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!

Season 2, Episode 1: Hello Baby

Season 2 is here, and after a summer full of painstaking research, focus groups, and number-crunching, ABC shows its commitments to both its audience and its shareholders by bringing back everybody’s favorite aspect of the first season of Perfect Strangers: using the word “baby” in episode titles.

Before I start reviewing this season, I’d like to take a moment to discuss what kind of lengths I’m willing to go to for jokes.  I’ve been doing a webcomic for a while now (which you can read here), and one of the storylines I have planned for it requires that I have deep knowledge of the character of Kimmy Gibbler.  So what do I do? I watch every goddamn episode of Full House and transcribe not only Kimmy’s lines, but any other facts about her mentioned by other characters (I’ve been posting Kimmy’s dialogue on Twitter for a while now; you can read it here).  It wasn’t entirely self-torture because Kimmy Gibbler was one of the few bright spots in the 8 years of that show. In fact, it gave me somewhat of an appreciation for what Billy Superstar went through for Full House Reviewed: I just watched the damn show, but he committed to stretching it over many years, not only thinking about it, but writing about it.  Poor guy.

Anyway, I said that to say this: watching the entire run of Full House in the span of a few months revealed to me how much ABC would tinker with their shows from season to season.  Characters dropped, characters added, relationships evolving, and then de-evolving to their previous state, one-off actors/characters tested in the back half of a season would show up as recurring ones the next.  And I haven’t crunched the numbers on it, but the number of lines Kimmy would get on average levelled out (or, if you’re of a cynical bent, “became formulaic”) in the last two seasons.  Earlier seasons had a few fairly Kimmy-heavy episodes. By the end of the show, she showed up more often, but plots didn’t feature her heavily quite so often.  What I’m saying is this: like any corporation, ABC loves money, and viewers=money.  A company that’s willing to apply formula to roughly how many lines recurring characters would get can’t be trusted to keep things consistent from one season to the next, or even one episode to the next.

With that in mind, let’s see what changes with Perfect Strangers in Season 2!


We open this season at Ritz Discount, so we know they still have their jobs, which means Twinkacetti’s still around, which gives me hope that Mrs. Twinkacetti is there too.  Anyway, Cousin Larry is helping Balki dolly a refrigerator into the shop.


Evidently test audiences seemed to love Larry saying “lift… and push” over and over last season, because he keeps saying variations on “Bring it straight down here, and we’ll just swing it in”.  Balki questions his role in the Ritz hierarchy, being relegated to pushing heavy objects around while Cousin Larry tells him what to do.  Larry says that someone has to be in charge; that his role is to plan, and Balki’s role is to carry out that plan.  Balki crushes Larry behind the refrigerator, a fitting aperitif for those who like Larry getting maimed.  But the joke is still on Balki because Balki’s so dumb he thinks that their roles are totally fair!  Haha, isn’t it great to treat foreigners like shit?


Speaking of foreigners, here’s another one and her name’s Gina Morelli!  Gee, I wonder where she’s from?  She’s in the citizenship class with Balki and she’s very obviously pregnant.


She gets Larry out from behind the fridge and Larry comments that she’s very strong for someone in her “condition”.  Gina starts crying and telling this whole story about how her husband’s a truck driver, but he’s out of town and she just got evicted from her apartment.  Holy shit, did they just give a woman three personality traits in, like, the first minute of the second season?  I can only imagine how jealous Tina was when she saw this episode.

Cousin Larry agrees to help her before he realizes that means her staying in the apartment, and damn, boy, what is with you?  We’re supposed to believe that Larry is just being put-upon by housing not one, but now two (count ‘em, two!) foreigners.  Larry seems to enjoy looking like he’s willing to help people out, but when it actually comes time to do so, he starts backpedaling.  That seems to be a theme shared by this show, ALF, and Full House. Who were these shows catering to that networks thought Larry Appleton, Willie Tanner, and Danny Tanner were main characters your average viewer could relate to?  What, were white middle-class audiences of the time just assholes who didn’t want anyone impinging on their life in any way at all?  Sheesh.

Anyway, Larry ends up giving up his bed, and Balki sells Gina on the idea of it by saying that Larry has a blanket that plugs into the wall, yet neither of them knows what it does.  *ahem* Balki, there was a joke last season about Larry’s electric blanket. So Balki’s brain has been reset; a change and not a change at the same time.


We come back from commercials to the apartment, where Balki and Gina are saying their good-nights and thank-yous to each other in their own foreign languages; in the foreground, Larry’s doing a stupid walk and pretending to talk like them.  Then Larry bitches about how Gina has the TV in the bedroom and he doesn’t get to watch it.  Those test audiences sure enjoyed how much of an asshole Cousin Larry is.

Speaking of test audiences and their love of assholes, I’ll mention that this season premiered in the fall of 1986, a few months after the first season finished up.  It’s almost as if word spread through offices across America that, hey, did you see that new show on ABC about the two guys who live together?  I bet they’re gay, don’t you think so?  Take this episode as ABC’s response: you want two guys sharing an apartment, who are also gay maybe?  Here, we’ll make them share a bed, too!  Larry and Balki disrobe, revealing that Balki has Spider-Man pajamas.


And then the writers just frigging step all over the joke by having Larry ask “what are those” and Balki tell him what they are.  And then they stretch it out further by having Larry ask “why are you wearing those”; evidently Balki’s He-Man pajamas are in the laundry.  Then Balki tries to sneak it in by sitting down before Larry.  All right!  It’s fuckin’ time!


Balki fumbles his way through pillow talk, but Larry doesn’t understand what Balki means by “the hot side of the bed”.  Then Balki shoves Dmitri’s ass in Larry’s face.


Poor Balki! When he tries to be physical, it’s too much, too soon for Cousin Larry; when he tries to use sweet talk, it’s incomprehensible. Larry asks “what’s in my face?” rather than just pulling his head back and looking like a reasonable person would.  Dammit, is every joke on this show going to be repeated now?  Is telling every joke twice an oblique reference to this being Season 2?

Anyway, the rest of the episode is Larry telling Balki how to engage in American foreplay. Balki misunderstands the word “tease” and insults Larry’s penis.  Larry fumes, drinks a Cosmo-app-le-ton (antacid, triple sec, lime), and they both say their catchphrases at the height of orgasm. Larry learns a valuable lesson: that sincere efforts in the bedroom are just as sexy as good blowies.

Nah, just kidding, Balki says his bedside prayers, which are really just a way to be passive-aggressive about Larry having thrown Dmitri on the floor. Say, maybe Balki does understand intimate relationships in America!  Larry apologizes, but Balki makes him apologize to Dmitri, so I’ll drop the sex bit for a minute to point out how they’re infantilizing Balki again.  Balki drops the bombshell that Gina’s already two weeks past the baby’s due date.  Oh no!  Larry is right to be worried, since Gina’s water breaking will no doubt get all over the electric blanket.


After the commercials, we find that Larry has been timing Balki and Gina to make sure they’re able to get out the door to the hospital quickly.  There’s a nice little callback to the refrigerator scene as Larry tells Balki to “swing her around” as they get Gina back to bed.


Larry hangs three coats successfully. Remember this. This is important.

Larry blames Balki for not having told him Gina was pregnant.  I was going to gripe about how Larry commented on Gina’s “condition” at the top of the episode, and just remarked on how she was carrying “life” inside her in the previous scene.  I was *this close* to just assuming that the line was supposed to be “overdue” and just move on, but Balki’s follow-up line cements that Mark Linn-Baker said his line as written.  So…what the hell.


Balki explains how childbirth works on Mypos.

Balki: In Mypos have a baby very natural! The woman is working in the field… she takes a short break… she has her baby… and then she cooks dinner for 11 men.

That may seem like a hugely imbalanced sex ratio, but I’m guessing that every Myposian woman not washing her hands after childbirth means that every household there has its own little Typhoid Mary.

Larry says that sitcom structure demands that his character type force everyone into a plan.  Does Balki have a plan?


Larry says “fuck your agri-centric plan, mine’s better” and they go through it one more time.  So now we’ve spent the past three minutes 1) establishing that they’ve been practicing Larry’s plan, 2) hustling Gina off-screen, 3) hanging coats, 4) retconning the episode’s first scene, 5) Balki questioning the plan, and 5) Larry demanding they practice the plan again.  Now we can move on to–oh, no, wait, Larry wants to practice the plan one more time.  I was getting excited about how many character traits Gina had accumulated, but then they just shoved her off into the bedroom so Larry and Balki could play pad-a-show?

During their final practice run, Balki keeps derailing the process.  He wants to know why he has to do the grunt work (lifting the “su-itcase”; cf “grapefru-it” from season 1) while Larry does all the talking and directing.  Well, color me impressed, because this means that this episode’s theme was established in the first minute.  Perfect Strangers is not without its problems, but I’ll give it this: it generally knows what it’s trying to do and puts forth efforts to do it.

Then Balki acts like a child, whining about how he wants to be the one to make the phone call to the hospital.  Larry accedes, and we learn Balki’s idea of calling the hospital:


Balki: Hello hospital… baby is coming!

And all of a sudden I miss the sexually aggressive Balki from “First Date”. After the practice run, Larry starts talking some bullshit about how he’s like Eisenhower the day before D-Day, so I guess they’re both just overgrown children.

Then Gina wakes them up to tell them she’s been in labor “for a long time” but didn’t tell them because she wanted them to get their sleep.  Cousin Larry starts fumbling around because, remember, 80s sitcom audiences needed motion in addition to colors and sounds to keep them awake for a whole 22 minutes.  Larry keeps this up for awhile, going on a rager and throwing things around the apartment because he can’t find his keys.  Some planner you are, Cousin Larry.  Balki slaps Larry and thank God.

019 020 021 022

Somebody had to get this episode back on track!  It was spiraling out of control because the third location was just as overdue as Gina’s baby.


They drive around Chicago’s famous Green Screen District for awhile, Larry screams and freaks out, and Gina has her baby in the car.  I have to imagine that if aliens learned about modern American society solely from sitcoms, they’d get the impression that the majority of children are delivered in cars, restaurants, or in every part of the hospital but the delivery room.

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Larry just can’t even.  How sheltered were you, Cousin Larry?  From the opening credits, I know that at least three of your siblings are younger than you.  Larry looks in the back seat and promptly passes out, this obviously being the first time he’s ever seen a vagina.


Back in the apartment, Balki leads Larry to his armchair.

Balki: Well, little boy, we had a big day.

You know what?  Even with how padded that middle section was with them talking about practicing Larry’s plan, and how many jokes they repeated, I’m going to admit I like this episode. Balki acting like a kid is now excused, because it works as subtextual buildup reinforcing the role reversal that Larry and Balki experience in the third act of most episodes.  Ultimately, this episode is a good statement of the relationship between the two main characters as well as the show’s thesis.  Larry thinks he knows how everything works in America, and thinks he’s showing his foreign cousin the ropes; but knowing how things work isn’t the same as experiencing them (you know, like vaginas).  Balki acknowledging that he doesn’t know so much makes him more receptive to learning, while things not matching the ideal makes Larry break down and miss the experience. Ultimately, each has something to teach the other.  At its core, it’s the narrative that I spoke to last week: that technologically advanced societies tell themselves: in their rush for progress, they have lost something important of their humanity, and that those less advanced are more pure of heart.  It’s also basically a variation on the “magical negro” trope, that those who are less than us (“us” being the modern white man, natch) will forever selflessly make efforts to help us. (Or, one could argue, Balki’s childish mannerisms put this in the “children have no internalized barriers and always speak the truth” camp.)

Anyway, the show is doing what it set out to do, which is one of the things I wanted to keep an eye on.  I am curious to see how well they’re able to keep up that theme, and the main relationship, over the course of 8 seasons.


Then the music comes on, and Balki says “Cousin…” and the audience all say “Awwww”.  Oh, for fuck’s sake, I was just reservedly singing your praises, show, and then you had to go and tell the audience to say “awwww” before it was really deserved.  And then Balki tells us another Myposian saying, which he says in his native tongue; outside of the earlier scene in this episode, it’s essentially the first time we hear him speak his own language.  And then he explains that the saying means “If everyone knew how to herd sheep, there would be no one to write poetry”.

…isn’t that basically what Larry was trying to teach Balki at the beginning of the episode? That division of labor is sensible because everyone has different abilities?  I thought the episode’s message was clear, but these kind of shows have to tell you what the lesson is because, you know, we are idiots.  After all, we’re watching television instead of reading books.  But they really botched the landing here at the end. I think I may smell producer notes.


So, on balance, it seems that not much has changed, though the season is still young.  Actually, given the short length of the first season, it’s probably not unfair to consider this the show’s second chance at an introductory episode. So let’s do what we did with Season 1 “Knock, Knock, Who’s There?” and see if the last line of dialogue reveals the show’s thesis:

Balki: Let’s go out and paint the town red, white, and blue!  But first, let’s put on our pants!

That about sums it up, right? Because they’re gay?

(I’ll admit that was a long way to go for a crummy gay joke, but I warned you at the outset of this review that when I commit to a joke, I commit.)


See you next week for “Hunks Like Us”!


Catchphrase count: Balki (1), Larry (0, even though Balki slapped him)

Boner count: Balki (0), Larry (0, unless you count the one he obviously has for Eisenhower)

P.S. Larry’s car appears to be a cherry ride, answering my question from “Baby, You Can Drive My Car”.