I know you all keep coming back here to see what I have to say about the Ritz Discount exterior, but I did want to take a minute to admit to something. I don’t like dogs. I would have said this last week, but after it was established that Suprides could comprehend human speech, I decided to keep quiet. Dogs are dirty. Dogs are stupid. Dogs will try to lick your face with the same tongues they just used to lick their genitals, which are right next to the buttholes they never wipe or wash. Dogs will periodically rip your property to shreds. Yeah, I’m allergic too, and that’s what I say on OKCupid, but deep down I try my best to avoid all animals that do not share human standards of hygiene. So I’m pretty damn glad this show didn’t let the dog stick around. I also have specified on my OKCupid profile that I’m not looking for girls who haven’t graduated high school, so it was pretty cool how the show kicked Carol to the curb. Anyway, on to this week’s episode, which brings back one of my favorite parts of the show: episode titles with some variation on the word “baby”.
There, doesn’t that feel good? Here we are, back at the shitty ol’ Ritz Discount. The synth keyboard climbs staccato up a scale, letting us know that this is a new day, promising magic and clear-cut lessons.
Balki comes in singing the Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood theme, and isn’t life grand? Balki asks if Larry can say “good morning”, and the writers just give up on joke-making and have Larry say “No”.
Signalled by this mere negation, the morning is spoiled by a racket in Twinkacetti’s office. Balki and Cousin Larry instantly assume it’s a burglar and arm themselves.
…with a phallic symbol and a surrogate for Balki’s usual sex toy. Actually, I’m kind of surprised they think they need weapons. Didn’t they just defeat Real Burglar a few weeks back with nothing but their pajamas and a sense of righteous indignation?
It’s only Mr. Twinkacetti, who is obviously in some sort of emotional distress, evidenced by how he spent the night skewing the portraits on his office walls. He explains that he forgot his wedding anniversary for the 16th time, and was kicked out of the house. Balki scolds him, and Twinkacetti says that Balki’s balls should be chopped off. Twinkacetti’s memory lapse is completely understandable, though. Remember, Twinkacetti is a money-based man. It’s not the anniversary he remembers; what he remembers is when the annual hospital bill arrives a month later. (The joke is that his wife beats him up a lot when she’s mad at him. This is one of the running jokes I do.)
Edwina runs in and instantly tells Twinkacetti to drop dead. She wants a divorce.
Edwina: It’s not the anniversaries… and it’s not the gambling, and the wild nights out with the boys… actually, it is that. But it’s more than that, too! The romance is gone. The magic is gone.
Well, I guess I can go back to the review for “Baby, You Can Drive My Car” and remove that “1” from Twinkacetti’s boner count. I feel bad that he may never share a laugh with his employees about boners, but dude’s had this coming. Edwina deserves a higher grade of mean boss for a husband. Somebody like Larry Tate, or Louie de Palma.
Balki offers to let Twinkacetti stay without clearing it with Larry, which is the first datum we have for figuring out the average shelf life of sitcom lessons. Cousin Larry pitches a fit and agrees to be the person to tell Twinkacetti he can’t stay with them.
Twinkacetti cries, evidence that he’s been watching this show as long as I have and has learned the trick Balki plays on Larry every other week. So… are there no empty apartments in the Caldwell Hotel? You know, the Caldwell Hotel? Which Twinkacetti is the landlord of?
Balki’s making the same face I do when I go into one of the restrooms at work after that one guy’s been in there. (The joke is that Balki makes a happy face that actually looks like he’s undergoing some sort of strong discomfort or sharp pain. This is one of the running jokes I do.)
Later, Balki and Cousin Larry are preparing hamburgers (for baking?) and waxing expository with each other. Why do they need to tell each other how they feel about Twinkacetti staying with them? Where’s Susan when you need her (*sniff*)? There’s also a nice visual joke of different burger sizes that they call attention to but don’t explain because they’re already talking about something else.
Twinkacetti comes in ebullient, waxing… um… sitcomically about how great his employees are. He bought them groceries, including beer from the movie Repo Man! Shit, this guy’s awful, they’ve got to get him out of their apartment. Balki makes a dumb joke which I won’t even write down here because it’s so dumb.
Balki is worried that Twinkacetti is bottling up his emotions, but Larry counters that Twinkacetti’s not deep enough for them. He cautions Balki to just let things work themselves out and to not get involved. Balki, knowing that this approach won’t make for good television, much less allow for any sort of physical comedy in the third act, takes this as his cue that his opinion will be rewarded by the Sitcom Gods and decides to meddle.
Balki: Would you like to share the pain that is going on deep down inside?
And I take back what I said about Larry’s “no” at the top of the episode, because I’m pretty sure this is meant to be a callback to that. It’s a nice miniature version of the overall theme of Balki’s rustic generosity, honesty, and general belief in the goodness of man running into the wall of modern American uncaring/selfishness/masculinity. Let’s see if they can pull off a third instance of it by the end.
Twinkacetti turns on the television, hoping to see some nudity. Was there actually nudity on network television back then? Or was it “nudity” like how when people go nekkers in the Bible they probably actually had some kind of undergarment on? Because I won’t believe for a second that Larry and Balki had cable or satellite. At any rate, holy shit, this show got away with a soundbite of a woman moaning before Balki turned the TV off.
No one on Mypos ever told Balki not to pick at his scabs, because he just keeps at Twinkacetti, trying to convince him that he’s going to end up a miserable, hollow shell if he doesn’t face his emotions. He states the goal of the episode: get the Twinkacettis back together. You see, I always thought that, even if I’ve wrecked myself, it’s never too late to check myself. I thought that if I screwed something up and ended up a sad piece of crap because of it, the next right thing to do was to feel my feelings, clean up my side of the street, and be a better person for it who hopefully wouldn’t screw up the same way again. But I’m glad I watched this episode! Now I know that, when I legitimately drive others away from me, the answer is to keep showing up in their lives, because somehow that will mean I’m deep!
Twinkacetti taking Larry’s bedroom without asking is supposed to be the joke here, but for me the joke is that he’s going off to bed with both bags of groceries in tow. Larry tries to coax Twinkacetti back out, telling him that they already did a bunch of jokes about him and Balki sharing a bed.
Larry: Balki, we have to save this marriage.
For once, Balki and Cousin Larry agree on something! Unfortunately, I disagree with them. The Sitcom Gods may have been directing their actions, but
Larry and Balki call up Edwina to try to convince her to speak with her husband. Also Balki makes a joke that depends on different meanings for word “changing”, so I’ll applaud the linguistic growth again. But if he doesn’t pronounce Appleton correctly the next time he says it…
Edwina agrees to talk to Twinkacetti for five minutes. After sixteen years, this is totally fair, and besides, it’s all the time we’ll have left once the episode gets us to whatever third location they’ll use.
Twinkacetti comes out of Larry’s room; after reading Larry’s diary, his final assessment is that Larry is “a sick man”. Haha! He found all of Larry’s self-insert slashfic: Larry/Tina, Larry/Linda, Larry/both police from “Can I Get a Witness?”
I’m actually going to take this as a follow-up to the earlier joke about Balki being neutered. Balki and Larry’s argument over whether Twinkacetti has emotional depths is answered by how oblivious Twinkacetti tries to remain in regards to his own troubles in that he constantly insults the sexuality of the unmarried.
The guys work on a plan to help Twinkacetti manipulate his wife back into loving him. Didn’t we already learn–twice–not to hide our own shortcomings so that women will like us? I mean, I get that some evolutionary paths have long, long rewarded those species’ males who could most dupe the females, or vice-versa (at least, when they haven’t rewarded straight-out rape and incest). But I thought we were supposed to be watching a show about modern vs. traditional ways. Maybe I shouldn’t complain too much, because even on OKCupid, there are definite trends of guys exaggerating their height, and women widely interpreting what is meant by “curvy”. At any rate, we’ve got a variety of intentions here:
–Twinkacetti doesn’t want to be sad
–Larry wants Twinkacetti out of the apartment so he can write chapter 15, the chapter where he and the woman from the singles’ bar play around in Easter grass
–Balki genuinely believes that a caring, romantic Twinkacetti still exists
But the end result is the same: not a single damn one of them really takes what Edwina wants into consideration. Balki comes closest, and good for him, but he still falls a little short. Twinkacetti decides to spend his five minutes with Edwina at “Tony’s Mambo Room”, but isn’t sure how exactly to spend them.
Show, you knew that I would reject the offer of Larry and Balki sharing a bed again, so thank you for giving me this scene where Balki and Larry pretend to be the Twinkacettis being romantic at a restaurant so I can make some gay jokes. So here goes: Balki and Larry are gay. Ha!
Cousin Larry’s self-selection of the role of Edwina gives us some good insight into his sexual self. In role-play scenarios, you act like something you wish you were. For all that Cousin Larry acts like a top, he really wishes to be a bottom.
The audience whoops it up, and I’m right there with them this time, because deep-voiced romantic Balki is still funny to me. They even work in a variation on his catchphrase after he repeatedly tells Larry/Edwina how beautiful he/she is.
They actually end their roleplay with a gay joke: Larry says “take me” and Balki says “I don’t think so”. On Mypos it’s bad luck to screw in front of the guests.
And for as funny as all that was to me, they botch the landing again. “Get off my dress” ranks up there with the weakest scene-ending jokes this show has ever done.
Anyway, here we are at Tony’s Mambo Room, and the cousins are still arguing about what approach Twinkacetti should take. I could go on at length about how psychology studies have shown that compliance with orders goes way down if there is disagreement amongst the authority figures giving them; but such a discussion is made pointless by the fact that neither of the cousins really has any sort of relationship history at all.
Balki suggests thinking of Mrs. Twinkacetti’s feelings, but only so far as it means manipulating those feelings so she will take back the worthless husband who shows her no affection, can’t get it up in bed, and constantly squanders their money. He tells Twinkacetti to beg forgiveness, which includes throwing his face at her feet and asking her to break his neck. I guess I’ve got to up my game since the show’s now making the same jokes I do. Anyway, Edwina arrives and the cousins hide in a way that 100% does not make it look like they’re a gay couple hiding from their wives.
(Sidebar: you’re still crushing it on the props, show, keep up the good work)
Oh man, for once in the show’s history, neither of these guys is on-screen, for all that it was only thirteen seconds or so. And here it is! Here’s a third instance of that dialogue structure!
Twinkacetti: Don’t you want to hear about your eyes?
Twinkacetti lays out his rationale for picking Tony’s Mambo Room: it was because of the time, years ago, that they made out in one of the booths and how he slipped the accordion player 50 cents (50 cents! inflation, amirite?) to play a song. But it turns out he was remembering someone else. Ah, shit.
Twinkacetti runs over to the table where Larry and Balki are sitting and whispers so badly that Edwina hears them talking. He tries to change tack, leading to the greatest line of the episode:
Twinkacetti: You know, darling, just now, in the john, I was thinking about how your eyes remind me of moonlit pools on a warm summer night.
Edwina leaves angry; Twinkacetti leaves sad. He tells the cousins not to wait up for him since “he made a key”. Bitch, don’t you already have a key? You’re the landlord!
Ooh, a new exterior shot with the sun rising!
In the Ritz Discount store, Larry hangs his coat. Remember this. This is important.
Guess what! More noises from the office!
They were doin’ it!
Edwina has a good laugh over Twinkacetti’s boner. He evidently lured her back with egg rolls and a saxophone (hey, what the hell, a similar approach worked in Better Off Dead). So it turns out that Cousin Larry and Balki really didn’t know what the hell they were talking about and my joke about Twinkacetti not being able to get it up turned out to be correct. Although, really, I’m sure that Twinkacetti had a little help here, what with the picture of G. Gordon Liddy on his wall that he could look to anytime he started to falter.
Twinkacetti gives them the day off, Edwina does that “woof” thing that Twinkacetti always does, and they both go back in the office to continue boinking.
The lesson’s given pretty short shrift, and the music responds by being really short. The lesson is: sometimes it’s okay to butt in. Even though they didn’t need to. Even though they really shouldn’t have.
And the loudest, worst saxophone music you can imagine comes on, which the show doesn’t even try to pass off as good. The only way I’d believe that was done by a good saxophonist would be if Twinkacetti’s office had 15-foot high metal walls. It kind of makes me wonder if it was the best they could do with the layout of the set and had to change the last joke of the episode.
Larry: Even bad sax is better than no sax at all.
After which he oversells it, reminding us that these cousins aren’t so different after all.
So let’s put “Since I Lost My Baby” into the same group as “The Rent Strike”, as it’s another episode that has a lot of little great things about it, and one giant awful thing. The awful thing is how little it cares what Edwina Twinkacetti wants. I mean, okay, that’s an indirect result of her being a secondary (tertiary, even?) character; but it does beg the question of why there are no main female characters on the show. She falls right back into bed with Twinkacetti just because he remembered how to be romantic after 16 years of being a selfish oaf. She had every right to leave Mr. Twinkacetti, and if there were any other female characters on this show she could turn to, she’d have been confident in that decision.
The good things: the “no” response showing up the required three times; how each of the male characters thinks they know more about relationships than the other two, and in reality none of them do; the prop details; the structure of the episode beginning and ending with ruckus coming from the Ritz Discount back office; and man-oh-man that they got away with that soundbite of the woman in the throes of orgasm coming from the TV.
Speaking of successful running bits coming three to an episode, did I mention I’m on OKCupid? As you can tell by this week’s review, I’m very strongly feminist. I’m 5’7” (no lie), atheist, allergic/averse to pets, have a master’s degree and a steady job… and I used to play the saxophone in high school, if you know what I mean.
Join me here next week for “Trouble in Paradise”; join me on OKCupid… anytime.
Catchphrase count: Balki (2); Larry (0)
Boner count: Balki (0); Larry (0); Twinkacetti (1); Edwina (1)