In which the blog host persists in his crime of enlisting the aid of fellow sitcom reviewer Philip J Reed to document unspeakable horrors; in which the fellow ponders questions existential; in which the fellow finds buried treasure; in which the nature of the treasure is revealed; in which these and other matters indispensable for the clear comprehension of this history shall be handled if the host should manage to end the introduction.
Three More Glorious Weeks or Four Weeks of The Trouble with Larry Who Cares
By Philip J Reed, noiselesschatter.com
We’ve covered all three episodes of The Trouble with Larry to make it to air. Three more were in the can when the plug was pulled, and that’s what we’re looking at here.
For now, though, what the fuck is this show?
I think it’s a fair question to ask, as its hypothetical audience (and it really was hypothetical) couldn’t have seen any more than the three episodes we’ve already discussed.
So what is it?
It’s about a guy who was stuck in Africa for 10 years, presumed dead. Or maybe he wasn’t stuck, since he never seems to have tried to get back to America or, you know, ask for help. Anyway he was raped by monkeys immediately after marrying the love of his life, for whom he’s pined non-stop since that fateful day. Except he immediately does stop the moment he finds out she’s remarried, losing all interest in and desire for her. And before that he tries to fuck her sister.
He decides for no real reason that he’ll write his memoirs, something that was never mentioned again after it was established. And he lives in his ex-wife’s spare room doing nothing, ever, aside from periodically wearing silly costumes and doing impressions.
What am I missing? Please tell me. If there is more to the show than this, let me know. Frankly, I think there’s less to the show than this, and I’m giving it far too much credit by even writing in complete sentences.
Of course, sitcoms don’t have to be serialized or narrative-heavy. It’s perfectly fine if they aren’t, and if their main draw comes from the characters themselves.
So, okay. Who are these characters?
Sally owns an art gallery and is either bad with money or just doesn’t feel like paying her bills. She’s married to Boyd and had a daughter with Larry, though Boyd thinks the kid is his. That’s everything we know.
Boyd has glasses and a beard. He’s a curator at a museum. He never talks about it and it never affects anything. He doesn’t like Larry, and every so often he insults him. That’s everything we know.
Gabriella is Sally’s sister. She works at the art gallery and was robbed off camera. She spends more time in her sister’s living room than she spends anywhere else in the world. She would prefer it if Larry didn’t insert things into her. That’s everything we know.
Lindsay is Sally’s daughter. She’s nine. She goes to school. That’s everything we know.
Larry is completely undefined and defies all attempts at characterization. Nothing we’ve been led to believe is important to him has remained important to him. That’s everything we know. I have no idea what he wants, what his interests are, what he enjoys, or why he has his own show.
Would anyone have tuned in week after week to see these characters? What was the draw even intended to be? It’s fair to say The Trouble with Larry sucked ass, but it’s probably also fair to say it wasn’t supposed to suck ass. So what was the plan? Ideally, what would The Trouble with Larry have been?
By looking at the episodes that never made it to air, perhaps we can find out.
“The Angel of Death and Taxes,” unaired
Sally and Boyd have a quiet conversation about it being hot and them getting a tax refund and the family going to Wacky World in Florida, but none of that involves Bronson so Bronson barges in wearing a Hawaiian shirt and doing a standup routine.
Man, it is hot! Folks, I wanna tell you, women are dating fat guys just for the shade. I’m talking steamy. Dogs are pretending to mate just for the bucket of water. One guy got so desperate he jumped naked into a carpool.
Ugh, at least it was short. We learn that Larry and Lindsay were selling things to people who wanted to beat the heat and…
Folks, I wanna tell you, it’s so hot Johnny Cash is wearing white. Bugs are flying into windshields just for the wiper fluid. People are snitching on mobsters just to get dumped in the lake and I saw a guy at the zoo siphoning a camel.
For fuck’s sake, end this god damned comedy routine.
Larry announces that he’s going to drink some sugarless lemonade and then he drinks some sugarless lemonade and then he reacts to the sugarless lemonade.
This is a hell of a long intro scene and it’s not over yet, because Bronson wants to do some prop comedy.
He shows off the “venetian blouse” he invented and he makes a joke about how it keeps women cool but men also like it because they can see some tits and jack off while looking at them, and aren’t you so glad we established he was selling this shit with his nine-year-old daughter?
Anyway, Boyd figures out the family owes $1,892 to the IRS, so there won’t be any refund or Wacky World trip. He finalizes the tax form, writes the check, and stuffs the envelope in the time it took me to blink I guess because I didn’t see him do any of that shit.
Larry offers to mail it for him, and Boyd gives it to him without a thought, because he knows the show is already off the air and nobody will be around to question the logic.
Larry brings out a metronome with a hotdog on it and says it’s an automatic wiener cooler.
The next day or 38 months later, who knows, the mail comes and Boyd gets something from the IRS. It’s a check for $48,000.
Larry gets so excited he reveals he has no idea how to hold a child.
Sally and Boyd leave the room so Larry can tell Lindsay he doctored the forms and committed serious tax fraud on behalf of the family.
The next day or 38 months later, who knows, the family gets back from Wacky World where they spent a shitload of cash but not in any ways that were funny enough for us to see, I guess.
Then everyone goes into the living room where a bunch of shit they ordered has arrived. Most of it’s still boxed up. There’s a piano and an exercise bike, and I know so little about any of these assholes that I can’t possibly guess who wanted which.
A woman arrives and it’s a singing telegram and we have to sit through her singing about how Boyd is fucked.
It’s Teresa Ganzel (4.52 out of 5 on wikifeet based on a total of 53 votes), who’s done a lot of voice acting and appeared in films such as The Toy and My Favorite Year. She’s pretty fucking awful here but you sure as shit can’t blame her.
The next day or 38 months later, who knows, the fat lady sea captain / burglar shows up to repossess everything.
Larry stops her on her way out the door to tell her she’s fat and crack open the joke book one more time.
Q: If you’re such a smart guy, how come all your stuff winds up with me?
A: Gravitational pull!
Q: You know what I’ve got in my back pocket?
A: We can rule out deodorant!
Q: I’ve got a piece of paper from a judge. Know what it says?
A: Does it specify that you must be buried face down?!
I have honestly never seen a sitcom this lazily written.
Anyway, everything gets taken away and Lindsay is sad. Boyd looks at a copy of his tax return and realizes it’s entirely incorrect and in Larry’s handwriting. Uh-oh!
The next day or 38 months later, who knows, Larry is sleeping on the floor of the art gallery. He’s using a tapestry as a blanket and a sculpture as a pillow, which is great considering he just bankrupted the family and is now ruining their only source of income.
Gabriella comes in and he says he wishes she found him naked so he could make her look at his penis and she says maybe the penis would be very small. It’s fun for the whole family.
He says he’s sorry for ruining the family and then grabs Gabriella to hump her.
Larry goes to the IRS dressed as Boyd and Gabriella is Sally because she’s a fucking idiot. Larry’s Boyd voice sounds more like Casey Kasem, and just in case you’re part of the 100% of the human race who never watched this show, I’ll tell you Boyd sounds nothing like Casey Kasem.
Man, wouldn’t it be better if the show had established any of these characters so that there could be some humor to mined from two of them impersonating two others? As it stands it’s just Bronson and Courteney Cox in different costumes.
Following on from the smash success of his secondary role as The Booger in the previous episode, Bronson also plays a hippie here. It’s like one line where he cries about having his Volkswagen taken away by the IRS. Bronson as Larry as Boyd makes a face. This episode fucking sucks.
Anyway, Larry and Gabriella meet with the IRS guy, who has an eyepatch, so you know exactly what Bronson does for the next few minutes.
Also Larry stops using the Casey Kasem voice after a bit, reverting to his real voice. So what was the point of using a fake voice at all?
Whatever. Larry keeps turning up the heat in the office when the IRS guy isn’t looking.
It gets really hot so Larry tells the IRS guy he’s having a heart attack.
This is the longest fucking episode of anything I’ve ever watched.
Larry puts a computer monitor on the guy and talks into a trash can to make the guy think he’s dead now. The real Boyd and Sally show up and he thinks they brought him back to life.
Then the episode is over.
This is by a fairly wide margin the worst episode of what is by a fairly wide margin the worst show I’ve ever seen. What’s worse, Bronson’s site has this listed as episode six, meaning I watched it last. What a kick in the balls to go out on.
“Witless for the Prosecution,” unaired
The one opens with Boyd and Sally getting mad because they can hear construction noises. Both of these assholes have jobs so maybe if they went to work they wouldn’t have to listen to it.
Larry comes in draped in some towels and holding a sprig of something. The audience laughs because this is funny. Larry says “frozen yoga” and the audience laughs because this is funny. Larry rolls onto the couch and then off the back of the couch and the audience laughs because this is funny. Larry performs an extended puppet show with his feet because this is Bronson.
Larry dances and makes some faces and sits on his head.
I guess if he sits like this, from his perspective he has turned the family upside-down. The prophecy has been fulfilled.
The show was cancelled exactly as quickly as the CBS executive who greenlit it sobered up, yes, but who involved with this piece of shit production could have possibly believed it was worth putting on TV? This is the worst fucking thing imaginable. I’m trying to think of a way to make The Trouble with Larry worse, but short of Bronson ripping farts to punctuate his sentences, I think we’ve pretty much got the worst imaginable show already.
Gabriella comes over with a sprained ankle. Larry offers to fill his mouth with ice so she can stick her foot in it.
…and guys, okay. Let me step out from behind the curtain for a moment.
I’m not trying to kink shame. I’m making jokes and I certainly hope you hate them. But if you’re reading this and you have a foot fetish: good on you. There are a number of sexual peccadillos that I would personally say are inherently problematic, but I’m also fully aware (asexual, here!) that individuals don’t get to choose the things that do or don’t excite them. So if you are excited by feet, awesome. No judgement now or ever.
If, however, you’re, say, making a television show that is not explicitly for a similarly fetishistic audience, maybe scale back the foot fetish stuff a bit, okay?
Quentin Tarantino is a high-profile example of a creative mind who doesn’t hide his attraction to feet. And that’s okay; he shouldn’t be obligated to. But from a strictly artistic standpoint, his attraction to feet should never dominate his works unless it’s an integral part of the story he is telling. It never is, so we don’t linger on it any longer than we do any other diversion. Tarantino, for all the understandable guff he’s given about excess, does understand restraint. Right now you’re picturing a scene of excessive violence that he lovingly directed, sure, but consider how much silence led up to it. Consider how many long scenes of two characters talking quietly occupied the rest of the space in the film. Consider how much characterization and place setting was employed so that once he did get to the violence, he could execute it perfectly and have it matter. Tarantino is a director of excess, but more specifically he’s a director of regulated excess.
All of this is to say if Tarantino had Bronson’s sense of restraint, every movie he makes would be 110 minutes of blood raining down from the sky as he himself fucks a supermodel’s feet.
You’re fucking gross, Bronson.
Sally and Gabriella confront the construction crew off camera so we can watch Larry pull a long piece of cotton out of his ear while he cums. Okay, I’m behind the curtain again.
They come back and say Carl, the British guy in charge of the construction, is great. He promised to have his crew start later in the day and he fixed Gabriella’s ankle the way only offscreen characters in sitcoms can. Then Lindsay, a nine-year-old girl that each of these men thinks is his daughter, announces that she wishes Carl would statutorily rape her.
The audience laughs because this is funny. Larry then says he sometimes hides under Gabriella’s couch so he can touch her ankles, because this is Bronson.
Now it’s nighttime, so I guess neither of these guys did anything all day worth mentioning. And, honestly, that’s the most believable part of the show so far. The Mission: Impossible theme plays while they stand next to Carl’s car in black sweatclothes, a common trope in Mission: Impossible for all The Trouble with Larry knows.
They have a long, loud conversation right out in the open, next to Carl’s lit window, about how to fuck up his house. Then Larry says just as loudly that they can fuck up his car instead. He pulls out a big tool and gives it to Boyd…after which he produces a wrench and hands it over!!!!!
The plan is to drain the oil from Carl’s car. Boyd goes underneath to do it, and then Larry decides to deflate the tires, trapping Boyd underneath. Larry runs away when Carl shows up in a scene that is far too dark for me to get any worthwhile screengrabs so you’ll just have to trust me.
The next day Larry tries to get Gabriella to eat cereal off of his body and tells her about the naked pictures he draws of her. Carl comes over to establish that he’s far more likely to fuck her, and also he’s not pressing charges as long as Boyd pays for the damages.
All of this upsets Larry, who grabs Gabriella. Gabriella tells Larry not to touch her, and he grabs her harder and pulls her away. That could work as a joke but it’s just who Larry is and what the show allows him to be.
Sally gives Carl the check, so Larry grabs it from him and rips it up and says the queen is ugly. The audience applauds. Then he says, “Look, everybody, safe sex!” and does this.
The audience applauds this joke that was so great the show would be deleted from existence two weeks before it even aired.
None of the other characters attempt to stop or discourage Larry in any way. Carl says he will take them to court and then they are in court.
Bronson is the bailiff. Fuck it all.
Actually, all he says is “all rise,” so you have to wonder why it was worth getting him into a second costume at all. Did Bronson just really want to be his own bit player?
Larry says he fired Boyd’s lawyer and now he is Boyd’s lawyer and the judge is the fat lady sea captain / burglar / mover.
We can imagine and fast-forward through the rest of this shit in our heads.
Instead of doing or saying anything related to the case, Larry talks about how Boyd doesn’t have sex much and he calls the judge fat and he puts on a puppet show for Gabriella using—you guessed it—socks.
He then tells Gabriella, in the middle of a trial, that he’d fuck her so hard she’d squeal like bad brakes.
Larry examines Boyd and there’s actually the germ of a funny idea here. Larry keeps leading the witness, and whenever Boyd agrees with him Larry catches him in the lie. Boyd keeps trying to follow Larry’s lead and Larry chews him out for it, leading to some fun frustration. It’s not great, but it could be a funny scene in a much better show that knew what it was doing, and it’s the closest thing to an inspired gag in all of The Trouble with Larry.
Of course, it’s followed immediately by a “You can’t handle the truth!” sequence, which was legally required to be a reference made by all shows with a courtroom scene between 1992 and 1998.
Larry finally gets to the point and shows the judge some city planning documents, proving that the wall Carl built is on their property and he’ll have to take it down. Carl faints because it means he slept with the judge for nothing, and can you imagine sleeping with a fat girl?! Yeeucch!!
I mean, the wall itself wasn’t ever the problem, it was just the noise of the construction, and I can’t see how having to tear it down and rebuild it a few feet away is going to be quieter. Also, the trial was about Boyd disabling Carl’s car, so where a wall is or isn’t being built is completely irrelevant to this case, but the family hugs in celebration and Larry attempts to slip his finger up Gabriella’s asshole.
Larry gives a big speech of nonsense which is just him calling the judge fat, referencing Anson Williams, and making fun of Boyd for being feminine when he was a kid. Can you imagine a young boy who doesn’t strictly conform to gender norms?! Yeeucch!!
He doesn’t shut up so the judge puts him and Boyd in jail, because Boyd is also at fault somehow. Larry grabs a ukulele from behind the toilet and begins singing “One Hundred Million Bottles of Beer on the Wall” and the episode ends.
If you can make any sense of this episode’s plot at all, I’ll…I don’t know. Sleep with a fat chick.
Seriously, what the living fuck was supposed to be happening here? Who was I meant to root for? What should I have wanted to happen? Why is this show even being produced?
“Rhinestone Cowboyd,” unaired
Well, good news: It’s not being produced anymore.
Mark Linn-Baker, who you may remember as having played a Larry or two, popped over to direct this episode. We’ve talked about his potentially sobering influence on Bronson, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out. Actually, fuck it, it doesn’t play out at all. Moving on.
At the top of this final episode, let’s try to figure out what the fuck The Trouble with Larry even is.
The many possible premises of the show have been raised just long enough to be abandoned. Sally coping with the reappearance of a husband she thought was dead was almost certainly the original concept, and it was ditched sometime after the show shot its original, lost pilot. With Larry in the center instead, we could have a show about his struggle to accept that his wife has moved on, a show about his attempts to bond with the girl that is secretly his daughter, a show about his difficulty fitting into a culture that moved on without him, a show about an adventurer writing, publishing, and promoting his memoirs…
But we get none of that. Even the press release’s promise that Larry turns the family’s lives upside-down is a dud. He did that exactly once, at the very end of the previous episode, when he somehow got Boyd imprisoned for things only Larry said and did. Everything else has just been Larry acting like a cartoon character while life goes on around him, sometimes vaguely influenced by his actions and usually not.
The closest corollary The Trouble with Larry has in a successful show is Get a Life, which aired from 1990 to 1992 and shared an important writer with The Trouble with Larry: Charlie Kaufman. I won’t speak too much about Get a Life except to say that it was brilliant, far ahead of its time, and a masterclass in absurdist humor. To steal a famous observation about the Velvet Underground, not many people watched Get a Life, but everyone who did started writing comedy.
In Get a Life, the main character is detached from reality and almost always unaware of the danger and consequences of his actions. The main character was also played by Chris Elliott, who it is safe to say has taken dumps that are funnier and more talented than Bronson Pinchot.
That isn’t to say Bronson has zero talent or anything. That would be a lie. Balki was (and to some degree remains) popular for a reason. But Chris Elliott was able to get away with flights of madness because that was his style and it’s what he was good at. It’s not something anybody can do by default, and it’s not something Bronson came close to mastering during this madcap sitcom of his own.
I’m making an assumption by saying The Trouble with Larry was even meant to be madcap, but I think it’s a safe enough one. In each episode, there’s a very basic, relatable core idea: doing taxes, dealing with loud construction, helping a kid with a science fair project. And in each episode, I get the sense that Larry’s interference was meant to have that core idea spiral out of control with hilarious consequences. Something that could have been resolved simply and easily instead becomes a tidal wave of madness with Larry surfing it to shore.
And you can see some evidence of that here and there, but largely the “tidal wave of madness” is Bronson in a costume drifting in and out of a silly voice. Or making fun of fat/bald/monocular/British people. Ideally, Larry would have been a lovable oaf who makes things worse every time he attempts to make things better, but it’s hard to attribute good intentions to the guy who openly insults everyone he meets and washes his feet in the family’s gravy boat. It’s also bungled by the specific execution, such as when in the previous episode Boyd is completely off the hook in the trial, but Larry insists on repeatedly calling the judge fat until she locks them both up. What could Larry’s “good intention” possibly have been?
Out of curiosity, is it clear enough I don’t want to talk about an episode that starts with Larry half naked in an animal skin?
In a scene that is far too long to convey such a small amount of information, we learn that the next day is Sally and Boyd’s anniversary. Sally is disappointed because Boyd is taking her to The Crustacean Station, clearly a Red Lobster analog, which is where they’ve gone for every anniversary.
I’m loath to give The Trouble with Larry any credit, especially after it’s spent five full episodes assuring me it deserves none, but this is actually pretty good. I’m reading into what we’re given, yes, but I like the idea that in Boyd’s mind, taking Sally to the same shitty restaurant every year is romantic, because it’s honoring their history together. He doesn’t think The Crustacean Station is a fancy place; he is just incorporating that into his sense of history with his wife. It’s a sentimental choice. That’s fair.
Also fair is the fact that Sally would love to celebrate in a nicer restaurant for once. The conflict is that neither of them are talking about this. Sally doesn’t know that Boyd is doing this for what he thinks are romantic reasons, and Boyd doesn’t know that Sally isn’t receiving the choice in the way he intended.
It’s a fair setup, and we’ve seen throughout the episodes that Sally and Boyd aren’t a perfect match anyway. We’re allowed to believe they love and care for each other, but Sally likes a little bit of adventure while Boyd prefers routine. Sally likes sex while Boyd prefers an early night’s sleep. This episode’s premise could lead to an interesting exploration of who they are and how they function together, even if it’s arriving entirely too late.
But Larry makes the animal pretend to eat breakfast.
Sally and Larry talk fondly about some of the adventures they’ve had together, and Sally says, “Life sure would have been different with you.” Then she kisses him on the cheek and leaves.
And, okay, another fair complication, and the first flash of potential romantic rivalry we’ve had since the very first episode, in which Larry learned Sally had remarried and immediately pointed to Gabriella and said, “I’d rather fuck her, anyway.”
Larry thinks she wants him back and we cut to stock footage of a boar who looks at the camera and makes a sound like, “Say whaaat?”
This is the worst show ever made.
Larry goes to the art gallery to talk to Gabriella, and he finds the person he’d like to repeatedly insult this week for things he can’t help: a guy shorter than Bronson.
Larry makes fun of the guy over and over again until he storms off, and even though Larry interrupted Gabriella selling some art to this guy, she doesn’t seem to care. I guess those days of the art gallery struggling to pay its bills are long gone and they can afford to just be pissy to anyone who wants to give them money.
Larry tells Gabriella that he thinks Sally is still in love with him because of the kiss. On a related note, Bronson realizes that this is genuinely the last time he’ll ever have the authority to force Courteney Cox to make out with him, so he demonstrates with a kiss that’s nothing like what we saw in the kitchen.
Later that night, Larry does the she-loves-me-she-loves-me-not thing with his chest hairs.
His daughter comes home and he ignores her so he can keep doing this.
Then Gabriella comes in and he greets her by joining their pelvises.
They go into the kitchen and Sally has forgotten to employ the passive part of passive aggression, criticizing Boyd over and over again for picking shitty restaurants, tipping poorly, and not knowing how to open wine bottles.
It culminates with her physically attacking him and storming off. He goes after her so Larry and Gabriella can figure out how to make themselves the central characters again.
Larry brainstorms that they need to turn Boyd into a dashing, charming prince. Or they can just turn him into Prince. He then asks Gabriella and his daughter if either of them own a buttless jumpsuit. He’ll fuck anything, this one!
In the next scene, Larry and Lindsay talk about how they just stole a koala from the zoo and put it in a box on the table. It’s dumb, but I do like that they are both filthy and wearing torn clothes. It means we just missed seeing a crazed animal beat the shit out of Bronson Pinchot and a nine-year-old girl.
Boyd comes home with flowers for Sally and Larry does something I didn’t expect: he comes out and says that Sally kissed him. This is good, because I honestly expected the episode to be one of those that could easily be resolved if anyone at any point told anybody else anything at all.
It’s an unexpectedly wise decision to keep the characters actively involved in the events of the episode. Talk about damning with faint praise, but it’s the best I can do.
He tells Boyd that he’s going to lose Sally if he doesn’t change, which you’d think would be clear enough from the fact that he was physically assaulted by her last night at dinner, in front of their daughter.
Then it’s anniversary dinner time, and everyone goes to a place called Darlene’s.
It’s some cowboy bar or something. Larry leans on somebody else’s table and nobody seems to mind, so I guess it’s a really rough place!
Boyd comes in and the audience laughs at his silly costume. Then there’s a record scratch as everyone in the bar looks at him and starts laughing, too.
Who cares. The real draw is that the sea captain / burglar / mover / judge is also the waitress here.
Q: What are you looking at, missile beak?
A: I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you were talking to me. I saw your blowhole moving, but…!
Sally and Gabriella leave to take a shit. Lindsay, presumably, is spending the night at Uncle Carl’s again.
Larry tells Boyd to take a swing at some tough guy, because he’s arranged the whole thing or whatever.
After vacating their bowels in synchrony, Sally and Gabriella leave the bathroom. They bump into Bronson in drag, because of course they do.
Bronsetta says, “Men!” and walks away. No fucking clue what’s going on, and I have even less of a clue why Bronson keeps playing these secondary characters who play no role in the plot and have no jokes. What’s the point? Also, it’s pretty clear Larry is going to dress as a hardass and fight Boyd, right? So with Bronson playing a character who dresses up as other people all the time, why does Bronson also have to play unrelated characters? Isn’t it weird that Bronson in this silly outfit is Larry, but Bronson in that other, exactly-as-silly outfit is someone different altogether? It’s so fucking weird.
Sure enough Larry appears dressed in a huge leather duster which he smuggled into the bar in a way I’d prefer not to imagine. He talks like Clint Eastwood, sort of, and the fat lady wants to have sex with him.
Q: I’ve been looking for love in all the wrong places.
A: Pie shops!
Q: Why not take all of me?
A: Because I’ve only got the one truck!
Oh, I’m going to miss this show.
Boyd puts up his dukes but we’re robbed of the sight of Bronson getting his teeth kicked out when the fat lady throws Boyd over the bar and then Sally punches the fat lady.
Sally is happy that Boyd was assaulted by another woman, I guess.
A bunch of guys want to beat up Larry and then the fat lady beats them up and fucking hell end please for the love of shit end.
Boyd opens the koala box and puts his face in it and we cut to an exterior shot of Darlene’s to hear Sally scream for help. Fantastic.
And now, at long fucking last, The Trouble with Larry is over…
“Pinata Full of Bones,” unmade
…except that I hate you all as much as I hate myself, and have unearthed a Trouble with Larry script that was never actually produced.
I had seen a few scattered references online to “Pinata Full of Bones,” but I assumed it was some IMDB vandalism that had been propagated (most likely automatically) to other sites. Wikipedia doesn’t mention it at all, nor does…well, almost anything.
I expected it wasn’t real, not least because the phrase “Pinata Full of Bones” is far funnier than anything we got in the actual show. But, well, here we are. I’ve obtained the script by doing something I’d never confess to, and I’ve already confessed to watching all six episodes of The Trouble with Larry.
The table-draft script is dated July 14, 1993, about a month before the first episode actually aired. The Trouble with Larry was cancelled before this thing even entered production.
It’s written by Charlie Kaufman, though, and while I’d love to say it’s hilarious, brilliant, or even moderately clever, it’s actually pretty awful. It does have at least some of the hallmarks of a writer who knows he’s too good for the crap he’s writing.
This establishing shot might seem strange, but each episode of The Trouble with Larry opens with some odd stock footage that is supposed to tie into what’s happening in a very, very loose way. For instance, a shot of the pyramids in the episode where it is kind of hot outside. Or a shot of the Great Wall of China in the episode where the British guy has his car vandalized.
This represents the only time it ties directly into the plot, as Boyd is actually there with a guide named Anwar.
Anwar leads him into a pyramid and attempts to rob him, causing Boyd to fall backward in panic and knock part of a wall away.
Boyd has discovered the tomb of the mummified Akhmose Intankheb. Anwar recognizes him as the “Child King of torment and calamity” and runs away.
Boyd decides to take the mummy home which is something you are allowed to do.
Back at home, Boyd sulks because Sally and Lindsay don’t give shit one about the mummy. Instead, they are preoccupied with a celebrity chimp named Bobo, who has suffered an injury.
So far no sign of Larry, which is likely why this one never got made. Anyway the family talks about how Boyd’s mummy is worthless but Bobo is rad. Larry comes in with a welcome home card, which is something that exists I’m sure. Inside he wrote a poem about how he shat so hard the toilets got plugged up and since then the family has been pissing and shitting in the sinks.
There is a neat moment when Larry starts telling stories about his time in Africa, and the family is more interested in those than in Boyd’s. It’s a nice touch, and I’m realizing that this episode is tapping (however shallowly) into both Larry’s 10 years abroad and Boyd’s job as a museum curator. Imagine that; a script that has something to do with the characters.
The phone rings and it’s a big break for Boyd.
Actually, nobody cares, Lindsay included. They’re all perfectly happy to celebrate a day later. In fact, Lindsay herself is happy because now Sally has tomorrow night free to “do the Bobo Telethon.”
Larry hears all of this, but still decides to have Lindsay’s birthday tomorrow.
There’s a scene in which Larry enlists Gabriella’s help, because of course he does. Lindsay could have impacted bowels and it would be Larry and Gabriella pulling on the rubber gloves.
There’s nothing of note in this scene except that Gabriella warns Larry not to be naked on the couch again when she comes over. Good shit.
I’d love to know more about the very complicated balloon animal Bronson was meant to be making, but Gabriella is here so he needs to talk only about fucking.
She leaves to pick up Lindsay and her friends so Larry can finish the decorating by himself.
Shit’s about to get real.
There’s a long scene I won’t bore you with in which the kids are all at Lindsay’s shitty party. There’s a guy named Francis, the father of one of the kids, and he’s short so Larry spends several pages telling short jokes to him. True Trouble-with-Larriacs will know that Larry already made fun of a short guy, but I guess after six episodes they were running low on ways to make fun of people’s appearances so they had to double up.
But fuck that, because this what we’re here to see! Bring on that pinata full of bones, bitches!
And, uh, Kaufman doesn’t disappoint.
I challenge anyone to read that stage direction and not conclude this entire script was a fuck-you to the show in general.
It’s kind of wonderful.
Aw, nuts. Poor Bronson never got to shoot the episode in which he’d play with Courteney Cox’s bare feet.
The concept here is that Larry is going to make a mold of Gabriella to replace the mummy, but something tells me this was Bronson’s idea of a plot development far more than it was Kaufman’s.
The party is over, obviously, and Lindsay alone is cleaning up the mess.
…I like every part of that.
Sally comes home and they all confess they fucked up and clubbed a mummy to pieces in the living room. They get the idea to go to the hospital and bring Bobo home, in his full-body cast, to replace the mummy.
This leads to exactly what you’d expect. The stage directions don’t specify, but I’m absolutely sure Bronson would have ended up dressed in some ridiculous costume doing a flimsy accent as he babbles barely serviceable medical puns.
Kaufman remembers he hates his job and has the nurse say this after Bronson’s bullshit monologue:
Which can literally only be a fuck-you and I know we’ve already had one in this episode but it still feels overdue.
The episode concludes in a remarkable way: by bringing the story to some kind of conclusion.
Boyd has reporters and stuff in his house and he’s about to unveil the mummy for all to see. He tries to give some kind of self-aggrandizing speech but people tell him to just open the fucking crate already.
Everyone runs away because the mummy is going to kill them or something who knows.
Later on, we learn that everything worked out for the best, aside from the fact that the corpse of an Egyptian king was defiled in front of a room full of children who cried and shat themselves in horror.
And then, something incredible happens:
Kaufman remembered the premise of the show! Well, a premise. I’m genuinely amazed that the memoirs come into play here.
And that’s the end of the episode. I can’t say I was enlightened in any way by “Pinata Full of Bones,” but it at least understood and leaned into its own absurdity. Also, for a script about a fucking mummy it had a stronger, tighter internal logic than any of the more grounded episodes did.
Part of me was hoping “Pinata Full of Bones” would have shown us a version of The Trouble with Larry that worked. One that could have run for several seasons with a clear creative voice. It didn’t do that. It comes closer than the actual episodes of the show do, yeah, but it still stops dead every few pages to let Bronson do a monologue, and I’m sure if it were shot we would have lost every funny joke to give Bronson more time to massage white stuff into Courteney Cox’s feet.
I almost feel bad watching Bronson in The Trouble with Larry. He’s clearly trying so hard to elevate the awful material, and he fails spectacularly. I’m willing to believe much of the awful material was his, but it almost doesn’t matter. Somebody dreamed up this garbage, and Bronson threw himself into it. It’s…kind of sad, really.
There’s no real reason Bronson couldn’t have ended up in a decent show after Perfect Strangers. He could have even ended up in a great show. Why he chose this show, and why this show let him run roughshod over it, I’ll never know. I’d be hard pressed to think of a worse way to follow up success, but he dove right into it.
I suppose he must have wanted to strike while the iron was hot, which is wise, sure, but I refuse to believe this was the only offer he received. Could it really have been the best of them?
Who knows. At least now I finally know what The Trouble with Larry is about:
It’s about the worst thing I’ve seen in my life! Bohhhhh ho ho hoho
If you’re sorry you just read 50,000 words on The Trouble With Larry, trust me, Philip J Reed is even sorrier to have written them. The GoFundMe to pay for the costs of his institutionalization will go live soon.
Also, if you thought I would start on the Perfect Strangers two-part series finale next week, HAHA BITCHES THIS IS BRONSONFEST 2019!!!