Hey look, yet another interruption! I’m never going to get through this season, am I?
But I figured I needed to do a couple of things I promised.
First off, Larryoke! Remember Larryoke? Now it’s back in blog form haha I’m the first to make this joke. I think I’ve gotten some new readers since then (hello!) so I should explain.
When I got to the end of season 4 (the “halfway” point), me and my buddies celebrated by watching a handful of Perfect Strangers via a livestream event. The episodes were interspersed with goodies such as:
- trailers for films that Mark and Bronson were in
- clips of Bronson in his film roles up through early 1989
- 3 minutes straight of Bronson flexing his butt
- haha I guess that’s 3 minutes GAY of Bronson flexing his butt
- a video reference to Earthbound that probably seemed out place
- Perfect Strangers-themed song parodies, performed karaoke-style
It’s these last two that I wanted to make sure were available to enjoy for anyone who wasn’t able to make it to the livestream. Here they are! My singing voice is terrible, but everyone else’s is great! Many thanks to Adam, Vivian, Sarah, Philip, and Professor D.
And lastly, thank you to the guy who comments on each and every video I post on YouTube. I can’t possibly imagine you had any idea what these were about, but you liked them all anyway.
Phil and I went on a roadtrip (planes are roads!) to lovely Parsippany, New Jersey to see the Cousins in the flesh at the Chiller Theatre Expo. The picture above is an artist rendering of the trip. Because we are both bespectacled and bebearded men in our 30s, there’s no telling which of us is which.
Why were Mark Linn-Baker and Bronson Pinchot reuniting at a horror convention in New Jersey, of all places? Who the hell knows! I’m guessing that it’s because both of them are on the East Coast, and whoever was in charge of seeking out guests was clever enough to sense some sort of opportunity. (And, hey, I take 100% of the credit for any bump in any recent popularity of the show.)
Let me describe the Chiller Theatre Expo by talking for a moment about comic conventions in general. My very first convention was DragonCon in 1995, in Atlanta. It was exactly what you’d expect from a “comic” convention. My dad took me, and I got a few comics (Disgusting Comics #2, Major Inapak: Space Ace, and MAD Magazine #265 are the ones that instantly come to mind). In my memory, the con was almost entirely vendors with rows of longboxes full of back issues, comic book artists with their giant sheets of original page art. I’m sure there were attendees in cosplay, but they don’t stick out in my mind.
The last few cons I’ve been to–and what I hear about all the others bears this out–are almost entirely pop-culture conventions. At the large ones (say, Comicpalooza in Houston, or the New York Comic Con) the big focusses are whatever upcoming movies feature superheroes or pop culture mainstays like Transformers* or whatever. Hell, I went to Comicpalooza in 2015 and saw some of the Rocky Horror Picture Show cast on a panel. You’re far more likely to see someone with a towering wall of their own artwork (depicting characters they don’t own) than you are to meet an independent comics artist like *ahem* yours truly. Rows of longboxes are a rarity. Don’t get me started on those shitty Funko toys, neither.
In fact, Mile High Comics–probably the largest brick-and-mortar comics retailer in the United States, just announced that they won’t be at the San Diego Comic Con, ending their presence there after 44 years. Rising costs of floorspace coupled with the fact that many convention attendees don’t even make it into the convention hall because of all of the events nearby (plus some bad PR on SDCC’s part) have made it unprofitable for Mile High Comics to even make the trip out there.
I say all that to say this: the Chiller Theatre Expo is by far the most focussed convention I’ve been to in terms of fandom. The vast majority of the vendors there are selling horror memorabilia. Sure, some of them have general “vintage” movie and TV stuff too, but the focus is clearly horror. I bought a horror movie for a friend, some horror postcards for myself, and I bought Phil the most terrifying Playboy centerfold ever. I also want to give respect where respect is due. At least from what I can tell, it’s the horror fandom that has birthed a number of efforts to preserve the history of low-budget film. For decades, the majority of 70s and 80s low-budget horror films only got a VHS release, and that was it. Hardcore fans had to track down copies of limited releases of horror titles, hitting up yard sales and going-out-of-business rental stores. (I strongly recommend the documentary Adjust Your Tracking if you want to learn more.) But at the Chiller Theatre Expo there were at least five different booths offering DVD copies (of VHS transfers) of these films, with not much overlap among them. The Expo was also the first I’d heard of a company called Vinegar Syndrome, whose business is to restore and re-release such films.
Yes, I realize this blog is called Perfect Strangers Reviewed. I’m telling you my experience of the convention. Back off.
So, yeah, there was a weird mix of celebrities there. Again, the general focus was horror, even if the actors had only been in one or two horror movies. They had most of the cast of the film Fright Night, George Hamilton was there, Michael Marona and Danny Tamberelli from The Adventures of Pete & Pete (I didn’t realize until I was talking to them how important it had been for young Casey to see other boys with red hair on television), I forget who all else. I think the main thing they all had in common was being C-list actors, with a slight trend toward mostly being in media that preceded my birth.
Phil and I went to the Paramus Mall while we were there, and there happened to be a Lego store. Phil had the idea to make custom minifigures of the cousins, and we spent a solid half-hour digging in bins alongside children trying to find the right hair and clothing for the cousins. Larry got an afro, a splattered jumpsuit (we hoped it might read as being from “Games People Play”), and a camera; Balki a bindle and a vest; Mary Anne (Sagittarius) an exercise outfit. In fact, hold on a sec–
*drives to the mall real quick*
This is close. No camera for Larry, I think Balki had different hair, and Mary Anne had a bone. Jennifer is on the packaging.
The first thing I did when we got to Mark and Bronson’s table was to give Mark the minifigures (to help your imagination: the Lego store gives you a plastic box to put them in). He said something along the lines of “that’s nice” and handed it back. I realized at that point that this must be his first convention appearance ever, and somehow I was the first fan to give him a gift. (I gave it back to him and clarified.)
Otherwise, I completely forgot everything I was going to say. I become a shaky baby deer like that at conventions. I managed to get out that I had come to the convention solely to see them, and Mark Linn-Baker shook my hand. I had brought VHS copies of both Me & Him and After Hours (both movies had starred Griffin Dunne), but because of the prices they were asking for signatures, I only got Mark to sign Me & Him. He commented that it had been a nice month in Munich. There’s some movie trivia for you, Mark Linn-Baker fans! He only had to do the voice of Griffin Dunne’s penis, but they actually flew him out for the filming.
I had intended to ask Bronson whatever happened with the comedy album he had recorded, but I forgot. He shook my hand and asked about my ancestry (the red hair, remember), and then he immediately went back to playing, idunno, Angry Birds or whatever.
The cousins had a number of promotional photos there. I didn’t buy any because I wanted to have my photograph taken with them. While in line for the photo, I overheard someone talking about being a member of the Perfect Strangers Facebook group, so I introduced myself (if you’re reading, hi! you’ll see in a minute why I’m not mentioning your name). Phil was there with me in line, and when it came time for me to get my picture taken, they let him join in (for free! I had to pay money and didn’t even get to touch Bronson). Mark even recognized me: I think he said something like “there he is”, which could just be a catchall way of making people think you recognize them, but I certainly felt loved.
We ended up going back to the Expo the next day to see the cousins again and hang out with our new friend. I gave both Mark and Bronson the address of my review blog and said I would love to interview them some day. I also held our friend’s phone so they could get footage of them talking to the cousins one last time.
I have to tell you two things at this point. One is that, leading up to the Expo, Bronson Pinchot had been posting short videos of him in character as Balki advertising the event.
The second is that our new friend is the most hardcore Perfect Strangers fan I’ve ever met, which is surprising given that they are even younger than I am. Perfect Strangers came into their life at a very trying time, and they’ve seen the whole run of the show multiple times. They talked to the cousins all three days of the Expo. By the third day, Mark and Bronson recognized them and greeted them warmly.
When they gave me their phone to record them, they told me that they really hoped that Bronson would do the accent and his catchphrase. When I could tell that they were almost done talking with the cousins, I got the sense they weren’t going to ask for the catchphrase. So I piped up and asked if he would. Bronson deflected the question to Mark, who happily rattled off an “Oh my lord”, but refused to do the accent at all. He said he was feeling “grouchy” that day.
I get that doing a convention is its own type of marathon. And I’m guessing Bronson decided for himself beforehand that he wouldn’t do the accent. Because if you do it for one person, you’ll have to do it for another, and another, etc. But…
It was the last day of the Expo. And certainly he could tell that he was with a superfan. Maybe it was the fact that he was being recorded in a situation where he couldn’t prepare himself, as he’d done on YouTube leading up to the Expo. Couldn’t he have, though, just once? And not look like an ass on video?
Oh, wait. Nevermind.
Things Three through Eight
They’re releasing the rest of the seasons of Perfect Strangers on DVD. That’s right, you heard right, Warner Bros.** is going to release seasons 3-8 through their manufacture-on-demand program.
Oh God, I take it back. I have nothing to do with any recent upswing in Perfect Strangers‘s popularity.
My first thought was “dammit, there goes one of my five jokes”. But then again, it’s not a brick-and-mortar release, or even necessarily through sites like Amazon.com, which to me says that this is the only way Warner can maximize their profits. It’s still a possibility that they haven’t gotten the music rights. In most cases, they could cut out the parts where Balki sings. There are only two songs I can think of off the top of my head where cutting them would significantly impact a scene: “Proud Mary” from the camping episode and “Never Gonna Give You Up” from the journalism class episode.
Yes, I’m going to buy each season of the DVDs. No, I’m not going to go back and get better screengrabs for what I’ve already reviewed. Not only does this blog review Perfect Strangers, but it’s also a record of a particular point in time where only the first two seasons were on DVD, and where for awhile only the METV recordings were available for everything else, and where for another while original airings could be viewed. My screengrabs will be inconsistent overall, but I’m fine with that.
Also *ahem* if y’all want to buy me the DVDs when they come out, I won’t say no.
In fact, especially if Warner didn’t get all the music rights, I may have to stick with the original airings. I kind of want to keep seeing that filthy rat with the hammer, too. Kind of hope he dies at the end of season 5.
Anyway, I somehow managed to wring 2,200 words out of a post about some YouTube videos, a photograph, and DVDs that aren’t out yet.
Join me next week for “Almost Live from Chicago”!
Boner count: Casey (0); Phil (1–it was when he was talking to Bronson; bet he thought I wouldn’t notice)
*GoBots came first. Fight me.
**I hope the DVDs say “Warner Cousins” instead, out of respect