Welcome, everyone, to our very first two-parter! Two-parters are a great way to tell bigger, more epic stories, with more characters, more character arcs, and/or more locations! And when it comes to 80s sitcoms, we know that two-parters never use their extended running time to pad things out with anything useless. So this is sure to be a fun ride! Let’s get to it, shall we?
Alright! A nighttime shot of the Caldwell Hotel! I guess it’s super-important to the plot that we establish right away that it’s nighttime!
Balki comes in very excited and demonstrates his utter lack of physical coordination.
Then he lets Cousin Larry know why he’s so excited: he’s bought them a trip to go skiing for the weekend! Yes, skiing, a sport that requires lots of prolonged physical coordination! Larry instantly says no.
Even though he’s gone skiing every year with his family, who are all very good skiers, Larry completely sucks at it and his brothers and sisters would use him as a ski jump. I really, really like how well this show has built up that Larry was some sort of genetic misfire that, due to prevailing social mores, his parents weren’t able to leave in a field for dead when he was a baby.
The cousins talk over each other, Larry scolding Balki for not asking before doing for something like the 93rd time this season. Balki finally admits to having been a bad little boy, and Larry goes to answer the door.
Larry: Balki, you didn’t mention that this trip would include boners!
Larry immediately changes his mind about the trip, because he so desperately wants to see Jennifer’s bunny slopes. He wants to see if she can handle his superpipe. He wants to get up past her tree line and try out her fun box. Okay, I’ll stop. No wait, one more: Jennifer may be blonde, but Larry wants to know if she’s a blue square or a black diamond.
Jennifer asks Larry for his share of the deposit for the trip: a mere $45 dollars, which is a fucking steal on this show! Larry tries to convince Jennifer that he’s the World’s #1 King-Hell Skier Dude, but Balki keeps trying to salt Larry’s game by repeating all the stuff that Larry said earlier in the scene about why he didn’t want to go. Like, he repeats almost every single thing. No, it’s not padding, of course not, don’t be ridiculous, it’s just increasing the tension of the situation Larry’s in, right?
Larry starts in on how every ancillary aspect of skiing vacations gets chicks wet, which is great because he won’t have to work hard. But Balki spells out the illogic – or dare he say – the dishonesty of what Larry has just done, spelling out the type of lesson it’s going to take a two-part story for Larry to learn, even though he’s already supposed to have learned it in two previous episodes already. But goddammit, we’re going to get it right this time. Balki gives us another Myposian saying (#43 in a series — collect them all!): He who lies falls into a deep pit. I can’t remember which episode it first showed up in, or if maybe I read it on some other site when I was looking something up, but I know that “babasticky” means “sheep shit” (or, more literally, “shit of the sheep”). Balki’s quote includes the word “baba” in it; I’ll leave it up to you to decide where that word fits. Larry ignores this highly-relevant warning: depths, after all, are created by heights.
The cousins familiarize themselves with their gear, starting with Balki’s boots. Also, Larry bought a book (The Zen of Skiing) that will teach them “everything they need to know”. So, Cousin Larry… you learned nothing in the almost 20 years of skiing trips with your family? But of course, they don’t know where the book is and have to look for it. No, those lines of dialogue aren’t padding, they’re
UH-OH WATCH OUT
Balki makes a joke. (It makes me feel like I’m slicing off tiny bits of my soul when I write Balki’s silly little jokes down, so I’ve decided I’ll just let the subtitles do it for me.)
The cousins put on their skis.
The cousins instantly get their skis tangled up.
The cousins start pushing each other.
The cousins grab each other’s noses.
The cousins grab each other’s hair.
The cousins try to turn to their right.
The cousins fall over.
The cousins stand up and do this again.
The cousins spend about a third of the episode on this shit. It’s… I give up, it’s padding. But we do find out that Larry has known Jennifer for six months now, and that Larry’s plan is to fake an injury on the slopes to get sympathy.
The cousins have now made their way up the ski lift, but not without injury. Larry wonders if anyone saw him fall when he got off the lift.
Despite Jennifer’s warnings, Larry goes down the unmarked side of the slope. Mary Anne (Sagittarius) may be so dumb that she thinks a balaclava is what Balki serves for dessert, but even she knows to stick to marked slopes.
(P.S. I’m super-impressed by anyone who skis well enough to make it look like they can’t ski for crap. Good for you, Stunt Larry.)
Larry gets a face full of snow, the other characters take off to rescue him, and we’re treated to some great green-screen action and a heroic sounding version of the theme music:
And something about the disconnect between the movement of Balki and the movement of the background shot makes me think of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, when he’d dance along to old 1960s proto-music videos. Also, Balki wipes out, and they overdub an act break joke over a still shot of his stunt double lying on the slope. Allow me to go off on a mini-rant here.
I hate dubbed-in jokes. Back when I was a kid and didn’t know what over-dubbing was, I took it all in stride. But now that I’ve seen the Jesus in the spaghetti, I can’t unsee it. Dubbing in jokes just always rubs me the wrong way. On the more palatable side of the spectrum, you have scenes which are meant to be narrated, or can only work with dubbing. In other words, the combination of dialogue and action (intersecting with a show or film’s budget and directorial choices) force the dubbed line. In other cases, it’s the other way around, where the script was written long ago, but now that the footage has been shot, someone (probably a producer) felt that there wasn’t enough going on in a scene dialogue-wise. Color, Movement, and Sound are like a stool with three legs, unable to stand if one is taken away; God knows how audiences fall asleep if a whole second goes by without all three working in harmony. I feel like I’ve seen this mostly in low-budget films featuring a group of small, strange “others” (e.g. Ghoulies III: Ghoulies go to College; Spaced Invaders; how Rory Calhoun kept saying “Aw shucks, Angel” every time he went off-screen in Angel III: Avenging Angel; I bet if I went back and rewatched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Tank Girl I’d find that shit there, too), and you end up with characters that never shut up because they have to make some stupid pun based on whatever action is going on. The only time this kind of dialogue works is when Popeye is doing it. I guess this instance with Balki falls on the better end of the spectrum, so, um… I wasn’t padding my review, I was, uh, just elaborating on the feelings that moment sparked in me. If you don’t like it, go read one of those other Perfect Strangers review blogs.
Mary Anne opens the door of the well-lit one-room cabin and asks if anyone is home. Now that our group is lost and it’s dark, they decide to spend the night in the cabin. Larry’s all like “ooh ow, I’m useless because I sprained my ankle”, and Balki’s busy rolling his eyes at Larry, so Jennifer and Mary Anne go off in search of firewood so everyone won’t freeze to death. Larry gets super-smug about how he’s going to freestyle on Jennifer until she laminates.
Balki: We slide down the wrong side of the mountain, wander around for two hours, bodies all achin’ and wracked with pain, and now we stuck in this cabin with the girls for the whole night!
Balki says that things have gone wrong since Larry started lying. Yeah, no kidding, Balki, it began with you two padding the shit out of that “zen of skiing” scene. In all honesty, though, the human mind has a penchant for pattern recognition, and a drive to derive meaning from patterns. Ultimately, correlation does not equal causation, so Balki– haha, oops, sorry, I completely forgot for a second we’re in a sitcom here.
They all sit around a fire while Larry weaves some bullshit story about skiing in Innsbruck. Jennifer’s buying all this for some reason… after seeing him fake being a macho gym guy, after seeing him not want to confront Twinkacetti, after, you know, six months of having any contact with Larry. But she’s also not picking up on Balki’s constant interruptions about how Larry is lying, so who the hell knows.
Balki then tells us a story about “the little goatherder that lied”, and once again the word “babasticky” appears in the Myposian title. So it sounds like maybe “to bullshit” is just the word for “to lie” in Myposian. Anyway, Balki’s story is about Larry, and he even gets in a good dig about how weird Larry’s face looks. But even six months of having any contact at all with these two men who fight with each other constantly doesn’t tip the women off that Larry is lying.
Mary Anne says she remembers having seen that story on TV, and that Richard Chamberlain was the goatherder (confusing it, I guess, with the Thorn Birds?) …and since we know every one of her lines is about how she’s dumb… how does this make her dumb? Jennifer leaves to go in search of food in the one-room cabin that has neither cabinets nor refrigerator, so that Mary Anne and Balki can have 30 seconds of story arc to themselves.
Mary Anne: A little body heat would be nice.
Balki: Well, it’s a good thing I brought my body.
Many avalanches can be seen coming a mile away in a strictly physical sense. Sitcom avalanches one-up them with a metaphorical layer, and ours is right on time. Jeez, Larry, did you say something untrue outside?
Mary Anne, after years of being told she’s dumb, has learned not to trust her own perception of reality and asks if Balki felt what just happened.
Bakli then says “I still respect you” and oh fucking FUCK you. Is there a more backhanded thing to say to a woman who shows you affection? “You’re a whore, but that’s okay with me, because I’M such a nice guy.”
Yeah, okay, that’s a funny visual, show, but you are seriously on watch for the way you treat your women characters. The cousins quickly determine that the cabin was snowed in by the avalanche. OH NO!
Will Balki convince Larry to stop lying before it results in the destruction of the entire Earth?
Or will Larry die of hypothermia first? Will Jennifer die of boredom?
Will Mary Anne get to have more than three lines of dialogue? Can she count that high?
Will Larry figure out a way to game whatever system they devise to decide who gets eaten first?
This hacky pop culture reference – and many others – will be made in the next review of… Perfect Strangers!
Catchphrase count: Balki (2); Larry (0) (so close on the Larry front; he says “don’t do that” at one point)
Boner count: Balki (1); Larry (0) (the jury’s still out on whether anticipating boners to come count as boners; I hope you guys out there will chime in below with whether you get boners just by imagining tricking a woman onto your penis)