Season 2, Episode 20: Get a Job


We open with a shot of the Ritz Discount from ground level, teasing us with whatever’s down that side street.  So mysterious, like back when I played my first Zelda game, Link’s Awakening, and you could see cool stuff on certain screens that you couldn’t get to yet because you didn’t have the Power Bracelet yet. Like, you know, maybe there’s a better sitcom down that street. Maybe there’s even a building where no sitcoms take place. But I won’t be able to get there with just my bare hands.


Balki and Larry are so sure they’re going to get a raise that they’re offering to take Jennifer and Mary Anne (Sagittarius) to a classy restaurant.  Jennifer is wearing an outfit we’ve seen her in before, but Mary Anne has chosen to dress up as a strawberry Starburst for the occasion.  You’re rocking that dress, Mary Anne, but you’re getting a little wild with the eyeliner.  We’re towards the end of the season, here; don’t become another Tina.

Anyway, Larry had demanded a raise from Twinkacetti the previous day and is 100% certain that he’ll get it when Twinkacetti comes in that morning.  Larry has forgotten that you’re not supposed to be certain of anything while they’re still showing the producers’ names on the screen (and, besides, you’re only ever supposed to be certain that love of family trumps all).  But Twinkacetti comes in, rushing towards his office.  He pauses briefly to establish character


Twinkacetti: Uh, I’m mean or something. Yeah. Ruff!

before closeting himself away in his office.  Larry and Balki confront him, so he pops back out briefly.

Twinkacetti: Okay, whatever’s the opposite of what you wanted, just go do your lesson about how Balki’s better.


But Larry doesn’t give up, so Twinkacetti finally just decides he can masturbate to the S&P (Skene glands and perinea) 500 later and tells the cousins that they don’t get a raise because he hired another employee and lowered their salaries.


Evidently, Larry’s been working all through season 2 to grow a pair, because he finally stands up to Twinkacetti.  He calls Twinkacetti out on how he overworks them, underpays them, and insults them. Cousin Larry also goes on about how discount shops just aren’t the best setting for sitcoms, and how they’ve pretty much done every story they can with this setup, so he quits.  Balki backs him up on it, pointing out that they’ve also already done the “Larry stands up to Twinkacetti” plot. I like where this episode is headed!  The show needs to break out of this rigmarole at this point; I mean, look, I was fucking talking about Zelda games up there with the opening shot. Let’s move on already.


Twinkacetti:  Whatever, I just landed a role on A Fine Romance and it’s gonna be better than this trainwreck.


Larry and Balki pretend to laugh triumphantly, but it quickly sinks in that their courage has left them unemployed. They have made a mistake.  In other words, Larry and Balki have a good laugh about their boner. (Nailed it!)  But Larry quickly regroups and remembers that this show is about pursuing the American dream, and that they can do whatever they want.

Balki wants to be the chief justice of the Supreme Court, and Larry tells him to save that dream for season 6, they’ll need it by then.


And here’s the most I’ve ever gotten excited about a third location.  I’m even in love with how brutally fake those signs are. I’m actually curious how they did both the neon, as well as the slight 3D, effects.  And I don’t know why the idea of these guys working in a burger joint thrills me, but it does. The tacit promise of a grease fire, probably.


That jukebox.  Awww yiss things are getting good.  Larry makes an actually decent joke about how meth-heads probably come to the restaurant, but it’s a little punctured by the fact that the restaurant doesn’t look anywhere near as awful as it’s supposed to. I mean, it’s no Tony’s Mambo Room, but still.


Then we meet “Fat Marsha” Manning herself.


She’s a party girl.


I’m in love.


She instantly comes on to Balki. In the next breath she comes on to Larry. Then she comes on to Balki again.  The show is placing the cousins in a setting, and with people, which 1) Larry has been trained to think of as low-class and which 2) Balki will accept, if not because he has no sense of American social strata, then because he’s open and loving.  And bravo for doing that, since it functions as the the counterpoint for “Tux for Two”.


The show is trying to tell us that Larry is coming face-to-face not only with a gross restaurant, but a gross woman.  That shot is instructive, I think. The white-collar hopeful is completely put off by the blue-collar woman. Even Balki knows something’s wrong!

But I get the impression that actress Susan Kellerman is rejecting some aspects of the role that the show gave her.  Sure, she’s sexually harassing potential employees seconds after they enter her the business she owns, which is maybe not a great step up from working under a guy who insults you. The difference, though, is that Fat Marsha fucking owns it.  She’s made it on her own in the big city: part of her backstory is that she lost something like 200 pounds (!) after opening the restaurant.  You get the sense that Twinkacetti is miserable with his station in life, and that this only feeds his negative personality.  But Fat Marsha is having the time of her life; sure, she’s coming on strong, but I’ve come to learn that flirting is just a way of relating to others for some people. On top of Kellerman putting such verve into the role, I think the fact that the other female characters get so little personality makes this all the more effective.


Fat Marsha smacks Larry on the ass.


Balki looks at Larry’s ass as if this move has never occurred to him.


Fat Marsha trains the cousins on making burgers; she comes on to Balki again, leading to the best joke of the episode.

Fat Marsha:  Do you ever arm-wrestle naked?

Balki: Oh! No… that would be cheating.


Man, why can’t I get rewarded like this when I come up with good punchlines? I like boobs!


Heehee!  Man, I love Fat Marsha.

She leaves for the gym (Reuben’s Perfect Body, I assume), having only taught the cousins how to make and serve a plain burger – not how to make gyros, fries, steaks, or even work a cash register from the current decade.


Balki the Kid shows up, excited primarily at how they’re in a new environment with new toys he can play with.  He’s so excited about ringing the bell that he starts this shit again.


Balki shakes his pretend tits and sings “9 to 5” for the 50th time while making fries. I’m going to try to say this just once and get it out of my system: since I’m on immunosuppressants and have just the one white blood cell these days (I have to lie down occasionally so it can travel back out of my legs), I am deeply, deeply disturbed by how these guys keep touching multiple surfaces and then touching food that people are going to eat. Like, gag me with a spoon.


Larry takes an order from Lewis, patriarch of the Arquette clain, who likes his food as awful as possible.


Balki forces Larry to adhere to the rules of the hanging wheel that you stick the order tickets on, denying a restaurant patron an order of fries. I was going to make a joke about him being power-mad, but I think this is Roger Rabbit Balki rearing its head again–he can only break character like that when it’s funny.

And now, for the final aspect of the crazy situation that Larry and Balki find themselves in:


Angry hockey fans flood the restaurant! And… and… oh yes



We come back from the commercial break with a bunch of burly, angry men in blue just shouting at Larry.  It’s the episode of Perfect Strangers I didn’t know I needed.


This guy shouts at Larry.


This guy shouts at Larry.

They’re all shouting at you, Larry! Balki, meanwhile, has lost track of the order wheel.  Larry grabs Balki’s ears and then touches a bunch of food.  Like, gross me out the door!


This guy over here keeps demanding a chili dog, and we finally realize just how bad the job at the discount store has been for Larry.  If he had gotten a chance to interact with more than one customer every 10 episodes, he’d have enough customer service skill to be able to try at least one tactic to calm this guy down.  Even Balki’s a little scared of the guy; I guess there’s not enough Myposian virtue in the world to overcome a guy shouting about a chili dog.

So they serve him what, if I remember correctly, was the result of my last mineral oil enema. Because he’s lower-class, Chilidude leaves, if not satisfied, then at least not shouting.  On his way out, Chilidude has an altercation with Jerseyman.


Remember where you are. This is Burgerdome. The Sitcom Gods are listening, and will take the first man that screams. Larry tries to intercede.


Larry: No, no, look at his face! He’s got the mind of a child! It’s not his fault!




Then Balki runs in, and what, Balki, were you going to tell them that they’re family and family always sticks together? The only lesson Chilidude’s ever had to learn is to stop putting a space between the words “Black Hawks”.


Fat Marsha comes in and blows a whistle to calm down the hockey fans, and that’s my favorite non-dialogue joke this episode.


Fat Marsha: What’s this? What’s this?! You think I don’t know the law? You think I don’t know the law? Wasn’t it me who wrote it? And the law says: “bust a deal, you get no meal”.


Before they leave, it’s revealed that both Chilidude and Jerseyman are in a sexual relationship with Fat Marsha. Larry sits down before Fat Marsha can touch his butt again, so she sticks her finger up Balki’s butt as much as she can through his pants.


Balki and Cousin Larry come back home maimed and finally, for once, we got to see the maiming. You have no idea how much I appreciate this, show.


The cousins do a little post-mortem on how bad the whole experience was, and Balki refers to a commercial where a woman checks the waistbands of men’s underwear. I can’t find the commercial, but I’m sure it was real.  Does anyone remember it?


Hey, it’s Mrs. Twinkacetti! But lest you think that this episode equals “The Rent Strike” for named female characters speaking, Mary Anne only says “bye” in her earlier scene, so “The Rent Strike” is still at the top.

Mrs. Twinkacetti has brought her husband by to ask the cousins to come back to work, because it turns out that the new guy was stealing from the discount store. (Nobody uses the word “fired”, so I think it’s safe to say they let Pugsley and Wednesday “play” with him.)  Larry tries to shush Balki when he brings up their new jobs (maybe that lesson about lying stuck?), but then he realizes that Balki’s trying to haggle for higher pay. They get their jobs back, as well as the raise they asked for, and they even get Twinkacetti to agree to stop calling them losers. Just for that last part alone, you really couldn’t have had this episode anywhere but towards the end of the season.  I mean, that’s half of Twinkacetti’s lines gone right there!


Don’t you just love Belita Moreno?  I love Belita Moreno. The best part of this scene is how she keeps having to tell Mr. Twinkacetti what to do.

The cousins try to do that Roxbury Guys bit.  I feel you, guys; women make that same face every time I try it, too.


The music comes on, but Balki and Larry realize that they don’t feel happy, so they engage in a little bit of self-deception, telling each other that someday they’ll graduate night school and land a photography job, respectively; they may have trials here below, but they’re bound for Canaan land. (The joke is that they’ll never achieve these their dreams, that all hope is falsehood sold by the elite to keep the slave class docile, life is drudgery. We like to have fun around here.)

Now they are so illusioned by their own brains’ chemical imperatives to not be sad, they do the dance of joy!


No, you don’t get a gif of it this time.  You get a gif of Fat Marsha, because that’s what I want to leave open in a browser tab all next week.


Okay, now that we’re done with the jokes, let’s have a little talk about women and girls, since we had four of them this time around (okay, there’s a fifth one in the restaurant, but she just wanted fries). Every time I want to talk about Jennifer and Mary Anne in a collective sense, I have to overcome the urge to refer to them as “the girls”.  Part of this is because Balki and Larry call them that; part of it is this weird mental holdover of my own. I don’t know why I feel the need to mention this, and I hope I’m not back-patting.  I have to imagine that this show was one of thousands of places I heard fully-grown women referred to as “girls”, and thirty years later, it’s still something I’m trying to exorcise from my system. I didn’t mention it at the time, but the #1 gross-me-out sexist moment on this show so far was back in the Christmas episode, where Larry kisses Jennifer under the mistletoe, walks away, and jerks his thumb over his shoulder to signal to Balki that it’s his turn; a move that says “get in there”. I like joking about how they don’t give the women any lines or traits of their own, but that instance was a little too much for me, and I wasn’t sure how to express that.  So let’s talk about othering.

I’ve mentioned before how I, as a child, I was intrigued by characters who were the wild “other”, who managed to carve out an existence removed from typical social interests.  Usually this came in the form of the “wacky neighbor”, but when you remove the “neighbor” part, as here with Balki, it better articulates the “wacky” aspect as simply an unfettered Inner Child.  There’s no doubt that’s what appealed to me–getting to be silly in situations where one is supposed to be proper (sidebar: what in the 80s was cathartic is now de rigueur in terms of the man-child, but that’s another topic for another day).  For adults, Balki was the “other”; for children a compatriot (which, by the way, now that I’m thinking about it, props to mid-80s ABC for creating a long-running family sitcom with no family in it).  But this show presents a more sinister “other”: the woman. In the pop culture world, even today, man is more often than not presented as the norm, something that the audience is supposed to relate to regardless of their gender. Despite Larry and Balki’s differences, women are the same impenetrable, inscrutable type of being, and the not knowing scares them.

There’s a lot going on here with sex and power and personality, way more than I’m qualified to talk about, but I’ll say a few things.  Jennifer and Mary Anne are often basically the same person; “Trouble in Paradise” aside, the main difference is that Mary Anne has no brain, while Jennifer is, I dunno, taller. But they have something that Larry and Balki want to possess.  I’ll give the show credit for having Larry’s outdated attempts at domination through puffing meet with failure, but it’s still the men who are making the first moves.  Yes, the nature of a show about two men may be forcing that perspective, because it’s their desires at the forefront, but that begs the question of why we primarily get that perspective.  Even in the Christmas episode, when Mary Anne kisses Balki, it’s played for laughs; Mary Anne is so thoroughly “the dumb one” that her forwardness really can’t be separated from that.

This episode began with the cousins trying to use luxury to woo women.  They were then forced into a world that was ruled by a woman ; ruled so thoroughly, in fact, that she had no fear of having her own personality and owning her sexuality.  Chilidude and Jerseyman symbolize, perhaps, that Larry and Balki would then be placed in competition with each other to be the sexiest, most desirable partner for the mate with the most economic power.  So they flee back to their familiar, comfortable habitat, where the only woman with power is Mrs. Twinkacetti; and it’s clear that her power, as well as being played for laughs, serves as punishment for the evil ways of her husband.  But, the point that I’m trying to make is, women as portrayed on shows like this end up being the other, and others are scary.  Larry was fearful of Balki’s arrival, which almost cost him his job.  And potentially, waiting inside every Jennifer or Mary Anne is a Fat Marsha or a Mrs. Twinkacetti, so the goal is to keep trucking along with the 9 to 5 in hopes that one day you can advance enough to win a woman who, because she symbolizes new life, also symbolizes your own mortality if you cannot impregnate her.

Anyway! I could have threaded a lot of that previous paragraph into the recap, but this seemed important enough to be serious about. Plus, I wanted to make some Mad Max jokes. But goddam I made an episode about the best one-off female character into a depressing quagmire of gender portrayals.    Let’s just all scroll back up to watch that gif again.

And next week, good grief, it’s an episode about Larry’s sister: “Hello, Elaine”.  Miss me with the sexism, okay, show?



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

Boner count: Balki (0); Larry (0); Me, for Fat Marsha (not telling)

Dance of Joy running total: 8

Season 2, Episode 13: Since I Lost My Baby

I know you all keep coming back here to see what I have to say about the Ritz Discount exterior, but I did want to take a minute to admit to something. I don’t like dogs. I would have said this last week, but after it was established that Suprides could comprehend human speech, I decided to keep quiet. Dogs are dirty. Dogs are stupid. Dogs will try to lick your face with the same tongues they just used to lick their genitals, which are right next to the buttholes they never wipe or wash. Dogs will periodically rip your property to shreds. Yeah, I’m allergic too, and that’s what I say on OKCupid, but deep down I try my best to avoid all animals that do not share human standards of hygiene. So I’m pretty damn glad this show didn’t let the dog stick around. I also have specified on my OKCupid profile that I’m not looking for girls who haven’t graduated high school, so it was pretty cool how the show kicked Carol to the curb. Anyway, on to this week’s episode, which brings back one of my favorite parts of the show: episode titles with some variation on the word “baby”.


There, doesn’t that feel good? Here we are, back at the shitty ol’ Ritz Discount. The synth keyboard climbs staccato up a scale, letting us know that this is a new day, promising magic and clear-cut lessons.


Balki comes in singing the Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood theme, and isn’t life grand? Balki asks if Larry can say “good morning”, and the writers just give up on joke-making and have Larry say “No”.

Signalled by this mere negation, the morning is spoiled by a racket in Twinkacetti’s office. Balki and Cousin Larry instantly assume it’s a burglar and arm themselves.


…with a phallic symbol and a surrogate for Balki’s usual sex toy. Actually, I’m kind of surprised they think they need weapons. Didn’t they just defeat Real Burglar a few weeks back with nothing but their pajamas and a sense of righteous indignation?


It’s only Mr. Twinkacetti, who is obviously in some sort of emotional distress, evidenced by how he spent the night skewing the portraits on his office walls. He explains that he forgot his wedding anniversary for the 16th time, and was kicked out of the house. Balki scolds him, and Twinkacetti says that Balki’s balls should be chopped off. Twinkacetti’s memory lapse is completely understandable, though. Remember, Twinkacetti is a money-based man. It’s not the anniversary he remembers; what he remembers is when the annual hospital bill arrives a month later. (The joke is that his wife beats him up a lot when she’s mad at him. This is one of the running jokes I do.)

Edwina runs in and instantly tells Twinkacetti to drop dead. She wants a divorce.


Edwina: It’s not the anniversaries… and it’s not the gambling, and the wild nights out with the boys… actually, it is that. But it’s more than that, too! The romance is gone. The magic is gone.

Well, I guess I can go back to the review for “Baby, You Can Drive My Car” and remove that “1” from Twinkacetti’s boner count. I feel bad that he may never share a laugh with his employees about boners, but dude’s had this coming. Edwina deserves a higher grade of mean boss for a husband. Somebody like Larry Tate, or Louie de Palma.

Balki offers to let Twinkacetti stay without clearing it with Larry, which is the first datum we have for figuring out the average shelf life of sitcom lessons. Cousin Larry pitches a fit and agrees to be the person to tell Twinkacetti he can’t stay with them.


Twinkacetti cries, evidence that he’s been watching this show as long as I have and has learned the trick Balki plays on Larry every other week. So… are there no empty apartments in the Caldwell Hotel? You know, the Caldwell Hotel? Which Twinkacetti is the landlord of?


Balki’s making the same face I do when I go into one of the restrooms at work after that one guy’s been in there. (The joke is that Balki makes a happy face that actually looks like he’s undergoing some sort of strong discomfort or sharp pain. This is one of the running jokes I do.)


Later, Balki and Cousin Larry are preparing hamburgers (for baking?) and waxing expository with each other. Why do they need to tell each other how they feel about Twinkacetti staying with them? Where’s Susan when you need her (*sniff*)? There’s also a nice visual joke of different burger sizes that they call attention to but don’t explain because they’re already talking about something else.


Twinkacetti comes in ebullient, waxing… um… sitcomically about how great his employees are. He bought them groceries, including beer from the movie Repo Man! Shit, this guy’s awful, they’ve got to get him out of their apartment. Balki makes a dumb joke which I won’t even write down here because it’s so dumb.


Balki is worried that Twinkacetti is bottling up his emotions, but Larry counters that Twinkacetti’s not deep enough for them. He cautions Balki to just let things work themselves out and to not get involved. Balki, knowing that this approach won’t make for good television, much less allow for any sort of physical comedy in the third act, takes this as his cue that his opinion will be rewarded by the Sitcom Gods and decides to meddle.


Balki: Would you like to share the pain that is going on deep down inside?

Twinkacetti: Naaaah!

And I take back what I said about Larry’s “no” at the top of the episode, because I’m pretty sure this is meant to be a callback to that. It’s a nice miniature version of the overall theme of Balki’s rustic generosity, honesty, and general belief in the goodness of man running into the wall of modern American uncaring/selfishness/masculinity. Let’s see if they can pull off a third instance of it by the end.


Twinkacetti turns on the television, hoping to see some nudity. Was there actually nudity on network television back then? Or was it “nudity” like how when people go nekkers in the Bible they probably actually had some kind of undergarment on? Because I won’t believe for a second that Larry and Balki had cable or satellite. At any rate, holy shit, this show got away with a soundbite of a woman moaning before Balki turned the TV off.


No one on Mypos ever told Balki not to pick at his scabs, because he just keeps at Twinkacetti, trying to convince him that he’s going to end up a miserable, hollow shell if he doesn’t face his emotions. He states the goal of the episode: get the Twinkacettis back together. You see, I always thought that, even if I’ve wrecked myself, it’s never too late to check myself. I thought that if I screwed something up and ended up a sad piece of crap because of it, the next right thing to do was to feel my feelings, clean up my side of the street, and be a better person for it who hopefully wouldn’t screw up the same way again. But I’m glad I watched this episode! Now I know that, when I legitimately drive others away from me, the answer is to keep showing up in their lives, because somehow that will mean I’m deep!


Twinkacetti taking Larry’s bedroom without asking is supposed to be the joke here, but for me the joke is that he’s going off to bed with both bags of groceries in tow. Larry tries to coax Twinkacetti back out, telling him that they already did a bunch of jokes about him and Balki sharing a bed.


Larry: Balki, we have to save this marriage.


For once, Balki and Cousin Larry agree on something! Unfortunately, I disagree with them. The Sitcom Gods may have been directing their actions, but



Larry and Balki call up Edwina to try to convince her to speak with her husband. Also Balki makes a joke that depends on different meanings for word “changing”, so I’ll applaud the linguistic growth again. But if he doesn’t pronounce Appleton correctly the next time he says it…


Edwina agrees to talk to Twinkacetti for five minutes. After sixteen years, this is totally fair, and besides, it’s all the time we’ll have left once the episode gets us to whatever third location they’ll use.


Twinkacetti comes out of Larry’s room; after reading Larry’s diary, his final assessment is that Larry is “a sick man”. Haha! He found all of Larry’s self-insert slashfic: Larry/Tina, Larry/Linda, Larry/both police from “Can I Get a Witness?”

I’m actually going to take this as a follow-up to the earlier joke about Balki being neutered. Balki and Larry’s argument over whether Twinkacetti has emotional depths is answered by how oblivious Twinkacetti tries to remain in regards to his own troubles in that he constantly insults the sexuality of the unmarried.

The guys work on a plan to help Twinkacetti manipulate his wife back into loving him. Didn’t we already learn–twice–not to hide our own shortcomings so that women will like us? I mean, I get that some evolutionary paths have long, long rewarded those species’ males who could most dupe the females, or vice-versa (at least, when they haven’t rewarded straight-out rape and incest). But I thought we were supposed to be watching a show about modern vs. traditional ways. Maybe I shouldn’t complain too much, because even on OKCupid, there are definite trends of guys exaggerating their height, and women widely interpreting what is meant by “curvy”. At any rate, we’ve got a variety of intentions here:

–Twinkacetti doesn’t want to be sad
–Larry wants Twinkacetti out of the apartment so he can write chapter 15, the chapter where he and the woman from the singles’ bar play around in Easter grass
–Balki genuinely believes that a caring, romantic Twinkacetti still exists

But the end result is the same: not a single damn one of them really takes what Edwina wants into consideration. Balki comes closest, and good for him, but he still falls a little short. Twinkacetti decides to spend his five minutes with Edwina at “Tony’s Mambo Room”, but isn’t sure how exactly to spend them.

Show, you knew that I would reject the offer of Larry and Balki sharing a bed again, so thank you for giving me this scene where Balki and Larry pretend to be the Twinkacettis being romantic at a restaurant so I can make some gay jokes. So here goes: Balki and Larry are gay. Ha!


Cousin Larry’s self-selection of the role of Edwina gives us some good insight into his sexual self. In role-play scenarios, you act like something you wish you were. For all that Cousin Larry acts like a top, he really wishes to be a bottom.

The audience whoops it up, and I’m right there with them this time, because deep-voiced romantic Balki is still funny to me. They even work in a variation on his catchphrase after he repeatedly tells Larry/Edwina how beautiful he/she is.


They actually end their roleplay with a gay joke: Larry says “take me” and Balki says “I don’t think so”. On Mypos it’s bad luck to screw in front of the guests.


And for as funny as all that was to me, they botch the landing again. “Get off my dress” ranks up there with the weakest scene-ending jokes this show has ever done.


Anyway, here we are at Tony’s Mambo Room, and the cousins are still arguing about what approach Twinkacetti should take. I could go on at length about how psychology studies have shown that compliance with orders goes way down if there is disagreement amongst the authority figures giving them; but such a discussion is made pointless by the fact that neither of the cousins really has any sort of relationship history at all.

Balki suggests thinking of Mrs. Twinkacetti’s feelings, but only so far as it means manipulating those feelings so she will take back the worthless husband who shows her no affection, can’t get it up in bed, and constantly squanders their money. He tells Twinkacetti to beg forgiveness, which includes throwing his face at her feet and asking her to break his neck. I guess I’ve got to up my game since the show’s now making the same jokes I do. Anyway, Edwina arrives and the cousins hide in a way that 100% does not make it look like they’re a gay couple hiding from their wives.


(Sidebar: you’re still crushing it on the props, show, keep up the good work)


Oh man, for once in the show’s history, neither of these guys is on-screen, for all that it was only thirteen seconds or so. And here it is! Here’s a third instance of that dialogue structure!


Twinkacetti: Don’t you want to hear about your eyes?

Edwina: No.


Twinkacetti lays out his rationale for picking Tony’s Mambo Room: it was because of the time, years ago, that they made out in one of the booths and how he slipped the accordion player 50 cents (50 cents! inflation, amirite?) to play a song. But it turns out he was remembering someone else. Ah, shit.


Twinkacetti runs over to the table where Larry and Balki are sitting and whispers so badly that Edwina hears them talking. He tries to change tack, leading to the greatest line of the episode:

Twinkacetti: You know, darling, just now, in the john, I was thinking about how your eyes remind me of moonlit pools on a warm summer night.

Edwina leaves angry; Twinkacetti leaves sad. He tells the cousins not to wait up for him since “he made a key”. Bitch, don’t you already have a key? You’re the landlord!


Ooh, a new exterior shot with the sun rising!


In the Ritz Discount store, Larry hangs his coat. Remember this. This is important.


Guess what! More noises from the office!


They were doin’ it!


Edwina has a good laugh over Twinkacetti’s boner. He evidently lured her back with egg rolls and a saxophone (hey, what the hell, a similar approach worked in Better Off Dead). So it turns out that Cousin Larry and Balki really didn’t know what the hell they were talking about and my joke about Twinkacetti not being able to get it up turned out to be correct. Although, really, I’m sure that Twinkacetti had a little help here, what with the picture of G. Gordon Liddy on his wall that he could look to anytime he started to falter.


Twinkacetti gives them the day off, Edwina does that “woof” thing that Twinkacetti always does, and they both go back in the office to continue boinking.

The lesson’s given pretty short shrift, and the music responds by being really short. The lesson is: sometimes it’s okay to butt in. Even though they didn’t need to. Even though they really shouldn’t have.


And the loudest, worst saxophone music you can imagine comes on, which the show doesn’t even try to pass off as good. The only way I’d believe that was done by a good saxophonist would be if Twinkacetti’s office had 15-foot high metal walls. It kind of makes me wonder if it was the best they could do with the layout of the set and had to change the last joke of the episode.


Larry: Even bad sax is better than no sax at all.

After which he oversells it, reminding us that these cousins aren’t so different after all.

So let’s put “Since I Lost My Baby” into the same group as “The Rent Strike”, as it’s another episode that has a lot of little great things about it, and one giant awful thing. The awful thing is how little it cares what Edwina Twinkacetti wants. I mean, okay, that’s an indirect result of her being a secondary (tertiary, even?) character; but it does beg the question of why there are no main female characters on the show. She falls right back into bed with Twinkacetti just because he remembered how to be romantic after 16 years of being a selfish oaf. She had every right to leave Mr. Twinkacetti, and if there were any other female characters on this show she could turn to, she’d have been confident in that decision.

The good things: the “no” response showing up the required three times; how each of the male characters thinks they know more about relationships than the other two, and in reality none of them do; the prop details; the structure of the episode beginning and ending with ruckus coming from the Ritz Discount back office; and man-oh-man that they got away with that soundbite of the woman in the throes of orgasm coming from the TV.

Speaking of successful running bits coming three to an episode, did I mention I’m on OKCupid? As you can tell by this week’s review, I’m very strongly feminist. I’m 5’7” (no lie), atheist, allergic/averse to pets, have a master’s degree and a steady job… and I used to play the saxophone in high school, if you know what I mean.

Join me here next week for “Trouble in Paradise”; join me on OKCupid… anytime.


Catchphrase count: Balki (2); Larry (0)
Boner count: Balki (0); Larry (0); Twinkacetti (1); Edwina (1)

Season 2, Episode 11: A Christmas Story

Ah, the holidays. Time to visit with friends and family and reflect on the joys and sorrows of the past year, to bid it adieu and huddle together, drawing strength from each other to ready us for the new one. Christmastime in particular is a time for excess: overeating, overspending in service of giving others tokens of your love for them. And, if there’s love in your heart, an excess of Christmas spirit: the Christmas miracle. As I’ve been learning from this show, the truest love is that between cousins, so I’m sure we’ll see a Christmas miracle before the episode is done.


Oh yeah, if you’re a working schlub like me, Christmas also means office parties with your boss, his family, other people from your apartment building, and a bunch of people you’ve never met before who don’t get any lines.


Man, Twinkacetti’s so evil he refuses to sing Christmas songs. This is the face of your Anti-Christ, people. But we do get to see his two kids again, Hairdo and Halfpint.


The characters toast each other twice because they’re not sure which camera angle is being used at any given moment. Then they all hightail it the fuck up out of there because, after three weeks of this show’s negative stereotypes (Latinos, and then Italians, and then Italians again) they do NOT want to be around for whatever Jewish jokes might come up. They know not to mess with the ADL.


We get a little moment of the Twinkacettis arguing about how Edwina spent $100 on the spread for the party; like I said, this is a time of excess. Then Mrs. Twinkacetti gives the cousins their Christmas bonuses and brags about how she gave Mr. Twinkacetti a black eye.


YES. YES. BLOOD. MORE. IT PLEASES US. But we’re only two minutes in, so this is not the Christmas miracle.


Larry talks about the great Christmas (“Christmaaaaahhhhsss”) they’re going to have in Madison, Wisconsin, and Balki makes the same face I did when I accidentally stapled my fingers together that one time. Larry says it’s going to be the best Christmas ever, and damn it, you never say that kind of shit in the first act of a sitcom. God damn it.


Balki is excited by snow, and that’s a good way of making him a child. I’m sure the closest they got to snow is the ash from their local volcano. He gets to excited he decides to share a yule log with Cousin Larry.


Larry keeps hyping Madison; X-Mas 1986 means he’ll be the “Christmas Boy”, a role that rotates yearly amongst the 9 siblings in the Appleton clan. Cousin Larry is very excited.


Balki then talks about how he’ll miss Christmas on Mypos. It’s supposed to be touching, but some dolt in the audience laughs at the word “baklava”, unaware that it’s a real thing and not just some madeup word. The show is trying to ramp up some emotion for both of these guys by having them miss people we’ve never really met. And yeah, if I had that cool brother from the intro, I’d miss him too.

Then the show lets slip that it has too much time to fill by having Larry repeat Balki’s “Christmas Turtle” joke. The turtle being named Bernie (a good, strong Mediterranean name, that) doesn’t save the repeated joke.

Larry gives some important words about how when there are changes in your life, you have to move on. And here’s another Chekhov’s Gun of sitcoms: if Character A tells Character B a nugget of wisdom in the first act, he will have to learn it himself in the third. Damn it, were almost a third in, here. We’re not going to Madison, are we?


Jennifer and Mary Anne (Sagittarius) come by, and damn, whatever happened to that style of overalls? I’m not into blondes, nor am I into female characters who barely have the one personality trait, but Jennifer’s doing a lot with a little thanks to 80s fashions. And since we didn’t get a reference to it last week, the show reminds us that Mary Anne is just a fucking idiot. Before they leave for their skiing trip, Larry demands adherence to the law of mistletoe.


Larry tries to jam his tongue down Jennifer’s throat. He’s just been waiting all season to do that, and finally has an excuse. Thank the baby Jesus we have customs that allow us to control women’s bodies and invade their personal space. It’s what separates us from the foreigners (they just do it whenever they want).


Larry just had a white Christmas in his pants.


Mary Anne just gets up in there like “I’ll show you who doesn’t have a high school education”.

Larry and Balki share a moment of quiet contemplation over their boners.


Larry explains the forced invasion of women’s bodies thing, and that it only works at Christmas, so Balki decides then and there he’s going to take the mistletoe along and make out with every woman in Larry’s family. The Christmas miracle is not that women are treated like human beings.


Larry calls up “Gus” to see if he has any hot tips about endurance while Balki grabs his suetcase.

…and they can’t go to Madison because the airport is snowed in.

So then Larry calls his mother. The Christmas miracle is not that Balki can pronounce “Appleton” yet.


Larry asks mom not to let Elaine be the Christmas boy, and man I hope we get to meet her, because she’s now been established as the one that fucked him up the most. Then the cousins call up the bus company, but there’s a blizzard and the roads are closed, so then they try to get a snowplow, but they can’t get a snowplow because there’s a blizzard. Also Dmitri’s wearing glasses because… Balki was reading the phonebook? Let us all contemplate the mystery of Dmitri’s glasses.


Balki reminds Larry that he has a car. You know, a car, that he can drive, on the roads that are closed.


See? I told you. Balki (dressed in Russian-type clothes because he’s foreign) sees that Larry’s car broke down in front of a “Christmas Tree Store” and decides that they will have Christmas at the apartment.


The guy who runs the “Christmas Tree Store” out of his trailer in an empty lot comes out eating a turkey leg, so I will call him Turkey Leg Greg. His wife shouts at him to shut the door, she’s not going to heat the whole sitcom. The Christmas miracle is not that the lower classes will be portrayed as anything other than rude and driven solely by physical drives such as hunger or staying warm.


Turkey Leg Greg gives Balki a shitty tree from the dumpster. Sheesh. Even before I was on immunosuppressants, I knew not to touch dumpsters except–maybe–at gunpoint. But Larry says that the tree does not give him that sweet, sweet “Christmas feeling” he craves. Sad Larry is so sad that he walks off into the snow to be alone. Balki goes back home with the tree, and I am so, so pissed that neither one of them rolled up the window on that Mustang. When a man loses his love for his classic car, he’s lost his love for life.


Ah, dammit. The Christmas miracle is not that Larry froze to death.


Larry’s jacket has the fakest looking snow on it I’ve ever seen, but he doesn’t even get a chance to hang it, because Balki Claus is here! Larry knows nothing else is going to happen in this episode, so he lets Balki recite as much of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” as he wants.


Hey! Perfect Strangers got to the Donna Dixon reindeer name joke years before the Simpsons! But then he follows it up with “on Reagan, on Nixon”, which makes me question where to draw the line of when Balki is intentionally making a joke. Which… is kinda the long-term arc of “Homer getting things wrong” turning into “Homer making the joke deliberately” in latter-day Simpsons (see Season 17, ep. 20, where Homer tells Marge “you used to love my nonsequiturs”).

Anyways, Balki stole a bunch of decorations from the discount store, including a banner, ornaments, and Christmas lights that don’t work. He also bought them Jewish food. And I’ll say this so the show doesn’t get sued for it. Gefilte fish is as bad as you’ve heard.


But Larry doesn’t want a tree, he doesn’t want to eat, sing carols, or even string popcorn.


Balki: Now you’re making Balki mad.


You probably already guessed that Balki had a couch cushion under his suit, but if you didn’t they staged the reveal shot perfectly (at least for the home audience), with him standing right beside the chair he took it from. Balki rants for awhile about how he’s not getting the Christmas he wants, either. He lists more Myposian traditions, and just like before, Larry repeats the last item in the list (“roasting radishes”) as a question.

Even though there were only enough jokes for one night, they somehow made them last for eight nights straight. But that’s not the Christmas miracle either; that’s the Hanukah miracle.

And Balki hammers home that Larry wasn’t taking his own advice, once again turning the tables on which one of them was a child. Not only that, but it furthers the theme that Balki’s inner child is pure (look! snow!) while Larry’s is only arrested in its development.

Larry literally even says that he doesn’t want to grow up, and I think I should finally give this show some credit for its whole “Balki is a child in this way, but Larry’s a child in this way” thing. Even though it has been used a little clumsily in the past, there’s some depth to it here. Larry is pouty here because he can’t do the family tradition he’s only gotten to do twice in his life (at 6 and 15). They don’t overdo Balki being a child here, but that’s okay, because this is something that’s finally working on the aggregate level. Balki the Kid is well established, but Larry the Kid is subtler. But each complements the other. Larry is the parent for Balki’s intellect; Balki is the parent for Larry’s emotions.

But since this episode has committed to its repetition, Balki suggests opening presents, Larry whines again about it not having the Christmas feeling, and–


Balki: I’ve got your Christmas feeling hangin’, boy.


Balki lets Cousin Larry be the Christmas boy. Mark Linn-Baker really sells the childish glee when handing out the presents.

Balki gets a boombox! And a Wayne Newton tape! (The Christmas miracle is not that the writers remembered Balki’s love of Wayne Newton, because this is already the third reference to it. It’s probably in the show bible.)

Cousin Larry’s gift is a blanket that Balki has been working on for him since the day he arrived. He tells Larry “Happy Birthday”, which is what they say on Mypos because of Baby Yayzoos, which leads to a decent sheepherder joke.


Cousin Larry almosts breaks down crying while telling a story about when he was 6 and gave his mom a handmade pot holder. And yeah, I’m putting this together now. Larry’s first time being the Christmas boy was when he was 6; it was likely a magical time. His second time, he was 15, when he probably felt that he was too old to openly enjoy it, and probably acted aloof. Christmas at the age of 6 was probably the last thing he really enjoyed before his brothers and sisters engaged in a years-long pattern of mental torture not seen since the 1944 film Gaslighting.

But Larry now has the Christmas feeling! There’s love in his heart! Here it comes! Here comes the miracle!


The Christmas miracle is that the lights on their tree come back on. That’s right. The shitty string of lights that probably doesn’t even have a UL-compliant plug, which Balki hung on a literal garbage tree, managed to come back on long enough for the cousins to misattribute meaning. You know what? All those characters in the first scene were right to get out of there while they had the chance.


Then they hear children caroling outside. You know, in the middle of the blizzard that shut down all roads and flights out of a major US city. Balki and Larry watch from the comfort of their warm apartment as the children get frostbite and die.


Merry Christmas everybody! Join me next year when I review “Dog Gone Blues”!


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