I’m Casey, read me!
We open this week at the Caldwell Hotel. We find Cousin Larry, who has evidently brought his suitcases and clothing items from his bedroom at separate times so that he can pack them in the living room.
I’m also just noticing now that all those books from “The Lottery” are gone. They really did destroy most of their library, huh?
Balki runs out of his bedroom speaking Reason #24 that you didn’t get Perfect Strangers Season 4 under your Christmas tree: “I’m So Excited” by the Pointer Sisters.* Balki, you really didn’t realize how revolutionary home video was, did you?
Because the cousins must be different in every aspect of their lives, Larry has burdened a bevy of bags before boarding, and Balki but a bindle, for their trip to New York City. It’s going to be Balki’s first time on an airplane, because I guess they fucking walked to Vegaahhhssss! I hope he barfs and his eardrums explode.
Jennifer and Mary Anne (Sagittarius) come in and Larry asks them if they’re ready for New York, as though getting ready for trips isn’t something they do every damn week.
The women say that they’ve been reassigned to a flight for Hawaii, and for once I’ve actually learned something from you, show. Evidently stewardesses had to “bid” on placements for flights to certain locations. And I realize I’ve never thought too deeply about what it must be like to be a stewardess. Your work schedule… *ahem*… up in the air, never knowing where you might be going to next, your placements and your days off determined by some faceless bureaucrats making calculations on their computers. When one day you’re in Hawaii, and another day you’re in New York, guaranteed nice weather–or even guaranteed bad weather–may start to look attractive. It also may be just short of a miracle that these two get to work flights together so often, and it’s understandable that they’d want some constants in their lives. A poodle**, a working bathroom, and boyfriends who are always fighting the same fight. You leave one day with the cousins tangled up on the couch because they couldn’t decide how long to cook spaghetti, and you come back another to find the cousins tangled up on the couch arguing about whether Certs is a breath mint or a candy mint.
Anyway, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance for them, and Larry says he “understands about careers”.
The women have decided that, if they aren’t going to get better jobs, they’ll at least make the cousins keep the airline they work for in the black, so they upsell Balki and Larry on the costlier tickets to Hawaii.
Balki waves his arms around in some idiot way and Larry freaks out about how he wasted six weeks packing for New York. Aren’t those two cities about on the same latitude?
Balki pretends not to know a word and tricks Larry into saying “thong”; he then skips off to his bedroom to masturbate while it’s still fresh in his mind.
The last time I was on a plane, I was scared half to death, because it was only about half a year since I got my kidney transplants. I was still on high doses of immunosuppressants, so I didn’t even want to use the… hey–
This is why planes are always plot points in movies about how viruses spread! Cousin Larry enters, having draped himself with caplitalism, his excess emotional baggage externalized, his belongings wrapped in dead, dried animal flesh. The show has offered us silent wordplay: carryon/carrion.
In space as cramped as this, this materialist drive only serves to deprive others. Behold:
Ah, but the lesson runs deeper:
We find that the others on the plane are also materialist swine, and ultimately your possessions serve only as a wall against others who want to be near you and touch you.
Or maybe this was a Laurel and Hardy movie? I don’t know.
We’re introduced to a couple sitting behind the cousins who are newlyweds, and the woman is expresses coded excitement about being penetrated later on. Balki pops up and asks how many goats she cost. Then he starts in about his Aunt Uvula, which is another step towards Mypos being Wackyland.
Balki, who has never once been in a car, EVER
misunderstands “buckle up”. Then you get a series of Balki encountering scary things for the first time, like tray tables, and headphones, and fat guys.
But once Balki realizes that music comes through the plastic forked tongue, he gets off on it and calms down and starts snapping his fingers and singing along to Reason #25 DVD releases of Perfect Strangers never got off the ground: “King of the Road” by Roger Miller.
THEY’RE ALL LOOKING AT YOU, LARRY
The women come by to talk before the flight starts, and Balki offers them honey-roasted halkidikis, the “traditional travel food of Mypos”. Balki says that they have an expiration date of about 120 years, so even though
Myposians will be enjoying her cooking for generations.
The pilot says over the intercom to fucking get on with it, we’re halfway through this episode. And then Balki’s just shouting about the fact that the plane is in the air.
Jennifer comes by just to say that she feels nauseated. And gee, I wonder what could be the cause? Balki tells us that the halkidikis are made with goat parts and left out until they get good and moldy.*** But it’s not that rotten Myposian food is poisonous, GOD FORBID: you get sick when halkidikis are combined with milk. I guess calcium deficiency explains why Myposians’ fingers are always breaking.
The cousins check on Mary Anne, who longs for the comfort of the grave, since she had some cream in her coffee.
Jennifer tries to soldier on, fortifying herself with milk, not wanting to lose the Hawaii route. And just like every woman I date does when I show up at her place of work, Jennifer runs away to vomit.
To its credit, the show actually offers us a core of a cultural difference here. Balki sees the passengers on the plane as a new community that he has entered; when he came on the plane, he let everyone know who he was and where he’d be sitting. Larry sees his fellow passengers as people who ought to be left alone, because he sees them all as he sees himself: an individual. When they entered the plane, they both broke unspoken rules of flying. Balki by breaching those walls of individuality verbally, and Larry physically.
Balki thinks that the passengers will understand that the stewardesses are sick and they won’t get their refreshments for a few hours, when the women recover. Larry says that the passengers don’t want to think, they just want to be served. Money creates a hierarchy, and not being served breaks a psychological contract.
Larry decides that they will be the stewardesses, and I actually find it downright refreshing that both cousins are being compassionate, even if Larry’s just trying to keep an angry mob from forming. But.
Show, sometimes the way you set up these plots just doesn’t work. There’s an imbalance here. On the one hand, we almost get to see the women being competent at their jobs, but the presence of the cousins prevents this. And it’s ultimately in service of getting to see the cousins fail at handling the passengers. But did you have to force the women off-screen in their own domain? Here’s a rewrite for you: the plane takes off, and the cousins keep pestering their girlfriends, taking attention away from other passengers, getting special treatment by demanding extra peanuts, towels, an inflight magazine that didn’t already have the crossword filled out. The other passengers get angry when they see this happening, and the women have to stand up to the cousins’ behavior. There’s even room for physical comedy, I’m sure.
Anyway, because they need to get out there quickly to quiet the passengers, Balki and Larry fuck around with aprons for a while.
And then they fuck around with the drinks cart for a while.
Later, we find the cousins serving drinks to the passengers; Balki asks the angry guy from before what he wants. The guy says he wants a White Russian.
Balki misunderstands and clarifies his ethnicity. How dumb do you have to be to not realize that someone is answering a question you just asked? You shouldn’t be ignoring context clues when you create the context. *sigh*
Then they throw ice around because it’s important they get drinks to people quickly, and then they make rhymes for each ingredient in a White Russian. This bit really sucked until Balki surprised me with “swizzle”/”a bissel”. When asked why they’re suddenly stewardesses instead of passengers, Larry lies and says that they are quality control experts.
Balki: Yes, whenever we find quality, we try to control it.
My work is done here, people.
Did anyone tell the captain that the stewardesses are sick? Is there no protocol for this type of situation? Where did the women go? Has Balki washed his hands since he touched everyone’s faces?
When this episode originally aired, I had just turned four. This means that I had only just gained the ability to say my first and last name; began preferring playing with others to playing by myself; started to realize that words rhymed, and maybe even was imagining new words; I was gaining the ability to dress and undress myself. In a lot of ways, you could say that my development matched that of Balki Bartokomous, perhaps in some ways surpassed it. But he had his first plane ride long before I did, so the way the past is portrayed often seems strange to me.
To wit: were the food trays just completely uncovered like that? Did someone cook and prepare these plates, load them into the temperature-controlled storage just like that, and they wouldn’t congeal or anything? Best I can tell, that’s steak, mashed potatoes, and maybe corn or macaroni and cheese, but I just don’t think those would be that great just sitting out. Even kept warm, wouldn’t the available oxygen have some effect on the surface of these foods?
I shouldn’t nitpick because finally–FINALLY–the show is so committed to making physical comedy out of every aspect of a situation that we get an inadvertent message: the work that Jennifer and Mary Anne do takes practice, and skill. The cousins think that everything’s a breeze. They know the words that are involved in the process–drinks, cart, vodka, aprons, dinner, aisle–and they’re having fun rhyming them, but they’re only just beginning to get comfortable with complicated hand-eye coordination, and have only just learned how to mash up food on a plate.
Because turbulence is a thing that can happen on a plane, the plane experiences turbulence.
I’m actually excited at the possibility that Larry is going to spill boiling coffee on women who will sue the cousins and/or the airline. Some people are upset because their food is cold, or that they haven’t gotten food, or that they dirty trays haven’t been taken away (haha the joke is that the fat guy ate his meal really quick).
Balki’s just back in the back eating the damn food instead of helping. All those times that Larry lured Balki with Sears Tower Sundaes has made him associate heights with eating dessert. Larry demands that Balki actually help him.
So they just push each other back and forth with their butts for awhile.
And then Larry touches somebody’s food after touching a bunch of other dirty surfaces.
The cousins are just screaming in the food preparation area–does this not alarm the people who are already upset and fearing for their lives?
Again, stupid setup, okay payoff: Balki throws the potato at a guy, and the passengers just throw it around until the woman who wanted it gets it.
Larry starts to give food to the wrong guy, but it’s the angry guy! He says it’s his now! Fat people like to eat a lot!
Is Balki’s view of the world correct? Can he convince this disparate group of travelers that they are a community? That not only do they share a common destination – Ha-wa-ee-ee, but they share a common journey: the journey of life?
Nope, Balki just brings a vegetarian passenger a steak, but it’s not enough that he call it “veterinarian”, GOD FORBID, he throws “veteran” in the mix too.
Out of nowhere the blushing bride starts griping about how she wanted a brownie, and that this was some grand promise her husband made to her. Larry promises a brownie, and the fat guy demands an extra brownie too. Those fat people, huh?
Then Angrydude and Honeymoonman decide to fight and Larry tries to intervene. But it’s too late, because the clientele at Fat Marsha’s the passengers voice a battle cry of storming the kitchen area. I do like the joke when Larry scares everyone by threatening to not show the inflight movie, and the reveal that it’s Ernest Goes to Camp is even better.
Balki tells the passengers that they should be happy that they are going somewhere nice, but they insist on continuing to be upset. And even though Balki didn’t care about Larry’s lie earlier for some goddam reason, he still is the bearer of truth.
Balki reveals that he and his cousin are not flight attendants, and uncovers the women, who have just been sitting upright under blankets.
Larry explains that they’re helping the women out so they don’t lose their jobs. I’m glad that one of the writers finally remember that Larry has a brain and a heart, because he calms the passengers down by pointing out how ridiculous they are to fight over crappy food.
Later, Larry says that knowing what Jennifer does gives him a whole new respect for her. And for all that the women weren’t given a chance to show their hard-won skill, a humble Larry is as good as I can hope for. Sure, the second half was a reskin of “Get a Job”, right down to a woman demanding some sort of potato, but there were enough good jokes that it wasn’t total garbage.
Oh, no, wait, Mary Anne goes off to retrieve a punchline while Balki says that Jennifer should avoid plaid.
I feel you, ladies, the final joke usually makes me vomit too.
Join me next week for “Blind Alley”!
Wait, hold on, one more joke: “spewardesses”.
Catchphrase count: Balki (1); Larry (0)
Boner count: Balki (0); Larry (0)
*You’re right, he did sing it exactly two seasons ago; I’m assuming that ABC would have to pay for every use of the song
**which, uh, Balki has never had to go upstairs to feed while Mary Anne is away? You’d think Balki would be all about getting to play with another dog
***We are given insight into regional differences in Myposian cuisine; in South Mypos they let the halkidikis sit out even longer
4 thoughts on “Season 4, Episode 14: Come Fly With Me”
Honestly my initial thought about this being Balki’s first time on the plane was “Erm…what about immigrating?” Then I realized the opening credits show him on a steamer. Even if that’s accidental continuity, I kind of liked that.
Of course, you raise the Vegas trip, and rightly so. However, in the show’s defense, I think that’s okay. I can understand totally that some writer thought, “What about Balki’s first time flying? Wouldn’t that lead to a funny story?” and was willing to ignore a previous episode (if he even remembered it) for the sake of getting to tell that funny story.
Nowadays I think it’d be harder to get away with that, with every episode archived for all eternity, but at the time…I’m fine with it. I’m fine with them saying, “Okay, we glossed over something before, but I think it’s worth a reset so we can get some actual mileage out of it.”
Having said all that, though, I take it back. Fuck this show.
Because it seems like this episode wasn’t even about Balki’s first time flying. It led to a handful of pointless jokes and I guess a headphone induced eargasm, but that’s not what the story was about. The story was about the women getting sick and the men having to do their jobs, and that’s the kind of story you can tell a hundred thousand ways that don’t at all require this to be Balki’s first trip.
Hell, wouldn’t it be more interesting if Balki had flown a few times by now? You could have Larry trying to walk him through things, with Balki saying, over and over, “Cousin, I get it. I’ve done this. I’ve learned!” Switch up the dynamic. Larry feels lost without having to guide Balki through things, and Balki gets to feel in command of a situation for once. Let him GET THINGS RIGHT. That builds comic tension.
The release comes when the women get sick. Now it doesn’t matter how familiar Balki is with flying; he doesn’t get to sit back and watch movies and eat peanuts. He instead needs to take care of the other passengers. The regimented predictability of air travel that gave him comfort is now stripped away, and, all at once, he’s utterly helpless again. That’s funny. What’s more, Larry swells up, thinking he gets to guide Balki through something again. At first this is a relief for Larry…until he realizes he doesn’t know how to be a steward, and he’s floundering, too.
That hypothetical episode places both cousins in and then out of their individual comfort zones. That works. That’s funny.
And it by no means needs to be Balki’s first time on a plane.
You can even have the honey roasted goatnuts, if you want. Just have Balki offer them to the women while Larry’s taking a dump or something.
Hell, I would’ve been happy if Balki had just given all the passengers halkidikis and half the episode was everybody vomiting.
This is another episode that I made an audio recording of and listened to over and over.
Maybe the cousins took a train to Vegas, because Balki had never been on a train before and wanted to see the country.
My dad laughed at Balki’s line about controlling quality.
[…] ****They ruined this joke. Balki says they were arguing over “whether Certs is really two, two, two mints in one.” The joke would be that they’re arguing over whether it’s a candy mint or a breath mint. I should know, because I wrote that fucking joke a year and a half ago! […]