Season 3, Episode 17: Pipe Dreams


Welcome back, everybody!  “Pipe Dreams” marks the point where Perfect Strangers took a few weeks off and then moved from Wednesday nights to Friday nights. Perfect Strangers would now air right before Full House (that week’s episode was “Just One of the Guys”, the one where Kimmy Gibbler keeps touching Kirk Cameron’s butt).  This was the start of what would come to be known as TGIF, so certainly “Pipe Dreams” is going to be a knockout episode!


We open at the Caldwell.  Balki, having heard that new viewers are coming over, has decided to spruce up the place a little and vacuum the couch.


Then Balki destroys his Cousin Larry’s tie. I gave Balki the Kid a pass last season, sucking up paper balls into a vacuum, but this is inexcusable.


Jennifer and Mary Anne (Sagittarius) come by solely to say that they’re leaving on a last-minute flight to Paris.  They just bought a new showerhead, and gosh darn it if they’re not going to be there for the plumber to come “install” it. Not only is changing a showerhead such a huge job that a plumber is needed, but the cousins will have to also call the plumber to confirm the appointment.

Larry starts acting in that desperate suave way of his and says he’ll “handle everything”.

Gee, you know. If only they had a landlord.


Larry calls up his buddy Gus, who now works at Pipe Dreams plumbing, to let him know that he’s going to “handle everything”.  And since installing a showerhead is such a huge ordeal, Gus makes fun of him.


Balki spends a minute recapping the last minute.  This was no doubt helpful for TV viewers who gave up on NBC’s “The Highwayman” once they realized it was not based on the Noyes poem.

And the viewers, channels changing–

With remote controls a-changing–

Show timeslots were a-changing, in the Spring of ‘88

Anyway, Balki makes a dumb joke and Larry tries to explain that this episode isn’t about fixing a showerhead.


Longtime readers may have expectations that this is the point where I launch into a paragraph-long joke spiel about Larry explaining that plumbing is really just a cultural symbol: “plumbing” is often used to refer to genito-urinary tracts. The idea that Jennifer’s “plumbing” needs some sort of “fix” taps into what is still unfortunately the zeitgeist in some quarters, that the mere presence of a vagina is the core problem of women; that is, that the risk of hysteria still exists.  Centuries ago, “womb fury” was the hypothesis that a woman’s uterus could travel through her body and damage the brain if not kept in line through regular intercourse. Even today, in 2016, you may even hear someone say that some woman just needs some D to straighten out her issues. Cousin Larry, our stand-in for the American male, is well-positioned to fix such problems. I could go that route, but not this time.

New readers to this blog may expect that I may simply make a joke about this being a familiar porno scenario.  “I’m here to fix your pipes”, etc.  I could go that route, but not this time.

You see, Larry says that Jennifer’s request is a plea for him to “come to her rescue”, and if you think I am going to pass up a chance to just make Mario jokes for the whole review, you don’t know me at all.


Mario lets us in on a little secret about what happens after you finish the last castle: the princess “thanks you”.


Mario and Luigi have a good laugh about boners.


They have a REAL good laugh about boners. I mean, come on:


They don’t call it the Mushroom Kingdom for nothin’, folks.


Later, Mario struggles with the basic concept of lefty-loosey. So he pulls out a giant wrench, which is somehow funny to the audience.  And just like every time he’s ever been in the bathroom, it just ends up with him grunting because he can’t get something to move.


But (as always) those grunts catch Luigi’s attention, so he comes to his Cousin’s aid. Luigi says that it looks like Mario doesn’t know what he’s doing. Mario asks how many times Luigi has ever gotten to World 3, “Water Land”.


Luigi protests, saying that on Mypos they only have one stage, and it just involves the woman walking from the field to the house to cook for 11 men.  But here’s a bit of dialogue that sums up the inner plumbing of Perfect Strangers:

Mario: What is the right way?

Luigi: I don’t know. But… I just know you’re doing it the wrong way.

It turns out that Mario threw out the little instruction booklet that came with the showerhead; his father never needed instructions. We get a little insight into Mario’s childhood, namely that his father burned down their house by trying to rewire it.  Since when are Mario’s issues hereditary? I thought he was supposed to be the malformed runt of the family!  But Mario must have just used a fire flower, because he lets loose with what, considering Luigi’s values, is the sickest burn ever:

Mario: Now are you going to be a friend, or are you going to stand there and insult my family?


Cousin Mario gives Luigi a hammer power-up, and says “When I nod my head, you hit it”.  Luigi has just learned in school about unclear antecedents. He knows that Mario, a native speaker never, gets his words wrong, and Luigi is stuck, unsure what to do.


That one scene from Psycho got nothing on this!

Mario says that if Luigi’s just going to play to the cheap seats, he’ll do it himself.


And then Luigi just unscrews the shower head, which, yeah, duh. Okay, last week these guys were trying to match I Love Lucy, and I pointed out that part of the humor of “Job Switching” was Ricky and Fred getting women’s work wrong. But this… doesn’t everyone know that’s how you take off a showerhead? Couldn’t they have picked something harder so that Mario doesn’t look like a complete idiot?

For those of you keeping track of the overall timeline of this show, the next scene takes place 23 hours later. Anyway, here’s a good reveal:


And they actually took the time to make new sprites so the Mario Cousins look dirty!

But once again, I’ve given you too much credit, show, because Luigi makes some nonsensical Ty-D-Bol Man joke.

So, the Cousins have cleared a hurdle. But you, even without the benefit of seeing the running time on the control display, you know that this map’s only halfway done.  They stomped that miniboss, but you know there’s more, and that things only get harder. Your sense of dread builds, as Luigi holds up a leftover piece, Mario turns the handle, and a mysterious metallic noise swells. This sounds like boss music. The sound rises to a scream, and–


The showerhead bursts off and breaks the mirror, meaning seven more years of me reviewing this show.


Then the handles come off, so the Cousins just try to put their hands over the spray.


The shower now stopped, the water pressure rises, resulting in the sink blowing up.  There have been many times this season where physical comedy was the way to overcome a problem; but here, in the back half of the level, the tables have turned. The pipe sprouts a piranha plant; some of those bricks now house pile driver micro-goombas.  Physical comedy is the enemy, and it knows your weaknesses.


We switch to two-player mode: Mario controls the shower pipe while Luigi tries to manage the sink.  But, OH NO–


The Mario Cousins both die because poop particles got in their noses and mouths. Nah, j/k, Luigi’s fingers get stuck in the sink faucet, so Mario helps him out, and sits him on the toilet.



You may have some expectations at this point.


You may think you know what comes next.


You may even have read the Perfect Strangers Reviewed walkthrough on Gamefaqs.

You weiners think I’m going to make a watersports joke, but you forgot that last week I declared a moratorium on gay sex jokes until the season finale. No, what I’m going to do is talk about physical comedy, and why this sequence works. I sure can’t find it now (don’t tell my librarian colleagues), but I swear I read an interview, or at least a quote, from one of the people responsible for the National Lampoon Vacation movies. What I got out of whatever it is I read was that the key to ramping up man-versus-machine/man-versus-nature kinds of physical comedy sequences is that things get funnier as the hapless hero gets smarter.  That is, he gets smarter, but shit keeps hitting the fan. Chevy Chase manages to get the tree in the house, but now there’s a wild animal in it.  A magnetized Ernest avoids the dangerous office supplies flying at him by locking himself in the bank vault, only to have the metal safe deposit drawers pulled out of their holes to hit him upside the head.  It’s a progression that works, and I don’t think I’ve seen it bungled yet, not even here.  Anyway, if some of you were expecting a Frank Zappa reference, you were right:


Now that they have worked the wall, worked the pipe, and worked the floor, the Mario and Luigi end the scene in serious pain.

I’ll hand it to whoever wrote this one, they’re tidy with the dialogue in the next scene. You kind of have to be when you take up a third of the show wrecking the world’s largest apartment bathroom. We’re informed quickly that the cousins have “fixed it”, but that Luigi still worries about the showerhead coming off.

Cousin Mario says that all the trouble will be worth it when Princess Peach gets back, sees his heroism and starts “gushing”.





The princesses arrive, eager to be caught up on whatever exposition they missed while in Paris.  Princess Daisy (Sarasaland) brought back a bottle of “imported” California wine.  (Princess Daisy is so dumb she thinks Riesling is a type of wine you can only get at the circus).

Princess Peach expresses gratitude that the shower was fixed. She’s so happy that she could have a shower after a long trip, a trait that is unique to her alone among all sitcom characters.

Mario’s all like “check out this phallic symbol”.


Luigi’s all like “yeah, yeah”.


Mario boasts that he fixed the shower himself, and Peach just doesn’t give a shit. But, like, did she give Mario the money to pay the plumber? Does she want it back?

Mario just won’t quit using the word gush, and then he tries to come on to Peach:

Mario: Felt good gettin’ my hands on the old monkeywrench again. I forgot how much I enjoyed it.


Peach makes the same face that women do when I talk about how much fun I had getting screenshots of male cousins in the shower.

The cousins do that thing where Mario keeps talking himself up and Luigi keeps putting him down*, but evidently the princesses have never heard boasting or insults before, and just look confused. Princess Daisy is the only one to notice that the color of their shower tiles had changed. I love this woman!

AND ONLY THEN does the princesses’ apartment start leaking. Luigi, knowing that he’s supposed to be the Jesus cipher, gets confused and tries to catch water in wine glasses.


And since no one else hears the really loud water dripping sound effect (track #8 on “Standard Sound Effects” disc 155A), they all drink water that probably has shit in it!


They’re drinking shit!


Princess Daisy: Shouldn’t we call the landlord?


After discovering the leak, they all run upstairs to–what? No? Okay.


After discovering the leak, they all sit back down on the couch.



Then they all look up at Lakitu, who pours water on the cousins.

So let me ask you: you all saw the window at the back of the Princesses’ bathroom, right? That tells me that it’s above that of the Mario Cousins’; so does the upstairs bathroom reach that far forward?

After Luigi calls up other plumbers, Mario explains that he thought Peach wanted a hero.


The one time Peach expressed a clear want–THE ONE TIME–and Mario misinterpreted it. I forgive you, Mario, I really didn’t think it was possible myself.

Mario: Luigi, why do I keep doing this? Why do I keep repeating the same jump patterns, fighting the same battles, just to have Peach get kidnapped again at the beginning of the next game?

Instead of giving any sort of “why”, Luigi just rephrases what Mario did. He compares him to a dog on Mypos who chased his tail and then caught it and spun himself to death.  Wow, so kids on Mypos just sat around and watched dogs suicide, huh?


Luigi says that Peach likes Mario for what he is (a short, fat man who eats pizza a lot and, if you remember from the Karate episode, is a ground-pounder). But can you really separate what you do from what you are? Each becomes the other, ultimately. The credits music comes on, and before the list of Japanese names starts scrolling past, Luigi tells us the lesson:

Luigi: Peach doesn’t want a macho, handy, take-charge kind of guy. She wants you.

Psychology sidebar: I don’t feel like talking about psychology this week, but it’s called the sunk cost fallacy, look it up.

I’m honestly kind of bummed that the plumbing episode came too late for me to use Twinkacetti as a Bowser stand-in. It would have been great, instead of this shitty review I wrote.

But seriously, show, how hard would it have been to put in two lines of dialogue to cover that up? “Isn’t Twinkacetti supposed to handle this kind of stuff?” “Ha! I can’t even get that cheapskate to replace the fire extinguishers” (picks up fire extinguiser) “look at the expiration date, this probably hasn’t been used since the Great Chicago Fire.”

Anyway, tune in next week for another TGIF (Two Goofy Idiots Flailing), when I’ll review “The Defiant Guys”.


Catchphrase count: Luigi (0); Mario (0)

Boner count: Luigi (1); Mario (2)

*you may not be familiar with this Mario/Luigi dialogue structure because it was only in the Japanese version


2 thoughts on “Season 3, Episode 17: Pipe Dreams

  1. I remember this episode! For some reason, though, I thought it ended with the cousins getting wet from the water falling through the ceiling. I don’t remember what came after.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s