We open at the R– ha! Can you believe it? Two weeks in and I’m still writing “Ritz Discount” on my checks!
Larry is reading a book, and Balki is folding clothes because ABC knew those two things were what people kept tuning in week after week to see in season 2. Balki is donating clothes to the local community clothing drive, claiming that cheerful giving is the path to happiness. Ah, BUT, Balki is giving away Larry’s old clothes!
Larry fails to button his high school chorus jacket. Remember this. This is important.
It’s good that Larry tried that jacket on, because otherwise we would have been stuck with 20 straight minutes of Larry trying to convince Balki that in America, what you’re supposed to do is take clothes from poor people. Larry weighs himself and finds that he has gained a whopping 7 pounds. The discovery surprises a new catchphrase out of Larry.
Okay, um, 7 pounds? If we’re going by a strict rule of one sitcom season equals one year, then Larry’s somewhere between 25 and 26 years old. If we could all only gain 1 pound per year, we could maybe stop taking up the medical world’s time with our diabetes and our heart problems and let them get on with the important stuff, like, you know, improving the “target delivery” of boner pills (heh). At any rate, it makes perfect sense that Larry has gained weight around his midsection. Our ancestors had an evolutionary advantage for survival because of things like opposable thumbs, speech, and accumulation of fat stores in the midsection. Developing a gut in middle age allowed our ancestors to give their children food without themselves starving. Larry’s been taking care of a child for at least a year at this point, during a time of near-poverty for the both of them, so yeah, he’s got a dadbod.
At any rate, three seasons in, this show has stayed strong in its commitment to Balki providing homespun cures for Larry’s modern American ills. So gird yourselves, folks, this looks like it’s going to be a tonal repeat of last season’s “Larries and Germs”.
Jennifer and Mary Anne (Sagittarius) come by in uniform to drop off clothes for Balki to take to the charity drive. They will be in Australia the entire week, and bingo! I get why they’re stewardesses now. With Susan, who had no personality trait other than “red hair”, the writers had to resort to her making faces and running out of whatever room she was in just so we could keep our focus on the cousins. With people who have a job–a job that takes them out of the country–you just have to have the character say “My job!” and then they can leave. In this transition, however, the writers forgot that they stuck themselves with two characters. Sure, Mary Anne’s dumb and all (so dumb she thinks a charity drive is something you do when you feel really sorry for a car), but Jennifer… well. Um. She likes to organize her closet?
Anyway, the ladies make Larry’s situation worse by mentioning that their old clothes are too big for them now! Balki tells them what a grotesque fat fuck Larry has become, and Mary Anne says that if she gained 7 pounds, she’d die.
Jennifer says that she likes “a little tummy on a man”. Okay, now she has two personality traits, she likes her closet organized, and she likes a little tummy on a man. Hey, Jennifer, do you think you could maybe offer to help Larry lose some weight at the gym where you work?
Jennifer, can you…? Oh well.
Larry starts panicking. Between spoonfuls of lard, he reasons out with his strong American reasoning skills that the women will be gone for seven days, and that he wants to lose seven pounds, so he will need to lose one pound per day. For what purpose? So that he can secretly have a smaller abdomen that Jennifer will never see, because they will never have sex?
Larry offers up an apt metaphor for how far we’ve come since last season by running in place. He claims that he has an iron will, and that this will help him lose weight. Balki, right on cue, offers up the “Mypos diet”, and yet again, I feel like I don’t even need to watch the rest of this episode, much less review it, because I can just about tell you what happens.
But then Larry lands a solid callback joke:
Larry: What do you do, cut down on the pig snout?
And I am given hope that maybe they’re going to bring something new to the table here. The cousins argue with each other some more, Larry runs in place some more, and eventually the scene ends.
Larry gets up in the middle of the night and raids the fridge. We learn that Balki now has his own room, even though from everything we’ve seen in this episode and the last (same general layout, similar artwork on the walls, the women living in the same building), it’s the same apartment. I guess if Twinkacetti is out of sight, every detail concomitant with his existence (including, somehow, Larry and Balki’s poverty) is out of mind. But two good things here: Balki has armed himself with his shepherd’s crook (something that should have shown up in the season 2 episode “Lar and the Real Burglar”), and Larry tries to hide by pressing the button inside the fridge to turn its light off. Well, okay, the second one’s funny, but not very smart. He’s basically increasing the odds that Balki caves his skull in with the shepherd’s crook.
Balki scolds him and Larry instantly asks for help. Balki starts laying on the guilt trip pretty thick, and you’ll forgive me if I’m confused at this point. Isn’t Balki supposed to be the compassionate one? Shouldn’t he kindly acknowledge that, for once, Larry has given in to Balki’s way of doing things 6 minutes into an episode and just help the guy out?
Larry, his corpulent form now filling fully half the volume of the apartment, renounces the “Larry diet”, but Balki still holds out, claiming he’s hurt by Larry’s earlier jabs at the weight of the King of Mypos (300 lbs, holds world record for eating jelly donuts). You know what? If I had to go through this shit every time I repented from my evil American ways, I’d never ask Balki for help more than twice. Anyway, Larry wants to know if he has to eat anything strange.
Balki actually gets a sutble joke for once, too.
Balki: You’re not allergic to fish or soup, are you?
I guess if the writers can forget that they already did this episode last season, they can’t be expected to remember little details like how Larry consumed “fish parts”
Larry, his face slick with excess grease, asks Balki to promise that he won’t let him (Larry) eat anything not on the diet, and Balki has an orgasm. The hell?
Okay, this episode’s really impressing me with some of the jokes.
Balki: I just performed the Mypos Ritual of Promise.
Larry: Am I still a Presbyterian?
Balki: I will never, ever break my promise.
Larry: You won’t?
Balki: What did I just say?
A joke was made, and then, when the show tried to do that repetition shit, Balki shut it down faster than somebody looking at porn when their mom walks in the room! Season 2 is over, people!
(I’d also like to mention that the music at the end of act breaks has now gotten a little more in line with what you’d expect from a mid-80s sitcom.)
After four days, Larry finds that he has lost three pounds. I was going to gripe about how you should weigh yourself at the same time each day, you know, like right when you get up, after your first piss of the day, ideally with no clothes on. But let’s just say I don’t share Jennifer’s tastes.
Balki is so happy for Larry’s success that he makes the same face I do when I close the freezer door and then hear everything inside tumble, knowing that it will all fall out when I open it again. Larry discovers that Balki has tinkered with the scale and that Larry has actually gained 2 pounds, even with the Mypos diet. Balki says that you “bloat up a little bit” in the first few days of the diet, but that it goes away after a while.
Larry calls up Paoli’s Pizza, and I’m thrilled that there’s some internal continuity between the exterior shot and this scene, because it lets me point out what a lazy sack of crap Larry is! If he’s not even willing to walk downstairs to buy a fucking pizza, no wonder he’s gained seven pounds! He’s calling for something like the fifth time so he can shout at them.
There’s a knock at the door, but–on no! It’s Balki! He tries to send Balki back outside, but then–OH NO! It’s the pizza guy!
So Larry just shoves Balki into his bedroom, pays off the pizza guys, throws the pizza into the hallway, pushes Balki back into the bedroom, lots of slamming doors… shouldn’t this count as exercise?
Balki smacks the pizza right out of Larry’s mouth and picks his 500lb cousin up up by the collar. Larry then tries to do one of my biggest pet peeves. He starts acting like Balki’s upset because he would have to give up his Myposian promise. I see people do this at work and in my personal life all the time. You start having others’ concerns for them as a way to deflect the fact that you’re projecting your own wants onto them, or that you’re secretly embarrassed about the lack of justification for wanting what you do. I’m sure there’s a psychological term for it, but I only took a minor in college, so let’s just call it “the ol’ project-deflect”). I know it’s a pop psychology book, but in Scripts People Live, Claude Steiner gives some advice that has served me well for years: be upfront with what you want (and why) 100% of the time. It’s honest, gives you a good chance of the other person reciprocating the gesture, and you’re far less likely to feel cheated or ignored if you don’t get what you wanted. Plus, here’s Larry’s argument for breaking promises:
Larry: This is America! People break promises all the time! This is why we have all that Indian land!
Don’t be surprised when the underclass foreign “other” doesn’t respond well to you rubbing eminent domain in his face, cuz. Larry tries to leave to go to a restaurant, and Balki turns him sideways. Balki throws Larry on the couch, intending to snuggle the pounds away, but a loud “crunch” reveals a bag of cookies under the cushion. Unintentional though it probably is, I do want to point out that Larry hiding snacks under the couch cushions is a symbol of American greed; while Balki hiding snacks (season 1’s “Larry’s Birthday Or Whatever”) is a symbol of Myposian generosity.
We then get a whole scene of Balki finding Larry’s snacks around the apartment, using Larry’s face as a detection device.
a bar of “solid milk chocolate” under the couch
a bag full of–let’s just say pork cracklins–in one of those things that’s shaped the same as an umbrella holder, but it holds fire pokers instead
Sixlets in the candlestick holder (come on, you know it’s Sixlets, Larry leads too shitty a life to have actual M&Ms)
a box of, shit, I dunno, confectioner’s sugar on the bookshelf
a donut on top of the lampshade
Larry: We wants it, we needs it. Must have the precious. They stole it from us.
The cousins fight over the donut. This is why the women left, people, so Larry and Balki could fight over a donut. Holes are easier to work into the script when there’s no risk of them talking, I guess.
Then Balki quits fighting him and Larry is disappointed. God damn, Larry, you just want someone to be codependent with you, don’t you? Balki sees that playing Larry’s game will land them in couples’ therapy by the end of the season, so he just says he’s done.
Balki: I haven’t got time for the pain.
Balki does some weird gesture with his hands and says that he is the only Mypiot in history to ever break a promise (remember, this is probably not too signifcant – they die young there).
The music comes on, prompting Larry to apologize. He says he’ll do anything to make it up to Balki… anything except the diet…or that thing with the love egg turned up all the way.
Balki starts pretending to cry again because he’ll have to wear some kind of hood made out of goat hair if Larry doesn’t go back on the diet, so Larry goes back on the diet. And you know what? I bet that jerk brought a damn goat hair hood with him. He brought everything else. I mean, come on, we all saw how endless Balki’s (and Dmitri’s) wardrobe was last season. The apartment itself grew a room this season, probably just for Balki’s clothes.
In the scene before the credits, everybody waits around for Larry to come publicly humiliate himself by breaking the scale. Wardrobe did a good job on giving him a slimmer shirt so it would look like he’s lost weight, but still. You don’t do this clothed.
Larry: The important thing is not whether I’ve gained or lost weight; it’s whether I’ve grown as a person. The inner me is stronger.
Good, so it won’t matter if Larry has gai-
Oh fuck you. You had me going there with those good jokes, show. But then you slipped in the same kind of bullshit ending that you pulled with season 2’s “Larry Likes Hunks”. A character learns a lesson about not getting what you want, and then the character gets what he wants; the dopamine rush will ensure that the lesson does not stick. Then Balki gets on the scale and that’s a decent unspoken joke but fuck you anyway, show. I hope you gain 7 pounds and die.
Join me next week for “Sexual Harrassment in Chicago”! Bet you can’t guess what that one’s about!
Catchphrase count: Balki (1); Larry (1)
Boner count: Balki (0); Larry (0)
P.S. Full House would, four months later, do basically this same plot with Joey in the episode “Sisterly Love”. I’d never, ever recommend that anyone actually watch any of these shows, but please see Billy Superstar’s review of that episode if you want to compare.