I just want to start off by saying that I’m very sorry for my outburst last week. I’ll try to do better this time.
Anyway, this week’s episode addresses a concern we’re probably all sharing for Larry and Balki. We learned in the first episode that Cousin Larry moved away from home so that he could masturbate without one of his 8 siblings walking in on him; now, he’s lucky if he can rub one out in the shower before Balki barges in. And Balki’s luggage was a box with “America or Burst” written on it; after living three weeks in the states without his sheep, he’s probably ready to. So let’s try to get these jokers laid!
We open again at the store where Larry and Balki work. Larry barely finishes a joke about Ed McMahon before Balki comes in and pops another boner for Susan. He then proceeds to try to shine her shoes with his heart.
Larry tells Balki to cut that shit out, mentioning that he doesn’t do that to other women. Balki points out that there really aren’t any other women on the show, so Larry encourages him to flirt with one of the customers in the shop. They really don’t give a shit about getting repeat business at Ritz Discount, do they?
Balki instantly jumps to talking about how the woman’s got great birthing hips. Ha! Those unrefined foreigners! Actually, I applaud Balki for being so in touch with and honest about the procreative origin of his desires. Larry’s stellar advice having failed him, Balki asks Twinkacetti how to get dates.
Twinkacetti just tells Balki to go get a prostitute, and now I’m upset that’s not the direction this episode took. (“What do you take me for, some kinda two-bit whore?” “Of course not, don’t be ridiculous. What kind of whore should I take you for?”, etc.)
Larry suggests that Balki go to a singles bar, but Balki doesn’t want to go there alone. Larry is made visibly nervous by this suggestion, for reasons I couldn’t possibly fathom, much less make jokes about.
The show maxes out its budget of one unique set per episode so that it wouldn’t be given a lower budget the next year. So here’s the singles bar. I was still loading diapers when this episode aired, so I have no idea how accurate this depiction is. Balki gets right to the heart of things and calls it a “mating place” and Larry reminds him that, in America, you have to pretend that sex doesn’t exist and bury such ideas under multiple layers of polite language. He also reminds him that people don’t just screw in public like they do on Mypos. Larry tells Balki to be cool so Balki starts doing a weird imitation of a prevailing black stereotype, replete with shaky walk and deep-voiced slang.
And there it is. One of the things I was looking for from these reviews. Let Balki’s utterance of the words “hey, mommo, you be getting down witchoo bad self” stand for every time that “black” was equated with “cool” in the media of my youth. Some might argue that attributing “coolness” to black people is a tame stereotype, but it’s only a couple of steps to racism from there (“cool” = “more soulful” = “in touch with their ‘primitive’ ancestry”). I dated a black woman once and she listened to Kenny Loggins and always used dryer sheets. See? Black people are just as white as anybody else!
Anyway, sorry, I’m getting distracted. Where were we? Balki did something embarrassing and now THEY’RE ALL LOOKING AT YOU, LARRY.
Balki makes a Three Stooges joke and then Larry tries to give him some pointers on picking up women the white man way, but it turns out that there’s a woman at the other end of the bar making eyes at Larry.
Larry gets very uncomfortable about this. What’s your hangup, Cousin Larry?
Balki tries out the standard “do you come here often” line on a blonde that he creepily made eye contact with, but when that doesn’t work, he just goes back to the well for more sex stuff. We established in the opening scene that Balki has some sort of foot fetish; now, he asks this woman to smother him with her “beautiful American body”.
At this point, I have to ask why he needs Cousin Larry’s advice when he’s obviously been around the island a few times.
The brunette is still making eyes at Larry, though, so he goes over to chat her up. They’re very careful to not show the woman’s face, so I’m halfway convinced the woman in the close-up was someone completely different.
Then the woman’s boyfriend (wearing a jersey he bought in a parking lot & probably says “Chicago Cuds” on it) comes in and drags Larry out of the bar. The hell? It’s a singles bar, right? Is this couple doing public roleplay as a prelude to their lovemaking?
For the second week in a row, Larry gets maimed off-screen. I also note that Larry has no visible bruises. Either Jerseyman knows how to punch where it doesn’t show, or Larry is Wolverine (hey, waitaminute…Wisconsin’s not that far from Canada). Balki comes in singing “Young Girl” by Gary Puckett, a song sung from the perspective of a man doing his best to eschew pedophilism. And… what? Sure, Balki makes weird pop culture references, and it is a song about love/sex. But what are we supposed to assume here? Is Balki happy that he managed to not have sex with a woman? But it turns out that the smothering line worked after all, because Balki announces he’s going on his first date, and everything makes sense again. I didn’t have to make jokes about… you know. Balki insists that Larry come on the date, since ABC wasn’t sure if either one of these characters could carry a scene all on their own yet.
In what probably wasn’t meant as a callback to the Three Stooges joke earlier, Larry and Balki get into a slapfight while Larry does Balki’s necktie. Then Susan comes in and they make a joke about how Balki had to be told not to touch a woman’s body without being asked. Ha! Those rapist foreigners! Larry gets really patronizing in trying to build up Balki’s confidence, and I guess I’ve forgotten to mention how much of a dick Larry can get away with being because Balki hasn’t watched enough American TV to know patronizing when he sees it. Larry tries to justify to Susan why he’s so mean by saying that he hates being embarrassed by stupid, loud people, even if they are his friends.
Larry then just lets loose about how stupid Balki is, because Balki makes jokes about sheep and likes Bo Derek’s acting. I know Larry’s just dealing with “imaginary audience” issues, which most people get over by 18 or so, but damn if some of those put-downs weren’t heartfelt.
What do you know, they go back to the same place as last time, ostensibly to get food. Can this place even rightly be called a “singles” “bar”? Four sentences into this double-date, though, and Balki’s already talking about what they do with human excrement on Mypos since they don’t have sewers. Then he launches into a long, nonsensical joke about sheep. These women are wondering why the hell they didn’t just do a few close-up shots and leave this scene for stand-ins with their backs to the camera.
Before Balki completes his transformation into a Frank Zappa song, he hears the band playing music that reminds him of Mypos. He starts dancing, but Larry’s attempts to stop him are thwarted by Jerseyman, now wearing attire more appropriate to this venue. Plus his girlfriend is there too, and you can see her face this time, which just makes the editing of that previous scene even more confusing. Jerseyman forces Larry to do the Dance of Joy with everybody at the restaurant, even though it’s an entirely different Dance of Joy.
Back at the apartment, Larry fails to hang his coat. Remember this. This is important.
Larry lets out all of his bottled-up embarrassment. He tries to calm himself down by drinking antacid straight from the bottle. Dude friggin’ had it in the fridge, so you know it’s basically his comfort food. Larry’s pretty down on himself, but he gets the best joke of the episode:
Balki: Well, nobody twisted your leg to make you do that Cagney impression.
Larry: Well, I got sucked into the mob mentality.
Now that the jokes have peaked, the emotional music comes on. Gather round the screen, children, it’s lesson time. Larry realizes what we all knew two episodes ago: that he’s not the person to teach Balki how to have fun. Luckily, the work that the writers put into letting you know that Balki loves the absolute dregs of American culture pays off here. He actually thinks that Larry’s a fun guy and begs him to do Cagney again. Larry then proceeds to do the worst impression of Cagney ever.
Balki just eats that shit up. Oh, no, wait, Balki reveals that he thought it was an impression of Meg Foster (Christine Cagney in Cagney & Lacey). Nevermind. Larry says “fuck your lesson” and goes on a 3-day Bismol Bender.
Believe it or not, I’m a little disappointed that there were no catchphrases in this one. But, you know, it being the first season and all, you have to try things out. In an alternate reality, I’m sure that “Hey mommo, you be getting down witchoo bad self” became Balki’s catchphrase instead.
Come back next week when I’ll look at “Baby, You Can Drive My Car”!
Boner count: Balki (2), Larry (0.5) (he probably at least had a chubby going before Jerseyman shut him down)
Catchphrase count: Balki (0); Larry (0)
Dance of Joy running total: 2 (debatable)
9 thoughts on “Season 1, Episode 3: First Date”
I think I remember this episode. At least, I remember Balki’s “black” impression. Would that make him “Blacki” for this episode? (Sorry.) (Not really.)
I’m going to take a tip from Coke’s playbook and call him “Balki BlāK”.
Wow. Mainlining antacid. I thought my Saturday nights were the lamest things ever, but I guess you haven’t lived until you’ve chugged milk of magnesia.
Just add some triple sec and lime juice and it’s a Cosmoapp-le-ton
“Come back next week when I’ll look at “Baby, You Can Drive My Car”!”
Oh, I remember that one! It’s when Balki sells the gold plumbing from his space ship to buy Larry a sports car. It’s good.
Doesn’t this same bar make an appearance a few seasons later, when Balki and Larry get their asses kicked and take karate lessons?
I’m thinking it’s an entirely separate set, though I suspect they may have used some of the same decor on the walls.
We had the first four seasons on DVD a long time ago, so I remember a lot of these episodes and I can even hear and see them playing out in my head. Since then, I’ve gotten to see the whole series, but those I’ll probably remember the best.
I probably didn’t recognize this when I was a lot younger, but as you seem to point out, this show has a bit of a problem knowing how to portray “foreign-ness” and just kind of lumps a lot of “funny” behaviors into one character. I suppose that makes writing jokes easier for better or worse, but it feels like it could be a little demeaning and I bet with a little research they could have had a more accurate and relatable character. I’m sure that’s probably understood already, so that’ll be the only time I mention it.