Well, here’s something we didn’t get last season: a two-part story. I assume Season 3 did not have one because there were just so many important stories to tell. Stories like: Balki buys a counterfeit watch; the cousins are in a commercial for the newspaper; Balki talks about Carl Lewis for 20 minutes. With all 22 episodes crucial to the development of these characters, there was simply no space to tell a longer story! But if all those episodes about death in Season 3 were still somehow unsatisfying, here’s the reason: Larry didn’t risk everyone’s life at once. And with a show as tightly-scripted as Perfect Strangers, you can be sure that a two-parter won’t take any detours. We’ve established that
…but are you ready for everybody on this show to die?
I’m ready for everybody on this show to die!
A flourish of synth flutes promises exciting adventure as we enter the Chicago Chronicle building. SEE that same bus drive by for the 10th time! WITNESS some unimportant guy leaving the building!
THRILL as Harriette tells Balki that he can never operate the elevator again because buttons are just too much for his shepherd’s comprehension.
Balki gives us some ominous foreshadowing by telling Harriette that Larry “doesn’t do well out of doors” and won’t be going on the company camping trip. But then Larry comes in and says–
wait hold up
The Biggest Newspaper in America (With a Friendly Touch) has to employ at least 1,000 people, right? And they’re all going on… Okay, stop, Casey, you’re not even one minute in and you’re asking questions. Just go with it.
Larry has decided that he will be camper 1,001 because Jennifer finds camping romantic. Wait, each of these 1,000 employees gets a +1? No, nope, stop. Anyway, so Larry thinks this will be a romantic trip. That’s a tortured path from point A to point B. IF girlfriend uses nail polish and sleeps when she’s tired THEN she’ll want to bone on a two-inch sleeping bag pad with all of her boyfriend’s coworkers listening in
Balki starts getting chills as canon is established: he remembers how badly the ski trip went. Cousin Larry assures him that like any woman who’s wife material, she has the ability to completely repress traumatic memories.
Jennifer comes in for lunch with Larry, who immediately invites her camping. She admits to having PTSD from the experience, Balki shares some tips on how to cope with the abuse Larry puts you through, and Larry does the heyheyheyheyhey thing again.
Jennifer makes the same face women do when I say the word “overnight”, so Larry volunteers Balki to be the “camping leader”. Let’s see how Balki likes it when his time and energy are impinged on!
To prove he trusts Balki as a leader, Larry says he’ll let him pick where they eat. Balki suggests Bosko’s House of Liver and Waffles. You know what, forget camping, let’s just have the episode there.
Jennifer, taking baby steps towards being a real character, notices that Balki’s line got a laugh, so she repeats the words “Liver and waffles?”
Balki also suggests Eels on Wheels and Jack’s Escar-gogo, where the snails have nipple tassles. Balki then walks out shaking his imaginary snail tits.
This is the funniest the show has been in a long time, keep going, I like funny lists.
Oh well, here we are at the Caldwell.
Balki comes in trying to talk about Mary Anne and Larry has bought a bunch of camping equipment and laid it out in the best configuration for one specific wall of the apartment to look at. Larry then details every single item he bought, including a double-mantled high-intensity camping lantern with optional bug light*. Balki misunderstands Larry to have said “Bud Light”, even though Larry is holding up a thing that is an actual light while he talks about it.
Balki: I thought the idea of camping was just man and nature with nothing in between.
*rubs hands together*
Good, good! I’m going to enjoy this culture clash while it lasts. I’m guessing in a couple of minutes they’ll practice lighting the camping stove and burn off their eyebrows. Man and nature, sure, says Cousin Larry, but there will be women here (not to mention 1,000 other people).
Balki says that women do all the heavy lifting on Mypos and pumps his crotch a few times, but Larry insists that comfortable equipment is what gets American women hot.
Somehow, Balki has become stupid this week: he asks what the sleeping bag is, despite
Hey show, since sleeping bags are so crucial to getting Jennifer to fuck Larry, howsabout the cousins get in there so I can make some gay jokes?
Yep, there they go!
There’s actually a good joke when Balki misunderstands “goosedown in this bag”, revealing yet another traumatic experience with birds, and then Larry starts drawing out his ffffffs again. I can take a dumb Balki if it means good jokes and a callback.
Then Gus calls because his ears were burning, so the cousins hop over and give me more sweet, sweet screenshots.
Why the hell couldn’t this scene have taken place in the tent in the woods? No, Casey, hold up, the only padding here is the goosedown. This scene is important because it establishes how technology (the sleeping bag), when overused (it keeps you warm down to 60 below), and then misapplied (in an apartment), only makes other technology not work. This is all foreshadowing for how the double-mantled high-intensity camping lantern with optional bug light will end up working so well as to disrupt the entire forest ecosystem, the lack of pollinization causing flowers, undergrowth, trees to die, sending shockwaves throughout the state, the whole country, disrupting trade worldwide; we will regret our earlier laughter at these antics, knowing that–
Jennifer: Look, we’re halfway through this episode, you guys wanna stop being gay so we can move on?
Ah, the great outdoors! The fresh air, the rainbow of greens surrounding you, feeling like you own the world when you view the landscape from a vantage point atop a mountain…
…the, uh, shantytown built along the banks of the river. Anyway, here we are at Raft Rental National Park
Hot whiz is that a nice outfit, Lydia! You’d blend right into the background *lowers glasses* in my apartment. Harriette insults her and Lydia chases after her, whining
And… wait, Harriette’s able to leave the building? The building that houses the United States’s #1 newspaper, and where she operates the only elevator? I hope RT Wainwright won’t have to take Frank’s Exit to get home.
Mary Anne (Sagittarius) realizes that she’s never camped out, and somebody on the writing staff thought that was a joke. We find that out of 1,000 employees, only 9 agreed to go on the company camping trip.
Larry doesn’t like the idea of riding mules to the campsite and projects his upset onto the women. Comfort=orgazzies, right? So what’s more romantic than rafts?
Balki: Shearing a sheep with the woman you love?
I can attest to this! The way this works is that once you’ve shorn the sheep, you can see its genitals clearly. And then you both have sex with the sheep.
Balki says he’s the camping leader, and Asshole Larry starts splitting semantic hairs (they’re not at camp yet). Because Balki’s dumb this week, he believes his cousin.
The Brawny Man’s younger brother, Brawny Dude, who’s been trying not to laugh in the background through this whole scene, rents them a raft.
Like, look, I get that we need to have the requisite scene where Larry convinces Balki to let him do his Asshole Larry plan, but unfortunately there’s like 5 minutes left to kill. So what should we do with that time, Balki?
That’s what I thought. Rather than put that time towards a subplot for any of the six–count ‘em–six other speaking roles on this episode, we have the cousins doing physical comedy, the I do/You do bit, and then repeating each other so that Larry can trick Balki into singing reason #22 these scenes are not 1s and 0s on a DVD on your shelf: “Proud Mary”.
Quit thinking you’re ready for being a (camping) leader into a block of family programming. If you’re not willing to use all of your characters, then go sit behind Full House.
Later, sublimity itself:
Jennifer: Oh look! Stock footage of a deer!
And, uh, I guess these four sent their equipment on the mules? Which means they have to have interacted with the rest of the group, who by that point had been waiting likely 20 minutes for them. Which means that some additional conversation must have been had about whether to raft or not. And none of the other Chronicle members present wanted to raft.
Remember how these guys used to be poor? And how they both have shit jobs? And how Balki’s pay raise was hinted to be something on the order of like 2 cents more per hour?
Speaking of, ABC does appear to have spent money on a raft, four wigs, and someone with a decent sense of composition.
Jennifer remarks that it’s beautiful out here. Haha, yeah, we ought to leave it out here–hey wait
Does Jennifer have a personality trait now? Does the life she leads all but stifle her inner flame of humanity? She lives on the third floor of a building, in a major US city. Her work may take her to other cities, but she may very well be spending the majority of her time in the air. How much further can one get from the earth itself? Perhaps Jennifer has little to connect to–and thus little to say–because she is so far removed from her element, and is attracted (?) to the only other being she could find who doesn’t fit in anywhere? Is she…
is Jennifer the little mermaid?
I’ma call her Arial!
Larry has brought three cheesecakes for some goddam reason.
Balki says “here comes the end of this episode”.
Larry says they’ve still got a couple minutes to kill and repeats what he has said about the cheesecakes. He has brought three of them. For some goddam reason.
Balki points to a fork in the river. I’ve held off on asking questions of logic all episode now, but, okay, if you find yourself in this situation, this is a very simple question to answer.
All you need to remember is:
- Which side of the river did you come onto it from?
- Did the rest of the campers plan on crossing the river at any point?
This is a wide enough river that you’d need a bridge for a group of the size we saw earlier, if they planned on crossing. You may quibble with this and say: what if the group crosses the bridge before reaching the fork? Let me address this. The cousins would certainly know whether 1) the group had planned on crossing the river, 2) that there would be a bridge if that was the plan, and 3) whether or not by this moment they had passed a bridge.
Okay, well, what if the bridge came after the fork? Sure, okay, I’d say maybe there’s bridges on both forks, but maybe there’s not. Maybe there’s just one, down one fork. Okay, so there’s a 50% chance, and we’re back where the episode says we are, right? No. For one thing, if there was a bridge crossing after the fork, the other campers would be in the middle portion, increasing the chances that they’d be visible from either of the distributaries. For two: not a one of these four people is remembering anything about a damn bridge.
Fine, maybe I’m padding with this (I stopped just short of drawing a flowchart, which could have been funny because it has its own branches), but I feel that this is important to address. What we are left with is that all four of these people have forgotten which side of the river they came in on.
The last two-parter demanded that I suspend my disbelief quite a bit, but this one has worn out my suspension completely.
We’ve established that Mary Anne has perfect memory, Jennifer is an outdoors person, and that Balki basically grew up outdoors.
Larry is the only person who could have believably forgotten.
But the show has made this a fight between Larry’s map and Mother Nature “whispering” in Balki’s ear. This episode started out with a good culture clash where Larry bought a bunch of equipment and Balki just wanted to use his own waste to start the campfire. Maybe that plot was overdone by then?
Balki gets wet, Balki chokes Larry, and then Mary Anne recognizes the sound of a waterfall coming up.
I really wish them all shouting “Niagara Falls?” juxtaposed with Larry attacking Balki was a reference to one of the best Vaudeville bits of all time, but these guys are in too much danger to spare a thought for comedy.
I could go on about how probably you’re going to know whether there’s a waterfall nearby when you go camping (like, the guide would have said whether you’re on the right side of the river for seeing it or not), but time’s running out.
This is the first episode I’ve encountered that I felt was in major need of a rewrite.
GIVE ME REWRITES, COMMENTERS
The lives of these people depend on it!
Boner count: Balki (0); Larry (0)
Catchphrase count: Balki (0); Larry (0)
*feather-touch control available on the Deluxe model