Beginnings and endings are never clear, are they?
Our base-ten numbering system all but guarantees that when it comes to dividing up time. Ten decades in a century, with mismatched naming practices across the two: the 20th Century ended on December 31, 2000, but the 90s a year before. The 90s were marketed to us as a substantively different era in time, a story we still peddle back to ourselves today; look closely, though and time divisions become fuzzy. When did the 90s truly begin? I think it’s enough to say that 1991 saw the birth of the self-wringing mop and leave it at that, but in terms of television, I think there’s a case to be made for 1991 as more 90s than 1990: I see more programs that are. to me emblematic of the decade premiering in the former.
Perfect Strangers is offering its own awkward divisions again, with this both being and not being the last season. I don’t think anyone could argue for Perfect Strangers as a 90s sitcom the same way you could for Full House, broadcast-date wise or fashion-wise or sensibility-wise or or or. So let’s join the cousins at least once more as they beat off on this boat against the current.
Hey, by the way, just in time for what will likely be the shittiest season, I finally have good quality screenshots. Let’s take one more look at this opening and see if there’s any interesting details!
Kinda looks like you can see the outline of the penis on that guy in the shorts!
Now that I can see it in high-definition, I can tell you that Balki actually is making the same face I do when I’m licking soup off the inside of the can lid and cut my tongue.
That does appear to be a legitimate Wisconsin license plate, and hey! Even the neighbor girls who both turned Larry down for dates showed up to watch him leave.
Turns out I was wrong about that shot of the Welcome to Chicago sign being from the 1970s, because Harold Washington was indeed the mayor in 1986.
That’s Steve Guttenberg back there! You may not can tell, but I can tell.
The coachman isn’t actually Slash! Can someone tell Linda to update her site?
This is what I’ve been waiting for: getting to figure out all these comics on the newsstand!
You’ve got Silver Surfer issues #5 and #6; two I can’t recognize; Marvel Saga #25; Champions #1 (Heroic Publishing); Captain Thunder & Blue Bolt #1; Eternity Smith #1; ElfQuest #29; and Reagan’s Raiders #2 and #3. We’ve got a range of cover dates here from September to December 1987. Comics are usually released with a cover date two or three months ahead to keep them on stands longer; so this must have been filmed right before season 3 premiered.
It looks like the weekday edition of the Chicago Chronicle, America’s #1 Newspaper for 75 years running, was only 16 pages.
Oh man, this was Larry and Balki fighting the wind! That makes a lot more sense; I’m too embarrassed to tell you what I thought it was.
That cop saw this atrocity being filmed and did nothing to stop it.
Loop College was renamed in December 1987 to Harold Washington College. That man loved to welcome people in. Another detail I didn’t see until just now: roughly 5% of the Chicagoans in this shot have been diagnosed with colon cancer by now.
Bronson is thinking some downright nasty thoughts about a pair of Keds here.
Well, shit, there you go, according to the marquee this was filmed sometime between September 8 and September 13, two weeks at most before the season 3 premiere.
Don’t worry, I’m not planning on boring you ceaselessly into the past, let’s start one more time.
We open at the Chicago Chronicle, neighbor of the Whopper.
Balki, knowing that he’s safe from my critical gaze until the next round of interviews, decides it’s safe enough to run in from the bomb shelter. No one can ever just walk into a room, can they?
Big Carmine, whom we are informed endured such umbilical trauma that his belly-button can open bottles, has told Balki that it is the duty of the best man to arrange a bachelor party for the husband-to-be. Balki is so excited by this he reverts all the way back to his Serge accent.
Larry explicitly asks Balki if he plans on hiring a stripper, which he quickly clarifies to mean a woman whose vocation it is to remove clothing in front of a vocally participatory audience until at least partially nude, and this for remuneration from same.
Nah, j/k, but they do have a good laugh about boners.
The history of the bachelor party dates back, some say, to Ancient Sparta. None of those some seem to have read the book that information comes from, so I have no idea whether the Spartan celebrations featured any nekkid ladies. Sure, leaving one’s friends for a new life, swearing oaths of brotherhood etc.; but somewhere along the way (when I watched The Wicker Man (1973), actually), I picked up the notion that perhaps strippers and prostitutes for the bachelor were a way to introduce him to a woman’s body and allow him some comfort and control during the wedding night. If the Spartans didn’t have strippers, they could have benefitted from them, as brides from Spartan women’s cults often spent their wedding night trying to convince their drunk husbands to not ram it up their poopers.
In other words, a stripper is one way to traverse that (heh) fuzzy division between single and married.
What elements of married life does Balki think he needs to prepare Larry for? Bobbing for onions, making a quilt, and jerking off to whatever parts of Miss Mypos’s skin are visible through her matted fur.
Jennifer and Mary Anne (Sagittarius) rush in to fill the vacuum left by Balki’s joke. They’ve come to take Larry to a jeweler to find out just how obese and fat his fat fucking finger must be. What a fat fat fatty.
Mary Anne hints loudly and openly to Balki that they’ll be married in the season finale. A shy Balki touches her face, just to see if a woman’s feels as good as a man’s.
Lydia scampers, giggling, out of the Archives, and is surprised by everyone standing in a line.
Lydia: There’s a new librarian in the archives. He certainly knows where everything is.
*turns directly to you*
Lydia tells Jennifer that she needs to work up a prenuptial agreement to protect her assets (remember? she owns that lamp and those four pictures we saw in season 4), and shouldn’t this have been Gorpley’s line? Anyway, Lydia tells Jennifer they’ll have lunch to talk about lawyers and roofs.* But before she can leave, a wild Gorpley appears and lets Lydia know that she’s actually the jumpoff.
(Speaking of librarian knowledge–hey, Carmine isn’t the only guy who can use his body like a household appliance, if you know what I mean–I notice that Larry has a copy of the Books in Print Titles Index volume 2, covering K through Z. Larry, I could have told you plays aren’t in there.)
Balki announces the bachelor party to the women and starts making crude noises which he used to associate with boners back before Bronson decided Balki was a virgin, but now doesn’t know what they mean.
Larry’s assertion that they’ll be making quilts is a strong joke that an already-upset Jennifer refuses to believe. She claims that bachelor parties nearly destroyed her whole Iowan family just because her cousin’s fiancé ran off with a stripper. The guy then took up standup comedy at Benny’s Boom Boom Room.
Gorpley pipes up to say he loves the Boom Boom Room. He says he likes the thick carpet they have there, hyeugh hyeugh hyeugh.
Larry assures Jennifer that she has nothing to worry about since Balki’s organizing the party, and she asks what about when Balki tried to plunge her ass.
I still can’t get over the quality on these high-def copies. I can finally see that that’s Mike Tyson, not Carl Lewis!
PaulAndre may be done, but Lance Dick is back, y’all! Plus seven other card studs we’ve never met before, though I’m guessing the guy on the left is Big Carmine. (What’s a party without a big ol’ boy?)
Balki is serving goat balls, and that’s not even my joke; my joke would be funnier. Everybody cheers whatever sport they’re watching and Larry screams at them all to be quiet. Larry’s just pacing nervously around the room as though he’s worried that Jennifer might hear through the ceiling, but because the show doesn’t explicitly tell me this, I’ll never know. Jennifer’s gone half the damn time working flights; why the fuck couldn’t Larry wait one or two days to have his party?
But I guess that’s just the risk he must run since there are no public establishments which serve alcohol and show broadcast sporting events. Can you imagine such luxury?
Balki lets Gorpley in, who tells him the party is about to heat up, which was a roundabout colloquialism back then about how sin leads to hellfire.
Not that any of it is funny, but I’d like to point out that this is the first time the show has managed three things going on at once: Larry shouting at the partygoers, Balki spilling the goatnads, and Gorpley making good on his poisoning threat by pouring a whole bottle of $5 vodka into the punch bowl.
I was really hoping that Larry would start punching everybody in the mouth, but Gorpley offers drinks to the Cousins, who gasp and are somehow not curious that the decades-old Wyler’s Artificially Flavored Soft Drink Mix they themselves prepared suddenly does not taste like grape. Having the cousins be virgins for no reason was believable enough, but am I really supposed to believe that they don’t recognize alcohol? Gorpley poured enough booze into the bowl that I’m sure this Christmas’s loss will be his liver, and at least Larry should be suspicious.
But the next scene requires Larry to be drunk, so the writers just had to turn off the part of Larry’s personality that had informed his every action in this scene.
Oh man, this party’s getting turnt!
Big Carmine bets that “Appleton can’t do two”…
…and then he does! He manages to stretch out gags that he’s drunk for a full two minutes!
There’s a knock at the door, and after some sloppy buttfucking the knockout at the door throws it wide open. Man, these strippers just have such disdain for social norms!
She asks if he’s Larry Appleton, and after all these years of cultural exchange, Larry must ask Balki if this is still the case, or if, after seven years, his cells have all replaced themselves.
Balki cautions his Cousin that this is the wrong approach and that the soul can only be understood in transcendental terms of its relationship to others:
As soon as the woman introduces herself as Bambi and David Rose’s “The Stripper” starts blaring from the speaker up in her vagina, the other guys figure it out and start hooting.
Story of Larry’s life, right? He’s always got to share everything with eight other people.
The blackclad bookend blonde bids the bucks behold as she bares butt and biceps, and a blind Balki begs to brush the bird’s bosom. Larry, too, hopes she’ll give his hole the Finishing Touch.
When we come back, there’s a new “oh no” musical sting.
Oh no! The cousins got so out of control they draped some shirts on unlikely surfaces and stacked one stool on top of another! Jennifer’s gonna be pissed!
After their long night of swinging their wood around, the Cousins awake to the sound of a ringing telephone. Six years of walking in on them playing “invisible Twister” has taught Jennifer to let the phone ring at least 20 times, giving Balki enough time to fish the cord out of the garbage.
Larry lies to her about the bachelor party while Balki uses his special Myposian biofeedback to grow a new liver.
Jennifer asks if she can come by for Larry to try on his wedding ring, and for some goddam reason Larry doesn’t say no. They’ll never get the radio fixed in time!
I was doing a thing there for awhile where I let you all know where the last good point in an episode was. This one didn’t have one!
More of Larry’s personality is turned off as he shouts that they have to clean up the mess before Jennifer gets there. I can think of about four different lies he could trot out, how about you?
Balki reassures us that some parts of the self are immutable as punch follows cake and plate follows chips.
Larry pulls up his sleeves, as one always does after exerting effort, and reveals a tattoo of a very short blonde. Balki makes the tattoo dance.
Jennifer must have stopped in the stairwell to take a shit or something, leaving Larry time enough to pull his sleeve down the wrong way.
Larry: Here’s another nice state of undress you’ve gotten me into.
I can think of about eight lies Larry could tell here, how about you? The most obvious one to me is that Larry could tell Jennifer it’s a tattoo of her. It’s in two dimensions, and thus a good likeness. And besides, it’s not proof of anything but having been drunk.
Larry reiterates the plot once more as Jennifer knocks on the door.
Perfect Strangers manages to occupy the space just this side of Larry believably making any situation bad/worse because of his decisions; just this side of logic on both the macro- and micro-levels; and just this side of having a good excuse for whatever physical comedy it wants to do.
Larry lying–any lie at all, say, “we got so drunk we played the lottery”, or “this is a Myposian tradition involving tearing down the old life to make room for the new”–could make Jennifer additionally angry.
Larry’s personality disappearing twice, and now Larry not being curious as to why his arm doesn’t hurt when Balki squeezes it.
And then this mess.
The fact that the door is in line with Balki and Jennifer would have seen him instantly is the least of what doesn’t work here. The writers were so busy not considering how stupid everything else about this is that we may excuse them for not realizing that a chaotic condo could contain a catacorner couch. The show could have settled on any number of lies, but instead chose to have Balki flap his hand around to fool Jennifer that it was under someone else’s control.
Balki plays with Larry’s hair awhile, but before he can unzip Larry’s fly, Jennifer asks him to try on the ring.
As we saw in “Safe at Home”, season premieres and finales are windows into the show’s soul, and Season 7 begins no differently. Bronson feared being sidelined, and Balki must fear no longer being under Cousin Larry’s protective wing. Stretch and then release, the cousins colliding, finally collapsing into one another, and Jennifer will symbolically marry both–
yeah fuck that this shit doesn’t deserve that kind of effort
Normally I love this kind of comedy writing blindspot. I’m a careless enough writer that my webcomic features numerous times where someone takes the long way around to solve a problem; but just good enough a writer to lampshade it if I catch it later on. If you’re watching a movie and you realize a character could have taken a much shorter path, you get one type of enjoyment; if the movie acknowledges this and manages to give you a good reason, or joke about it, you get a different type.
Larry not realizing he could have just put on the coat should be funny to me, and it might, if I thought that it might succeed in fooling Jennifer.
Larry explicitly draws attention to the fact that he has two different hands. Jennifer grabs Balki’s hand and says the fingers are nothing like the stunted, chubby digits in her fantasies of Larry’s hands putting the car in park to drop her off at the fire station.
Right up until this moment, when Jennifer changes her tone of voice, I had no idea if she was fooled or not. I still have no idea if she was fooled before and thought Larry’s shoulder was dislocated by about eight inches. I’m not even sure whether Melanie Wilson has any idea. Melanie Wilson doesn’t let her knowledge or lack thereof inform her line delivery or her facial expressions until the script makes it explicit. She knows which order her lines are, and that’s about it.
Jennifer tells Balki to quit sniffing Larry’s mellow smellow melons and come out.
Jennifer reveals that the Cousins that she knows all about their night of debauchery, that Gorpley spiked the punch, and that Gorpley gave him a temporary tattoo.
Was Jennifer playing along? Is she giving Larry enough rope to hang himself? Was she bringing the ring by simply to make Larry worried she’d see the tattoo?
No, she’s simply there as a plot vessel. She’s graduated from receiving the plot aurally to delivering its resolution orally.
Anyway, the arms shit lasted three minutes and it’s over now.
Even though two seconds ago it was all Gorpley’s fault, Jennifer says that Larry has to apologize to Mary Anne because someone painted her dog. Did… did the women not hear a group of 11 men violently and retchingly break into their apartment and abuse a dog?
Jennifer leaves and Larry notices Balki shitting in the fireplace
Larry: Balki, what are you doing and why did I not ask this the other 100 times you did it?
Balki admits to having killed Mrs. Schlaegelmilch and throwing her body down the garbage chute, but is more upset about having let Larry drink “horrible alcohol”.
Balki says he’s stepping down from the position of best man and–
It is 2018, this is not okay!
It’s too bad there was only time for Balki to rub ashes on his face three times, a fourth would have made it funny.
This scene feels like it belongs in a different episode. It’s a faint echo of Season 2’s “Lifesavers”, where Balki practiced ritual self-shaming after failing Larry as his servant. I’m not saying the scene isn’t textually appropriate: Balki’s duty to throw a party was this episode’s opening situational statement. Thematically, though, it’s jarring: this show was once about the relationship between these two men and how they navigated adult life by creating problems together and solving them together. Balki apologizing to Larry for fucking up the party would work at the end of an episode where Balki actually created a problem by going “overboard” (boring, exciting, dangerous, it wouldn’t matter). Reference is made to Gorpley having tricked Balki into “handling the entertainment”, which was an unnecessary addition to Gorpley just, you know, hiring a stripper and giving her the address.
This season premiere has told us where we are in the overall narrative of the cousins’ life better than the previous two, I can at least say that about it. But if the episode’s goal is to tell us what to expect from the rest of the season, it must be that there is no longer any dynamic between the central characters.
The music comes on and Larry says that when he marries will be the happiest day of his life, and he wants his best friend to be there and understand that he wasn’t the ultimate cause of that happiness.
Do over: the last line of a season premiere, so it is whispered, offers a reverse window into the writers’ minds; here we find endless recurrence of a single bit, outline unfilled: repeat.
Balki: Now we are so happy, we do the Dance of Joy!
Join me next week for “The Wedding!”
Catchphrase count: Balki (1); Larry (1)
Boner count: Balki (1); Larry (1)
Dance of Joy running total: 20
Appearances left: Gorpley (5); Lydia (6)
Unreleased Larryoke Countdown #30: One Cousin, One Boss, and One Beer – George Thorogood and the Destroyers
*she’ll tell her how to eavesdrop GET IT?
P.S. Who in the reveling fuck was Doug?