Season 1, Episode 2: Picture This

Welcome back!  I’d like you all to know that Philip Reed of Noiseless Chatter (henceforth referred to as “ALF Guy”), Mark Moore of Hey Dude Reviewed (henceforth referred to as “Dude Guy”), and Sarah Portland of Warp Speed to Nonsense (henceforth referred to as “Sarah Portland Guy”) all commented on last week’s review, so I consider this formal acceptance into the television review blog community. Gooble gobble, one of them, they accept me, one of them! Seriously, though, these people are all doing the Lord’s work, and you should read their blogs too.

001

The episode opens with Mr. Twinkacetti shouting at a disabled person.  He waits until he’s in the doorway of the business he owns to do it, making it very easy for the person to spread the word never to shop at Ritz Discount.

Balki comes in and announces very quickly that he’s foreign for anyone who missed the first episode.  He then excuses himself for being away from the store for so long by regaling us with yet another story about an old woman. Instead of broken fingers and belly dancers, this story has murderous pigeons and a reference to Tippi Hedren.

002

Tippi Hedren, for those of you like myself who had to look it up, was the female lead in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds.  So Balki made a good joke! Actually, let’s break this type of joke down, because we’ll be seeing a lot of these on this show.  Balki was surrounded by menacing pigeons in his story, evocative of the Hitchcock movie, so it almost demands that you make the reference somehow.  But then they make the reference more specific, not just to the film, but to an actress–and a specific scene! Specifity makes things funnier (for instance, that’s the 537th gross generalization I’ve made about Tippi Hedren jokes this year alone).  Plus, “Tippi” is kind of a funny name, so bonus there.  But here’s the kicker: this joke is coming from the character you’d least expect to make it.  How does this rube from the Isle of Sheep know American films?  Okay, so maybe a 1960s movie is a bad example; they probably just showed it in the Mypos cinema a couple months before Balki moved here.

But there are a number of references like this that are enhanced simply by Balki making them (in last week’s episode, he was singing “What’s Love Got to Do With It” while dusting).  It’s a little bit of a cheat, humor-wise, but it does build up the idea over time that Balki has a very eclectic knowledge of American culture.  The viewer is shown that, as a foreigner, Balki has no idea of the status of various aspects of American culture in the eyes of its residents.  They’re all new to him, all on equal footing on his eyes, or perhaps these things appeal to Balki in some way.  I like to think the latter, as I’ve felt that my own interests tend to the strange (like reviewing 30-year old sitcoms…).

Wow. Three minutes into the second episode and I’ve already written more than I did last week.  I guess I just felt that I should move past jokes about the faces people make.

003

Twinkacetti suggests that Balki may be the product of incest and then leaves so that Larry can tell us all what lesson he’s going to teach Balki this week.  Larry very gently explains to Balki how sometimes people take advantage of you if you’re too nice.  Nah, just kidding, he calls Balki a sucker. Balki humbly vows never to be nice again.

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Then Larry gets a phone call from “Gus” with a hot tip that Dolly Parton is secretly in town. Balki instantly breaks into song (“9 to 5”) and starts pretending to shake his tits around.

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Larry then struggles to get a very long expository line out about how this is his shot at proving he’s a “crack photo journalist” by getting a photograph of Dolly Parton.  Man, I’ve always heard that everybody was on cocaine back in the 80s, but Dolly Parton?  I hope she’s doing better these days.

Later that evening, Balki is watching one of the last episodes of “The All-New Let’s Make a Deal” that would air until the show was revived again in 1990.

*breathes on fingernails, buffs them on shoulder* That’s right, I research these reviews.

007

Larry comes in and hangs his coat.  This is important. Remember this.

Larry failed in his attempt to catch the Dolly Trolley, but he did gain some new intel: she’s cheating on Carl Thomas Dean, her husband of almost 20 years at that point.

(fingernails, shoulder)

Balki is so taken by surprise at the idea that Dolly Parton would be unfaithful that he can’t even spit out his catchphrase.  He very quickly overcomes his cognitive dissonance, saying that “Dolly Parton wouldn’t do that” and that the guy must be her brother.

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Balki and Larry enter into a lengthy and, if you ask me, way too brainy convo about celebrities’ right to privacy and whether paparazzi count as journalists.  Larry makes himself a baloney sandwich, which subtly tells the viewers whose side they should take.

010

Then Balki gets scared of Larry opening a beer so that Larry can ask him if he’s never seen a pop-top before. I was getting a little worried, folks–we were almost a third of the way through this episode.

011

Someone named Linda comes by to drop off her dog Gorbachev so that Larry can dogsit.  Gorbachev hates everybody except for Larry and will just straight up shit on you if you don’t take him for walkies on time.

012

Larry not-so-subtly hints that he expects at least a handy for dogsitting, which he has to explain to Balki within the framework of being taken advantage of.  They have a good laugh over Larry’s boner, and Balki makes the same face I do when I’m walking around my apartment barefoot and find a carpet tack that wasn’t bent down properly.

014

Then Larry repeats his admonition to Balki to not let people take advantage of him.  For instance, Balki’s supposed to be sewing Twinkacetti’s pants, but Twinkacetti doesn’t give out knuckle shuffles to anybody, so it’s a dead end.  Larry gets another hot tip about Dolly, but Balki refuses to watch Gorbachev. Larry gripes to Susan the next day about how the dog scared Dolly off and wildly dragged him down the street, because seeing such a thing would have been too funny for a comedy show. Larry gets mad at Balki and refuses to talk to him, which makes Balki mad. Balki explains that pouting was invented on Mypos, and then gives Larry the “Kiss of Silence”, because even Myposian punishments involve invading others’ personal space.

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Threatened by this action, Larry gets angry and attempts to reassert his dominance by coming up with his own catchphrase.

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Then Gus–whose endless unrequited favors are never commented on–calls yet again, but Balki answers the phone and won’t tell Larry what Gus said. Balki may not know much about beer cans, but he damn sure knows how to emotionally manipulate his loved ones. He forces Larry to beg forgiveness in the Myposian fashion.

017

Oh for– I made a vow, and I’m sticking with it.  Yes, it’s two guys living together.  No, I’m not going to joke about them being *clears throat* Balki does the Dance of Joy for the first time, and it’s really funny, I’m sure. Just give me a minute.

019

Then they go to a hotel restaurant and Balki has to comment on how dark it is there since, as paid actors, he and Larry have to be lit well. Larry soon spots his prey:

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Balki’s love of Dolly Parton extends to knowing what all six of her brothers look like, because he instantly switches to the belief that Dolly’s breaking up with this guy.  Balki, determined to protect Dolly’s career, steals Larry’s camera and

024

DAMMIT I MADE A VOW

Okay. Sorry.

027

Larry ends up falling on Dolly’s table and we find out it’s NOT Dolly, just someone with big boobs who wears a Sears “Country Music Singer” Halloween wig year-round. Poor Larry.

025

Balki and Larry then have a little post-mortem on the whole ordeal back at the apartment. Larry bemoans his lack of integrity, but then the music comes on and it’s lesson time.  Balki explains that when someone discovers they possess a character trait that doesn’t fit with their concept of themselves as a good person, and then they change it, they achieve integrity.  And… you know what, I like this lesson, because the show’s hitting on both definitions of the word. Good job, show.

026
Then Larry walks into the bedroom and Gorbachev instantly begins barking at him. Evidently the baloney sandwich wasn’t the only symbolism going on in this episode.  Now that Larry has integrity, the “Russian” cipher hates him. I’m sure it was this bold political statement from ABC that led the real Gorbachev to call for perestroika a mere 9 months later.

Join me next week for “First Date”!

______________________________

Catchphrase count: Balki (1.5); Larry (1)

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

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4 thoughts on “Season 1, Episode 2: Picture This

  1. I admit I haven’t seen most of these episodes since ABC, and there are probably many that I’ve never seen – including the first episode. I did see a flashback to the first episode in a later episode, but I have no idea if it was a legit flashback or a recreation. When they brought back the character of Marvin Berman, they flashed back to their first encounter with him, but it was actually a recreation of a scene from the earlier episode, not footage from the episode itself.

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  2. I find it interesting that both ALF and Balki have a strange mixture of knowledge of American culture, sometimes being very knowledgeable and sometimes knowing nothing. It’s done for comedic value, but it never seems consistent. On Balki, some of it makes sense – American culture is exported everywhere these days – but makes none on ALF, who is not even from the same planet. It does make me wonder about the exportation of American cultures to foreigners.
    Also, a slow clap to whoever set-dressed Larry’s apartment and included that Frank Stella print. Larry seems like the sort of guy who wants to impress others, and I can just hear him saying, “Yeah, I picked that up at the Art Institute of Chicago. Did you know they have more than a dozen of his pieces in their permanent collection?”

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  3. Whoa, that is pretty impressive! Come to think of it, for a guy who makes bupkis, Larry sure does have a lot of stuff that he obviously bought after he moved to Chicago.

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