balki following Larry around and sitting in the wrong place is entertaining enough, but certainly this would be a much more interesting episode if they both just sat quietly around the apartment while Larry writes.

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Larry: I am up to my neck in senior citizens here.

Haha, people get shorter when they get old!  Even without osteoporosis, the stuff between your vertebrae starts degrading. Old people! Ha!

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Balki agrees to shut up for a minute. Not allowed to talk, he just stands there and makes gurgling sounds.  We’re five minutes into an episode here. Balki’s gurgling, and Larry’s doing research. What the hell is this episode about? I guess…  I guess I can make another old people joke? Old people are also known for their ability to go on for five minutes without getting to the point. Reference can be made to this for comic effect.

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Um.

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Hey look, the cousins got rid of their green shower curtain. Now it’s white.  Um. There’s a little hallway light right outside of Balki’s bedroom door that the cousins should really leave off so they can keep utility costs down.

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I see what you’re doing, show. You have forced me into a corner where I now have to say that I want Balki to talk. Perfect Strangers has literally stopped because Balki is not allowed to talk.

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*sigh*  Efforts to contain the entropic force are often short-lived, so I, as Larry does, ask:

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what

just

what

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Balki: I made a new friend! I made a new friend!

Well, let’s see it. What is it this time? A Cambodian refugee? A crack baby? Walter Mondale? Balki has found a friend who doesn’t know how to make hot cocoa “the Balki way”.

*Larry reminds me of the moratorium*

*starts making gurgling sounds*

Larry repeats things back to Balki in a half-hearted attempt at active listening, but really, Larry, I thought you wanted to spend more time on your work, and less time on Balki’s story?

Balki: You can say that again!

He did say that again, Balki, that’s exactly what he did.

Balki: I paid for his hot chocolate and his Dang Dongs.

Larry: You paid for his hot chocolate and his Dang Dongs.

Balki tells Larry that he paid for his hot chocolate and his Dang Dongs; and then Larry says that Balki paid for his hot chocolate and his Dang Dongs. Balki then confirms that he paid for the friend’s hot chocolate and Dang Dongs.

This is actually a good Balki-ism to me, again, because I grew up with this kind of thing:

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So, in addition to the afourtimesnowmentioned hot cocoa and Dang Dongs, Balki also bought for his friend some Double Stuf Oreos, scooter pies, Twinkies, and 2 gallons of cookies’n’creme ice cream (Balki grunts the ‘n’ and I laughed out loud at that).  Okay, we get it, Balki’s new friend is fatter than Larry. But wouldn’t it have been a hell of a lot cheaper to just make him some bibibabkas?

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But then Balki reveals that the New Friend took him to a fancy restaurant, Larry says “back up” and Balki walks backwards and fuck you Balki, I’m taking back that ‘n’ grunt. Look, everybody, I could keep doing bits about shit being repeated, or about how absolutely nothing is going on, but seriously. I have a job and other projects, and there’s something serious I have to try to address about this episode, so I’m just going to give you the short version: Balki had to pay for the friend’s meal at the restaurant. Then Balki had to pay for the friend’s cab home. I would have loved for this to be an episode about Balki having an imaginary friend, but Balki thinks he has met World Famous Athlete Carl Lewis (USA). Larry tries to let Balki down easy by explaining the whole story back to him, but that lightbulb in the background refuses to turn on.

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Either Carl is this season’s Carol, and I make a good callback joke not only to that, but my video game level reskin joke from last week; or we’ve revealed this week’s Larry Faux Pas.  Either way, Balki has trouble opening a jar of pickles and tells Larry that he doesn’t trust people enough.

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Both cousins are completely right, and I’d like to tease out something that isn’t being said here: all black people look alike. Every single one of them.  I honestly thought that the guy in Night School Confidential was supposed to be Carl Winslow until I looked at the credits. Shit, they could have used the customer from the first episode of this show and the audience wouldn’t have known. This kind of thing makes it very difficult for white people!  I dated a rich black woman for years, and you know what? Turns out I was dating three middle-class black women and one elderly black man.  I think I’ll miss the one that brought me lunch at work the most.

Balki says that Carl Lewis will leave him some tickets at will call for an event the next day, so the cousins then argue about that. Balki gives up on the pickles and leaves, saying he’s going to go hang out with Mary Anne and drink coffee for awhile, not knowing that she’s so dumb she’s going to get confused about which brown liquid she’s drinking.

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Then Balki comes right back in to borrow money, which is a very thorough condemnation of the Reagan-era “trickle-down” economic theory. Look how quickly the working white man’s money has disappeared into the mouths of blacks and women!

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Here we are at our third location: the will call ticket window of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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The guy at the window says that there are no tickets, not under the name Balki, not under the name Bartokomous, not even under Balki’s street name, “Aristoddler”. Ticketman, since he’s behind the bars, represents the prison-industrial complex, which exists first and foremost to keep alive the idea that black people are only a drain on society, and never give anything in return.

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Balki calls his cousin Larry a “Doubting Thomopolous” and weaves a tale about why Carl Lewis wouldn’t have left the tickets.  Larry counters that he’s a realist. That’s why he’s shooting for the one woman in the city for whom “uses nail polish” is a personality trait.

Cousin Larry keeps threatening that he’ll go home, and it’s obvious he’s not going, and they’re repeating shit again goddammit just show me Carl Lewis already so I can take a screenshot and compare it against other black actors who might appear on here someday. Balki is just left to think about what he’s done.

While he’s thinking, I’ll think too. I’ve made this week’s episode out to be pretty racist, but I want to make sure I explain my reasoning. Larry is having genuine concern for Balki, but is it racist in nature? Nothing is ever stated explicitly about black people being criminals in general here. And the tale Balki weaves is ludicrous enough in itself to not need an “all black people look alike” element; it’s an athlete buying up tons of snack food the day before an event! But, in “Couch Potato”, there’s a joke about Balki not being able to differentiate between Michael Jackson or “his sister”. It’s already a stretch for me to think that Balki would have trouble differentiating between people with similar facial features; incest jokes aside, there are probably tons of familial interconnections all across the tiny island of Mypos. He’s got to be good at it. But even Larry has to lean in close to the television to determine that it’s Diana Ross.  Maybe Larry’s projecting his own beliefs and insecurities onto Balki? On the other hand, maybe con artists realize they look enough like a celebrity* to be opportunistic when one comes to town. So I’ve been going back and forth on this one.

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But when we cut back to the Caldwell in the middle of the night, you hear a siren in the background.  And even with that, I’m slightly torn. Were television shows so committed to the idea that audiences needed to be kept informed aurally that nighttime exterior shots needed sirens? We’ve never had one before, but then, it’s an episode that might be about a criminal, but then…. You see?

Anyway, I’m beginning to like this bit where Larry talks to someone over the phone and they insult him.  It’s like those symbols in comics dialogue, where you get to imagine the dirtiest stuff possible for the person to be saying.

Grumpy Gus: I suggest you stick common household objects into your peehole, that being one of the tenderest holes on the human body!

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Larry: Oh well, that’s real nice.

Then Larry does that rubber/glue thing because we have to show somewhere towards the end of the show that Larry’s a kid.

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Balki: That’s called the Fosbury Flop.

And Larry shutting the door is called padding. I know Carl Lewis is out in the hallway. I know Balki’s not going to call up Jim’s Place and cry.

I remember when there was a special, between-seasons Thanksgiving South Park short with Jay Leno in it that I had to sit through an entire crappy movie to see. They did that crap with the news when I was younger, too, tease you with a good story so you’ll sit through all the ads for Chevy cars. Story at 11. Pfft. It’s 1AM on this show already. Gimme my damn Carl Lewis.

Balki takes the opportunity to put down Larry being short. Sounds like he must have seen Carl’s legs out there on the track.  You know what they say… once you go track, you never go back.  Balki tells us that, right after Larry left, Carl ran out of the stadium, picked Balki up and carried him back in, much to the delight of the paying fans. He even gave Balki a press pass!  Ooh, I bet you’re jealous now, Cousin Larry!

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Balki puts Larry down for being a bad listener and jumps on the couch again, but Larry assumes that Balki is lying to cover up how embarrassed he is. Larry sits down and explains how he once told school chum Bobby Caruso that Henry Aaron** was a friend of his dad’s; to keep up the lie, he had to forge Aaron’s autograph over and over for his friends. And that’s a good reveal!  Okay, maybe Larry really was projecting his insecurities and past lies onto Balki!

Anyway, does Balki see what Larry is getting at?

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But Larry won’t give up his argument.

Larry: This is Cousin Larry you’re talking to.

Man, when you hear that in a conversation, I don’t care if you’re telling the truth, you just drop it and leave.

Balki talks about how he’s never lied in his whole life, not even to the sheep.

*rubs hands together*

*realizes that moratorium ain’t got shit to do with sheep*

Balki fucks sheep.

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Larry lies about believing Balki, then makes fun of him, asking if they had hot cocoa after the track meet. And since I do want to give credit where credit’s due, I will say that you’re doing a pretty good job with the callback jokes, show.

Cousin Larry, having successfully survived another midnight, makes to go to bed. But!

A knock at the door!

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Whoa, show, you got me good! You had me thinking Carl Lewis was going to show up and here’s Ben Vereen!  He was so great as deacon Ernest Frye!

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Anyway, ”Carl Lewis” has stopped by to give Balki the autographs he forgot in the limousine.

Balki.  Buddy.  You just spent most of a day trying to convince your cousin that you met Carl Lewis, and you left the documented evidence in the car. Forget that, you left Carl Lewis in the car! Since when has Balki not wanted to share something good with someone he loves?

Cousin Larry just stares, while Balki says that he thinks Carl Lewis and Jerry Lewis are brothers. And now I’m thinking back to that joke about him putting the vinyl records in the wrong sleeves based on last names and… I don’t even.

For the sake of the viewers at home, Larry keeps repeating “you’re Carl Lewis” so they’ll know not to switch the channel to Beauty and the Beast. Balki tries one last time to get Carl to sleep over, but ABC paid for him to appear for 1 minute, and that’s what they got.

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Then Larry says “mnahennannmb” and guys, seriously, you all need to know the warning signs of a stroke.

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Cousin Larry says “that was Carl Lewis” one more time and then walks stiffly over to the couch like he crapped his pants & is trying to keep the shit from falling down his pantlegs.

For the 53rd time this season, Larry says that someone off-screen thinks he’s a jerk, and Balki finally accedes that this is true.

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Larry confesses his sins and says that he’ll believe whatever Balki tells him from then on.

Haha hoboy there must be a pretty damn good joke coming here! Hold onto your pants!

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Balki: What if I said I had dinner with the Mayor.

Balki: What if I said that NASA wants me to be an astronaut

Hounyhmn that he is, Balki is getting off on this.

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Balki: What if I said that I bought a handful of magic beans…

I’d say that ABC was trying out these ideas on the audience to see what direction they should take the 4th season.

And did someone say… “long-lost triplets”?

Damn, how did I manage to talk so much about an episode where almost nothing happens? Join me next week for “The Graduate”!

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Catchphrase count: Balki (1); Larry (0)

Boner count: Balki (0); Larry (0)

*or not at all; see the film Color Me Kubrick

**Hank Aaron was playing baseball 7 years before Carl Lewis is born, so there is footage out there which is, definitively, of Hank Aaron.

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Season 3, Episode 19: My Brother, Myself

We open at the Chronicle, where Balki is talking to “Cousin Billy” on the phone.

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SEASON 3 BOSS FIGHT

Last season’s level boss, Larry’s sister Elaine, was a bit of a cakewalk. If I remember correctly, all Larry had to do was dodge flying piano keys and hug her three times to beat the level.

But now we’re going to get to meet the one other sibling that the writers have bothered to name!  Remember Billy? From way back in the worst episode ever, “The Unnatural”? If I remember correctly, Billy had about a million trophies and had to start storing the lesser ones (“Best in Show – Tri-County Dimple Competition”) on Larry’s side of the room.  Elaine shaving Larry’s head was revealed as just silly little siblings at play, but I think this show will have a harder time reversing what we know to be true: Billy Appleton has been condescending to Larry since childhood.

Shit, I knew better than to get excited. I mean, after all, why the hell was Billy calling at work, and, oh, yep, there it is

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Balki thinks that the menstrual cycle gives women dark powers over men, like reading their minds.

*sigh*

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Larry comes out of the elevator, Balki gives exposition, and Harriette patiently stares at the camera until it’s time for her to ask for backstory. But Billy’s coming to Chicago for a couple of hours and Balki is so excited to mispronounce the name of another of his relatives!

Nature abhors a vacuum, so Balki’s exit pulls Harriette and Lydia toward Larry. Brother Billy has continued to be successful into his adult life: he owns his own business and flies frequently to Paris and Monte Carlo (the only two rich-people places the writers have ever heard of).  Lydia sides with Larry, as she, too, hates successful people.

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But then we find out Larry has been bragging about himself to Billy, claiming that he is the city editor. And because Billy didn’t, you know, grow up with Larry, he doesn’t suspect that Larry was lying.

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Harriette tells Larry that he deserves whatever he gets, and Larry responds with more alliteration with B words. You can tell one of the writers was so excited when they looked up who the executive editor of the Washington Post was and saw that it was “Ben Bradlee”.

Then the women start in with the alliteration and I guess that’s just a thing now. Buncha bit-part bimbos better not be bout to buoy this bonehead’s braggadocio…

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It seems like once every 6 or 7 episodes we get some nice directorial work, and here it comes as a transition from Larry worried at work to Larry worried at home. Balki, carefree as ever, is catching up on his reading (likely Amazing Spider-Man #299, the one where Peter Parker meets Eddie Murphy).

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Larry starts laughing, and begins his gambit to get Balki to help him lie to his brother. He says he’s laughing about the times he and Billy played “Appleton Snowjob”.

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Balki: I know this! On Mypos is very simple… the woman is working out in the field, she put cocaine on the erect penis, then she cook for eleven men!

It seems like once every 10 episodes or so Larry tries to hook Balki by acting like he’s not going to let him do something. Larry says that the Appleton Snowjob is a game where you try to fool your brother into believing something. And just like my little brother did upon realizing for the first time that you don’t always win when you play Chutes and Ladders, Balki weeps openly.

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Cousin Larry says they have to come up with a story, then “comes up” with increasingly absurd stories, the joke being that Larry keeps saying them right before Balki says something. I mean, I get that this is Comedy Dialogue Structure #52 (US Pat. D293,473), but I do kind of wonder what Balki would have come up with.

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He gets Balki on board with the city editor scam, but then Larry then posits an obstacle. How to get around Mr. Burns being there? An excited Balki says that he overheard some ABC execs saying that the studio audiences just didn’t seem to respond well to Eugene Roche, and he wasn’t coming back to the set anymore. Dude was gone.

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Demonstrating the briefcase skills he developed in “Night School Confidential”, Larry throws a bunch of personal effects into a briefcase and off they go to the Chronicle to perform their “snowjob”.

Later, in Mr. Burns’s office, the cousins changes the picture on the wall. Okay, okay, okay. Show of hands, readers. How many of you have black-and-white headshot photos of yourself on your office walls?

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Huh. Just me and Mr. Burns and Larry. Alright.

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And for the second time in years, Harriette has ventured more than two yards outside of the elevator just to let the cousins know that Billy is on his way.

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*squeal*

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It’s Ted McGinley! I did not expect that! I mean, I really only watched Married… With Children reruns in middle school, and I barely remember anything but the episode where Al Bundy is supposed to be in a Dodge commercial, but I’m weirdly excited to see McGinley here (so is Harriette, who gets a little wet before she leaves).  Similar to Mr. Burns and Kimmy Robertson, simply because I’ve seen him in literally anything else, ever he feels like more of a “real” actor. And I know enough about McGinley’s reputation to know what an insult that is to Linn-Baker and Pinchot.

But this confirms that Larry is the runt of the family, or possibly that a Jewish family left him on the Appleton doorstep in 1961.  The first thing out of Billy’s mouth is that Larry is so ungodly fat now.

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Just like any good foreigner, Balki’s instinct upon meeting a new “family member” is to start checking for where they keep their wallet.

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But then Balki goes too far trying to boost the con game. He starts by saying that everyone treats Larry like Prince Valium.  I know I haven’t really mentioned many Balki-isms since “Night School Confidential” kind of sweet-and-soured me on them (dammit! see?), but I mention this one because Spaceballs probably came out around the same time this season was being written. Wait, wait, I am NOT claiming that Perfect Strangers stole the joke. I’m just saying that someone needs to add this to Wikipedia’s list of multiple discoveries because this is way more important than some garbage mess like the Polio vaccine.

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Anyway, Balki keeps making shit up and Billy finds Melanie Wilson’s headshot. Balki says that Jennifer is a former Miss Costa Rica and then makes the same face I did a couple months back when I had shingles and the pain kept waking me up in the middle of the night.

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The cousins take a cab to the restaurant, but we don’t get to see it this time, because we’re not scheduled for anybody to beat Larry up until next season.  When we return to the Chronicle, we find that Billy has already left. Ah yes, I like this kind of boss battle. You think you’ve defeated them, but they just run off to a higher level of the tower; or you’ve only knocked away layers of armor. Either way, in the next round, they’re going to be flashing red.

Cousin Larry reveals that he lied, and Balki realizes that his soul has been darkened by participation in Larry’s evil. Oh, Larry, that’s Snow Way to Treat Your Brother, Or Your Cousin!

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Larry promises to tell his brother what’s what the very next time he sees him. The phone rings, and Larry gets a hot tip from Gus that Billy’s flight was cancelled, and that Billy will be staying with them that night.  Larry picks up his lucky pen and gouges his own eyes out so that he can never fulfill his promise to Balki.

Nah, j/k, I think that happens in season 6, though.

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Billy comes out of Larry’s room asking for a lint brush. It’s in Balki’s “lint drawer”. (I expect another painting soon, Balki.) It turns out that Larry told Billy that Balki is offering them a place to stay while Larry’s townhouse is being remodeled.

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So… did Larry remove all of his items from his bedroom and make it look like the guest bedroom? Did he get rid of the smell? Did he remove all of the art that he had around the apartment, since Billy would know what Larry’s tastes were? Did he even remove the Bismol from the fridge? I’m beginning to think you’re pulling a Snowjob on me, show.

Balki calls Larry fat. Balki, having long acclimated to the sounds of Larry sobbing while he masturbates in the next room, has forgotten that sound carries across short, open distances and yells at Larry about lying.

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Balki sits the brothers down and tells them the parable of the brothers Zaggy Badbad (Mooki and Grinki in this case).*

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The music comes on really strong throughout this whole story. I think the music director for the show thought that if they did this, it would cover up the fact that Balki’s story is basically just recapping the first 15 minutes of the show, but replacing the names and switching out “job” and “home” for “ram” and “farm”, respectively.  The point of the story is that the brothers used to love each other, and now don’t and that Larry will die alone, unmourned, and unloved.

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Larry Appleton, aged 72.

I thought Billy was a total shit to Larry when they were kids? Doesn’t he deserve some comeuppance?  I’m disappointed that Larry is  working through an adult issue with a member of his family instead of just being called fat and unsuccessful for 22 straight minutes, but maybe this is part of an aggregate point. Maybe once you’ve identified as a nail, everything starts to look like a hammer. Maybe Larry convinced himself that he would only ever be ridiculed and put down, and he then interpreted–or even forced–situations to end that way. With Jerseyman. With Vestman. But now Tuxman is here, and–

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HEY WAIT A MINUTE

Episodes about Myposian food, about Vince Lucaahhss, about snow and lying, about Balki demanding to be allowed a crucial part in a game at the last minute. Eugene Roche, like Count Fenring, a failed Twinksatz Haderach; Jerseyman/Vestman; Belita Moreno has a different hair color…

IS LEVEL THREE JUST A RESKIN OF LEVEL TWO?

*throws controller across the room*

AND YOU JUST INTROSPECT INSTEAD OF FIGHTING THE LEVEL’S BOSS?

*jumps up and down on the console*

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At the end of Balki’s story, Billy starts crying. He admits to lying about everything he said he owned. Turns out he’s a travel agent and gets good deals on flights.

Larry wonders if Billy lied to him all these years. Yeah, Billy, huh? Was that “First Place – Wisconsin State Fair – Cheese Identification” trophy fake too? But there’s still like three minutes left, so instead of coming clean, Larry tells Billy that he forgives him.  Once that takes up a minute, Larry recaps all the things he’s lied about.

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Larry: I’m not the city editor at the paper, I don’t own a townhouse. Jennifer and I aren’t engaged, but she does like me. Look, here’s the shooting script for “Future Shock”, look at the highlighted passage on page 30. See? Firmly established in the show’s canon.

Turns out they were both jealous of each other because their parents pitted them against each other with that “why can’t you be more like your brother” bullcrap. Larry and Billy, with the things they were good at** both represented the other’s greatest desires. Man, the dynamic between Walt and Hank on Breaking Bad got nothing on this!

Larry and Billy hug, and it’s a real touching moment for people who–unlike me–can experience real emotion about their family. I’m so proud of this show.

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Balki is brought to tears, this being the first time the show has ever fully obscured him in a shot.

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Balki says that this was the moment that they really became brothers, the moment that they “really stepped in something good”.

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*mashes the A button repeatedly to try to get through Balki’s text faster, even though I know it doesn’t work that way*

Join me next week for “You Gotta Have Friends”!

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Catchphrase count: Balki (0); Larry (0)

Boner count: Balki (0); Larry (0)

*Makes me wonder if, when they got together with Zimdog, they were more of a Three Stooges or a Marx Brothers kind of deal.

**Larry was really good at ironing.