No, please, I’m begging you, show.
We’ve been over this. This is a self-destructive pattern you have. Why do you keep hanging out with these lowlife stories? I saw what it did to Frank, and I see what it’s doing to you.
Like any addict, you’re telling yourself a happy story, set to some upbeat saxophone music. You’re saying that this episode about criminals won’t be like the others.
Harriette knows what’s what, and she quickly hustles Lydia into the elevator before the GeSTOPo–those menacing, somehow indistinct figures–show up.
But even foreigners know how ownership of black women’s bodies works in America, so Balki demands to drive the elevator.
Harriette, deep into contract negotiations for Family Matters, considers the PROSE AND CONS of tearing Balki a new one.*
Larry: Don’t stay off-screen for more than 30 seconds.
Not only can the elevator go really fast, but the acceleration it undergoes matches the rise in volume (not to mention rise in pitch) of both Lydia’s and Harriette’s screams, because gosh darn it physics is a real thing. We also find that the seventh floor of the Chicago Chronicle, that’s right, you heard right–
—this building, is evidently some type of tower silo.
RT (Refuted Testimony) Wainwright, who after a month finally managed to squeeze a few drops out, comes in to congratulate Larry on an article he wrote about a commodities scandal. He mentions that Larry should “try being more assertive”.
Larry considers the PROSE AND CONS of establishing continuity with a previous episode, but decides that 15 weeks is too far back and settles on asking for an office upstairs with Marshall and Walpole. (No.) For the first time in forever, there’s a brief mention of Balki still making friends with criminals, as he’s the one who found the informant, “Sore Throat”.
yeah, he orgasmed there
Balki then becomes one with the ball misunderstands ass/asset, and, you know? That’s not a bad one. I even like that Larry is an adult here and explains to both Balki and RT what happened.
Then the precise midpoint between Steve Martin, Dan Aykroyd, and Rick Moranis comes in from the parking lot, congratulating the cousins on the article, and hands them subpoenas.
Hey, speaking of “second cities”, we see that the gentrification of this part of Chicago is coming along apace, having attracted families with children. Look, even Ritz Discount has gotten a new paint job, like unto a whited sepulchre, within full of dead men’s stereos and all uncleanness.
The cousins fortify themselves with hot brown liquid as they prep each other on how they’ll answer questions from Judge Gideon, son of Judge Joash.
Larry’s really getting off on this, because it’s 1) something he can have them practice, 2) something that lets him put books on the table, and 3) might get him on TV. Balki starts talking about fashion and then, because he has never, ever been afraid of horror movies, not even ONCE, NEVER…
…he makes a joke about Poltergeist II: The Other Side.
What concerns me more is that Larry is having to shoulder this responsibility himself. The Chicago Chronicle has been established as bigger than the New York Times, and apparently won’t pony up money for a lawyer for the cousins? Bobo the Elder and Bobo the Younger are seriously going to let their paper be represented in court by two guys who break mimeograph machines, break into administrative offices, and ruin fancy dinner parties? What’s more, Larry reports to Marshall and Walpole, and we see now that those shits deliberately left their names off the article so Larry would take the fall.
Balki asks about when he gets to tell the judge what he knows, and Larry asks “what do you know”, and I actually laughed at that. Balki tells us that Sore Throat, aka Waldo Gillings, is a driver for a crime boss who makes deals from the back of his limousine. Let’s extend broken window theory here: shouldn’t Chicago just outlaw limousines?**
Larry tells Balki that they, as journalists, have to not disclose their sources. But then Larry finds out that the judge knows how much Larry’s raise is going to be. Haha, just kidding, that was a cool callback, though. Please subscribe and don’t forget to hit that “Like” button!
I vehemently swore that I would not track Balki’s other catchphrases, and I’m glad I did that, because there’s a ton by now (you really stepped in something good, I’ll be snookered, wwwwwow!, you do/I do, get out of the city, both cousins saying “Hiiii” when someone walks in while they’re fucking). We don’t see much of “swing it on in” anymore, but here, Balki looks closely at Larry’s mouth while he pronounces a word (incarcerated, instead of incinerated, which was actually another good one). I want to commend writer John B. Collins for–
ah, shit, now Larry’s talking about how they have to stand up for freedom of the press, and Balki keeps standing up
Anyway, Larry mentions the Constitution, so Balki gets on board with the idea. Then Larry says that the Judge will not throw them in jail, triggering a Gilligan Cut.
Props to the music department for the harmonica version of the “back from the commercial” music, but god dammit, Donald Trump is only today getting sworn in and already the journalists are being jailed.
Larry and Balki have a good laugh about being prisoners.
Balki reminisces about being jailed on Mypos after he kidnapped a baby goat.
Balki: He liked to hang around with me. I gave him a lot of positive ego reinforcement.
Sounds like that goat had…
wait for it
Anyway, on Mypos is very simple: the jails have no bars, just a circle drawn on the ground. I have to say, I am really impressed with the writing this week, because this is downright experimental in terms of this show’s conflicts. Usually, there’s some sort of vaguely-defined middle ground that the cousins can reach, but here, they really are speaking completely different languages. Balki may give lip service*** to Christianity, but what he’s describing essentially is a sketch of ritual magic: that a “barrier” is created to keep some evil power contained. But is this episode a culture clash about religion, about how the idea of “magic” originated out of Judaism as a way to stigmatize other ways of contacting supernatural forces? No. Or does the discussion of how the “jails” differ mask the deeper issue of how breaches of social contracts are handled? That the American prison-industrial complex**** is so developed that it has beds? That its methods are so effective that my middle school’s architecture was designed on the panopticon principle? That prison is so ingrained in the cultural imagining that you can make jokes in shorthand (harmonicas, numbers on the walls, rape)? No. The ocean between the United States and Mypos is too vast! Balki was jailed for sticking his peepee in a goat that was slightly too young; the cousins are now jailed for Larry’s commitment to ideas. Values and their judges: on Mypos, both are bound to the physical world. You can only sin corporeally, and your neighbors mete out punishment. In America, both are largely unseen, perhaps only existing in an abstract sense. Circles on the ground bar more effectively than permeable walls. To have an episode with no possibility of middle ground, no possibility of a fight between the cousins, is bold to say the very least.
Nah, j/k, the cousins are given blankets and
the cell door.
The Guard tells them that another reporter is still in jail for not revealing a source, and has been there for three years. Geez, they hired a whole actor just to relay that information? Me, I would’ve just put a skeleton in the corner with a press pass in its hat, but wearing no other clothes, because that would make the hat funnier.
Which reminds me:
Larry starts worrying about three years in the clink, since he won’t have anywhere to plug in his Waterpik (which he, what, smuggled in up his ass?).
Larry starts shouting that he’ll talk and Balki reminds him of what it means to be a reporter. Um?
Wouldn’t Sore Throat have the possibility of being granted immunity if he gave information on his criminal boss… who is now behind bars anyway? Is he just trying to stay in the good graces of all the other limo crime lords? Where’s Waldo, anyway?
I think I may have mentioned once or twice that I’m more of a Larry than a Balki. Balki gives Larry’s ideals back to him, and Larry says that he doesn’t believe he has the strength to uphold the constitution. The show has completely forgotten that Larry had eight brothers and sisters, but I haven’t. He constantly had to make his own way, not just to prove himself, but because his parents’ attention was divided 9 ways. Those of us who get into that kind of self-sufficient pattern often don’t know how to ask for help. Some of us may find ourselves in jobs where our superiors either offer no support, or open disdain for us. I don’t like when Larry turns into a baby, but damn if it ain’t earned here. The Chicago Chronicle has distanced itself completely from the cousins. Kind of makes you wonder what they’re hiding on floors 7-30. I bet Frank knows.
There’s actually a callback to the stand up/sit down bit from earlier, and then Balki remembers stuff from his American history class! Balki says that people like Nathan Hale and Paul Revere were just regular Joes until they had to be heroes. Balki even says forefathers without a dumb joke!
Larry has plenty of fetishes: dating women who are one standard deviation above the average height, getting beaten up by men wearing denim anywhere that has a liquor license, wet-and-messy-bismol (I told you I’m more of a Larry), but Balki knows which one his cousin needs now: the outward trappings of being an American citizen.
Balki starts singing “America the Beautiful” (public domain).
what the fuck
The Guard brings two more prisoners, and Larry, desperate for that middle ground between cultures, calls upon Generic Deity:
One of the prisoners is named Dutch, in the grand tradition of criminals being named Dutch going back at least to 1934’s The Big Shakedown. The prisoners are quickly established as rude dudes. I mean, look, that one guy’s wearing motorcycle gloves! Plus he threatened to kill the guard.
Mirroring his earlier request for a new office, Larry begs to be placed in a separate cell because he knows what types of jokes happen in these situations. I will say that I like that Dutch accuses the cousins of being snitches, which both is and isn’t why they’re in jail.
I will also say that I don’t like Balki saying he’s defending “the right to arm bears”. Dutch threatens to disembowel Balki.
Balki considers the PROSE AND CONS of making a joke about the word “organ”.
You ever watch old Scooby-Doo cartoons? I remember at one point, about the same time that I understood how cel animation worked, that I could tell which bush the monster was going to jump out of, which suit of armor was going to be haunted, and which stone would open up a secret passageway. So I should have known that the only movable item introduced in this episode was going to drive the physical comedy.
Despite the multiple layers of fat that have built up on Larry’s torso, thighs, and yes, even his pinky toes, he begins to shiver, causing Balki to think there’s an earthquake. Well, I know how to handle this, you both take off your clothes and get under Balki’s blanket.
Balki offers his blanket, but before the audience finishes their “awww”, Balki brings the conversation back to the same thing he always does: how awful sheep smell when it rains and they get wet and you have to be real close to them because no way you’re gonna stop fucking them.
*sees the joke coming of the other prisoner stealing Larry’s blanket*
*watches the joke where the other prisoner steals Larry’s blanket*
Balki asks if Cousin Larry is going to let them get away with this, a question punctuated quite clearly by the very neatly-drawn anarchy symbol on the wall. Balki then tries to ask for the blanet back.
Larry starts slapping Balki so that he can establish–
*reminds self that prison rape jokes aren’t cool*
–so that he can establishing pecking order.
Dutch and Jacob start trying to push the cousins through the bars.
*considers the PROSE AND CONS of doing a bit where I tie the opening sequence’s revolving door bit to prison recidivism, and like, how cell doors are revolving doors to prisoners, and another 1,000 words on top of that about how this episode doesn’t truly stand as a counterpoint to the Stanford Prison experiment because none of the prisoners is wearing a uniform, which could include jokes like “Zimbardo Zaggy Badbad” and maybe some mess about rehashing plots vs non-replicable studies*
Nah, too much effort.
The guard lets Dutch and Jacob out, because their mother posted bail. That’s almost funny.
Okay, I was cool with the ways Balki was misunderstanding English this week, and I was dreading what kind of dumb physical comedy they might get up to in the cell, but…
The other prisoners stole their blankets and pushed them up against the bars? I’ve seen scarier episodes of Rugrats. Couldn’t they have ended up in the cell with the crime boss they exposed?
*sees the joke coming that it’s somebody else playing*
*watches the joke that it’s somebody else playing*
*laughs at the idea of the joke*
*doesn’t laugh at the execution*
The Guard comes back and messes up his fourth line. Cousin Larry, sensing weakness, says he ain’t gonna sing. The Guard then uses his 21” black zinc telescoping corrections baton (with jeweled endcap) to stifle this nascent riot.
Oh, no, wait, Waldo came forward and testified when he heard that the cousins went to jail for him.
Balki points out that Larry did the heroic thing, even though it ended up having no effect. And that’s great that Larry did that, but I know that Larry’s like me. Larry understands confounding variables. He was rewarded… but not for what he did.
Instead of leaving, the cousins just stand around in the cell talking about what hot shit they are.
Then they run away from this pointless episode.
See you next week for “Car Wars”!
Catchphrase count: Balki (1); Larry (1)
Boner count: Balki (0); Larry (0)
**similarly, if Star Wars VIII doesn’t have the First Order blowing up every desert planet in the known universe, they deserve to lose
***and oh what lips they are
****come on, somebody’s got bingo by now on my academic theory references
3 thoughts on “Season 4, Episode 17: Prose and Cons”
Please tell me that’s a joke about your school being designed after the panopticon.
“Balki saying he’s defending “the right to arm bears”.”
Balki, you stealing jokes from Betsey DeVos now?
*sigh* I wish I was joking. This is the best image I can find right now, but there were six of those “arms” coming out from the central part of the building.
Huh, I don’t remember this episode at all.