A new week, a new episode, a new angle for Ritz Discount! This store is committed to holding onto its dilapidated string pennants and unappealing window displays.
Twinkacetti spends some time enjoying throwing away junk mail from Mother Teresa and the Christmas seals, just in case you forgot he’s very greedy and refuses to spend money unless it’s to lose it while gambling. Nah, I’m just kidding. I’m with you, Twinkacetti. Mailed letters asking for donations doesn’t fit with the aspect of my liberal self that wants to preserve the environment and cut down on waste; I mean, if you really want to recycle those things correctly you have to tear out the envelope’s little plastic window yourself!
Twinkacetti saves a magazine called “Motorcycle Maidens” for his “private moments”; the way Ernie Sabella delivers the line makes it seem like he’s surprised to see it, implying that the magazine is junk mail. But, in all seriousness, magazines about motorcycles and half-nude women have been around for a long time: Easyriders, Biker, Outlaw Biker… if I kept listing them you’d accuse me of having used a random name generator.
Larry and Balki come in to deliver some exposition about how a “runaway taxi” almost ran over Balki, but Larry pushed him out of the way, saving his life. Evidently, saving someone’s life is a pretty big deal on Mypos. Since we already established that women cook dinner right after giving birth on Mypos, I’m assuming that both babies and adults have a pretty high mortality rate. So, it’s natural you’d want to elevate anyone who manages to keep another person alive in addition to themselves. At any rate, Balki thinks that Larry is a hero, referring to him as the “Primo do Polos” (not sure of the spelling there, but that seems to translate into “first of the city”).
Oh man, Mypos is so backwards they even prostrate themselves the wrong way! Those wacky foreigners!
Twinkacetti comes out of his office, still reading “Motorcycle Maidens”. But, in all seriousness, pornography addiction is a real problem and–
HOLY CRAP THE MAGAZINE ACTUALLY SAYS “MOTORCYCLE MAIDENS” ON THE COVER! (checks Google, Google image search, eBay, WorldCat, and one of those trademark search websites, finds nothing) HOLY CRAP!!! This show is really killing it on the props, you guys. Anyway, life-saving, hero, Primo do Polos. Larry encapsulates what I assume is his thesis for this episode:
Larry: My custom is bigger than your custom.
Famous last words, Larry. In the next scene, we set up the Balki’s antithesis by way of Susan! Hey guys it’s Susan! I missed you, Susan! I was afraid there were only going to be two hair colors on this show from now on, but it’s Susan!
What’s wrong, Susan? You seem like you’re uncomfortable with your role of being the silent receptacle for Larry’s expository lines. Is there anything I can–
NO SUSAN DON’T GO! SUSAAAAN.
Anyway, Balki has taken on the role of personal servant to Cousin Larry. After Susan leaves, Larry continues to voice his rationale for why he’s letting Balki do this, and then asks “who am I talking to?” And I like it when I see little jokes that the writers put in for themselves, to semi-apologize for the fact that you have to get all that exposition in there somehow. I’ve thrown a few of these jokes into my webcomic as well, so that made me smile.
One of the rules of Myposian personal servitude is for the servant’s head to never be higher than that of the Primo do Polos. Evidently, it’s also the right of the Primo do Polos to pad the episode by forcing a joke to be said twice. Balki has ironed Larry’s clothes, holds a light for him to read, makes him “Sheep Wellington”, and also spoils the mystery novel Larry is reading.
And this is good! This is a much better Balki than last week’s! An event triggers something specific to Balki’s culture, and Balki makes simple, heartfelt but misguided gestures to do what he has been told he should to honor good people. I have a good feeling about this episode. The show gives us the reveal that we’ve all been expecting: that Balki’s servitude is a lifelong commitment (like I said, they probably don’t live long on Mypos).
Later, Balki tiptoes around the apartment while Larry sleeps on the couch; he ties a string around Larry’s foot, tying the other end to the side table. He then tries to check for Larry’s breath on a reflective surface, and when it doesn’t work–
Larry then keeps walking back and forth, just to the end of the length of the string, building the tension for when he inevitably will fall over. And both of these bits of physical comedy work, because we have no idea what Balki is up to. It’s a playful little series of reveals.
Larry even asks “why” about the string, rather than what it is, and you’re really an episode after my heart, aren’t you, “Lifesavers”? Balki tries to follow Larry into the bedroom, and Larry chases him out, yelling that there is no hard evidence that droit du seigneur was ever actually practiced.
Later, in the shop, Balki sings “Material Girl” while cleaning. They’ve been leaning hard on this running joke, so I hope it’s going somewhere. He is alone in the shop because he turned off Cousin Larry’s alarm clock. Larry is proud of never being late, the punchline of which is that he was born three weeks early.
Twinkacetti bursts out of his office wearing the same hat from earlier, when he was jerking it to Ms. Helen Wheels. This time he’s got the newspaper in hand, so whattaya wanna bet? Stock Market section?
Larry tries the old loophole trick of using his unlimited powers to demand that the servant no longer serve. Anything he says goes, right?
But Balki is now the Nebulopolos (plural: Nebulopoli) because he has failed as a servant. You walked right into that one, Larry! Typical American blindness to other cultures. You really should have found out all the rules of Myposian servitude, you know, seen if you could sic Balki on your enemies, go the Nightcrawler route and have him help you create gruesome photo ops.
Balki puts a bag on his head, and continues sweeping, now singing “Nobody Knows”, and whether writers knew it or not, it’s at least remotely appropriate, given that the song originated as a slave spiritual. Balki continues working like this even after the commercial break, so you know this situation has become serious. Twinkacetti suggests the solution I saw coming about 10 minutes ago–to set up a situation where Balki has to save Larry’s life. Hire Twinkacetti’s friend for $50 (always with the $50 on this show), have him pretend to rob the apartment, let Balki scare him off, and everything’s reset for next week.
Or, you know, we just end the whole series right here because Balki knocked over a bunch of cans of paint thinner and they all died inhaling the fumes.
A real burglar shows up and some guy in the audience just cracks up when he finally sees that both Balki and Dmitri have bags over their heads. I like that. Larry confuses the burglar and then wakes Balki up, trying to get him to come to Larry’s rescue.
Once Larry realizes that the fake burglar isn’t a fake burglar, but is in fact a real burglar, as evidenced by his real burglar gun, which fake burglars do not have, he starts babbling. Real Burglar (who is so confident in his abilities that he wears a bright red hat on the job) tells Larry to shut up, whereupon it is revealed that Larry didn’t talk through the entirety of 3rd grade. I mention this only because I’m interested in exactly how fucked up Larry is. Real Burglar pushes Larry onto Balki’s lap, trying to get them to do that buttsex thing he hears all the other burglars say this show is about.
Balki is upset on Larry’s behalf that anyone would automatically assume he’s a bottom, so he steals Real Burglar’s gun. This is a kind of comedy version of Chekhov’s Gun: if the gun appears in the bad guy’s hand first, it will end up in the good guy’s hand (or vice versa, and extra points for each reversal). Balki then shows us the Myposian form of shaming: slapping someone’s hand, saying “shame on you”, and cursing at them in your native tongue. (Let’s add Balki Ricardo to our growing list of Balkis.)
By the end of the episode, the writers must have realized that they pushed Balki too far in the adult direction, so when Balki and Larry get back from the police station, we find that the police gave Balki ice cream and let him take his own “fingyprints”.
That’s right, you heard right, “fingyprints”.
Larry hangs his coat. This is important. Remember this.
Cousin Larry thanks Balki for saving his life. Saving people from certain death is just what you do when you care about somebody. Awww, they care about each other so much it turns the music on. Larry says that they are now even, which stands as the synthesis of the culture war subtext (taking care of your loved ones transcends all culture).
I’ll be honest: I’m relieved that this week’s episode showed some improvement over “The Unnatural”. I’m sure this kind of sitcom setup wasn’t new even back in 1986, but it allowed for a reasonable piece of Balki’s culture to show itself. It let Balki be a bumbling, caring person, and it also let him do it as an adult. And call me biased because I identify a little more with Larry so far, but I’m glad that it was Balki who learned a lesson this time.
Also, no third location this week. Maybe Rafael Mauro (the actor who played Real Burglar, but you might know him as the car washer guy from the smelly car episode of Seinfeld) demanded his $50 up front.
See you next week for “Babes in Babylon”!
Boner count: Larry (0); Balki (0); Twinkacetti (at least 1)
Catchphrase count: Larry (1); Balki (1.5)