Season 3, Episode 3: Sexual Harrassment in Chicago

Before I make a joke about Balki probably going to jail in this episode, I want to take a few moments to talk about confidence vs smugness in sitcoms, which basically means I’ma talk about Full House some. There’s a pattern I’ve observed in some sitcoms, a path they sometimes follow across their second and third seasons. Once those overseeing and writing a show have figured out what their audiences like and don’t like, they revise.  Elements that didn’t test well are downplayed, or even removed.  Mark Brendanawicz from Parks & Recreation.  Judy from Family Matters. Elements that work are enhanced, given center stage, and often milked.  Sometimes, you get great seasons of television. The second season of Community. The second season of League of Gentlemen.  Seasons 3-6 of The Simpsons.  Other times, shows reinvent themselves and find something new to say or do.  Seasons 5-7 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (I get the impression the writers thought each of seasons 4-6 was going to be the very last). Seasons 7 and 8 (and to a lesser extent 9) of The Simpsons. Season 3 of League of Gentlemen.  Still other times, you end up with the equivalent of layers of papier mache over a balloon; after deflating, you’re left with a hollow shell I’ll call smugness.

Confidence in a show’s elements allows you to apply them with often pinpoint accuracy; smugness assumes that’s all that people want, and just keeps jabbing with them, blind to any target but mass appeal. Elements repeating endlessly; a storefront clown, waving, laughing at itself, waving again.  Somewhere in the third season of Full House, they started getting smug; catchphrases becoming somehow a personality trait, the girls always getting what they want, characters learning lessons and still getting what they want most of the time (though I will point out the episode “Those Better Not Be the Days”, which was the most Full House ever made fun of its own failings; IMHO, it never did so again). Look at this smug shit:

Full Of Shit

I’ll admit I only watched the first episode of the very last season of Scrubs, but if the rest were anything like it, the show had been reduced to “All Your Favorite Jokes from Scrubs Are Back!”  I’d even say that Community got a little smug in its third season, or at least a little lazy.  Plots repeated, jokes being about previous jokes, rather than about new things. (Arrested Development got away with this by having the same jokes show up in various scenarios, with varying meanings.)

Confidence is knowing you can do right. Smugness is knowing you can do no wrong.  Guess which one led to Oedipus killing Jocasta and blinding himself.

We’ve gotten some warning signs already from that interview with Pinchot that I linked you to a few weeks back.  And the show’s success has filtered down even to its characters living space, the apartment growing a room, the cousins getting (if only barely) better jobs.  I want to see if Perfect Strangers has achieved the confidence that it in some ways (*cough* Linn-Baker *cough*) deserves; but I’m scared that it may very well skip ahead and go straight to smugness.

Anyway, judging by the title, Creepy Balki’s probably going to jail this week, so let’s get started!

Book of Chronicles 3:3

We started the past two episodes in darkness, almost as if the show were taking tentative steps into its third season; now, we begin in the full light of day, at the Chicago Chronicle.

Larry and Balki share a quiet moment

It’s a slow day in the basement, Balki and Larry quietly going about their duties, when a woman–a new character–enters at the top of the stairs.

*cue music*

Olivia Crawford: Here… I am!

Larry exposits that Olivia Crawford is the editor of the Sunday magazine for the Chicago Chronicle, and that he’s always wanted to meet her.

Larry meets Olivia

“Well of course you have!”

Olivia doesn't like a little tummy on a man

Could it be…? Could that be some good foreshadowing there?  She tells Larry that she’s there to get him to write a piece for the Sunday magazine, and Larry getting really flustered and happy. I share his excitement, because what I’m sensing is that we might have season 3’s Fat Marsha here.  Olivia is a good actress, older, confident… ah shit, wait. She starts hitting on Balki, calling him darling, knowing where Mypos is. Ah shit, she really will be this season’s Fat Marsha, won’t she?

Larry and Balki share an expository moment

Larry explains to Balki how important such an assignment is, in case we’ve forgotten that Larry has gotten nothing more than two sentences into the paper during his two weeks at the Chronicle. We go to commercial and come back to Larry, stoked that he has come up with a title for his article: “Is Chicago disappearing?” It’s a piece on how Chicago’s neighborhoods are losing their ethnic character, and that’s pretty meta of you, show. It would have been nice to get an episode about Larry meeting the other foreigners in Balki’s night school classes to get some firsthand knowledge, but I’ll at least give credit that it’s a good assignment for Larry; probably something he’s thought about over the past year (?) of seeing an ethnic person undergoing the slow melting-pot process.  Speaking of ethnic people Larry knows, here’s Harriette Winslow!

Fart Marsha

Olivia hates having to ride the elevator with other people; Harriette hates having to ride it with Olivia inside.  I can get that. Everybody generally only enjoys their own brand.

oh yeah

Olivia very quickly dispatches Larry upstairs to her office to retrieve her “forgotten” car keys.  She compliments Balki on the prowess with which he sorts the mail.  Balki surmises that he developed his muscles from “lifting sheep”, meaning the conversation leads inevitably–as all conversations between Balki and women seem to do–to basic bodily functions.  It turns out that sheep having seven stomachs only compounds the problem of constipation.  And when you’re a lonely adolescent sheepherder, that instantly becomes your problem, if you know what I mean. (If you don’t know what I mean, I mean when you want to stick your penis in a sheep.)

Anyway, before Balki gets to the broken finger part of the story (due to manual disimpaction injury, no doubt), Olivia diverts him to the topic of homesickness.  She knows there’s only so many minutes in a sitcom, and she needs to get laid.  Balki talks about the things he has to remind him of Mypos: Dmitri, a tapestry made by his sister Yana, the nude charcoal drawings of his sister Yana, the–

Wait, did you say “tapestries”?  Olivia collects tapestries!  What a coincidence!  I’m reminded of self-proclaimed psychics and palm readers, and how they know enough generalities of experience, as well as conversational tactics, to get their marks to reveal something that can be capitalized on.  The pretense of commonality established, Olivia wastes no time getting those digits: Balki lives at 535 Windsong, apt. 207.*  There’s a good joke here, too, where Balki relays the important information that he lives in a “brick building”.


Then Olivia starts breathing on his neck and smelling him.  Then she kisses him and we get our very first “wooo!” from the audience this season.  And semi-fake though I take most audience reactions to be (I mean, they get prompted sometimes), “wooo!” is a thing I’ve heard in real life from people observing others kiss.  Do you think our cavemen ancestors did this, back when there was less privacy? Do you think our collective unconcious thinks that thunder means rain, snakes mean bites, and one kiss means you get to watch sex soon?

more like unzip code AMIRITE

Olivia just goes to town on Balki, right there on the mail table.  All those letters are probably just going to other floors of the building, but Olivia’s taking Balki to entirely new places.  But, ultimately, as you already know by this point, Olivia Crawford is the bad guy this week, so I guess I can’t like her. Old ladies sure are gross, aren’t they? They should learn not to want sex after they turn 40… no, 30… no what am I saying, women who want sex are whores!

awww yiss

She had her keys the whole time!  What a liar!  Who knows how deep her evil goes (as if it weren’t enough simply being a one-off character on this show).

Balki penis confused

Balki spends the whole commercial break in shock on the mail table.  Larry comes back without Olivia’s keys.  Balki, in relaying to Larry what just happened, is for the first time in who knows how many episodes, actually humble.  He haltingly asks if “looking at tapestries” is a euphemism for sex, like when they say “lifting sheep” on Mypos.  And this is good!  The show is tentatively broaching the topic of sex through its characters tentatively broaching it.  Larry asks if it’s Laura, from the classified ads department (an apt guess, as this department would be home, as it were, of the SWF).  After revealing that it’s Olivia coming over to look at tapestries, there’s a nice little bit of dialogue I’ll point out just to reinforce the confidence theme:

Larry: Haha… Balki… I don’t mean to hurt your feelings…

Balki (annoyed mimicky voice): But you’re going to…

Larry and Balki share a season 3 moment

Larry, in a nice bit of discernment, differentiates Olivia from last season’s ulterior motive girl by pointing out that Olivia is an executive. Much like Lazarus and the rich man, Larry sees that there is a great gulf fixed between Balki and Olivia Crawford. Larry, understanding that his keylessness means he is barred from entering, accepts that this episode is about Balki and Olivia, not about his ethnic cleansing story. He concedes graciously, saying that he trusts Balki to take care of himself (confidence!).  “You’ve been with women before,” Larry says, laughing over the bygone Myposian boners of summers past. “I’m sure the milkmaids were all over you. I’m sure you had to beat ‘em off with a crook!”


on Mypos very simple to stay virgin

Balki’s a virgin!

are you surprised

Larry’s a virgin!

This can happen sometimes with people who haven’t yet realized their own homosexuality.  “Sex” can be a particular, set-in-stone kind of concept, defined strictly as occurring between, say, mommies and daddies. Anything they’ve done outside that concept has no name, and can only described by the the moon on Balki’s lips, the combined scents of Bismol and potata crumbs on Larry’s breath when he pants, the… whew, sorry, I’ve got to stop there.  Give me a minute.  It’s.  Um. A good joke. The way they don’t explain it.  Larry agrees to stay home that evening to be Balki’s protection.

who could that be

Olivia’s urgent knock opens the next scene, but when Larry opens the door–

at first i was likebut then i larry'd

Larry: Balki and I are cousins.

Olivia Crawford: Oh… how nice.

Y’hear that, folks? Olivia doesn’t value family!  She’ll never be seen from again!  She changes her tune quickly, saying that she’s late for cocktails with the Mayor, and that she’ll just look quickly at the tapestry.  Larry is somehow still certain that she’s being honest.  I guess I’d expect one liar to recognize another, but oh well. Everybody’s got to take their turn holding the idiot ball.

Larry leaves to go to the library to research his article, and then Balki comes out of his bedroom with…  the hell?

Balki Blanket Bingo

It’s the same damn blanket he made for Larry last season.  Either the prop department just decided to be lazy that week, Balki lied about making the blanket for Larry, or Myposians only know that one design to put on a blanket.  Also blankets are tapestries, I guess.  The tapestry purports to show the whole history of Mypos.  It turns out that the Bartokomous family started when Uncle Stavros farted; then they all became retarded.   Nah, j/k, Ferdinand Mypos discovered the island by just trying to walk across the Mediterranean from Italy or some mess like that.  Because, you know, Mypos is such an Italian name. Not Greek at all.

Olivia touches the things

Also there was a Great Tomato Famine. Geez, an alfalfa famine and a tomato famine?  Those poor Mypiots. Anyway, Balki admits that he thought Olivia was a whore (wish I was joking), and apologizes. Olivia wants to know if he still thinks that way about her.

don't be ridiculous

Then Balki compares Olivia to his mom. Haha! She’s old! Old women are gross! Who would ever want to touch any of the orifices of an old woman? Barf! Retch!  Puke-a-roonie!

Undaunted, Olivia tries to force her mucous membranes on Balki’s mypos membranes.


Balki: M-mama never did that.


Balki says that he wants to wait until marriage.  Larry comes back, having forgotten yet another key: his library card. What a trooper, taking one last shot at establishing a running motif of “no entry” to reinforce how Balki won’t enter Olivia, and how she won’t enter the show ever again. It could have even been mirrored by ethnic communities not being able to enter the greater cultural milieu. But Larry blows it by asking “what’s going on here” when it’s completely obvious.

ask me if I'm blind


are you blind?

When the show keeps me from making yet another joke about how Larry asks “what” before “why”, I consider that progress. I consider that the show noticing its own patterns, its own faults, if not yet correcting them, then at least commenting on them, is a good thing. Then Balki makes a joke about Olivia being all over him “like a wet t-shirt”, and that’s a good joke too!

here at the brasserie

Olivia just doesn’t give up, though, suggesting that Balki rendezvous with her at Mickey’s Hideaway the following Tuesday.  But Larry knows all about the place, having stayed up many a night until 2 in the morning just so he can masturbate quickly and silently to their television ads.  Olivia then threatens to get Balki fired, and now who’s blind through overconfidence, doing such a thing in front of a witness?

In the next scene, Larry rattles off a list of other employees who got fired just because they didn’t want to sleep with Olivia.  Ha! A bunch of guys turned her down because sex with old women is gross gross GROSS!


Olivia is once again ushered into the basement by the woman who knows that you can’t be both the person having sex AND the person using it as blackmail.  The cousins have already sent a letter of allegation to the managing editor, but:

all your dick are belong to me

Confidence has turned to smugness.  Olivia felt secure in her position on a higher floor, but in trying to mine the basement for her own desires (eww!), she has eroded the foundation of her power. Jack, the managing editor, comes down to the basement. The cousins offer further proof of Olivia’s tawdry nature: Larry has discovered that there’s a room at Mickey’s Hideaway named after her, and Balki offers to be dusted for her fingerprints. This is–


*wipes tear from eye*  Balki said fingerprints. I’m so goddam proud of my boy right now. Pronouncing words correctly. Refusing to give his body to those with nefarious purpose, and instead offering it freely in service of justice.  What does Olivia have to say for herself?

uh uh uh uh

Yeah, that’s what I thought.  Get off my show, you sex-crazed old bag!

this guy's name is Jack

Olivia is fired, and the audience cheers. Olivia puts down the Chicago Chronicle and starts to leave, saying that she hears they put out in New York.  But! Ha! Harriette won’t let her on the elevator! Black women sure don’t take any nonsense, do they?

no entry

Jack: You two should feel proud of yourselves.

don't encourage them, Jack

Larry is happy to have served his role as detached adult in this episode, until Balki points out that it means he won’t get to have an article in the Sunday magazine.  You can tell Larry’s doing the mental calculations here of just how long it will be until he can get home and crack open a nice cold Pepto Bismol.

haha no success for Larry

And then the show ends with a good joke about how Balki’s happy that, if and when he gets married, he’ll be able to spend his honeymoon in a state of fumbling, awkward bliss.

So.  Confidence vs smugness. Progress vs (self-assumed) Perfection. Humility vs hubris. Ovis aries vs Olivia Crawford.  I’m happy to say that this episode shows some confidence, as well as some progress. Likewise, similar to the cousins’ situation at the end of every episode, it’s clear we have still have some distance left to cover.  There’s some decent jokes, some one-upping of season 2’s tropes, some humility on Balki’s part, and some confidence in Balki on Larry’s part.  With the cousins as the heroes, we have to see every other character from their perspective.  In season 2, we were forced to see Fat Marsha through their eyes, meaning she was, if not a proper villain, an unrestrained other.  We must also see Olivia through their eyes, at least until the final act, when a judge must come down from on high to decide the matter.  She threatened the cousins, but she also threatened the reputation and operation of the newspaper.  Olivia Crawford was a clear bad guy; I wanted so badly to make the joke that she was evil simply because she was doing things a man in power might do. But she was doing clearly unethical things, so I left it alone.  I just wish the show hadn’t added “she’s old” into the mix, and suggested that her age, coupled with her forwardness, were what turned Balki off.  Actress Holland Taylor was only 44 when this episode aired, and Balki 28. If I had seen this as a kid, that difference might have seemed greater to me than it does now.  But I’ve come to learn not to judge my past self by my current standards.  It’s important to look at old media in terms of current mores, and instructive to see where and how it falls short (or doesn’t).  But there’s only so far one can go in criticizing it, I suppose, since there’s nothing to be done about it now, other than hope that the next time is better.  But since I didn’t say this last week, I do feel bad for any sitcom character who’s the least bit overweight, or even a few years older than the other characters; because they always seem to end up having to do an episode about that innocuous aspect of themselves, just because it’s not some assumed media “norm”.

Anyway, I’ve gone on long enough with this review. I’ll have plenty of time for more self-reflection next week, when the cousins and I will be “Taking Stock”. See you then!


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

Coner count: Olivia (1, continuous)

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

*Did they move twice? In two weeks?

Season 2, Episode 15: Beautiful Dreamer

Boy oh boy have I got a special treat for you this week!  I’m friends with a real live literature professor, and he has graciously offered to supply me with a real live literary-type analysis of this week’s episode.  Unlike me, he’s smart enough to not want to be identified in connection with this blog, so I’m just going to refer to him as Professor M.  I don’t blame him; he’s got a family and a solid bibliography.  Without further ado, here’s Professor M’s take on Perfect Strangers!

’Pataphysics and Perfect Strangeness: “Beautiful Dreamer”


The episode opens with Balki rearranging his living space. Chairs moved and cushions strewn about, something is amiss where our ever-transient and always-foreign Balki dwells. The voice of Larry breaks into the dark: “Balki, Balki — is that you?” Here we might hear the faintest echo of Hamlet’s opening line: “Who’s there?” And here, as there, we find ourselves dealing with a fundamental question of identity. Balki, however, can only respond to this question of identity by turning out the light, leaving us all in the dark.  And, so, perchance to dream?


Season 2, episode 15, “Beautiful Dreamer,” investigates identity in the strangest of ways. It opens windows into what we are told is Balki’s subconscious and leaves us wishing for greater resolution as our beloved protagonist finds himself a body divided by the demands of capitalism. In short, the episode is about the destruction of his past self as he seeks to lose himself in the American dream. “America or Burst,” the baggage on the opening credit’s wagon had comically phrased his destiny. But this episode does more. The luggage slides from physical to psychological, and Balki never does cross over into his new home. America, perhaps, and burst.


“Why are you rearranging furniture in the middle of the night?” Larry continues, tripping over what he can no longer navigate somnambulistically. Balki’s dodge – a weak gesture toward aerobic exercise – quickly fades under the darkening cloud of Mr. Twinkacetti’s “monthly going out of business sale,” which looms only four hours away. We are left to ponder: why this capitalist interruption in Balki’s living space? Could it have something to do with this wandering Mypiot soul?


But we are quickly called back from our musings to another faintly comic feign. Balki projects his dilemma in terms of a “friend who cannot sleep.” He has, in other words, divided self from self, speaking from a distance of his own problem. This “friend, [his] best friend.” And if these perfect strangers are the cousins who live in uncomfortably close quarters, Larry’s response – “I am your best friend” – lays down the true stakes: Balki is the most perfect stranger unto himself.

We might slow down to think about the episode’s problem through the terms of vulgar Marxism: we are here discussing the alienation instituted by capitalist labor, though it is here confused all the more by Balki’s inability to experience the unattainable American dream. At the heart of the episode is Balki’s struggle with insomnia.

Larry: What you’ve got is a classic case of insomnia.

Balki: Oh, no. I knew it was something terrible. Give it to me straight. How looong have I got.

Larry: Fifty or sixty years.

Balki: Fifty or sixty years? Oh my God, a slow death.


Welcome to the machine.

Should we pause for a minute, we could note that our episode’s writer, Paula A. Roth, spent a good deal of time writing for a German sitcom based on sarcastic insights into daily life. (I’m not kidding.)


When he learns it “just” means he can’t sleep, Balki swings his legs childishly and reverts to memories of youth and safety—to, that is, a time before his travels. We learn of Princess Riva, who keeps the youth asleep in her protective arms. And, as Balki puts it, this fantasy “don’t come to America.” No, Larry acknowledges. Not at all. We have the Sandman—the man who temporarily blinds his victims.

Balki refuses the Sandman. He refuses to let go of his past, and, in his refusal, longs to continue in his childish state. But the problem remains: how to put him asleep? How might cousin Larry allow him to experience the American Dream™?


And so how do we achieve the dream? We go to sleep. We separate ourselves, and Larry teaches him just that: to “put [his] body to sleep.” He teaches Balki to itemize his body, saying goodnight to each part individually, beginning with his toes. Then feet, then legs. Then fingers—Balki’s fingers, which point to himself and he snaps unconscious. Asleep he no longer can respond to Larry calling his name. He is Balki no longer; he is an identity lost elsewhere in the ether of dreams (“where would this kid be without me,” asks a looming Larry).


But Balki is not ready, and his dream ends with an abrupt cry for “Mama” and a screaming clutch to his chest. A short exchange finds Larry’s offer of solidarity in wakefulness batted away. So Larry explains to his cousin that his body will eventually tell Balki when he needs to sleep, and Balki, misunderstanding with the insight of genius, reverts to a primal self that only knows its bodily hunger.

But does Balki recognize his true hunger?


We fade out, hungry for more.


We awaken in the land of discounted merchandise: Ritz Discount. After a brief and insistent exchange, we see the crowd pressing against the doors of the closed shop, which we infer since it tells us “Open.” What is closed to the consumer, that is, is now for us to view.


“Not open,” screams a pig-faced Twinkacetti, only to paw sweatily through the crowd, slam the door, and exclaim with a comical slouch, “You’d think I was having a real sale.” A Real Sale. Twinkacetti reveals more than we were led to expect; we dwell suspended in the urgency of capitalism, a superegoic demand that Jacques Lacan once boiled down in Television to a simple dictate: “Consume!” Balki’s hunger is thus neatly contrasted with the drive of the pressing crowds, which we now see from the inside. “People are,” in Twinkacetti’s next words, “so gullible.”


So there is a lesson for us all who view from inside the television frame—well, all of us except Balki, who, amidst the truth of the day, has finally fallen asleep. Symbolically achieving the death enacted within the capitalist machine, Balki lies covered like a cadaver on a table full of price-slashed pastel shirts—and has slept through the conversation with Twinkacetti.


A protective Larry tries to shield him from the grim American reality and return him to his true home. “This is not a good place to nap,” declares the good cousin as he cradles him like a guardian Riva before trying to shuffle him from the store.


And Larry, who cannot bring him into the light of day (he tries to walk him out of the store but fails amidst the throng), can only place his displaced cousin under the “Help Wanted” sign. He is “Out To Lunch,” as we are told by the sign placed in his lap.


And Larry, midwife of truth, is left holding the television—until the pressing demands of his boss, who pokes him aggressively, encourage it to fall from his hands. Twinkacetti: “You broke it, you bought it.” His slogan-ese matches the signs that crowd the shot, reminding us that he is a mouthpiece for the capitalist system that stands with authority over the shattered remains below. There shall be no more reflection on the operations of this land of merchandise.

*End Scene*


Larry, after dropping his college Psych books:

“We have to find out what’s causing your nightmare. The answer is inside your head. We have to get in there and find what we’re looking for.”

I’m not even kidding. We’re about to go explicitly psychological. And, hungry for a joke, we are given the typical Balki dish of literality. “Does this involve cutting?” Yet the psychological stakes signal something greater, stakes that are, in a sense, just as violent and deadly—on our journey as viewers, we now recognize the failure of literality and must seek a deeper, allegorical answer. .

We are to look for ways, in Larry’s not-so-air-tight phrasing, “to get into the subconscious,” which begins expectedly with a game of word association. In tune with the title, we are offered what are purportedly perfect opposites – in/out, up/down, black/white, short/tall. But then:

Larry: Door

Balki: Eggs

Larry: Eggs?

Balki: Chicken

Why a door, Larry? And before we laugh at Balki’s strange response, we should ask, what would be the antonym for door? A wall? Does Larry’s question reveal a deeper problem of barriers?


But now Balki must explain, which he does through a typically regressive account of his past. His Aunt Sophia (name deriving from “Wisdom,” of course) was wounded by a closing door—a failed opportunity to enter another space that clearly runs in the family—and the doctor had to be repaid by bartered eggs. Balki clings to a pre-capitalist past that nearly drives Larry from his side. “That’s it, I’m outta here,” says Larry, who tries to slide away. “We have to try something else.”


What that something else is: a return to the dream state. Balki empties his mind and returns to his dream. With Larry’s empathetic responses excluded for brevity, this is that dream:

I see little white cars… They’re, ah, they’re coming toward me. Their, um, their, their engines are roaring like thunder… And. I want to run but I can’t move. And they’re coming closer to me. And. They’re going to crush me.


“Woah, Baby!”

Damn right, Balki, damn right! The dream clamors with apocalyptic thunder, but Balki still cannot make its content manifest. He refuses to discuss the dream and runs to his personal sanctuary: the washroom haven. Are we ready to discuss it yet?

*End Scene*


Whatever it is, it requires backup. Larry has brought in a crack squad of dream interpreters—Mary Anne and Jennifer, flight attendants known for their ability to escort people to new lands. Now there’s popcorn on the table and we’re ready to project the film of Balki’s subconscious.


“Dreams are nothing more than windows to our subconscious that should be opened to let in the fresh air of reason,” says Mary Anne to the surprise of everyone. The laugh track makes it clear that those were big words.


But Balki is not ready. The ladies leave, and Balki threatens to do the same. Larry is left to find a way to get the truth, as our twenty-five minutes are coming to a close. He pretends to find interest in the book before him, which is a temptation that Balki cannot ignore. He is lured back to the analyst’s couch.


Larry tries to learn more after some devilish temptation. Balki bites. Larry will share the book with the answer to only one question:

Larry: Where are the cars in your dream going?

Balki: Aaay. Into a big garage….

Larry: …Why are they going there?

Balki: I don’t know why they’re going into the barn.


First apocalypse, and now revelation! The quick exchange reveals that the cars represent sheep that bring us back into the memories of his childhood and the fears of his liminal self: an annual sheep-shearing ceremony on Mypos that he is now missing. Not there to help them, Balki worries that his family will not get enough work done to barter for the food they need. They will go hungry. Perhaps they need to consume differently?

But the new development also encodes a detour: we thought the cars were coming toward him? Wasn’t that the first version of his dream? Balki must still be in the barn!


And so it’s time to make a call to the one phone in Mypos. (Let’s not go into the ideological mirror that this imaginary island of Mypos provides for America.) Balki feels somewhat better, at least—though he is now homesick. But more, Balki is sick for a home. He is dwelling in the past, unable to meet the new demands of the machine. His mind his troubled, a Globe-like theater to which we play audience, and which is distracted by demands to leave his youth and unity of self behind. Hamlet, haunted by the superegoic demands of the new ghost of his old father, puts it thus:

                       Remember thee!

                        Ay, thou poor ghost, whiles memory holds a seat

                        In this distracted globe. Remember thee!

                        Yea, from the table of my memory

                        I’ll wipe away all trivial fond records,

                        All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past

                        That youth and observation copied there,

                        And thy commandment all alone shall live

                        Within the book and volume of my brain,

                        Unmixed with baser matter.

But Balki fails to wipe his mind clean, and writhes under the sponge (perhaps that is what he does in the bathroom). And Larry does not know enough to help—for how does one help in this situation? What does it mean to keep that door open, rather than slam it shut? Can you be led through, Balki?


So Larry offers him instead an escapist fantasy—an imaginary return to Mypos, the loving arms of Riva, and a seat at the family table:

Larry: Why don’t you call home more often? You won’t be in the chair but at least you’ll hear voices.


And so Balki is back in the chair—wishing to be home while still in America. He has been left divided, even schizophrenic; he is shattered, disrupted—the furniture of his mind rearranged but unliveable, tripping up the stranger with whom he lives. Capitalist demands rush at him like roaring thunder, substituting his beloved sheep (they are treated like people in Mypos, Balki has explained, and remain linked to a pre-capitalist society) with the alienated objects of mass production.

In the end, Balki and Larry seem to find the tentative resolution. But are Balki’s struggles to be continued? The episode concludes with him once more falling asleep, prematurely. “Balki, Balki, is that you?”



Holy shit, folks! How am I going to follow that one next week?  I’ve only ever purchased Jacques Lacan’s books for the library where I work. I’ve never read one. Good thing Professor M didn’t make any boner jokes, so I’ve still got that going for me.

Join me next week for “Tux for Two”!


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

Catchphrase count: Balki (4); Larry (0)