Season 7, Episode 22: Chicago Suite

Preparatory to anything else, the voice of Larry gives ADR exposition. Your seams are showing, show.


Balki, we larrylearn, has sustained a supine, somber–shiftless, so to speak–sad state since seeing his simple sallow-shocked sweetheart say sayonara. Which I guess has been 18 hours, given the amount of beard growth.


Larry pulls Balki upright, stands on his robe, notices he’s standing on the robe, and then doesn’t move from the robe. Of all the misguided physical comedy this show has put these actors through this season, this one has me the most puzzled. At least when their hands were shaking I understood that a palsied ghost had possessed them. In previous seasons, based on interviews with Linn-Baker, I’m sure that some of the physical flourishes were his. But, like a field surgeon making a tough call, Mark Linn-Baker’s read “LARRY stands on BALKI’s robe (pause for laughter)” in the script and just let it die.

Balki wants to watch the Woody Woodpecker marathon, and he gives one of the best sitcom cartoon impersonations I’ve ever seen: he breaks down in tears before finishing Woody’s laugh.

Hey, you know, it makes perfect sense for the guy who draws the world’s most innocent, sweet, and charitable comic strip character to enjoy a cartoon about a violent psychopath who laughs at the misery and misfortune of others.

Larry criticizes Balki for sitting around and watching TV for two straight weeks (no mention of his previous addiction) and Larry says he can’t stay depressed like this. He confuses “information” and “infomercial”, and I’ll let that one slide as potentially being a joke on how much television he’s watching.


He has trouble saying Mary Anne’s name, and he whines that he doesn’t want to meet new people. I might feel some compassion for him if I hadn’t heard the show say the exact same thing every week for the past three years.


You all had a silver platter sitting on a credenza in your living room growing up, right? Larry holds one up to Balki, trying to raise his (psychology sidebar) self-awareness, but Balki thinks it’s a framed, moving, talking picture until he realizes it’s himself.

Balki runs for the door and Larry pulls him back. Why did you put a different fucking robe joke in there earlier when you had this one?


Larry sniffs Balki, and it’s obvious he hasn’t used the pot, much less got off it. He says Balki needs to get dressed and take a bath, both of which he’s happy to help with.

Remember when Balki was ready to commit Myposian seppuku* just because Larry had maybe 2 ounces of vodka? Haha, nah, but I really am experiencing a Buridan’s ass dilemma between making the equally funny jokes of Balki shaming every single person in the bar, and Balki thinking that cocktails are Coke mixed with rooster excreta.


Anyway, here we are at Kozy Orner, which does a much better job of setting the scene than “Date This” in Season 1. All it takes is some lighting, faux-AOR rock music, good outfits, maroon chairs, neon, and actual drinking, to realize what’s in the script. The two noctambules enter.


Balki: Cousin… I thought you said you were taking me to a watering hole.

Larry: That’s right.

Balki: So where we watch the women pee?


They jump backwards onto some stools, and again, no idea how that counts as physical comedy. It’s the equivalent of me flicking a booger off my finger; but no matter how many times I flick one onto my coworkers’ desks, they never applaud.

While Larry quickly scans the room for any men wearing nonstandard clothing (vests, jerseys, Zhongshan suits, rompers, tunics, ephods, jerkins, doublets, Shirts of Nessus, Nehru jackets, leg-of-mutton sleeves, Mackintoshes, Garibaldi shirts, dhotis, or tube tops), Balki finds a mommo who looks ready to get down with her bad self.


Larry interrupts imminent conversation to tell Balki that it’s a numbers game and he’ll have to talk to roughly four or five thousand girls before he finds one that will talk to him.


Balki introduces himself to Amy, and immediately hugs her. Man, don’t you miss the simpler times of 1992, before women started having any standards for dating partners, or agency over their own bodies? Larry leaves to see if he can find someone pulling on a PUSH door, trying to drink through a swizzle stick, dipping a slide whistle into her scotch, you know, someone Balki’s speed.

Amy tells Balki he’s cute and he tests her ability to set boundaries by doing that pushing-their-face-away thing until he pushes her off the stool.


Larry swings it back on around and tells Balki he overheard a woman talking about how she quit drinking Gatorade because she supports animal rights, but Balki introduces Amy. Larry leaves.

Balki tells Amy his plan for that evening had been watching Woody Woodpecker, and wouldn’t you know it, Amy loves her some pecker too. I hope you liked every single Uncle Joey plot on Full House, because here we are.


Amy says that most other guys slip one testicle out as a come-on and that Balki’s offer of hot brown liquid and cartoons is refreshing. She’d love to come to a perfect stranger’s house and drink something prepared outside of her line of sight, but wouldn’t you know it, she’s out with her taller friend Beth.


Beth looks like she’s having some trouble getting away from Joel Zwick over there. Balki says Beth should come too; the more the larrier, right?


Balki makes a confused reference to a previous conversation with Larry and Amy cracks up. I’m sure I’d enjoy this show’s jokes too if I only had to hear them once.


Luckily, Larry never, ever locks the door of the house and Amy is able to walk right in. Balki carries Beth, who managed to down like 8 more drinks between the last scene and this one.


Thanks to these Hulu rips, I can confirm that Beth’s nipples are #524698 (“Blue Gem”). She sang all of “99 Bottles of Beer On the Wall” on the ride home, because this is the only drinking song anyone has ever written.


Woody Woodpecker is evidently so important to Amy that she brought her falling-down drunk friend to a stranger’s house instead of to her home, where she usually vomits. Balki tells her how to get to the empty bedroom (whom room Mary Anne) and gets a loud “awww” from the audience, followed immediately by Beth loudly faceplanting at the top of the stairs. Balki gives zero (as in none, absence of, sans) shits about Beth bethumped and turns his attention to Amy amiable. Sometimes I get the feeling this show is trying to see just how terrible a person they can make Balki and still get the audience to love him.**


Larry, recent five-time victim of burglary, not only doesn’t lock the front door, but also closes the door between living room and kitchen. I have never once set foot in a house with a door placed like that. Is it something that only happens in sitcoms?


Anyway, Cousin Larry, mug of hot brown in hand, begins making a face about how Balki’s going to see his third ever human vagina. He’s really making a big deal about how embarrassed he is to walk in on them about to fuck. It’s impolite as heck and I’m not sure why it makes me laugh so much.


Amy and Balki haven’t even bothered to turn on the television yet and do Woody’s laugh and the audience applauds for six straight seconds. I expect that level of applause when a famous athlete, or a former sitcom star show up, or maybe when Al Bundy gives a proto-MRA speech, but not when two people say “ha” twenty times in a row.


Still not turning on the television, Balki vows to make their relationship official by pecking their initials into a tree. Amy visibly orgasms at someone remembering a second detail about a cartoon without having it right in front of them.

This is another case where the show makes a stronger statement than I think it’s even trying to. It doesn’t make any comment on Amy’s intelligence, but she’s 1) willing to come home with a stranger, 2) doesn’t ask Larry to turn her friend over on her stomach while he’s up there, and 3) is as willing as Balki to believe that she’s found true love on the basis of one shared pop culture touchstone.

And the show makes it 100% clear that’s all they’ve talked about so far, since Beth was singing the whole ride there. At least with Uncle Joey and his various dates throughout that show, you knew they spent time together off-camera before you saw them. By the time you see them, sure, all you hear is that they both like Popeye. Who’s going to come home and announce “her face is within the range of shapes I associate with kindness, her clothing suggests an SES not incredibly different from mine, and we were lucky enough to have a conversation with relatively few awkward moments”?

And that’s all it’s going to let them discover about each other. One microscopic personality trait in common? Great! Let’s plop our asses down on the couch and not talk for the next few hours. But even if it was 100 things they both liked, who gives a shit? I’ll admit that it was at one time fascinating to me to meet someone who liked the same media I did, until it became clear to me that the likelihood of that was fairly high, given that people of similar age in the same country are exposed to much of the same mass media.***

Anyway, sitting on a stool is physical comedy, and consumerism is love. If I wasn’t willing to believe that the show is getting lazy with coming up with its own plots (as noted by commenter Dave last week) and just telling stories that could happen to any two guys, I’d say the show was fucking with me.


Larry runs back downstairs, pulling Balki into the kitchen to ask about the dead hooker in his bed. Larry says “there’s a woman in my bed!” and the “oh no” music comes on as though we didn’t know what was going on.


We’re still here at Bedside Manor, where instead of getting a “who’s on first” type dialogue about the woman in the bed, Balki gets another “awww” for not understanding how terribly he treated his girlfriend. Balki says he’ll just go touch Beth’s while she can’t say no, and Larry says there’s no hurry to move her to a secondbest bed since Jennifer’s on a flight.


Larry reminds Balki he’s got a vagina to fill and they both have a good laugh about boners.


But Balki, who passed it all off as a jest, laughing immoderately, pretending to understand everything, makes it clear he’s only interested in the two-dimensional hammering *ahem* of Woody Woodpecker. (You know, compared to Amy’s one dimension yuk yuk yuk.)


Jennifer comes in the back door and Larry spits out his hot brown liquid because suddenly there’s no reasonable explanation for what’s going on. A day-long series of late and cancelled flights has left her wanting only to go to sleep. Larry starts making guttural noises. If only he knew of an unused bed (awww) and a person who never lies to corroborate his story!


Larry makes his bride happy by plying her with the restorative power of consumption. (It’s incredibly strange to me that the hot chocolate seems to exist because Balki offered it, but neither he nor Amy are drinking it. This is no doubt symbolic of the intimacy gap between the newly-paired and the wed etc. etc.) He runs into the living room and suddenly can’t talk to Balki because Balki is laughing?


Larry throws him into a chair and says his whole marriage is at stake. Since Balki’s gotten good at winning when two people are talking at once, Larry trumps him by barking at him that he has to get rid of Amy.


Larry runs back to the kitchen to stall Jennifer further (this interval training must be doing wonders for his legs!) and sits her down to tell her precisely half of what’s happened. Either this is just plain shitty writing or, 142 episodes in and Larry hasn’t figured out that the way you keep women out of the episode is by giving them all of the exposition. He makes more bonerfaces and explains to Jennifer that Balki has graduated to more acquired flavors of Tang.

Jennifer: I thought it would take three days just to get him out of his pajamas.

Larry: Well, I do like to tease a little, but that’s absurd.

Larry says that Balki and Amy are going to do shadow puppets and I’m not even damn kidding he makes a fisting motion to illustrate.


Balki comes in to let Larry know he successfully switched the rings that, since she serves no further plot purpose and would honestly only resolve things if she had stayed a second longer, Amy is gone and Beth’s bladder is giving out on Larry’s sheets as they speak. Balki’s awfully okay with throwing a woman out after watching maybe half of a cartoon; wasn’t that the whole problem in the first place?


Larry stops Jennifer on the steps and demands she get back in the kitchen right that minute to make him some hot chocolate. Jennifer says she’s tired; I would also have accepted “You just proved you know how to make this yourself, you child”. Cousband Larry literally pulls her back down the stairs and asks if it isn’t his right as a white male American to have his wife do what he says when he says it?


Larry barks at Balki to get his ass up the stairs. Jennifer tells Larry it’s late, and he whips out some bullshit tu quoque argument about how he got her food one night.


Wasn’t this whole arc supposed to be about how Balki could grow as a man and lover? How the hell did we get here? Usually I could sing Linn-Baker’s praises all day long, but he turned up the volume on Larry too far this week. Linn-Baker’s doing the best he can to throw in every manic and angry thing Larry has ever done–barking, running, high-pitched voices–and if it was in some sort of attempt to cover up how badly written this episode is, it unfortunately makes it all much worse.

Who can experience this and want to continue living it? There was a very brief time where Jennifer would have slugged Larry for talking to her that way, but at this point, she’s not even acting like it’s abnormal. And this, in the same season where this very behavior from Larry had a housewife scared for her family’s lives. I find myself thinking of Stephen King’s The Shining, and hell, all the other elements are there–ghosts, the special child, even the purple-hued female threat on the second floor–and if this episode weren’t as frightening I’d have said all that in a funny way. What astounded me rereading The Shining as an adult was how well King captured the behavior of a wife and child when dad is occasionally a raging addict; hell, he was writing it from experience. In the first part of the book, Wendy and Danny are constantly tiptoeing around a constantly-shifting minefield of what they can and can’t say, and Jennifer might be doing the same thing, especially since she may suspect she’s pregnant at this point.

Look at this, he’s daring her to talk back to him so he can leave some bruises that show this time.


If your lifelong best friend had packed her bags, your parents had moved four states away, you had passed up chances at professional advancement, and your husband was perpetually on the verge of violence, what would you do? Are you going to disagree with the man who didn’t even bother to walk three feet away to yell at his best friend? You might very well keep your head down and not say anything, idly daydreaming that he might have nails driven through his hand while he works in the backyard.

Or maybe the joke was always supposed to have been that she’s stupid because she’s blonde and a stewardess? It’s one of those two things.

Seriously, though, what the fuck happened? If the goal was restoring as Balki the more sympathetic character, you did it, show!


Larry shouts Balki back up the stairs again and into the master bedroom, ignoring for the moment that Jennifer will just keep walking if you don’t talk to her every 40 seconds.


And that’s another thing. I wish I was done, but like I’ve been telling you all season, there’s always bigger problems. For as long as Larry has been trying to impress Jennifer, the show has portrayed women as lumbering human-shaped bundles of emotion that cannot be reasoned with no matter what you do. Jennifer is hungry and she must be convinced to have sex; Jennifer wants to sleep and she must be convinced to eat. For all that Larry Appleton is serially proven wrong by thinking he knows the rules governing how women want to be treated, the show never bothered to question whether there were rules at all. Larry was wrong that Jennifer wanted status when all she wanted was honesty and emotion directed her way. (This isn’t 100% of the time; sometimes Larry is wrong for thinking Jennifer cares about anything. Certainly a character millimeters more developed would demand more than just honesty.) Amy liking something as complex as cartoons makes her an aesthete as far as this four-parter is concerned. But as for Jennifer and Mary Anne and Beth, they’re driven by purely physical and emotional desires that are roadblocks for the otherwise smooth sailing of men congratulating themselves, and the Cousins have to manipulate women–manhandle them–into a position that is less demanding for them.


It gets worse. Balki plays with her toes.


Larry starts violently shaking her to try to wake her up. Remember when I was upset at “The Unnatural” for Balki being a child and an idiot, and for having the same character dynamics as every other Full House episode? You’ve come a long way, Perfect Strangers! I am honestly close to feeling physically sick from watching this episode. Please don’t let the continued jokes lead you to think otherwise.

Larry pulls the covers away and oh no! She’s not nude! What will they do etc.?


It goes on for awhile. They lift Beth, mauling her charms between them with rough and tumble gusto. They drop her on the floor, and when they pick her up together I’m sure it’s good staging to have her crotch pressed up against Bronson’s. Who are you to criticize? I don’t see YOU directing a sitcom.


Aside from her place in the above thesis on women’s roles in this show, Beth’s cousinhandling isn’t as bad as it could be. Perfect Strangers has done this bit better (“Weekend at Ferdinand’s”) and far worse (“Disorderly Orderlies”). In the former, the bit was a kinda-logical result of the situation the Cousins found themselves in; in the latter, literally no one outside of a VA hospital would have thrown a patient onto the floor to change the sheets. Here, if you can get past the fact that Amy shouldn’t have left her there (I can’t, but I pray for each and every one of you nightly), the comedy is right for the situation. Even if Amy were here trying to help, we’d get mostly the same beats.

Jennifer calls up loud and clear through like 8 walls to ask where the marshmallows are, but Larry couldn’t hear a cartoon through a door. Okay.

Since Jennifer’s on her way up, Cousin Larry tells Balki to hide Beth to ensure she’ll be completely disoriented when she wakes up. This whole arc is supposed to be about Balki and he’s reduced to just a guy who has no history, nothing to say about this situation, no censure of lying. No suggesting his Uncle Blottos’s miracle hangover cure: hair of the dog that drank with you. Okay.


Larry goes down to quickly run through the honeymoon period of the abuse cycle with Jennifer, Balki signals that Beth is hidden, and they all go back upstairs. Jennifer heads straight for the closet.


Balki comes in and says “cloth-es” to give us our weekly reminder he’s foreign; he can’t find Beth’s other shoe.****


It’s a good thing that walk-in closet is fifty yards deep with multiple turns so the Cousins have plenty of time to noisily search for an item they keep naming!


Beth may be passed out drunk, but Balki is positively sheet-faced! He sings the “Casper” theme song, and props to Bronson for knowing the second verse. Props to Balki for making a logical leap. Props to Perfect Strangers for letting me think about a fun cartoon for a minute instead of this episode. I’ll take anything I can get at this point.

Jennifer comes out of the closet and asks what Balki’s doing there. Going with “she was a dumb blonde all along” on this one.

The scene ends with Balki not letting a shower-bound Jennifer know that that’s where he stowed Beth. I say “ends” but the reveal takes a whole minute of the Cousins talking before Jennifer comes back out and asks about it.


The next day, Balki is on the phone with Amy only so we can learn that she likes the Three Stooges, and only because that lets Balki do a Curly impression. Full House rejecting this script should have been a pretty clear message to just throw it away.


Larry comes in for his matutinal hot brown liquid, and says that he explained things to Jennifer.


Larry says that they have to set some ground rules for Balki dating. Can you guess what they are? Can you? They’re unreasonable demands on Larry from Jennifer, to correct things that weren’t his fault! Larry can’t be Balki’s wingman, he has to stay in a hotel any time Balki brings women home, and he’s forced to buy Jennifer flowers (delivered to the back door for some goddam reason?).


Women! Can’t understand ‘em, can’t give ‘em enough lines to be understandable!

Buying a woman flowers and jewelry to apologize was something that was still a standard gag when I was a kid, but its appearance here doesn’t feel like Perfect Strangers being lazy and leaning on tropes. It’s far worse! The show has outdone itself. At least a woman demanding honesty sounds like a good lesson for an insecure man. But this Jennifer, who is exactly as angry as Larry worries she’ll be, has nothing to offer him. The show offers no hope of men being improved by their wives, but we have to have one because hey, we’ve got to put all this semen somewhere. Balki won’t grow anymore, but at least he started out better off than Larry. If Balki comes out looking superior because he prefers to watch an unhinged cartoon rather than be one, then Mary Anne is the perfect woman because her only demand is to be wanted as a wife.

We leave our shrewridden Appleton and woodpecked Bartokomous, another question asked and avoided. The show promises to tell us how Balki would fare dating other women, and has no answer but “I guess… fine?”; and swerves, sidles, stepsaside, slips past and on, preferring to hint that 1) Balki’s better off not trying to understand women at all and 2) will be rewarded by winning the one who’s the least demanding.


I know I say this a lot, but fuck this show.

Join me next week for “It Had to Be You”!


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

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

Unused Larryoke Countdown #9: “Can’t Get Her Out of My Bed” – Electric Light Orchestra

*disembowelment by shepherd’s crook

**psst! Hey reader, think about what I was telling you two weeks ago about change blindness.

***Psychology sidebar: this story doesn’t merit me getting into this fully, but for further reading on barriers to/facilitators of quick physical intimacy, check out Stuart McMillen’s comics retelling of Ken & Mary Gergen’s 1973 “Deviance in the Dark” study.

****True readers now get a joke I made in “The Wedding”.¹

1. The reader may decide for themselves if further gratification through adumbration of intra-episodic sartorial connection(s) is merited (or even possible) as regards event(s) in “The Gazebo”.



Mr. Wainwright,

I have been privileged to serve as one of the Chicago Chronicle’s reporters and editorial writers, which has allowed me to support the ideals of the citizens of this fair city and noble country.  I am proud to have worked with the benefit of your guidance and leadership.

One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of its organizations to put their employees’ skills to optimal use. While the Chronicle remains the lead journalistic voice of, and to, the American people, we cannot maintain this position when editorial writers are asked to spend their time on duties outside their skill set.

My views on treating readers with respect are strongly held and informed by over five years of hard work, and decades as a concerned and actively engaged private citizen. We must do everything possible to produce a daily newspaper which clearly expresses its ideas to its readership, and this duty extends to its meanest parts. This week’s Dimitri’s World cartoon is unsalvageable even by my advanced writing skill.

Because you have the right to an editorial writer who is able to focus his attention on the subjects closest to the hearts of Chicago’s citizens, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position as co-writer of the Dimitri’s World cartoon. The end date for my tenure is February 3, 1992.

Lawrence G. Appleton




I don’t care

if you have time to pass me love notes you have time to write a cartoon

all you have to do is put Bartokomous’s words into the bubbles

do it or you’re fired

R.T. Wainwright


5 thoughts on “Season 7, Episode 22: Chicago Suite

  1. Casey, are you purposely trying to piss off “Full House” watchers who may have wandered over here by calling him “Uncle Joey”?

    (Piper binged all of the 4th season of “Fuller House” in a day. Just so she could see what binging a show is like. That’s youth in 2018 for you.)


  2. Neither one of us even remembers these later season episodes. Which is weird, because we watched them more recently. She asked to go back and watch a season 2 episode–we watched the one with Larry’s surprise party in the middle of the night. That one was still funny.

    I think you piss of “Friends” fans by threatening to take if off Netflix.


  3. I’m sure it goes without saying, but that’s never stopped me before: This arc did not need to be a four-parter. Two-parter, totally fair. Four, though, is insane.

    It’s disappointing because there are a few germs of good ideas in this stretch. The singles bar could have been a great, late-game showcase for both Mark and Bronson. The next episode with the quadruple date could have been fun. But stretching everything over two broadcast hours is madness.

    I’ve been wondering why I stopped watching this show. I stuck with it (and loved it) for almost the entire run. I vividly remember that episode with Dimitri getting kidnapped, thinking it was hilarious every time they slipped on the marbles. So why did I give up?

    I figured maybe I just outgrew it or moved on to other interests, because that’s usually what happens, and that’s natural. But rewatching the end of this season and all of next season, it clicked: I stopped watching because it got boring as all hell.

    I had nothing against Jennifer or Mary Anne, but once Perfect Strangers became a show about two couples having conflicts, it wasn’t Perfect Strangers anymore to me. I’m not saying these episodes are awful, or at least that they were fated to be awful, but it was such a switch away from everything I enjoyed.

    Larry and Balki made me laugh. Larry & Jennifer and Balki & Mary Anne didn’t, at least not when entire episodes seemed to consist of scenes of domestic conversation with nothing of interest going on.

    More stuff at The Chronicle would have been smart, because that would allow for plenty of classic Larry and Balki material to still exist while the living arrangements changed. But for some reason they nuked that entire aspect of the show, and that’s even more puzzling to me as an adult. It’s like the show didn’t really want to be itself anymore.


    • I wish I could remember more of what I saw of Perfect Strangers towards the end. I’m dead certain I didn’t see the latter third of this season. If I had had any idea that Capitol Critters existed, I would have been deadset on watching it, and would have stuck around for Balki. I’m sure I watched a fair amount of seasons 5 and 6, and then lost track it when it moved later and to another day.

      I have memories of the advertising for season 8 including scenes from season 7’s finale, but I didn’t think that’s what they were–I thought season 8 was going to wrap up *with* that wedding. And then when I watched the show, it wasn’t that. It wasn’t even what I had remembered the show being. I think I watched two season 8 episodes and didn’t make an effort to see the rest. It’s possible watching the final episodes will jog my memory more.

      In addition to scrubbing off that last remaining vestiges of Larry and Balki disagreeing on how to go about things (like, in this episode, Larry walks around a room and Balki looks to his right) and no longer being about them, what’s strange as hell to me is that as soon as it introduces these late-game couple’s conflicts, it changes the entire relationship these couples had had. Balki and Mary Anne were lockstep on everything and their marriage was inevitable–until season 7. All of Larry’s fears about Jennifer’s feelings were in his head–until season 7. It’s making sure it breaks every bit of what got it this far.

      The show has this vague idea that the standard romance story includes a part where they run into trouble and the relationship is questioned, when it never once felt it needed that. It knows it needs to go out big, but it thinks “big” means “more things”. It’s… not unlike the way my reviewing has shifted for this season. Once again Perfect Strangers reads me.

      Also I went on a date with a Beth this week. So ready to be done with coincidences between my life and this show.


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