Season 5, Episode 4: Tooth or Consequences


Whoa, a crash-zoom from a brand new angle of the Caldwell exterior!

Balki is eating and he screams every time he bites. He acts like nothing’s wrong.

This show never ceases to surprise me with new ways for Balki to be an idiot: he’s not even trying to eat out of the other side of his mouth!

Larry tells him it’s time to go to work, and Balki screams.  When Cousin Larry asks what’s wrong, Balki admits to a small pain like unto that of nails in his head.

If Cousin Larry knows about anything, it’s cavities (hey, he had to share a toothpaste tube with 8 brothers and sisters, after all), and says they’ll get Balki an appointment at the dentist.

Balki refuses the very idea of seeing a dentist.  He… he doesn’t even give a reason, which I think the show tries to cover up by having him be funny in the way he refuses.

Larry sells Balki on the dentist by saying that the chair goes up and down and how they spray water in your mouth.

*tugs on collar*

gimme a second here, folks


After the hard sell, Balki begs to play Appleton Mouthjob.  End scene.  This episode’s really trucking!


Like always, Balki has already finished all his work at the Chronicle by the time we see him. He exclaims to Mr. Gorpley about his trip to the dentist. The audience is laughing, but the funniest thing I see here is the fact that Balki is wearing blue socks.


Gorpley lays some reality on Balki, telling him that a dentist’s office is a place of true horrors.


Gorpley tells him about the drill, but Balki’s all like, whoa, whoa, watersports are fine, but you’re talking equipment now.


Sometimes I think I overdo it on these reviews. Here I’ve been making all these sex jokes, and all I really need to do is just tell you what’s happening:


Balki shows Gorpley his cavity.

I’ve referred to Balki as an exterior being 30 or 40 times before, right?  Well, now that a symbolic window has opened up to his interior, Gorpley seizes the moment and digs in with both hands.


What the fuck? Gorpley’s just torturing him!

We find out that Gorpley went to dental college. I assume that what he lost on Christmas Day 1973 must have been a patient.

Balki’s interior now exposed, emotion comes out: he is now mad at his cousin for not telling him about the drill, which really begs the question of what the hell Balki was afraid of about the dentist in the first place.  He’s acting very much like a child this week. Sure, Balki’s still breaking the social code most episodes, like children do.  But last week we saw Balki having a child-type misunderstanding that he could still have this far out in his American Odyssey, simply because it hinged on double meanings in English.  It felt classic and necessary and not like it was treading over old ground, and the show pulled it off without having Balki be unbelievably dumb or childish. This week, sure, you can go until you’re 25 without cavities, even without going to the dentist. That’s fine. But why is he so non-specifically scared?

I think for many of us, going to the dentist is a type of test of how well we’ve been taking care of ourselves.  Even if the show doesn’t seem to care about it much most of the time, I think we can still assume his overarching goal is to be American–or at least, to experience America.  But we’ve seen how much sugary cereal he consumes…



…how he can be distracted from his work with dessert (that isn’t even for him!)…


…and that car episode I didn’t review established that the Sears Tower Sundae is a particular weakness of his.  He has unfortunately been following Carl Lewis’s high-glycemic example, and now he’s going to be brought to task for it. As much as he tries to look inside Larry’s mouth to learn, a look inside his will show how little learning he’s really achieved.


Of note here also, I think, is the fact that both Gorpley and Larry are responding to Balki’s child.  Gorpley becomes a child himself, confident that he can have power over others.  Larry, on the other hand, just straight up starts talking to Balki like he’s a baby, just like back in the first couple of seasons; an adult without confidence that the child will listen to reason.

Balki hides his fear, saying he can live with the pain.

Like Larry found out two seasons ago, we can’t see others’ interiors sometimes, and Larry’s just jaded enough to believe that legitimately happy people must have no depth, no sense of the world, no knowledge of the emptiness that leads to evil. But Balki, always seeming to be an exterior being, in the longer reading has a mind in harmony with body. And having been always so, he assumes he will always be so. What has happened here, though, is that both mind and body can follow different paths, eventually leading to one rebelling against another.  This is surely what Larry is trying to convey when he violently jabs his finger into Balki’s cheek, causing him to writhe in pain: that Balki is currently not a harmonius being, and must leverage the weight of his rational mind to fix his faulty body.

Geez, I’m laying on the analysis really thick here, aren’t I?  Forget that last paragraph and pretend I said “Larry touches Balki’s hole” or something like that.

Larry finally gives a rational reason for Balki to go to the dentist: it’ll hurt worse if he doesn’t get it fixed.  This straightforwardness finally gets through to Balki and he weeps softly into Larry’s summer peach Arrow dress shirt, admitting his fears.


And my god–here’s another thing fixed that I was bitching about in my season 4 review–Larry makes reference to something that the audience has never seen.  Balki once was afraid to have his picture taken because he thought it would steal his soul. Balki was also afraid to get in the elevator because he thought it went all the way to the center of the Earth.  Lastly, he was afraid to try a ball gag, but it’s his favorite thing now.


Then Larry calls him stupid.

Soon, the Cousins are at the dentist and Balki orgasms when the chair is raised, freaking out the nurse.


There’s a decent bit where Balki has something in his mouth, but the nurse can understand everything he says. He’s scared of X-rays now, thinking that they’ll leave a hole in his head. (Seriously, had X-rays not come up at all in the comic books he reads?)  The nurse leaves…





The air blower! It’s like having a ghost cum on you!


The water sprayer! It’s like being peed on even faster than normal!


The saliva sucker! It’s like someone giving you a tiny–but exciting–blowjob inside your mouth!


Then Balki picks up the drill and here’s where we reach the extent of Larry’s knowledge of dental practice.  If he had had a dentist use a drill on him, he would have said so at this point, being a rational, caring adult…



Then Balki finds out about needle-delivered anaesthetics.


Balki threatens the dentist upon meeting him, which is funny because Balki has never had a single karate lesson in his life.

Larry offers to get in the chair to show Balki it’s not painful.  But–UH-OH– it turns out Larry lost a filling!


Five seasons in and it’s still so satisfying to see Larry in pain.

So Dr. Teeth basically just doesn’t care about how he’s paid, or how his patients are billed, or the other 20+ people in the waiting room, and says that he absolutely has to fix Larry’s teeth in the next 8 minutes.


By the way, a special shout-out to Tim Caldwell for providing ABC airings from season 5 on.  And Gaboogies bless you, unknown Angeleno who taped these back in the day.


There the show goes again, zooming into a random window in a building. Like I give a fuck what floor the dentist is on.


The dentist pulls out a much larger needle than necessary to numb Larry’s mouth. Larry refuses.


So Dr. Teeth gives Larry some nitrous oxide instead.


Larry tries to leave, but Balki touches his face. You may think I’m ignoring the fact that he’s trying to hold the nosepiece on his cousin, but this is a definite power play, and a deliberate callback to Larry poking Balki earlier: a way to make Larry take a dose of his own rational-thought medicine.


Larry throws the clownish nosepiece away and knocks the nozzle off the nitrous oxide tank.


The cousins get goofy as Larry breaks the handle off.

Balki says he’s going to fix it and Larry jabs a needle in his arm.


Okay, so it’s just going to make it so his arm feels no pain for a little while, right? Certainly this can only lead to Larry tearing into Balki’s arm with picks and scrapers.

One piece of feedback I’ve gotten about this blog is that I don’t actually review the show, I just ask a bunch of annoying questions about the show’s logic*.  So let me actually review here and say that the episode’s path to this point has been pretty damn boring, but it was worth it just to get to this scene of the cousins laughing and thinking that everything they say and do is funny (I can relate).


While Dr. Teeth is off banging Nurse Muffle or whatever, Larry and Balki try to (heh) raise the chair.


Balki starts towards Larry’s mouth (with the drill, folks, with the drill), the dentist runs in, and Balki deliberately makes a Balki-ism for laughs.

Back at the apartment, Balki comes in with balloons and nitrile gloves.


Larry hangs both their coats. Remember this. This is important.


Again, Amber Alert on the little girl wearing a leather mask.  Where are you, sweetie?

In the end, what lessons have we learned? To be adults? To be rational? To not be afraid?

The stated lesson is that sometimes you have to do stuff you’re afraid of, a great lesson for grown men.  But you know I’m going to talk for a few paragraphs about capitalism instead, right? That’s why you read this blog!

Capitalism fosters technological improvements, but dentists have to buy them, and then charge lots to pay for the instruments, ultimately meaning that the common man tells himself a narrative in which it makes sense for a service to become a commodity, and all the money gets saliva-sucked to somewhere above you.

Balki probably grew up where they’d just yank the tooth out, meaning that for him, the entire practice of dentistry has already been subsumed by the capitalist machine, meaning that the solution** is creating a problem he never really thought he had.  I personally believe in good dental health, as well as in progress for the sake of perfect tools, but the message here seems to be that technology and special skills–within a capitalist system–are simply anaesthetic circuses to take the pain of living away. Once fixing a problem becomes possible, not fixing it is no longer an option. You are a bad steward of your body if you don’t fix it, even if you were the cause of the problem to begin with. Everything will be fine if you’ll go to sleep; and if not that, everything will be fine if you can have a good laugh about it. Telling yourself that you’re doing the rational thing ultimately becomes another way of turning your mind off.

In this land of milk and honey***, this country of abundance, it’s okay if the masses are just drooling idiots.


Nah, j/k, y’all should really see the dentist every six months.


Then there’s a weird bumper with a mouse and a clock, because “Hickory, Dickory, Dock” is what you think of when you watch this show, right?

Join me next week for “Dog Day Midafternoon”!


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

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

*I’d argue that my writing features far more annoying aspects than just that

**drilling; is there a more industrial term?

***look at me, I’m so cute, nailing it with an idiom composed of things beneficial to, and harmful to, teeth

4 thoughts on “Season 5, Episode 4: Tooth or Consequences

  1. Your astute comment that on Mypos they probably just pulled problem teeth, means that Balki had a perfect excuse for wanting to avoid the dentist… yet they opted to give him no reason at all.
    Also, would like to point out that the whole point of doing this kind of weekly review blog is to question the ridiculous logic of sitcoms. There seems to be a sort of suspension of disbelief associated with the situational comedy that the audience must make for the purpose of being entertained. Each sitcom writer seems to follow the same nonsensical pattern in their craft, and at times they actually out-do themselves in the quest to make their characters more absurd than those on other shows.


    • “[T]he whole point of doing this kind of weekly review blog is to question the ridiculous logic of sitcoms.”

      This is my new mantra!

      Speaking of, I’m going to hazard a guess that Larry must not have gone to the dentist at any point in the past four years; otherwise Balki would have seen him come back unharmed each time.


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