Last week’s episode established that a few things that remained constant from the first season: lessons (with musical accompaniment), physical comedy, a third location. The show has also introduced some new elements: repeating jokes, having Larry ask the wrong question to draw things out, and maybe, just maybe, a new character (Gina Morelli, from Balki’s citizenship class). But, for me, at least, three major questions remain: will Susan stick around (and will she grow a second trait)? will we get to meet any of Larry’s siblings? and will Balki start pronouncing things correctly?
Let’s see if this episode answers any of these!
Like usual, we open at the Ritz Discount store, where Larry is cleaning a window. Twinkacetti comes in and insults him. I have something to say about the insult he makes, but first, check out Twinkacetti’s tie:
I love garish ties to begin with, but this one’s character-appropriate because there’s racing horses on it. I appreciate the effort, considering that most audience members in that decade did not have a way to pause the show.
Anyway, about that insult. Twinkacetti comments that Larry has “finally found a task worthy of [his] talents”. I’m going to side with Twinkacetti here. Every episode so far has shown us that Larry can’t handle various social situations that most people encounter on a regular basis: he can’t ask a girl out, he doesn’t know how to set boundaries, he even has trouble explaining relatively simple concepts like checks and bank accounts. And, sure, Larry’s likely going to be subject to around 20 more lessons this season, but most of them will come from Balki. Will this be enough for Larry to achieve his dream? Pfft, like I care, I’m just here to make jokes about these guys having buttsex.
Balki comes in and announces that he’s joined a “healthy club” on the basis that body fat is a bad thing. He then spouts what we’re led to assume is the exact same pitch he got from the person who sold him the gym membership. Given that Balki probably has zero body fat, I have to question the sales skill of the person who sold him on the gym; they really should have pushed the bodybuilding angle instead of “aerobic exerceez”.
Larry tries to explain that it’s a scam, and even Twinkacetti backs him up on it. Twinkacetti backing Larry up should be Balki’s first clue. No wait, I forgot, this is a sitcom; we can rest assured that this is definitely not the lesson Balki will learn. Give it a couple minutes and we’ll find out what minor infraction Larry will be crucified for this week!
Well, look who’s arrived: it’s Tina’s replacement! New Tina features the same fashion sense as Tina Classic, but now with only half the eyeliner! New Tina even has her own name: Jennifer Lyons. That’s two women in as many weeks with verbally-established last names. Susan’s got some stiff competition…
…because Cousin Larry’s popping a boner so hard over New Tina that he has trouble spitting out his own name! I bet you guys didn’t expect a boner joke! Anyway, New Tina works with “Reuben’s Perfect Body” and is looking for Balki, who forgot to sign his application.
Larry decides, on the basis of this one boner, that he’s in love with New Tina (okay, fine, I’ll stop) and decides to join Reuben’s Perfect Body. His second bit of faulty thinking is that Jennifer only likes jocks. You see, we all have an amazing mental ability to notice patterns; humans who didn’t have this skill died out thousands of years ago. But this part of the brain almost never shuts up: one result of this is mental schemas of related things so that we don’t have to think as much about every new situation or person we encounter. We convince ourselves that poor location or upkeep of a shopfront indicates lesser quality merchandise (lookin’ at you, Ritz); or that someone who is well-groomed is also smarter and wealthier. But Larry is basing this on the fact that 30 seconds of interaction with this woman revealed her place of work, so for him to–oh, wait, goddammit. I keep forgetting this is a sitcom, and people never have character traits that are at all discordant with each other. Larry’s probably absolutely right on this one. So go ahead, Larry, start lying to Jennifer about your physical prowess. It’s the next step in this ritual demanded by the Sitcom Gods.
Reuben’s Perfect Body features one of my favorite 80s color schemes. It also features all of the weightlifting equipment, you know the ones, with the heavy pieces of metal that move around? Let’s hope this means that Larry gets maimed on-screen for once!
Larry commits to his quest to lie to Jennifer by doing it even when she’s not on screen, telling Biff McSkincancer to leave a machine set at the higher weight.
(P.S. I love that Balki has already been to this gym once and still thinks that wearing shorts up past his belly button is proper attire.)
Hey, Balki the Kid is back! He pushes Cousin Larry up and down on the machine. I’m all for Balki the Kid if it puts Larry in harm’s way.
Jennifer waits until Balki and Larry are in the gayest possible position to come up and say hello. And that’s about all she says, because we’ve got to move right on to Larry pretending he’s up for an advanced aerobics class. I know I’ve bragged about my research skills before, but I’m lazy, and I will just assume that this is what advanced aerobics looks like, since every other TV show is in agreement here.
Larry shows that he has absolutely no knowledge of the fact that when you’re using your legs, they’re using your oxygen, by trying to chat up Jennifer while they all exerceez. Then he gets smacked around.
It’s a small thing, no bruises or broken bones, but I thank you, Sitcom Gods.
But then Mary Anne (Sagittarius) introduces herself to Balki; Balki, trying to follow in Larry’s footsteps, instantly asks her out. Whoa, we’re only 9 minutes in here, and I’ve talked a lot. So cue Balki and Cousin Larry struggling on equipment while a bemused Jennifer looks on. Balki asks Jennifer out for Larry, citing a Myposian saying:
Balki: He who hesitates sleeps with the goats.
You see, there are so few people on Mypos that, if you don’t grab a woman fast on Fucking Eve, you’re stuck boinking the livestock. Cue more physical comedy, Larry getting angry, Larry chasing Balki.
After the commercial, Larry and Balki try to hide from each other that they’re tired. This is one serious web of lies Larry is spinning.
Larry: In 6 hours, two women…let me amend that… two gorgeous women are coming to this apartment. You know what that means, dontcha?
I’m so glad ABC decided to revisit the magical scene from season 1 when Larry and Balki had a good laugh about boners. Balki makes the same face I do when I stand up, but my boner’s pointing the wrong way in my pants.
Balki and Larry dance, because, okay, whatever, and then Larry lays out his careful battle plan to touch a boob: get some rest before the women come over.
Get ready for a shitload of physical comedy!
Larry and Balki wake up in pain. Even though the women are going to be there “any minute”, Balki says he’s going to call Mary Anne (Sagittarius) and cancel the date. I know I put this show down a lot for relying on physical comedy (and holy shit, we’re only 8 episodes in…), but there’s a bit here that works.
Balki shuffles towards the phone; Cousin Larry shuffles behind him. Balki knocks a book onto the floor, forcing Larry to shuffle around it. Every movie chase scene where someone knocks over a lamp or garbage cans to slow down their pursuer, localized for this apartment’s layout. I like it. But oh no! The women are here!
Larry’s boner has a Pavlovian response to the knock on the door, springing into action, making him plead with Balki to let this lie go on another (checks the minutes and seconds on the PowerDVD controls) 4 or 5 minutes. In yet another chuckle-worthy moment, it takes both of these guys to hang up the phone. The phone, managing to symbolize both penises at once, indicates, when it comes to boners and trying to get them in women, Larry and Balki are working as a team.
The shuffling continues, and Jennifer and Mary Anne (Sagittarius) make the same we-signed-contracts-for-how-many-episodes-of-this expressions that Susan and Diane did back in Season 1’s “First Date”.
Cousin Larry and Balki move their shuffling-and-screaming act to the kitchen because God forbid the women characters get anything to do or say. Nope, audiences want homosexual subtext, so homosexual subtext they’ll get!
(They’re grunting the whole time they’re trying to open the wine bottle, BTW.)
I mean, seriously, this episode has jack shit for the women to do. Jennifer even saves more time by speaking for both herself and Mary Anne (Sagittarius), and tells the guys that they don’t drink. Seriously, every plot point here is about both of them: we figured you guys overdid it this morning, we’re surprised you didn’t call and cancel, we’re not only interested in hunks just because we work out. They’re essentially the same person.
Mary Anne (Sagittarius), in what is inadvertently the most explicit acknowledgment of this particular type of fucked-up sitcom logic, says that she and Jennifer will stay as long as the guys have learned their lesson.
But because this episode was so committed to all the physical comedy mess, we don’t have time to see them stay. And because we can’t assume more than a fourth-grade intelligence on the part of the audience, the lesson that Larry and Balki learned has to be made explicit. Larry gives a speech about how, in high school, the girls in the Latin Club just stopped doing it for him after awhile, and how he wanted, just once, for a cheerleader to give him a 30-second handjob out by the cafeteria dumpsters instead. In his quest to get a little action from a pretty lady, he lied about himself, not only to others, but to himself, not accepting his own limitations.
The lesson music shows up a little late in this one, functioning more as a lullaby.
See you next week for “The Unnatural”!
Boner count: Larry (3); Balki (1)
Catchphrase count: Larry (0); Balki (0)
P.S. If today’s review wasn’t enough sitcom wackiness for you, I’d like to direct you to an ALF comic that Philip J Reed and I made for Back to the Future Day this past Wednesday: ALF to the Future.