Season 4, Episode 12: Crimebusters

Before I review Carl Winslow’s first appearance:

Tomorrow night at 7PM EST, Noiseless Chatter (Phil) (you know Phil) is hosting his fourth annual Xmas Bash!!!! He’s streaming hours of Christmas mess like TV specials, commercials, and music videos. The event raises money for the Trevor Project, which provides suicide prevention services to LGBTQ+ youth. Click this sentence to get all the details about the Xmas Bash!!!!

I made some art for the event! Perfect Strangers merchandise doesn’t really exist, unless you count the pair of Bronson Pinchot’s y-fronts that I bought on eBay last month, so here’s your chance to immortalize the non-kissin’ cousins on your wall:


I’m selling this art as prints through Society6, and all of the profits ($10 per print) will go to the Trevor Project. If you click around enough there’s options for having it framed. The art is also available as leggings and as a duvet cover. Please buy the leggings. Please wear them to your place of employ.

And please come watch the Xmas Bash!!!! tomorrow night!


Look, show. I know this is the episode where you introduce Carl Winslow. Can we please not have an episode that’s racist? And can we please not have an episode that’s misogynist? Please?


oh shit here comes Harriette don’t you fuck this up

Harriette: Can I use your phone?

Larry: Don’t touch that phone!


*sits on edge of seat grinding teeth audibly, my fingers’ strain on the keyboard creating hairline cracks in the plastic, fearing that Larry’s next line could be the end of me and this show*

Harriette: You want to rephrase that, baby?

Thank god. Balki says that Larry’s waiting on a call–


Balki: Cousin Larry’s on the verge of a very big perversion.

I don’t want to pass up this opportunity to say that I long for the simple days of season 1, when Balki would make what I’d call a thesaurus mistake.  Back in “Baby You Can Drive My Car”, Balki swaps out “excited” in favor of “aroused”.  I ran into the same problem when I would tutor people studying German: I’d read their papers, and see that they had used an online dictionary to translate a single word, and picked out the first translation that came up. Sure, erwecken comes up when you search excite; but go the other way and you see the full spectrum of what erwecken means: inspire, awaken, arouse, suggest. That’s a legitimate language acquisition mistake.  But since then, we’ve moved on to Balki getting things wrong in a homophonic sense*; this is a new low, where Balki has only gotten the first letter and the word ending correct.

Anyway, Larry is waiting on a phone call about a promotion to the investigative team headed by Marshall and Walpole**, the same team that Larry was behind the creation of back in “High Society”. Remember, kids, this was the 80s, where no one working in any business ever scheduled meetings to discuss things.

Harriette, on the other hand, needs to use the phone because she moved into the Caldwell Hotel and hasn’t had phone service hooked up.  Remember, kids, THIS WAS THE 80s, when there was only one phone per office building, and they kept it in the basement, on an employee’s desk.

Now that we’ve gotten the exposition out of the way, Marshall and Walpole (bundled together in their own sleeping bag, I assume) call and Larry excitedly scampers up the stairs to find out if he got the job. (Would they have called him up there to tell him no…?)


Harriette makes fun of Larry’s height, but who cares about that, because Carl’s here!


It’s Carl! Hey Carrrrrl!


Carl has brought Balki some wanted posters, which Balki treats as trading cards.  It’s a nice joke, and it’s good world-building for once.  Balki and Carl have met many times before, and they’re legitimately excited to see each other.  I don’t think Carl would indulge this hobby if he knew that Balki was just picking out new criminals to invite to the apartment.

Given this show’s rap sheet on making shitty jokes about cops and criminals, I’m surprised that there’s another good one here. Harriette comments that there’s powdered sugar on Carl’s mustache, and he hurriedly comes up with the excuse that it’s cocaine.


Hold on, Balki’s been off-screen for more than 10 seconds, here he comes to step on the joke.


Harriette tells him that “this is a family matter” (wink wink) and Balki leaves, because he knows how tricky the “backdoor pilot” move can be (WINK WINK).

Harriette yells at Carl until he yells back that he ate 9 donuts and he’s “paying the price”.


Full disclosure: I watched Family Matters a hell of a lot more than I watched Perfect Strangers as a kid.  Sure, like many white kids, I was into Urkel; and I stopped watching somewhere around when Stefan Urquelle kept showing up.  But Carl Winslow is a familiar presence, and now that I’m an adult, I can see why. Reginald VelJohnson brings a lot of things to the role: excitement, the ability to become serious at the drop of a hat, and believable humility and thoughtfulness. Any time he tries to pull one over on Harriette, it’s clear he knows it’s not going to work, just like it didn’t work the last hundred times. But look: in the span of a couple of minutes, he’s gone from excited, to scared, to weaselly, to upset (at himself), to serious.

Carl came over to let Harriette know that he’s going on stakeout that night, because evidently the phones don’t work at the police station, either.  He leaves, telling Balki that Joey the Fish is “going to be big” and Balki shivers with excitement.


That’s fucked up. I was going to say that I yearn for the idyllic days of season 1, when Balki was just really into whatever idiosyncratic stuff had reached Mypos and appealed to him. But here we see that Balki is already more American than we could ever imagine.  True crime programming was in vogue: Unsolved Mysteries, America’s Most Wanted, and Rescue 911 all began in the 1987-1989 period. Tabloids have been around for about a century now, but note that sharp rise around 1987.


Crime reporting, once a noble job, had become commercialized, the masses yearning for more and juicier details. Frank knows what I’m talking about.

Anyway, Carl and Harriette leave on another joke about Carl being fat (black and fat, how’s that for 80s sitcom intersectionality). He’s so fat, in fact, that his absence creates a void similar to that of a balloon popping: air rushes in, bringing with it Cousin Larry.

Larry: You are looking at Larry Appleton, investigative reporter!

Balki: Your ship has finally hit the fan.

*sigh* Balki already said that the “spit’s gonna hit the fan” back in “The Break In”. So either that episode didn’t happen, or Balki’s got memory problems.  The cousins spend a while getting out the details about Larry’s job: he doesn’t get a raise and still works in the basement. His new title is “assistant research liaison to the investigative reporting team of Marshall and Walpole”, which basically boils down to getting them lunch.

It may be that we’ve spent all of the first act on setup, but it’s pretty snappy dialogue so far, with Balki going down from excited to less excited twice just to hammer it home that the paper finally decided that work in the basement is caught up and upper levels need a gofer as well. But let’s not meet the new bosses, or anything.


Later, at the apartment, Balki tries to boost Larry’s spirits by saying that the team must have started out small as well and calls them Mushmouth and Polevault.  There’s not a reveal that Balki meant it as a joke; he’s just dumb.

Balki: The rest, as they say, is hysterectomy.


This fucker who aced his history final sure is a dumb motherfucker. Am I supposed to believe that he can read the mail and get it to the right people?  Larry says he wants a great story to break that will make him famous all at once.

Carl comes over to use their phone, because he’s expecting an important call from the police station.  So… he’s supposed to be on a stakeout tonight, right? Couldn’t he have… I dunno, stayed at the police station to get this important intel before going to the stakeout?

Larry starts to go to bed, but then stays up when Carl says they’re going to bust a politician. Larry stays, having gotten his “second wind”, so Balki goes off to get the antacid.

Isn’t that something Larry takes when he’s sad? Does Balki have no emotional sense anymore?  This is why I generally don’t talk about Balki’s jokes, everybody. (There is a nice touch that Larry keeps both original and mint antacid on hand.)


Carl tells Larry that he’s planning to catch a politician and a crime kingpin together, but he can’t give any more information, because he knows Larry’s a journalist.  So… why not make friends with other neighbors in the building you moved into?

Balki: Balki and Larry’s Waterworks, which drip do you want to talk to?


*comes very close to throwing my own bottle of antacid at Balki, stopping when I remember that I am looking at a screen*

While Carl talks to Lieutenant Gus, Balki reads “child proof cap” with no difficulties and then just puts his damn mouth on the cap. Only one Winslow child has been mentioned to this point (Eddie), but Carl opens the bottle for Balki like it’s second nature. Bronson Pinchot then fucking murders VelJohnson’s good acting moment by pretending to still not be able to open the bottle.


Carl uses a pad of paper to write down the address of–you guessed it–a restaurant, and then he just can’t leave quickly enough.  The only things keeping him from just phasing out of the room are 1) no Myposian vest and 2) the fact that he has to say he trusts the cousins to keep a secret.


Larry *snicker* rubs his pencil across the pad of paper, so Balki takes the pad from him and the “oh no” music comes on. Do we really need a fucking act break just to come back to see the cousins fight? Can’t Balki just tear it up, throw it in the toilet, eat it?


Yep, here we are, now Larry’s just shouting while Balki doesn’t tear up the top sheet on the pad.

Larry takes the pad because it’s his ticket to stardom.

Balki steals the sheet and then fucking stands there with some sort of chimney sweep instead of tearing up the paper.

Look, I’m going to save us all some time here and try to blow through the rest of this second act, which turned out to also be mostly exposition.  Cousin Larry turns into an asshole and tries to convince Balki that Carl wants them to know the secret, and wants them to report it in the newspaper. He tries semantic trickery when it’s obvious whoever wrote this was trying to have Larry say it’s like they pass information in spy movies. You know, the kind of movies where people rub pencils over impressions on paper, which Larry even mentions.

But… couldn’t Larry just follow Carl? Just say “You win, Balki, I’m sorry. I’m going to go get a burger” and walk out the door? But no, this is just the show now. Larry is an asshole, Balki is an idiot.

I pine*** for the halcyon days of Season 1, when Balki’s “let me get this straight” routine took a minute at most, because it’s funny when you can succinctly point out the flaws in American logic. Remember in “Check This” when Balki summed up the incoherency of the American system of banking in about 30 seconds, flummoxing the proto-Gorpley?


But this shit’s going on forever because Balki won’t tear up a piece of paper

Just like the kid in school your mom didn’t want you hanging around because they were a bad influence on you, I really feel like this show should quit trying to have any plotlines dealing with crime. Balki gets too excited–hell, let’s be frank–he gets aroused at the thought of criminals and the worst of him–and the show–come out. You end up with bad setups, bad jokes, an idiotic version of Balki, terrible handling of serious issues like suicide, and now we’re spending half an episode setting up some sort of comedy setpiece at a restaurant. I’m beginning to wonder if we got two black characters because this show assumes that plot holes won’t be as noticeable against a dark background.

See, here’s another one: Balki says the address of the restaurant, and Larry takes him along.




Okay, if “Side Show” as the restaurant’s name isn’t an inside joke about Family Matters, then it better be circus-themed on the inside.

Alderman Zittrell (they pronounce it zigh-trell) comes in and the other restaurant patrons say hello, Cheers-style. Zittrell says he wouldn’t miss Sergeant Brigetti’s party.


Ah, okay, see? I was just making too big of a deal!  It’s a surprise party! The cops had to get Carl on a fake assignment with Brigetti so that they could surprise him with a party! Everything I thought was a plot hole makes sense now, right?

Part of me wants to question why Carl wasn’t let in on the secret about the party; but what I had assumed was just character work earlier did let us know that Carl’s not a good liar.  So Carl’s in the dark as well. So the fact remains that I have trouble believing that a police officer is going to believe that his bosses will call him not only at home, but at a neighbor’s home, about where to go to make a huge crime bust involving a corrupt politician.  I’m fine with Carl not realizing his own limitations for keeping a poker face, but this whole plot depends on Carl not being a smart cop.  Anyway, these two guys call Carl fat.

And even though we just saw that everyone recognized the Alderman when he came in, leading me to believe that the restaurant was reserved for this very party, these two guys don’t stick out.


Larry posits that all of the people in the restaurant are criminals, and that they shouldn’t draw attention to themselves, so they start fucking against a potted plant.


Larry, like any well-informed citizen, recognizes the alderman, as well as the chief of police. He says his catchphrase twice, once for each politician.


Here’s one of the few well-written parts of this episode: it’s pretty over-the-top how dumb Larry’s plan to record a conversation plays out (putting a tape recorder in a bread basket), and Linn-Baker even puts a pretty bow on the sequence by catching himself before he runs into the plant again.


Then the cousins start arguing again about whether the guard locked the door what “secrets” are. Balki calls Larry out on lying and Larry admits it. They fight all the way over to the tape recorder.


My favorite part of this whole scene is how the thought crosses neither of their minds that any action they take at this point could result in Carl’s murder.


They turn on the tape recorder, at which point “Baby Love” starts playing we hear the conversation louder than the guys could possibly have been talking.  The way the conversation is worded, Larry now believes that Jennifer is going to sleep with both men that Carl will be killed the instant he steps through the door.


To their credit, the cousins do stage a last-ditch effort to save Carl’s life.






Later, at the apartment building that follows European floor numbering for some goddam reason.


Larry apologizes to Carl, but Carl says it made him laugh, so it’s all right. He leaves, but not before making a joke about how he and Harriette use toys in the bedroom.


Haha, the blacks sure do have sex!

So… I gotta ask as this point: why have the Winslows moved into this apartment building? For one thing, it feels like what happened with Jennifer and Mary Anne.  They were “popular” and, rather than every now and then have a scene at the gym where one or both of them worked, they were hastily retconned as stewardesses who lived upstairs. The show has ongoing problems with being a workplace comedy.  The women who had their own lives were pulled into orbit just so they could be nearby when it was necessary for someone to *ahem* leave the room. Harriette had her own existence at the Chronicle–a job that she’d had long enough to have secrets about, and antagonistic relationships with, other employees. But now she’s forced into the same building with the cousins. Is it too much trouble to bring back Mrs. Schlaegelmilch?

Or was the Winslows’ move simply in service of the plot of this episode?  This feels like someone worked backwards from “Larry fucks up an undercover investigative assignment” and then decided they couldn’t do that without Larry finding out about a bust, and they couldn’t do that without a cop being overheard on the phone, and gee, we’ve only got two phones, one at the Chronicle and one at the apartment. I guess the Winslows have to move in!

Let me rewrite it for you: Harriette takes the cousins to Carl’s place of work at Balki’s insistence (you keep the wanted poster and Carl-hides-food gags) and the cousins overhear something about Carl’s stakeout; he shoos them out because it’s police business; at the Chronicle, Larry finds out about his promotion and decides to investigate the bust; Larry and Balki “go undercover” and nearly mess up what turns out to be a surprise party anyway.  I’m leaving out how they discover where to go, but I guess the paper pad could be from the police station, having been used for some other purpose, which would just make it more of a surprise when Larry thinks of the spy-movie trick. But this could leave Carl intelligent and in on the secret, avoid an unnecessary move for a whole family, and there might even be more time for physical comedy at the restaurant.

As it is, though, Balki’s idiocy is an infection. I never thought I’d say this, but I yearn for the early part of season 3, back when Balki would say something wrong just to get a rise out of Larry.  He may have graduated high school, but it’s been downhill since then.  Maybe Mary Anne is a bad influence on him; maybe the microfilm in the office has started off-gassing, and he’s breathed in too many fumes; maybe it’s the fact that


but Idiot Balki has taken over: the poor choices, the mispronounced names. He’s forcing others to be their worst: eating donuts with Carl, pushing antacid on Larry. The promise–the threat–of this episode is that the unchecked faults of a catchphrase character have grown to the point that telephone moon phase Telly Savalas telophase is now inevitable and a new show will split off, with its own cancerous nucleus.

Weep for Family Matters, y’all.

Anyway, this episode’s trying to end and it’s in my best interests to let it.

Larry starts to list legitimate criticisms of his behavior to this point, but Balki keeps that from happening, too. He tells Larry that he’s a good writer (how would he know) and that he’s a hard worker (he knows he’s not) and then he says Maytag and Whirlpool





Balki: Patience is a virgin.



Catchphrase count: Balki (1); Larry (2)

Boner count: Balki (0); Larry (0); Carl (1)

*congratulations, you thought of the same joke I thought of. Gold starch for everybody this week.

**or possibly Walpool? Different characters pronounce it different ways. I don’t know if sitcoms ever have someone on the crew that’s there to make sure everyone pronounces things the same way; but if this show did, that person quit out of frustration long, long ago


Season 3, Episode 22: Bye Bye Biki


Oh man, I’m so excited. Season 1 ended with a party, Season 2 ended with a nailbiting setpiece atop Twinkacetti’s roof*. I don’t know exactly what “Bye Bye Biki” has to offer, but I’m sure it’s going to be a real showstopper!  You know why? Because once you get enough episodes under your belt, you can not only make callbacks, but you can start stacking them on top of each other.  Think about the time Michael Scott burned his foot on his George Foreman grill, and then used it at a cookout. Think about basically any later Firesign Theatre album. Think season 3 of Arrested Development.

Consider the possibilities of what jokes I can mix!  Maybe somebody else drinks some Bismol and I can talk about how Larry shouldn’t drink after them because of his immune system!  Or maybe Jennifer will get a hot tip from Gus about eyeliner! Or maybe Mary Anne will be so dumb that she thinks that a callback joke involves humorous use of vertical service code *69!

Speaking of dirty jokes, I’ve also been saving up my “Larry and Balki are super-probably totes gay” gags during the past few weeks’ moratorium.


Ain’t no party like a gay callback party, y’all!


We open outside the Caldwell, where we find the window open. Last season ended with a double X, a sign of death and deletion.  Here, the windows signal two levels of uncertainty. The open window to a fire escape signals an exit; but as with any sitcom, renewal is always a concern, and we don’t know yet whether the escape would be up, or down, that ladder.  Also the little pattern below the other windows is a symbol of how Larry gives Balki handjobs!**

Larry is urging his Cousin Balki to leave his room so they can get the “good donuts” at work!  Good donuts! Haha, yeah, good donuts are the ones you can stick your penis through! Larry’s gay! Also he’s fat! Also crullers are the bad donuts, which is a callback I’m making to “Happy Birthday Baby”!

But Balki is still putting his clothes on, probably because they were boinking right before this.


But the phone rings and Larry, having finally learned patience, hangs his coat. Remember this. This is important.

Is it a hot tip from Gus?  Is he going to tell Larry to forget the donuts so he can get some photos of Mr. Casselman cheating on his wife with Fat Marsha?


Oh, no, wait, it’s Balki’s mom, screaming “Balki” into the phone. Well played, show, I see you’re trying to beat me at the callback game.


Oh, no, wait, it’s not Balki’s mom, it’s his “Yaya”, which is Myposian for grandmother.  So Balki just talks Myposian at her for a minute while Dmitri does Dmitri in the background.

Balki ends the call by saying “bye bye, babe” in a deep voice. Larry assumes that Yaya Bartokomous is coming, and is confused when Balki corrects him. I guess we can add incest to the Quiverfull aspect of Larry’s family of origin. Ooh! Ooooh!  This explains why Larry’s got no immune system to speak of!  Or at the very least, he does have a fragile one, which is nothing to sneeze at.  (I’ve been holding onto that one for 38 episodes.)

Anyway, Balki’s maternal grandmother, Yaya Biki, is coming to visit. Also, she’s 106 years old! Around this time last season, we established that Balki is Jesus, so they must be counting years the way they did in the Old Testament, where one season is a year.  So Yaya Biki’s only, you know, Larry’s age.


While Balki finishes covering up his nakedness, he talks up his gramma some more. Every morning she wakes up, takes the sheep 6 miles up a hill, then comes back and makes breakfast for 26 men; after which she does aerobics.  I guess that’s supposed to be impressive compared to the 11 men thing from way back, but what, she doesn’t have a baby in the middle of all that?


In the next scene, the cousins are right back home. Balki finishes hanging some garlic wreaths because the walls have come down with a cold.


Cousin Larry comes in, and his first instinct is to look to the right, and behind him. He shdh at the garlic, and then he hangs his coat. Remember this. This is important.


The next joke is that Larry almost runs into a cow which is standing right behind the couch.  It’s a good thing everyone looks to the right and behind them when they enter their home, or else there was no way that joke would have landed.  I have three jokes for the cow.


The cow is Yaya Biki.

This will be the first cow Larry hasn’t had to share with eight brothers and sisters.

Balki and Larry will have to eat grass to try to hide the cow from Twinkacetti.


Thank you. Mooving on.


Oh, no, wait, I have more.

This is an udderly ridiculous situation.

Larry, can you get pasture Cousin’s most recent flagrant breach of the lease terms?


Okay, really, I’m done.

I bet that chew cud be upset with me for milking this cheesy bit.


Mark Linn-Baker does a nice line reading saying “Balki”–it’s half scared Larry, half Balki’s Yaya over the phone.


Balki pops up from behind some plants he probably pulled out of a dumpster and asks what’s up.

Cousin Larry beats around the bush for a bit trying to soften the blow of telling Balki he’s upset about the cow. In one way, that’s growth for Larry that he’s not instantly upset. But Sarah Portland talked in the comments about her Myposian roommate a couple months back, and now that I can see this through her eyes, Larry, you’ve got every right to eat that whole cow. You’re fat, Larry.


Speaking of developments in character growth that really aren’t, and that shouldn’t have been necessary, we see that Balki has made his Yaya a blanket. For once, it’s not the same damn green one they keep trotting out any time Balki needs a blanket.


But it’s always two steps forward, one step back with this show, because we then find that Yaya Biki watches Letterman.  And I think it’s time I talked about character creep.


No, no, stop, not that. I’m borrowing here; I first encountered the idea of “creep” in a project management course, where we read about “scope creep”. The Letterman line is another one of those jokes that erodes the rustic feel of Mypos for easy yuks. And this points up a bigger problem for the show at this stage. Again, Sarah Portland hit the nail on the head with this one three months ago when she said that the show tries to have Larry be the stable one and Balki the manic one, while it’s obvious now that the opposite is true.  Larry is the adult character, so it’s fun to have him act like a child. Balki is the foreign character, so it’s fun to have him speak in an accent-less deep voice. Mary Anne is the dumb character, so it’s fun to have her say something smart. Jennifer is the desirable character, so it’s fun to give her absolutely zero personality.  But in the same way that the show ends up undercutting its lessons by tacking a joke onto the end of them, it’s eroding these characters, and the statements it has made about them. It’s fine if you want to show that Larry’s still a little kid inside to illustrate how he’s trying his best to put on the vestments of adulthood, but at least let him still have a base of cultural knowledge that Balki can benefit from!

Anyway, holy cow, we’re a third of the way into the episode and not a damn thing’s happened. Seriously, I hit play again right after I wrote that paragraph and Balki’s just pointing at a chair he bought. I can only imagine that Larry and Balki are not having sex right now because they’re worried their leather pants would offend the cow.


Goddam, finally, we go to the Chronicle building. I was worried there for a minute I was going to have to write a good callback joke about how the sound effect of the cow lowing was on the flip side of the LP they used for Little Frankie’s crying back in season 2.


Balki is teaching Larry, Harriette, and Lydia how to sing a Myposian song. Hey Gorpley, here’s your chance! Come out and fire this guy!


This is a nice visual indicator of the acting skills of these three. Harriette is happy to do something for Balki, but Larry and Lydia are both thinking to themselves “is this really a song?”.

The last word of the song is “babasticky”, and the song is supposed to be “For she’s a jolly good fellow”*** and maybe the “babasticky” is meant to convey the impossibility of denial part at the end of the song?  I’m trying to make sense of this language, but who cares. Larry and Balki are primarily concerned with the language of love.


Harriette: W-wait, wait, hold on, honey

*sigh* You’re right, Harriette. I’m kind of forcing the gay jokes. I’ll get us back on track with some callbacks. (You are Harriette, right?)


Balki repeats the exposition about Yaya Biki coming, and tells us that there’s going to be a party.  I’m glad he did that! If this scene had been Harriette and Lydia at the party, we would have had no explanation whatsoever as to how they knew to show up.

Harriette insults Lydia on her way out, and then the phone rings.  It turns out that Carol is actually dating a guy named Jim.


Haha, nah, j/k, Yaya Biki changed planes in New York and her heart stopped. She’s dead. That’s really sad. Huh.

I guess she must have sexually harassed one of the Delta terminal’s desk staff and threatened to have him fired!


Mary Anne (Sagittarius) and Jennifer are there to recreate the scene from the end of Season 1, even down to there being potato chips and Mary Anne wearing a lot of eyeliner. Balki has even regressed to saying “potata chips”.


Usually it just takes 18 minutes for the cousins’ roles to be reversed, but here we see one two seasons in the making: Cousin Larry makes the party guests leave. He makes his own callback by telling the women that Harriette and Lydia are wearing the same outfits, and that they should go upstairs and change.


Mary Anne drops her guard for a sarcastic split-second; she knows what’s up (Larry’s penis up Balki’s butthole, usually).

Larry has some difficulty saying that Yaya Biki is dead, and the guys in the audience think the way he hesitates about it is HILARIOUS.

Balki sits down and says he’s been running around “like a chicken with its head glued on” and damn. I… did not expect that I would ever need to make a callback to how Myposian youths amuse themselves by watching animals die.


Larry says that Yaya Biki bought the farm and Balki is so happy that he makes the same face & arm motions that I did when I found out that my apartment building’s fire alarm is just two decibels shy of bursting my eardrums.

But on Mypos, unlike in 1980s America, farms were still a thing that got used instead of subsidized, and a misunderstanding is as good an opportunity as any for Balki’s catchphrase, isn’t it?


Larry says that Yaya Biki is dead. Alright, the Biki plot is out of the way and we’ve got 10 minutes left.  The women are gone, the door’s locked, let’s drop those trousers and party down!


Balki decides to go out and buy more chips, and wow, when has Balki not been upfront with his feelings?


Balki comes back with the CEO of Unichip, Inc., demanding that he count all the potato chips in Chicago.


Nah, j/k, the cousins come back from the circus. Balki’s wearing a balloon hat, and so is his familiar, Dmitri. Did… did Dmitri time travel?

Balki: Doesn’t this balloon hat lend itself well to a joke about phalluses? We’re really gay, Cousin!


Heehee! This move’s called the “Bozo Bucket Bonanza”!

Balki’s obviously really into having fun right now, and nothing’s more fun than the fun they sure do have when the four of them get together, so Balki suggests they invite the women to watch a movie. (Pizza is the only thing Larry eats.) (Larry is fat.) (Larry does not poop.)

Balki: I’ll make some popcorn and we can practice catching it in our mouths!

Hee, hee, “catching” is a gay sex word. Larry and Balki are ‘mos!


Then they argue about whether Balki is happy.  I thought Balki never lied, and that Larry would believe anything Balki says?

Larry finally (after three friggin’ weeks?) asks Balki if he’s really happy that his Yaya Biki died. Balki admits he’s not happy, and explains to his cousin that his Yaya had asked him to go on with his happy life when she dies. He’s holding on tight to that highest of Myposian ideals: the Promise He Made.


If Balki playing with squeaky toys indicated the shallowness of a lesson, Balki dropping popcorn kernels one at a time into a pan tells us the depth of his sorrows.

Larry says that you have to mourn someone when they die.


Larry: I had an uncle whose wife died…

So… your aunt?

Larry says that this uncle wrote a letter to his dead wife, and that it made things a little better. Look, show, this is a comedy, can we just have a goofy seance at a third location?

Balki doesn’t want to say goodbye.  Larry leaves to visit the womenfolk.


Balki keeps trying to start talking to the chair, and again only the men in the audience laugh.

Balki talks to the chair he bought, about how he wanted his Yaya to see more of the country than LaGuardia’s filthy bathroom stalls. Yaya Biki had told Balki stories about the Statue of Liberty, how she was bringing light to the world.


Balki: So I — so I’ve got Yaya Biki sitting here.  And you — I was going to ask you a couple of questions.  But — you know about — I remember three and a half years ago, when you sheared that sheep. And though I was not a big supporter, I was watching that night when you were shaving that thing and they were talking about hope and change and they were talking about, yes we can, and it was dark outdoors, and it was nice, and people were lighting candles. They were saying, I just thought…


I just can’t. I can’t, you guys. I can’t follow through on that Clint Eastwood joke. It was going to be really great, but what

what does it





I’ve been trying so hard to keep this blog funny, I’ve been trying to make gay jokes and I wanted to really make you all laugh with some stellar callbacks about there not being any party horns and, like, Moonlighting, and suicide… I even had a Biki with the good hair joke all ready to go, but it’s all just been a giant clown nose to hide my pain.


Susan’s gone, you guys. We never really got to know her, but she always seemed like she had such great potential. And not just Susan, but all those others! Tina, Carol, Gina, Linda, Gorbachev, Suprides, Eddie, Donald Twinkacetti, Edwina Twinkacetti, their children, Wistful and Woebegone… They’re all gone.  I’ve been trying to keep myself happy by honoring the promise I made**** to make this the funniest sitcom review blog around.  But I’ve got five more seasons of this; if I’m any good at it, I’ll pick up new readers. And will they even know what I mean 50 reviews from now when I say that  ennifer: — ?



It’s obvious now that I remember more about seasons 1 and 2 now than season 3 does.  I love this show, my awkward, frustrating, clumsy child; but it’s growing up. This show outgrew its clothes. It learned to use the toilet (well, after breaking it, anyway). It’s not going to remember its beginnings, but I will. We’ve probably all gone through phases where we had to demand that our parents stop seeing us as babies, or children, or teenagers.  It’s hard.  My show’s changing, and I have to change with it. It’s been scrubbing the specificity off its characters’ pasts all season, and I see what I’m supposed to learn from that. I can’t make a callback to everything; everything can’t be a running joke.

Balki, to Biki, regarding the Statue of Liberty:

I remember the first time I ever saw her. I was sailing into New York Harbor on the steamer, and the sun was coming up, and… there she was. Just like you said. Bringing light to the world. And it was the most wonderful day of my life. And… you… made that day possible.

I knocked this show so hard all season long for watering down its own lessons (with poop water, no less) that it took me by surprise when there was a lesson for me waiting here at the end.


Balki’s realizing that he is the new generation, that he has to leave behind his past and forge his new life in the greater world.  Man, the scene where Luke finds his burnt uncle and aunt got nothing on this!  The lesson here is that Balki has to honor his past by enjoying the opportunities it gave him, rather than feeling like he had to keep up every aspect of his culture.


And me?  I have to roll with the changes. I know I’m capable. I know I’m funny. But as much as this blog is about me, it’s just as true that it isn’t. I don’t know where Perfect Strangers is going now; I’ll talk more about this in the season review, but I don’t think it did either. I’m in a dialogue with the show, and I have to follow it where it goes.  It’s still my dream, and some weeks it seems to take over my life. But the show and I are long past “hello”, and I can’t keep talking to it like it’s a baby.

Or like it’s an empty chair symbolizing a dead body in legal purgatory, sitting in the Delta baggage claim and stinking of fish parts.


As the camera pulls back towards the windows, we ask: will it escape down the ladder, or up?

Season 3 est mort.

Vive Season 3.



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

Boner count: how dare you, Balki’s Yaya Biki died


**it’s complicated, send me a DM and I’ll explain it

***public domain, not reason #whatever

****to Satan

*****Psychology Sidebar: the “five stages of grief” model was developed by Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in the late 1960s


NAH, J/K, y’all mofos oughta know by now I always roll three deep with callbacks. I stack jokes better than Balki stacks motor oil cans. I can get ex-girlfriends back with the mere mention of egg rolls and saxophone music. My stuffed sheep even has tiny callback jokes! You butter believe it!