Season 2, Episode 8: Can I Get a Witness?

The episode opens with Larry bemoaning how Balki has put all of the record albums in the wrong jackets.  Though there seems to be a system (a Wayne Newton disc in a Juice Newton sleeve; an Elton John disc in an Olivia Newton-John sleeve), I really don’t understand what Balki’s thinking is.  Is Balki just dumb?  Is he playing a prank on Larry?  Is this some sort of Myposian thing where he thinks they’re married and tradition says that all items related to the couple must be made to engage in whatever symbolic form of coitus possible?

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Anyway, what the fuck, who cares, Balki comes in wearing an ethnic hat and the audience just eats that up with a spoon.  Balki was out buying the newest Spider-Man comic which, best I can tell (and I’m going off the airdate here) would have been this one

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or this one

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Either way, this was deep into Spider-Man wearing the black suit (or, “soo-it”, if you will) he picked up during the Secret Wars, a costume change that many fans did not like.  This tells me that Balki was a committed fan.  Shh! Nobody spoil for Balki that the suit is a symbiote!

But Balki got a job while he was buying comics, and just like an American, he’s gone ahead and spent it.  But just like a foreigner, he used to buy a gift for someone he loves.

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It’s a potato clock! And even though Balki says it “po-tah-to”, I’m going to consider this a success!  Way back in the first episode, he said “po-tah-tah”.  He did it, folks!  He learned a word!  I look forward to season 6, when I’m sure that one of his American Dreams will be teaching elocution classes. Jerk Larry puts the gift down in a way that Balki hasn’t learned to understand yet, meaning that Balki can continue to be happy about the $50 (gee, who didn’t see that coming) that someone named “Vince” gave him. “Vince” keeps his limousine parked outside the newsstand and has two secretaries.

The guys do a repeat of the dialogue structure we saw in “Falling In Love Is…” where, even though we already know what’s what (most of you probably as soon as you read the name “Vince”), Larry asks a bunch of questions.  The whole point of these scenes is just to establish over and over again that Balki’s naive, and that Larry knows what’s going on.  It’s a firmly character-based way of not only setting up the plot of an episode, but also for unloading exposition.  There are far worse ways.

Vince just needs some idiot to run packages downtown for him, but little does he know that he’s hired Amelia Bedelia.  The simple admonition to walk a different way each times results in the gag of Balki jiggling his crotch around, and he just milks it–the gag, I mean.  Haha, the joke is that Balki is going to ruin a mob boss’s whole empire.

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Larry explains that Vince is a criminal. Furthermore, Larry says that Balki never thinks about the situations he gets himself into, and that he has to bail Balki out all the time.

Yes, Larry is always getting Balki out of trouble, like the time when Balki overspent with his checks, and then Balki got Larry’s furniture back from Twinkacetti.  Or the time when Balki agreed to let a pregnant woman stay with them, and then Balki delivered the baby himself. Or that time that Deus Ex Balki won the baseball game.

In the next scene, Larry and Balki come into the discount store with the package Balki is supposed to deliver.  They repeat the exposition, and that’s less okay with me.  I guess I’m spoiled, what with my ability to pause a show whenever I need to pee.

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They then fight over the package, and Twinkacetti walks by, casually saying “I’m going to lunch”, and leaves.  This type of joke never gets old to me, folks.  There are good and bad ways to convey to your audience that something has become de rigueur on a show.  The bad kind we saw a few minutes ago when Larry claimed to be constantly pulling Balki’s ass out of the fire; sure, maybe he does have to more often later in the season, and maybe the writer didn’t know that, but it just doesn’t work here.  This is the good kind, though: we’ve seen Balki and Cousin Larry fight before, enough so that it makes perfect sense for another character to just take it in stride.  It’s doubly effective because Twinkacetti has long been established as the kind of guy who wouldn’t take this kind of shit in stride from his employees.  Twinkacetti’s new catchphrase is “no drama”.

But since Larry and Balki fight as a way to redirect and release their pent-up gay-sexual tension, it of course ends with the contents of the bag bursting forth.

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That’s called a money shot, folks.

Turns out that Vince is “running numbers”.

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And I had to look that up. Evidently it’s a racket where someone offers very poor people chances to win money; chances are typically very cheap, pretty much just a few pennies.  But in a big enough neighborhood, with a low enough chance of winning, it pays off pretty well for the people running it.  I mean, look at all those ones and fives that Vince has racked up!

I was hoping for a bit like way back in “Check This” where Balki asks questions about running numbers to point out the hypocrisy of government-sponsored state lotteries, but instead, it’s physical comedy time!

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Oh, no, wait, they get arrested by a couple of upper-middle class housewives who slur their lines before they can make a whole bit out of it.  Stakes have been raised, people.  Balki could lose his citizenship, and they could both go to prison, do hard labor, or even worse–learn a lesson about family!

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In the next scene, we find that Jennifer and Mary Anne (Sagittarius) have bailed them out of jail.  Jennifer further shows her support for by wearing a sweater, Larry’s go-to choice for covering his grotesque torso.

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Balki stands close enough behind Mary Anne in hopes that he can “accidentally” brush his knuckles against her butt.  Mary Anne’s rocking the purple dress with the yellow belt, subtly showing off her support of the original Helena Wayne iteration of the Huntress.  Now, you’d think–YOU’D THINK–that it could never work out between a Marvel guy and a DC girl.  But rest assured they will eventually get to bond over unnecessary costume changes, since Huntress’s would eventually change to black and white as well.

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Here’s my own clunky exposition dump: Balki and Cousin Larry are set to testify against Vince Lucas (“lucaaaaahhhssss”).  Jennifer and Mary Anne say that Vince is the same guy who has been “bothering them”.  Balki is all gung-ho to testify because it’s the right thing to do, which makes Mary Anne pretty hot and bothered, so she kisses Balki.

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So that’s the face an aroused woman makes! Who knew? Larry tries out his deep voice on Jennifer, but Jennifer high-tails it out of there.  I guess Larry had to share his game with 8 brothers and sisters too.  There’s a knock on the door and Larry thinks Jennifer changed her mind, so they laugh about boners again.

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But it’s Vince! Bet you didn’t see that coming (drops voice like Balki), huh?  Vince threatens their lives, which Balki doesn’t understand.  Remember, they all die young on Mypos; no one lives long enough to really piss someone else off!

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And here we are at our third location, the Cook County Criminal Court House, where Balki’s got a crazy foreign vest on.  Jennifer and Mary Anne show up, and before you can even ask what the hell they’re doing there, Jennifer gushes about how exciting it is, and Mary Anne tells them to “break a leg”.  Ah, here we are: the subtext of the episode is that modern legal proceedings are a performance, a show, a sham.  Certainly Balki will introduce us to a brutal yet pure-in-its-intentions form of justice.  I mean, seriously, though, how can this be a real court session? They’ve got character actor Ivan Bonar playing the judge!

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(Not pictured: Larry and Balki having a good laugh about Bonar)

The other eight witnesses for the prosecution have all either skipped town or been killed, even Slugger, so it’s up to Balki to go up to bat for the state.  Larry’s pooping his pants at the idea of testifying, but Balki’s Myposian honor is at stake.  When it’s not American dreams, it’s Myposian customs; it sure is a good thing they built a well there so they can keep going back to it.

But does Balki swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?

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There’s a good character-driven gag here of Balki telling, quite literally, the whole truth, including every detail about what conspired since he met Vince. This is the kind of joke that depends on a whole room of people looking bored and frustrated to pull off, all of the characters without lines do a really good job.  I guess it’s easy to channel frustration when you really needed that extra $50 bucks per line.

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But the judge cuts Balki off before he gets to the part of his story about diabetic old women’s feet rotting away, and the cross-examiner asks Balki why he came to America.  And since there was no other way to have Balki sing a song in this episode, they turned his reason for coming to America into a recitation of the lyrics of both Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” and Pete Seeger & Lee Hays’s “If I Had a Hammer”. The cross-examiner takes advantage of the fact that Balki is foreign and doesn’t have a perfect grasp on the English language, and starts badgering him.

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Larry: That’s my job, your honor!

But Larry keeps objecting and dude, I have been on your side before, but you can’t have this both ways.  Testify or shut the fuck up, Cousin Larry.

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Judge Bonar starts to dismiss the prosecution’s case, so Balki pleads with the judge to serve justice.  Balki learns a hard lesson from the judge that sometimes bad shit happens and bad people walk.  Larry, acting as the father figure, is ashamed for his surrogate son to see that his generation has failed in upholding the American dream of putting its ethnic citizens behind bars.   His desire to restore Balki’s faith in the American legal system moves Cousin Larry enough to testify.

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Jennifer and Mary Anne cheer, because now when Jennifer finally relents and gives Larry that blowjob he’s been asking for, she can tell herself he’s not a complete loser.  Cousin Larry takes the stand and we see a courtroom finale to rival that of To Kill a Mockingbird.

Nah, jk, Larry comes back to the apartment beaten half to death.

Nah, jk, they come back to their apartment and everything is fine (except for their door).  Just like all those times that Larry supposedly got Balki out of messes, Larry’s shining moment took place off-screen.

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Balki hopes the secretaries get more work, and Larry takes the high road, not making the joke about how he’s sure they will (”leaving more jokes for me” Casey said, rubbing his hands together and waggling his eyebrows).

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Larry then talks himself up for awhile, pretending that he had balls all along.  The phone rings and it’s Gus, with a hot tip that this episode of a situation comedy peaked with the tape gag and that they seriously, seriously need to end it already.

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Evidently, Larry had pretended to be a Latin American and had ordered plane tickets to Buenos Aires.  It’s funny because he was a pussy! It’s doubly funny because he talks on the phone in a stereotype Mexican accent!

Join me next week for “Two Men and a Cradle”!

P.S. Okay, so, Jennifer and Mary Anne were the two secretaries in the back of the limo, and they were upset because Vince refused to pay them more for tipping him off to how good of a patsy Balki would make, right? And that’s why they said he’d been “bothering” them? And why they cheered at the trial? I mean, right? Right?

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Catchphrase count: Balki (2); Larry (0)

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

Bonar count: Ivan (1)

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4 thoughts on “Season 2, Episode 8: Can I Get a Witness?

  1. “They repeat the exposition, and that’s less okay with me. I guess I’m spoiled, what with my ability to pause a show whenever I need to pee.”
    By “pee,” do you actually mean “I got sick of this shit and was forced to walk away, only to return days later hopped up on Xanax and realizing that you only had so much time left for publication time”? Because that I believe.

    Like

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