Season 5, Episode 1: Good Skates

You know what’s kind of wearisome?

I’m halfway done, but I’m not halfway done.  This show has eight seasons, but there are 150 episodes.  We’ve only made it through 72 of them so far. It’s almost like one measure sees things one way, but another measure sees things another way.


Here’s to going around that door another 78 times, folks.


I should acknowledge that last week was the first time I’ve ever taken a vacation from this blog, which was also a real-life vacation.  I went to the Chiller Theatre Toy, Model & Film Expo in Parsippany, New Jersey, just to meet Mark Linn-Baker and Bronson Pinchot.  I’ll give you a full report on that soon, but I didn’t want there to be two whole months without an episode review.


Just like the summer vacations we all had in our grade school days, the first few days of school were generally spent re-covering a lot of the material from the previous year. Sometimes this would take the form of tests, just to see what we students had retained. Perfect Strangers is treating my vacation no differently, because I’m treated straight away to a question: who’s on that bike?


It’s black man Carl Lewis!  That was an easy question, show, give me some harder ones.

After, what, three years?, Cousin Larry has finally eaten a full meal cooked by Balki, and throws up in his mouth when he finds out that it was pig bladder au jus.


Jennifer and Mary Anne (Sagittarius) come by to say that they’re raising money for Big Brothers.


Balki’s first joke of the season is unadulterated shit: he thinks they’re talking about the Blues Brothers.  Balki’s second joke–looking at Larry’s mouth when corrected–is even worse, since Balki’s only supposed to do this for issues of pronunciation. I don’t remember Balki being quite so dumb as to not know the word “big”.

And for the one person in the television watching audience at home who has never heard of the Big Brothers organization, Larry tells us what it’s about.  Yet, when he says that the men act as brothers to kids who need fathers, Balki is not confused.

The women are doing a 10-hour skate-a-thon to raise money.

Ah, see, here’s a trick question.  The show is trying to make me think that the cousins are going to actually sign up for Big Brothers and make a more direct, and possibly more lasting impact, in the lives of children. But I know that’s not going to happen; the cousins are more likely to just spend 15 minutes throwing au jus at each other.


Then Grant Larkin, the guy from the Sears catalog, you all know Grant, comes by.  Grant is also a flight attendant and he raised $1,000 the previous year.  He came by to drop off his fundraising sheets, and–

the fuck?


did he come here to


The point is, he skates, he raises money, and Jennifer is talking about him, meaning he poses a threat to Larry and Jennifer’s relationship.


Larry acts like he’s only just now putting together that “skate-a-thon” means “rollerskating marathon”, because acting like an idiot is the best way to make your girlfriend like you more than others.  He calls himself “Wheels Appleton”*.


Larry is quickly signed up to teach Balki how to skate, and in the next scene, they put on oversized, clunky shoes. Oh right! They do prop-based physical comedy anywhere except where those props are actually used.  This stuff’s coming back to me now.

To his credit, Larry actually admits his lie to Balki immediately. Is that a first for this show? I can’t remember, I’ll come back to that question.

Anyways, I could have sworn that lying would land you in a pit on Mypos, and I could have sworn that Balki was a committed Christian in both Christmas episodes, but here he trots out some Myposian mythology about the “wrath of the Gaboogies”.

If I were Larry, I would have learned long ago not to ask, but Larry asks, and the Gaboogies are Fib Furies named Eva, Magda, and ZsaZsa. Their father is Vertazh, God of Truth (his wife’s name is Sucotazh). Each of them is a cyclops and they punish liars.


Balki tells the audience to hold their laughter, there’s actually more dialogue in this episode before the cousins start falling on their asses.

Anyway, Larry actually takes the time to explain to Balki his philosophy of right versus wrong. I won’t go into the details, but, at its core, it’s a fairly succinct consequentalist/utilitarian statement.  He’s providing a real natural good without harming others. Balki, on the other hand, is focussing on moral goods from a deontological standpoint, and expresses a deep–not to mention well-argued–concern for Larry’s soul. Larry, ever the individualist, does not believe in the soul, and nah, j/k, they don’t talk about any of that shit.

Cousin Larry’s plan is to just not take the skates off until the skate-a-thon.

Oh right! I remember now! They own their apartment and can scuff the heck out of the floors if they w–wait. Oh, wait, no.


The cousins shuffle around with the skates on…


Oh right! The cousins are gay.


Larry pushes Balki to the kitchen, Balki pushes Larry, Mary Anne comes in–


Oh no! The door’s open! Nothing’s gonna stop him now!


Later, at the Chronicle, Larry flails his way to his telephone, and it turns out all it takes to have a decent comedy sequence is to get Balki out of the room entirely. I’m 100% willing to believe that Linn-Baker did this in just a couple of takes. Unfortunately, Larry doesn’t answer the phone in time to take Gus’s call.


Balki comes in skating like an ice skater, and god I just want to see him fall down.

Then there’s a shot that’s staged interestingly enough to have Balki’s skate around the table hide Gorpley’s entrance.


Gorpley just up and says “you’re both on roller skates”. Oh right! The audience on this show is dumb, and there was a commercial break.


Larry claims to have collected tons of pledges and Gorpley pretends to be scared of him as he gets chased, laughing, back to his office.  Larry’s carrying this episode, and it’s pretty fun.

Balki implies that Larry’s inability to skate is the wrath of the Gaboogies.

Larry disses the gods, and then falls down.


Note how Larry falls on his hip–even when he’s in danger, with barely a second to think, he still makes sure to keep his ass unbruised for his cousin’s sake.

Any given Perfect Strangers plot these days seems to be written from the inside out.  Figure out what kind of physical comedy the cousins will do, and build the episode around it.  I can picture John B. Collins, desperately driving around Chicago with one thought in his mind–skates, skates, skates–but unable to do anything with it. I can picture his excitement when he drove by Skateland, where those six magic words were all he needed.


Anyway, they’re at Skateland. Look, look at those outfit colors.  I’m never not going to ship Maryapple.

Larry–despite not having any friends inside or outside of work, and living in the same apartment building that the women certainly already hit up for money–has raised $1200 in pledges; that’s more than Grant raised!

Larry: I guess some of us have it, and some of us don’t.

Balki: Some of us can’t get rid of it.

???? the hell is that supposed to mean? You didn’t teach us this last year. I didn’t even have any sick days and I know I’ve never seen joke writing that bad. That’s a hard punchline to fuck up.


Uh-oh, Grant’s still around and says hello while skating well. What’s more, he’s ganking Larry’s sweater style.

Balki portends certain doom for his cousin.


Larry makes a joke about sheep running for office on Mypos.




There’s a montage, but they jump from minute 1 to hour 7 like that.  Larry is bent over, sweating, and Grant goes by doing a trick. They do this joke three times in a row.

Mary Anne cheers for her boyfriend, and Jennifer yells at her to cheer for Larry instead.


So… the women quit before 10 hours? Did they lie to the people who pledged for them?


It’s weird that they’re equating ability to skate with endurance.  But if I had been a little more test-wise, I’d have gotten a clue from this question that was right in front of me:

  1. Larry and Balki practice karate every week
  2. Larry and Balki go to the gym twice a week
  3. Larry is fat and out of shape
  4. 1, 2, and 3
  5. 1 and 2
  6. 1 and 3
  7. None of the above

I’ve got the show paused at this point, and I see there are five minutes left.  I can only imagine it’s going to be five minutes of Balki lecturing, because this episode should end either 1) with Larry not telling the truth, 2a) Balki outing Larry, or 2b) Larry outing himself. Both 2a and 2b would, realistically, result in Jennifer saying “oh, well, but you stuck it out for longer than I did, you helped some children, and now you can skate!”  Even if Larry admits he did it because he felt threatened by Grant, he and Jennifer have been dating for a year and a half now.  Wouldn’t a real girlfriend just punch him playfully on the shoulder, give him a big kiss, and jokingly tell him that she and Mary Anne are donating their hair to children with cancer?


But, no, then they roll out a bunch of barrels** to have someone jump over them.  Larry says everyone must be as tired as him, but Grant will do it.


Grant does it.


Jennifer smiles at Grant, meaning that she is going to have an orgy with him later.


Larry yells out that they should add a barrel, and then Larry and Balki yell in front of the whole crowd about how Larry has been lying.

Larry tries to fool Balki by saying that he now accepts the Gaboogies–Balki’s gods–as his own.


Larry just rolls on top of the barrels.  I’ve been there before.  It’s taken me a long time to learn that in that kind of situation, you just stand up and laugh that shit off.


In the pre-credits scene, everyone carries Larry in and deposits him on the couch.


Larry admits his lie, even after Jennifer says that he’s a good skater. Jennifer tells him that Grant is married.


Larry! Do you not know how to look at fingers for rings????


Before the women leave, I just want to go on record as saying that Mary Anne is fit.

Well, give it to me, show, give me that last lines of the episode, that wisdom that’s also going to act as my ongoing understanding of this season.


Larry: I never should have lied, Balki.

Balki: That is correct.

Larry: You were right.

Balki: That is correct.

Oh. Right. This is Perfect Strangers.

See you all next week for (are you surprised?) “Lie-Ability”.


Boner count: Balki (0); Larry (0)

Catchphrase count: Balki (0); Larry (1)


*bonus points for those of you who guessed that he pronounced it “fffwheels”
**the second time now that the show has mentioned that items were courtesy of Cunningham Hardware, trying to tie this show into the Happy Days universe (the other was the toilet in Games People Play)

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