Season 2, Episode 12: Dog Gone Blues

Happy new year, everybody! It’s a new year, it’s a new day, and hey! It’s a new thing for this show: a voice-over on top of the establishing shot!

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Which leads right into Larry being a whiny ass about not liking surprises, so you can tell that they went back and cut some lines from the shooting script.

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Balki: Okay, I give you a hint. Uh… it’s bright green, it, it, it hangs from a tree, and it’s 24 feet long.

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Balki has made a joke! Larry guesses “the Jolly Green Giant’s prehensile dick”, but nope, it’s a doggie!

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The dog is named Suprides (soo-pree-dez), which Balki tells us means “dog”. And we’re barely a minute into this episode, but we know the dog’s not getting any lines, so we have to pad the joke. Larry asks if Suprides really means “dog”.

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That is by far the weakest way they’ve ever written Balki’s catchphrase in.

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Geez, again with the jokes. We get it, Balki, it’s a joke, you don’t have–oh, for

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Okay, okay, Christ, he makes jokes, he makes pained faces, he does the Dance of Joy, he doesn’t ask permission before letting other living beings stay in the apartment, another character called him “Balki” to his face, I think we get it–the guy on the right is Balki!

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Then Balki cries because Larry wants the meatloaf, but he wanted the meatloaf.

Seriously, show? You tell me this episode’s about a dog and then proceed to do a lightning-round of every single thing that Balki does? Damn! If either one of these guys pops a boner in the next two minutes, I will consider this a full episode and go the heck home.

It turns out that Balki saved Suprides from “dog prison”. The second reveal is that Balki has so many American dreams, and of such specificity, that one is to train a dog to save children from burning buildings–

Balki: Just like Lousy!

I don’t say much about Balki’s mispronunciations, because whatever, but this one I liked, probably because I grew up on this stuff:

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Cousin Larry says the dog can’t stay, and the dog immediately does this.

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Neither one of these guys realizes the significance of this. It’s one thing for a dog to associate, after countless repetitions, certain sounds and hand motions from its owner with an action it knows will lead to some sort of reward. But for a dog to not even look at Larry, yet to hear and understand the meaning of his words; and furthermore for that same dog to realize that the shape of its mouth and tongue preclude it responding verbally in a semantically meaningful way and to then encode its meaning into a gesture… through some fluke of DNA, Suprides’s brain includes both Broca’s Area and Wernicke’s Area. But because neither of these guys took any neuroscience classes, we will never get an episode where Balki and Larry do a physical comedy bit in one of those old-timey medical lecture halls like you see in Elephant Man, like, a bit where they keep almost dropping the dog’s brain or something.

Cousin Larry, assured in his view that cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind have no higher mental functions, asks if Balki has considered what animal care requires.

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Oh, that’s right, the one thing about Balki that wasn’t established in the first two minutes of the episode: he was a sheepherder. You tell him, Balki.

Larry counters that their lease forbids pets, and that Twinkacetti’s likely to throw them out if they keep the dog. So Balki makes his Hail Mary Pass: how sad he’ll be if he can’t keep Suprides. He used to have a dog on Mypos, which, okay, sheepdogs never stopped being a thing; but the dog’s name was Couscous, which makes me slightly suspicious that Balki just makes half this shit up sometimes once he thinks he won’t get what he wants. Hey, whipping out his dream in the third act usually gets him what he wants; reinforced behaviors come sooner and stronger the longer they are reinforced. Do I detect a parallel between Balki’s behavior and training a dog?

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Cousin Larry had a dog, too, named “Spot”, who was smart enough to bring in the newspaper. There’s a bit here where Balki and Larry try to one up each other with stories about how smart their dog was. The stories get increasingly ridiculous, and it does absolutely nothing to advance the plot and it’s my favorite part of this episode. This show wouldn’t have to repeat its jokes if it did this kind of thing more often.

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Balki puts good to his claim of being able to housebreak a dog quickly by showing how he’s already trained Suprides to emotionally manipulate Larry.

Once Larry hears that Suprides will be put to sleep if returned to the dog pound, he agrees to try to hide the dog from Twinkacetti. As long as they can keep the apartment clean, they. uh.

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Um, Balki? Look, man, I can 100% guarantee you this show has decided Mary Anne’s your girlfriend. You don’t have to. uh.

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*checks the time display on the PowerDVD controls* goddammit, I have to watch this whole thing don’t I

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Twinkacetti is coming! Balki does a weird nervous jumping dance and Larry says it’s time for something called “Code Red”.

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What? Okay, show, you just got my attention. I was a little worried that we’d have a whole episode of Larry and Balki practicing the plan, but you’re really just launching yourself into this one. And it pays off! I laughed out loud when Larry knocks out Balki with the air freshener:

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The rest of the physical comedy is pretty standard for this show: fast movements, shouting, the audience cheering like throwing a dustbuster back and forth is some sort of amazing feat of choreography. But what I need to see is some actual bodily harm. Some days I’m a Balki, and some days I’m a Cousin Larry. But today I’m a Twinkacetti.

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Meanwhile, my hero stomps through the hallways of the Caldwell Hotel yelling about lightbulbs, but he doesn’t come in. By the way, there was your third location for this week.

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Balki compliments Cousin Larry on his excellent plan, but Larry is worried. Having previously not accepted that Suprides possesses higher-order thinking, Larry fears that Suprides might blow the whole operation and give himself away. Suprides takes this in stride: he’s been insulted before, he’ll be insulted again. He’s managed to come out on top this far. In the background, Dmitri (probably wearing something dog-themed) remains unmolested, un-ripped-to-shreds. In case you needed further proof that this dog is not like others, there you go.

danceofjoydog

Balki maintains that Suprides will not mess their plans up, and tries to prove it by having Suprides do the Dance of Joy. Which… uh… will make Twinkacetti think that it’s Balki and not a dog? Anyways, they take Suprides for walkies, and we probably all saw some aspect of this gag coming, but I still like it:

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And maybe this next scene answers my question from back in the Season 1 Reviewed post about whether or not this sitcom built on those that came before it. I feel like we’ve all seen (or at least seen parodied) the “I thought you paid the rent”/”No I thought YOU paid the rent” scenario. In my mind, I’ve always assumed that was a whole-episode thing. If that’s so, this is a nice use of the trope, serving solely as the crunch point that drives Twinkacetti into their apartment.

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But Larry and Balki forgot that they left Suprides’s handler in Larry’s bedroom; the trainer makes Suprides bark and Twinkacetti know’s something’s up. Either the writers have forgotten that Larry kept a dog here for a friend back in “Picture This”, or Larry has forgotten, otherwise he would give that as an excuse. Or it could be that more of the first season was ignored than I realized during the great reshuffling that was “The Rent Strike”.

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Then Cousin Larry eats some dog food and I’m brought back to the reality of what I’m watching. I repeat to myself: it’s just a show, I should really just relax and watch Larry eat Cocoa Puffs out of a dog food bag. But suspension of disbelief is just one type of magic; the other is when Balki comes out of the bedroom dressed in a robe and talking like a romantic European.

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Balki: *gasp* Mr. Twinkacetti, you… catch me unawares!

Okay, after the first act, I was so ready to just toss this episode aside, into the pile with every other one-off sitcom episode about a dog. I was going to accuse the writer of rushing through the pre-approved list of Balki stuff in the first act and just phoning it in for the rest. But the oneupdogship bit, the piece with the air freshener, the dog food, and now this. I don’t give a shit about dogs, on TV or in real life, but this episode keeps surprising me with actually funny stuff. That just being some sort of Casanova in a robe somehow in Balki’s mind is a plan to hide a dog just cracks me up. It’s like that G. Gordon Liddy picture in Twinkacetti’s office: so over-the-top that I don’t care how dumb it makes Balki look.

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But fuck you if you think I’m going to eat dog food to see if I make the same face.

Twinkacetti asks why there’s dog hair on the couch, so Roger Rabbit Balki shows up again, able to make jokes when the situation demands.

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Larry: We were entertaining, uh, a couple of young ladies last night.

Balki: They shed. (beat) Norwegian.

But Twinkacetti’s not buying it. Even though Suprides runs out of the apartment while his back is turned, Twinkacetti knows there’s a dog, and demands that they get rid of it or he evicts them. Exit Twinkacetti.

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But–oh no! Enter Twinkacetti and Suprides! In case you weren’t sure how deep the shit is that Balki and Cousin Larry are in, the musical sting arrives to tell you that it’s precisely 3 feet, 7 inches (just past the shallow end).

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Balki assures Suprides that they will figure out a way to keep him, but the air is already thick with tragedy. Larry comes home and says he’s found a family, the Coopers, they’re really nice, they have a farm… UH OH

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Nah, just kidding. Larry makes the point that Suprides would prefer open spaces to an apartment, and besides, if they get a dog, then Jennifer and Mary Anne (Sagittarius) will have to get a dog for Suprides to date, and that Mary Anne will likely end up killing the dog. (Because she is dumb.)

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The music comes on, but it’s really sad music, because Balki’s learning a lesson straight from the Laughing Tough Love God itself: Balki cared more about what he wanted than he cared about what Suprides needs. It’s a nice full-circle kind of thing, because that’s what Larry’s learned about 30 times by this point. The guy knows what he’s talking about.

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The Coopers show up, looking a lot richer than I had assumed they would. Having grown up in Georgia, I had just assumed all farm-dwelling folk looked like they lived on farms. But the children take to Suprides very quickly. Master Cooper says “here boy” while holding the dog, and I’m humbled by how many long-held assumptions and prejudices I’m having to let go of here. Farm folk look poor, you say “here boy” to get a dog to come to you, Balki always gets what he wants…

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Balki caps the running bit about understand what Suprides says when he barks by asking Suprides if he wants to live with the Coopers. Suprides does the Dance of Joy again, but you’ve had enough gifs for one episode, folks.

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And Balki covers his face in his hands at the Suprides’s exit, mirroring Larry upon the dog’s arrival. Balki feels bad because he was a selfish person, but Cousin Larry is proud of him for doing what’s best for Suprides.

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Balki, like anyone coming directly out of a difficult breakup, instantly goes on the rebound, tearfully begging for a pet goldfish.

Join me next week for “Since I Lost My Baby”!
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Catchphrase count: Balki (2); Larry (0)
Boner count: Balki (0); Larry (0); I refused to pay attention to whether Suprides had any boners or not

Dance of Joy running total: 7 (I mean, I guess; none of them was the actual Dance of Joy, but neither was that conga line mess in “First Date”, so whatever)

P.S. Larry got another cold and the goldfish was used to make a Myposian secret cure.

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6 thoughts on “Season 2, Episode 12: Dog Gone Blues

  1. I remember this episode! I had always assumed the dog’s name was “Super Ace”, and Balki was mispronouncing it.

    Larry in that jacket makes me wonder what it would have been like if MLB had starred on “Knight Rider”.

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  2. Here’s a tiny story that illustrates this episode and others like it: roommates come home six months ago with a Suprides in a cup: a baby bearded dragon. They said excitedly that they had been talking about getting a lizard for a while. No discussion of this new pet was run by me before the lizard entered the house, and a discussion follows a week later where they assure me that I will not have to care for the lizard in any way, shape, or form. (This statement, like the cake, is a lie.) Fast forward to now: the lizard is not getting the same level of care as before. His tank is too small, it is not often cleaned, and they frequently skip feedings. What’s more, they are going through a nasty break-up, and Roommate #1 has told Roommate #2 that he needs to GTFO and take the lizard. I do not trust R#2 to take care of an animal properly, and have suggested to R#1 that she find a reptile rescue instead. I believe the lizard will die if R#2 takes him.
    The moral of the story: you cannot just get a pet without thinking of the repercussions. It’s great that Balki and Larry have both had dogs before, but neither has had one in a tiny apartment, and Balki’s attitude seems to be a pouty lip and a “but I wanted it!” get your shit together, Balki.

    Has no one on this show ever been to Greece? Know any of the culture or customs or language? Or do they just make shit up and have Balki claim that it’s Myposean, like Chekov on Star Trek claiming that everything is Russian?
    As near as I can tell, “suprides” is Portuguese for surprise. Funny side note: someone out there is a PS fan, enough to name their dog after this dog, because said dog has a FB page: https://www.facebook.com/elroysupradaze.barktokomous

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  3. *snort* While I like your suggestion, I have one more bitch: English-Green dictionaries were probably pretty cheap. The writers could have written it off as a business expense, and then no one would have had to resort to Desperanto. Also, the Greek word for dog is Skylos, which is actually a pretty sweet name for a dog. Especially that dog, who kind of looks like a cloud.

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