Three weeks ago, we had an episode called “Picture This” because Larry was trying to take a picture of Dolly Parton. This week’s show is called “Check This” because Balki gets a checkbook. Stay tuned for future episodes titled “Smell This” (Balki’s recipe for Myposian stew involves leaving meat on the counter for a whole week), “Can’t Touch This” (Ritz Discount must move a surplus of camp stoves, which are bad luck to handle according to Mypos legend), and “What This” (22 straight minutes of Balki asking what things are).
Balki is exercising along with the TV. This is Balki’s way of waking up Cousin Larry to let him know it’s time to come out and establish his character trait of being the frustrated one. Larry even goes so far as to admit that he’s grumpy all the time, and whoa, slow down, show! That kind of self-awareness belongs at least 2/3 of the way through season 2!
Then Balki continues his exercises and
We had an agreement, show. You would provide me fodder for making funny reviews, and I would avoid the low-hanging fruit of “lookit, two single guys living together, they must be GAY”.
You were doing okay, show. You had Balki and Cousin Larry popping boners only for women. You gave Balki a number of weird fetishes that he tried to get women to participate in with him.
But then, one minute into your 5th episode, and Balki’s wearing just his pajamas and flexing his butt in Cousin Larry’s direction. (“On Mypos, this how we make romantic overbites.”)
Larry breathlessly asks “What are you doing” and damn if I don’t hear a glimmer of hope in his line reading. I was willing to work with you, show, but enough
Seriously, show? Fuck it. You wanna set me up to make gay jokes, I’ll make the damn gay jokes.
After Balki explains that he’s doing “buttock pinches”, Larry scolds him for not having folded his bed back into the couch. Cousin Larry’s tactic here isn’t original, but can be effective: set up a bit where he and Balki engage in physical comedy, increasing the chances that they’ll “accidentally” touch each others’ weiners.
Larry uses the opportunity of showing Balki how to fold the bed as an excuse to say the phrase “lift… and push” over and over. Larry knows how he likes it. I can already predict this week’s double lesson: Balki learns to successfully execute the “Reverse Warrior”, and Larry learns that it’s only lovemaking if you really love the other person. Then Cousin Larry pretends to sprain his back so that he can be bent over for the next couple of minutes.
Balki tells Larry that the sofa is broken; when asked why he had not volunteered this information before, Balki responds that he was “watching and learning”. We’ve established that Larry is trying to scenario his way onto some hot Mypos dick while staying innocent of explicitly wanting it, and this must be the kind of behavior Balki has been watching and learning from. Obviously, Balki has broken the bed so that it can no longer be a couch, i.e., so that their relationship can no longer take the platonic form of two friends sitting together. Anyways, enough analysis, let’s get to the fucking.
Larry starts shouting “No”. Cousin Larry, don’t go all Jon Lovitz in “Tales of Ribaldry” on me. Larry then uses his catchphrase.
Ahhh. I get it now. We established a few weeks back that Larry uses his catchphrase for dominance. But then Balki starts talking money and it’s such a bonerkill that the episode switches to some boring plot about banking. You’re going to give me whiplash, show.
At the episode’s third location the bank, Balki hugs Sam Anderson because Balki is gay foreign. Sam Anderson drops a lot of banking terms on Balki, prompting a joke about how some accounts are out of Balki’s “league”. The punchline is then that Balki’s league is the “little league” because he hasn’t learned how to be a good pitcher, much less catcher yet when it’s not making him creepy or a cartoon, this show infantilizes Balki. I don’t think I’ve mentioned that yet, but it’s also another thing that’s been present in most of the episodes so far. Balki playing around with the cash register, Balki sleeping with a stuffed toy, Balki idolizing and idealizing celebrities, and now Balki getting a bank account that comes with a promotional “Freddie the Frog” coin bank.
There’s actually a nice little bit of dialogue when Larry tries to explain to Balki how banking works in terms of the money being kept safe, accruing interest, being loaned to others, being able to borrow if you have good credit, etc.
Balki: I could come to this bank and borrow my own money and then pay them interest?
Larry: Well, yes… provided you had good credit.
Balki: What that is?
Larry: Well, credit is proving to the bank that you don’t need to borrow your own money.
Out of the mouths of babes uneducated farmers. It’s probably the most clever the show has been to this point. Larry continues to sell Balki on the idea by telling him about checks that have “pretty little pictures” on them, and Balki’s excited enough to hand over his money to the bank. Balki then exclaims over the check designs (rainbows! flowers!) before settling on puppies.
I don’t know whether to make that a joke about him being gay or a child, but that is the same face I make when I’m trying to push a nasty hemorrhoid back in. Pictured below is when it slides back out five minutes later.
Again, Susan shows up to massage Larry’s back because her one character trait is “she cares about people’s feelings”. Balki gives Larry an “app-le” and damn, are we going to have to do a whole episode where the lesson Balki learns is how to pronounce Larry’s last name? Speaking of last names, the video quality’s not that great on this DVD, but I think Susan’s nametag says “Susan Campbell, RN”. Balki presents Susan with a pack of sugarless gum and Larry asks if he really wrote a check for just those two things.
He also bought Larry a bug light. And… yeah, Balki’s definitely a kid in this episode, because this is exactly how I bought presents for people when I was little. My parents took me to the Dollar Tree every year so I could do my Christmas shopping for the whole family, and I’d buy whatever made the most sense given what I knew about everyone (I still regret the inappropriateness of buying my aunt a $1 broom because my cousins were messy hellions, but hey, my parents let me do it).
Mr. Twinkacetti bursts out of his office demanding that Larry tell Mrs. Twinkacetti that the two of them went to a basketball game instead of the truth: that Mr. Twinkacetti is going to a poker game. For justification, Twinkacetti cites Larry’s membership in the “male brotherhood” (is there a female…? nevermind), which Balki is explicitly excluded from. Larry doesn’t want to lie, but Mr. Twinkacetti says that “men do these things for each other”.
When Larry counters that the members of the Nixon administration did those things for each other, Twinkacetti tells Larry not to insult his heroes. Susan tells Twinkacetti that it’s wrong to lie to his wife, and then she basically bolts out of the store. She had to get out of there quickly because she was dangerously close to developing a second personality trait. Because Larry refuses to lie, Twinkacetti gives him the task of delivering bodybuilding equipment; on his way out he sets up a fuckdate with Balki.
Then we find out that Balki ordered brand new furniture for Cousin Larry and how do you wanna bet he’s paying for it?
BALKI STACKIN THAT PUPPY PAPER, Y’ALL
Balki sings Diana Ross’s “Touch Me in the Morning” while he unwraps the new couch.
GAAA-wait, no, that’s a song about saying goodbye to a lover. Were you humping the old convertible sofa, Balki? Could it not be folded up because it was stiff with Myposian discharge?
Larry fails to hang his coat. Remember this. This is important.
Cousin Larry takes a look at the new furniture, and he’s found this episode’s reason for getting angry.
Ren. Stimpy. Listen to me. Just fuck already. Larry is upset because, as shitty as his old couch and chairs were, they were his. We learn that Larry never had his own toys growing up, having lived with 8 brothers and sisters. Besides, if you accept Sarah Portland’s thesis that Larry purchases only to impress whatever one-off characters wander into the apartment (which I’ve accepted as headcanon, so you should too), the loss of the furniture symbolizes the failure of his last major effort to find a Chicago bride & deny his own homosexuality.
Then Larry calls himself “neurotic”, which Balki mishears as “erotic”. First this shows wears me down to the point of making gay jokes, then it just plain admits that Larry’s hangups are all sexual in their origin. Way to steal my thunder, show.
Having beaten me at the gay jokes game, the show returns to the banking lesson. Here’s the entirety of Mypos’s economic system explained:
Balki: In Mypos, money’s not that important! Two chickens is a pig, two pigs is a cow, and two cows is a fortune!
Balki and Larry apologize to each other, and Larry says they can fix things by returning the new furniture and getting the old stuff back. Then the big reveal: Balki sold the old furniture to Mr. Twinkacetti! Oh no!
The next scene spends a whole minute explaining to the audience what you’ve already figured out is the last hurdle for Larry and Balki to clear before the episode ends, so I’ll just talk about Edwina Twinkacetti, played by Belita Moreno. You might know her from the George Lopez sitcom, and if you do, I won’t give you any shit about it. I am reviewing Perfect Strangers here.
Ernie Sabella does a great job selling his discomfort around her. I already want to see more of these two on screen together.
Because Twinkacetti told his wife that Balki went to the ballgame with him, Balki is able to tighten the screws and get Twinkacetti to sell back Larry’s furniture for $1. Edwina finds Twinkacetti’s poker winnings behind a picture of Gordon Liddy hanging in his office, and we have our winner for best joke payoff of the season so far. The earlier gag about the Nixon administration you could wave away as not really being part of Twinkacetti’s bio because it was a little too much, but the Liddy callback makes it work.
Edwina threatens to break Twinkacetti’s legs if he plays poker again, so let me just trot this back out.
I can only imagine Season 2 will introduce Mrs. Twinkacetti’s overbearing parents. But seriously, show, more of Sabella and Moreno, please.
The show explicitly calls out that manipulating Twinkacetti was Balki’s rite of passage into the “male brotherhood”, and the earlier bits about Balki being an overgrown child enhance this. Anyway, our heroes got their sofa bed back, but Balki just can’t wait long enough to get it back to the apartment before he starts trying to frott it up.
This position is called the “Double Lesson”.
Join me next week for “Happy Birthday, Baby”, which is the last episode (!) of season 1.
Catchphrase count: Balki (1), Larry (1)
Boner count: We like to have fun around here, but in all seriousness, there were no legitimate boners this week.
7 thoughts on “Season 1, Episode 5: Check This”
Wow, season 1 is short.
I’m kind of surprised that you didn’t mention we’d be seeing Anderson and Moreno again as different characters.
It was sort of unavoidable that I’d learn that while reading up on the show, but I’m trying to let some things be a surprise for me (and any readers who are watching many of these episodes for the first time). Like, for instance, if there’s an actual episode where Larry and Balki kiss or something, don’t tell me.
I thought “Freddie the Frog” sounded familiar…but once you got to the Myposian economy stuff I knew for sure I’d seen this episode. Odd…in my mind Larry and Balki always worked at the Chronicle, but I guess I did see at least a little bit of the early episodes.
Out of curiosity, are you taking between-seasons breaks to write sillier pieces? Or are you just plowing through, like Balki and so much sofa bed?
I guess I’ve got to up my game if a running boner count isn’t silly enough! I do plan to do a review of Season 1 as a whole, and I definitely have some vague notions of silly post ideas that I’ll pursue if Perfect Strangers continues some of its emerging patterns and gives me enough raw material to work with.
But I’m open to ideas! Nothing is set in stone, and I have to be flexible. Remember: sometimes the world looks perfect, nothing to rearrange; sometimes you just get a feeling like you need some kinda change.
Oh, Casey. I’m so proud of you for doing a whole four episodes without giving in to the inevitable “my main characters are a slash couple” jokes. But now that we’ve gotten there, we must come up with a fabulous ship name. My favorites so far include Barry and Lackey.
How do you feel about “App-le-mous”?
Works for me. Also, apple mousse sounds delicious.