We open in front of the Caldwell, where we find that grifter Carl Lewis has stolen a bicycle.
Inside, the red and black Tinas are getting a party ready and continuing their endless checkers game of insults and threats.
The party is to congratulate Balki on passing his entrance exams and getting into college. Larry is worried on behalf of his cousin’s feelings and hopes that Balki has not failed the test.
Children of the 90s and up: be aware that in the late 80s, you had one chance to get into college, and if you didn’t make it, you were forced into hard labor.
So, wait–so he hasn’t gotten there to tell you whether he passed or not? Are all of you going to hastily change “gratu” to “so” on the Congratulations poster?
Mary Anne (Sagittarius) shows off not only her memory of how long ago Balki graduated from Adult Evening Classes High School, but also the fact that she went to college and wrote her dissertation on hydrocarbons and glycerides; both of which earn her this look:
She’s also decided on cleavage as the way to congratulate Balki
I’m not going to show you what kind of look that earned from me.
*hastily releases sexual tension by abusing a Scantron sheet*
Oh. Look at that. We’re getting a clip show. The entire third season saw this show being selective with its memory, so it’s a somewhat refreshing change to see, between the two-parter and this episode, it actually letting us know what actually happened. I’m not going to insult your intelligence by telling you why clip shows existed, or why they suck. You know, or you could look it up. So let’s try an experiment, because otherwise this week’s post will be only 500 words.
LARRY: Yeah, I can’t believe he’s come so far so fast! And if you had seen him when he first walked through my door, you wouldn’t have thought he was college material….
JENNIFER: What would I have thought?
MARY ANNE: Yeah, what kind of material was he? Burlap?
LARRY: No, he (looks at MARY ANNE) No, he was just a complete, he was, I mean, he couldn’t, well… he smelled. (pause for audience laughter)
LARRY: Aaaand he kept touching me, and it was like thiiiis whole… world… opened up.
(beat of silence)
JENNIFER: How do you mean?
(A brief look of fear, of having been found out, passes over LARRY’s face)
LARRY: Well, I’d, uh, (speaks quickly) I’d never heard of Mypos before. And I’d never heard of any distant family. And when he called America the “Home of the Whopper”, it was like the ground disappeared beneath my feet, and I began to question my whole Weltanschauung, Iiiii saw in that one innocent malapropism the full extent of capitalism’s undiscerning hunger, that there was no corner of the world that it could not reach, no peasant whose soul would not be tainted by the idea that the height of civilization meant nothing but to be a consumer, and not only that, but to consume a product whose very name is synonymous with lying and whose nature was already too big for its purpose…
MARY ANNE: (giggling) That’s funny!
MARY ANNE: “Home of the Whopper” instead of “Home of the Brave”. I like that.
While it is interesting to see just how much Bronson Pinchot’s “Balki” accent has changed over the years, this is outweighed by the fact that I swore I would never re-watch any of these episodes.
You got me, show. You got me good. Fuck you, show.
Cousin Larry sets out the conflict/question of the episode. He claims to have been there to help Balki transition into life as an American, and an adult; he mentions that it was he who gave Balki an introduction into the world of dating.
JENNIFER: You know, Balki told me about the time you took him to that singles bar…
LARRY: He did?
JENNIFER: The way Balki tells it, you were both babes in the woods. (turns to Harriette, smiling) So Larry took Balki to a singles bar to meet women, and it didn’t turn out very well.
HARRIETTE: I ain’t surprised, sugar. These two wouldn’t know how to treat a woman if she came with an instruction booklet. And one of ‘em can’t read, neither! So what happened?
JENNIFER: It didn’t turn out very well.
HARRIETTE: What we talkin’ here, honey? The women turned out to be hookers? They turned out to be hookers with STDs? They turned out to be men?
JENNIFER: Not necessarily.
LARRY: No, you see, Balki had some very strange ideas about how to pick up women. He–
JENNIFER: Whose story is this, yours or mine?
LARRY: It, uhhhh (to HARRIETTE) look, Balki was trying to act black, and he wasn’t even any good at it. I mean, is “mommo” even something you people… I mean, your people… I mean, that is–
JENNIFER punches LARRY in the stomach
HARRIETTE: Thank you, sweetie, go on, what kind of disaster was it?
JENNIFER: Balki had trouble asking a woman out, and so did Larry.
HARRIETTE: Look, honey, you want somebody to pull teeth, go see a dentist.
(HARRIETTE makes as if to stand up)
JENNIFER: Balki got a date with a woman, but when Larry asked out a different woman, her boyfriend showed up, took him out back, and beat him up.
HARRIETTE (laughing): And what happened with Balki’s date?
MARY ANNE: We killed her and dumped her body in the Chicago River.
HARRIETTE (laughing harder): Balki didn’t tell me you was so funny! I’m’on tell my husband–my husband works in homicide–I’ll tell him that one tonight, he likes a good laugh. Smile, baby, I know you’re joking.
There was a hell of a lot of that singles bar scene, almost four minutes of it! Lydia demands confirmation that Larry got thrashed by Jerseyman. Larry hems and haws because, well, yes, getting hit was part of it, but it was all consensual.
Larry then brags that he helped Balki by mentioning how Balki helped someone else:
LARRY: For instance the time he invited his friend Gina to, to stay with us while her husband was out of town.
JENNIFER: Gina, isn’t she the one who had her baby while she was staying with you?
JENNIFER (to MARY ANNE, angry): I told you she was married.
MARY ANNE: Oops!
LARRY: –in the middle of the night! And if I had not been there with one of my fool-proof plans, well, there is no telling what would have happened.
LYDIA: That’s… interesting. The way I heard it, your plan sort of fell apart. (to everyone) Larry had rehearsed everything, using a stopwatch.
HARRIETTE: Lemme guess, he fucked it up.
LYDIA: Did he! Balki told me that Larry had been arguing about the hot side of the bed, whatever that means, and he always sleeps really deeply after a fight.
LARRY (mumbling): Oh my Lord…
LYDIA: So once Gina starts going into labor, Balki has trouble waking Larry, but once he’s up, he starts freaking out, running into tables, breaking the lamp—
LARRY: I didn’t… brrreeeak the lamp, I–
LYDIA: Either way, Larry, we’re going to have to talk about your hangups with furniture some day. I could do a whole week of columns on that! Where was I? So he’s shouting at Balki, shouting at Gina–
LARRY: It was all happening so fast, I… I just wanted to do it right…
LYDIA (laughing): –running around in circles, throwing jackets–don’t know why I remember that part–
LARRY: She said she was cold, I just thought…
LYDIA: And then they don’t even get to the hospital, Larry slams on his brakes in the middle of the street–
LARRY (speaking in what comes close to a child’s voice): I didn’t mean to kill her!
(a few uncomfortable beats of silence)
MARY ANNE: You didn’t, Larry, we–
JENNIFER waves MARY ANNE to silence.
LARRY (sobbing into hands): I mean… the mis… the miscarriage.
LYDIA: Larry, the baby was fine. Balki told me how you babysat Little F–
LARRY: No. My… my… sister…
HARRIETTE: The piano player?
LARRY: Not Elaine… Margaret. They… were going to name her Margaret. My dad always wanted to have 10 kids, you know, he wanted to call us the “Apple Ten”, but it was my fault–Dad looked me right in the eye and said it was my fault. I didn’t… he… I was so excited to have another sister, I thought, I thought maybe this one would be nice to me, and I wanted to show her I was a friend. Th-th-that night before, my mom said she was cold, and so I thought mmmmmaybe Margaret was cold, too, and I
HARRIETTE: Honeychile, I already had me three miscarriages, that ain’t nothing. (to LYDIA) Go back to that part about him stopping in the street, that was hilarious.
LARRY: …so I turned her side…
LYDIA: So Larry just slams on the brakes in the middle of an intersection! Can you believe it?
LARRY: …the heated mattress… I turned her side all the way up…
(all four women continue to laugh while LARRY sobs uncontrollably)
(cut to commercial)
JENNIFER – *clears throat* – Jennifer expresses worry about Balki not being there yet, and Lydia starts expressing her own fears about test-taking. Harriette, sensing weakness, insults her. Lydia retreats to regroup her defenses.
Cousin Larry picks up his argument that he has been nothing but a help to Balki.
LARRY: He always needs me to get through these pressure situations. Well, if I wasn’t there to help him, he wouldn’t have gotten through his first day of work.
MARY ANNE: At the discount store?
LARRY: The what?
MARY ANNE: The Ritz Discount store? Downstairs?
LARRY: I don’t… Paoli’s Pizza is downstairs.
MARY ANNE: We used to be on the store’s baseball team?
LARRY: Wwwe work for the Chronicle. It’s a newspaper.
HARRIETTE: Wait a minute. I was there. And I wouldn’t call what you did “help”. Now Gorpley was looking for a reason to fire Balki, and Larry was trying to write his first article for the newspaper, when all of a sudden they just start fucking around with this old mimeograph machine.
JENNIFER: So then what happened?
LARRY: Balki cut my lucky tie!
HARRIETTE: Shut up, baby. That was all. They just fucked around with the machine and broke it. Made this huge mess, paper and ink all over the damn place.
(LYDIA laughs out loud, and then sees that HARRIETTE is looking at her. LYDIA stops laughing and looks away quickly)
Yep, there’s nothing so fun as listening to someone sitting in a chair, unmoving, while they describe a physical comedy scene!
Larry begs the women to think of all the times that he actually helped Balki.
Ultimately, all of these women know by now that the cousins “helping” each other boils down to them shooing everyone off-screen and playing the Myposian version of “doctor”.
MARY ANNE: What about the time that Larry enlisted me and Jennifer in helping Balki get over his bad dreams? Or the time when Larry helped Balki cope with the loss of his dog? Or when he taught Balki how to drive? Or when he helped him not get taken advantage of by his night school classmates on two different occasions? Or when he taught him how to ask for more than he wants during negotiations so that he gets the most important things? Or when he helped Balki learn that sometimes couples work things out in their own way, and meddling isn’t helpful? Or when he helped cure Balki of a crippling addiction? Or when he had honest fear for Balki’s life when they let that guy we used to work for stay here? Or when he helped Balki realize that not every interpersonal problem can be addressed right away?
(Everyone stares at MARY ANNE, dumbstruck. We get the impression they are wondering if the idiom “too dumb to live” is descriptive or prescriptive)
MARY ANNE: Oh! You wanted me to say about a time when Larry messed something up!
(The others collectively let out their held breath)
JENNIFER: Yes, please, thank you.
(MARY ANNE closes her eyes, sets her mouth in a determined line, and begins to vibrate. A pink nimbus surrounds her hair, and the room grows dark, the rosy light reflected in the others’ eyes. Above her head, a shimmering, ethereal expanse appears, not entirely unlike a vintage projection screen, flickering at first but becoming stable as a three-and-a-half-minute scene of LARRY and BALKI, as viewed from the southern wall of MARY ANNE and JENNIFER’S bathroom, is shown.)
(At the end, the screen begins to flicker and then disappears; the room lightens once again)
Larry realizes that he’s the one who helped Balki study for his entrance exam, and that Balki probably failed. He spirals, questioning his own value as a cousin, as a friend, as a viable person, and I’m starting to freak out a little too.
What happened to the Larry who had only booksmarts? What happened to the Larry who helped Balki pass his last high school final exam? We established at the beginning of this episode that Balki did graduate high school. I have to believe that we’re still in the same reality, and that lives are not like computers, and that reading a memory doesn’t cause it to be rewritten, re-encoded, risking corruption. I have to hold on to the belief that they’re still in the same apartment–I mean, Larry did nod his head towards the door when he talked about when he first met Balki, right? I have to believe that Larry can still help Balki, or else 90% of the show’s premise is gone. I have to believe that
BALKI: Cousin! Home of the Whopper! What this! Boochi boochi! Balki pass test! Dugun duca lula ludla nuna, dounga, luna nudlah jubba jubba jubba!
So is that how college entrance exams work? Did the teacher grade them and declare, one by one to each student “you got in!”, take their money and register them for classes? No wonder it took him all damn night to get home. According to his sweater, by the way, Balki got into “Dial College”.
Larry, the proud papa once again, recaps all of the studying that he and Balki did, but:
BALKI: This help me pass test, Cousin: your lucky pencil!
LARRY: Wwwhere did you get that? I… I ran every pencil I owned through the sharpener… they were nothing but nubs…
BALKI: I know! Isn’t it crazy?
LARRY: I burned the shavings. I burned the erasers. I melted the ferrules… oh my Lord…
BALKI: It just show up on my pillow this morning! Look, cousin, it have your teeth marks and everything!
LARRY: What time is it WHAT TIME IS IT?
BALKI: Oh, come on, Cousin, I’m just kidding! That’s… that’s college humor.
But who cares about any disagreement about anything at this point, Balki’s in college, so we never have to mention it again. Also, the cousins are now so happy that they do their ritual symbolizing how one of their penises goes into the other’s butthole.
Evidently, next Friday is Christmas somehow, so join me for “The Gift of the Mypiot”!
Catchphrase count: Balki (0); Larry (0)
Boner count: Balki (0); Larry (0)
Recount: Larry (1); Jennifer (1); Lydia (1); Harriette (1); Mary Anne (1)
Dance of Joy running total: 13
P.S. Many thanks to my longtime comics collaborator Matt for suggesting this format for reviewing a clip show.