Family Matters Recused

Last week I promised you the review for Season 4, Episode 19: Just a Gigolo. It’s my fault that you aren’t getting that today. I am sorry. I’m trying to get an academic guest post set up for that one, but it’s not ready. So for this week and the next, at least, we’re going to take a little break from season 4.  This post was originally going to run between seasons 4 and 5, and it’s simply coincidence that I’m posting it on the first Friday of Black History Month.

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Family Matters Assumed

Just over a year ago, through the Perfect Strangers Reviewed Facebook page, I received a message from someone whom I won’t name. Over the course of a week, ze contacted me, Philip J. Reed, and Sarah Portland about our review sites; possibly others.  The question asked of all of us is whether we were going to continue our reviews.  That is: would Phil review the ALF cartoons?; would Sarah review all of the new Star Trek stuff?; and in my case, when would PSR be done, and would I be reviewing Family Matters?  After all, said ze, Family Matters was “a continuation”.  Whoever ze is, ze damn sure ain’t this stock photo of a “lawyer”.

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Paul Graham of www.paulgraham.com fame laid out a a hierarchy of disagreements in 2008. I saw it online during the last presidential election (and yes, *sigh*, I’m going to have to talk about that shit in this post) and thought it was useful. Someone going by the handle of “Loudacris” on a site called CreateDebate made a graphic to illustrate Graham’s hierarchy.   Here it is:

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So let’s go backwards through these.  First of all, mystery questioner… I’m not going to call you an asshat.  We’ve spoken through Facebook on multiple occasions, you’re obviously a fan of Perfect Strangers, and you read my blog. Morever, you’re a real person. You have feelings, and we all want to be understood by others.  I don’t think you’re an asshat, but the question was kind of an asshat question.

Second of all, you’re hiding behind an avatar.  If you can’t prove you’re a real person, then  what authority do you have about 80s/90s network sitcoms? I owe you nothing.

Third, you asked me about this when I had barely done a year of Perfect Strangers Reviewed. Maybe artists like me are touchy about people asking for free work, but damn if it doesn’t happen again that, when you post hard work online, you’re bound to eventually get “you should do more” as the first comment. At least have the courtesy to first compliment me/us on my/our work. And when will I be done? Am I falling behind your media feeding schedule?

Are all of you getting the message from that pyramid above? Name-calling and ad hominem attacks and responding to tone are mean, made by the real asshats who can’t engage in a discussion.  Let’s continue.

Fourth, to settle matters for all asshats, everywhere, forever: Family Matters is not what I’d consider a continuation.

Fifth, okay, Family Matters is not a continuation, it’s a spinoff.  I kind of want to define continuation by the persons making it, but that doesn’t work; so let’s say that intention is key.  Saved by the Bell: The College Years is a continuation. Extreme Ghostbusters was a continuation. Fuck, The Munsters Today, however it was received, was a continuation. (I’ve actually considered reviewing The Munsters Today after I’m done with this. The answer to the question you just thought is “no”.)

Sixth, the argument boils down to a misunderstanding of the differences between a character and a scenario. It’s a continuation of the character Harriette Winslow, as portrayed by Jo Marie Payton-France-Noble-Clark-Downs-Nahasapeemapetilon, sure, and her husband, Carl, and it takes place in Chicago. But could anyone look at both shows and say that they form one narrative? There’s more coherence between the New and Old Testaments, people.

Seventh, I’ll refute a central (implied) point: I should review Family Matters.  Here’s my answer: fuck no.

BUT

I want to take this opportunity to talk about why that is in more depth. I’m going to take the long way around, and this is ultimately a semi-political statement on race. (Spoiler: I’m a liberal atheist who thinks we’d be a whole lot better off without money. You’ve been warned.)

Family Matters Remembered

I’m not going to ever review Family Matters, but there are some things worth talking about. I’ll start with me as a childhood viewer.

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I watched Family Matters as a kid; and just like many white kids then, I loved Urkel.  I had an Urkel talking doll; I had an Urkel backpack; I still have my copy of The Lean, Mean Urkel Machine that I probably got from the Troll book fair at school.  I share partial blame for his success. I’m sorry.

I remembered the episode where Urkel tries to infiltrate a gang and this guy puts on a tiny pair of glasses and calls himself an “artiste”. I had remembered it being Mr. Potato Head glasses, but it wasn’t, which means I need to go apologize to some people I helped put in prison.

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I remember Urkel burning down the restaurant.

I remember the one where Urkel had a jetpack.

I know I watched the show with my dad, because he told me what kind of car Urkel drove. I still wouldn’t mind owning an Isetta myself.

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I remember Myra.  I really liked Myra, because Myra had large breasts. I remember the episode where Urkel was afraid to touch her breasts.

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I remember that I stopped watching regularly around the 5th or 6th season. I remember watching the other shows in the TGIF block around that time – Step by StepHome Improvement, Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper, Boy Meets World, but somehow it seemed that the magic was gone. I know I didn’t watch any of those regularly. Was I really only into Full House and Perfect Strangers and Family Matters? Was ABC’s TGIF programming simply not as much of a draw for me once I started watching better-written stuff like The Simpsons and The Critic?

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I know I tuned in a couple of times in the last few seasons of Family Matters and being disappointed that it seemed to have turned into the Stefan Urquelle show.

Family Matters Revisited

I watched the entirety of Family Matters for this post. All 215 episodes. Just to talk about why I won’t write about it.

Here’s the first thing that jumped out at me about Family Matters: it’s a show about black people.

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From what I understand, the Winslows were originally living in the Caldwell Hotel.  In the pilot episode, you can see a hallway outside their door, which would be replaced with a front porch in every other episode. So maybe it was still in the hotel?  It’s also my understanding that Larry and Balki were intended to show up in the pilot. Consider this: an appearance by the cousins would have been conferring the success of Perfect Strangers onto its child.  I’m honestly glad that somebody was smart enough to nix that appearance.  History is littered with those in power conferring rights and respect to the powerless; when that happens, those in power control the language of the narrative.  (Think, for instance, of when any man says that women should be respected because they are someone’s daughter, sister, mother, etc.; such language denies them respect on the basis of their personhood.)

Anyway, before I talk about Family Matters proper, let’s see how Perfect Strangers addressed the change.

The promo gives the impression that, for the world that Balki and Larry inhabit, Harriette and her family got a television show, replete with relatives that could be removed as needed. And, wow, what the hell happened to Balki’s accent? Am I going to have to listen to that for the next

*counts on fingers*

10 years of this blog?

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Not only does the show assertively stand on its own in this way, but Harriette mirrors this behavior.  She loses her job as elevator operator (my guess is that Balki mentioned to the wrong person that the elevator had buttons for all the floors) and interviews for a job as a security guard (my guess is that Lance Dick accidentally shot himself); when she’s initially turned down, she states the case for her qualifications loud and clear to the white manager.

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(“A sister doing it for herself” is just one of the many awful and tone-deaf jokes you’d get from me, a white guy, if I reviewed the show.)

Eddie has a Chicago Chronicle sign or something in his room in another episode, but aside from those two things, Harriette’s job at the Chronicle is mentioned only a couple times per season after that. In the 5th season, she loses her job after having worked at the Chronicle for 23 years. It may be worth noting that, by that point, Perfect Strangers was off the air. It’s where the Chicago Chronicle originated; perhaps there was no need to keep that tie once the originating show was gone? And while we’re talking about continuation, Jo Marie was replaced during the 9th season.  Those two things really erode the idea of “continuation”, but that’s not the reason I won’t review it.

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Family Matters Refused

The fact that it would take me probably 5 years to do is also not the reason I won’t review it.

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I said “fuck you” at Family Matters multiple times while watching it; but that’s not the reason I won’t review it.

Or, actually, here’s my review of the series: I liked parts. I hated parts. It was good. It was bad. I have things I could say about why it was good. I have things I could say about why it was bad. Family Matters was a sitcom. It did sitcom things in a sitcom way.

But ultimately, I won’t review Family Matters because it’s about black people, and I ain’t one.

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I know a few things about black people, and it’s all second-, third-, or nth-hand information; some of it from black people; most of it from books. In the first episode alone, I can see some things in the construction of Family Matters that fits in with things “I know” about African-Americans. You’ve got a big family living all together; there’s a matriarch present; there’s a mention of Prince; hell, the littlest kid is named Little Richie. But I don’t know enough. I don’t know half the celebrities that show up. I don’t know half the bands.

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You’ve got episodes about making it big in sports, making it big in music, about driving while black, and about racist reactions to Black History Month. And for those first two things? I bet I’m making a bigger deal about them than I ought to, because I think of sports and music as being domains that black people are better in. That’s what I’ve been told my whole life, and I know damn well that if I looked at any amount of data on either thing, my understanding would be more nuanced by some order of magnitude. However, I don’t think that I remember any white sitcoms taking considerable time out of a story to have someone sing a whole song, or to have the characters doing nothing but practicing their dance moves in the living room as a group. When Balki and Larry sing, it’s always meant as some sort of joke. When Family Matters does it, you can tell it’s because someone thinks it’s important.

I’ll come back to the driving while black thing for a second. If you’re in enough of a social media echo chamber not to have seen this over the past half year, I’ll say it here: people of color weren’t surprised at the results of the 2016 presidential election, or any of the language used by the current administration. Being arrested or killed for nothing more serious than holding toys or candy is only a surprise to us. You may have only gotten upset (or not) hearing people asking “why’s there not a white history month” in the past few years. But black people? They’ve been seeing–living–this shit for years. Every god damn day.

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When Philip J. Reed finished his ALF reviews, he mentioned that he couldn’t have imagined anyone’s voice but Billy Superstar’s for Full House Reviewed; moreover, that each of the shows we have picked to review are perfect for our personalities, and our voices.  I’m a neurotic, college-educated white guy who holds himself back from approaching women; I’m an overgrown child who still buys toys and wants to believe in people. I write detailed jokes about Daisyworld and put them right beside the easier jokes about Balki and Larry fucking. The internal focus between Larry and Balki mirrors in many ways my own internal struggles about how to do things. I’ve left women in my life hanging, and it’s often because I’m caught up in my own shit. As sad as it sounds, I am the cousins, and Perfect Strangers is the right show for me.

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I’m not from a big family; I don’t even keep in touch with all of them anymore. I’ve never once gone to a black church and left Christianity’s fold a long time ago. I may have had “nerdy” interests, but I was never quite the type of social outcast Steve Urkel was. I didn’t grow up in a city. I’ve never been a robot.

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And most importantly, I’m not black.

This show is not for me.

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This show is not for me.

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This show is not for me.

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I think that, if anybody’s going to review Family Matters in a complete sense like I’m doing, it should be a black person.

*sigh*

But does that just make me one more white guy telling a black person what they ought to do?

Family Matters; Me, Cued

I hope not! But if it does, and I am, I hope you’ll tell me.

Let me take a page (or two) from Scott McCloud’s 2000 book Reinventing Comics. It’s hard to quote comics, so I’m just going to reproduce the relevant panels.

comics1comics2comics3comics4

But let me also focus on the converse of who should write Family Matters Reviewed by saying who shouldn’t. I don’t think me, or any other white person, is the right person for it.  If we’re going to take a teleological approach, even playfully, and say the shows pick people, Family Matters hasn’t chosen yet.

There were two previous attempts to do Perfect Strangers, and both failed*.

Originally, Billy Superstar had wanted to review Family Matters, but all the seasons weren’t available on DVD yet, so he didn’t. There’s another guy who did reviews for a few seasons of Family Matters. I’m not going to link to it now; you can find it if you want. I linked to it once before, and now I regret it. It was written by a white guy. I haven’t read much of his reviews of the show, but I read enough to read one where he makes a joke about Harriette looking like an orangutan.

And you know what? It took a fair amount of work (I’m a research librarian, remember) to find out this guy’s name. I’m calling this guy out: UNACCEPTABLE, SHANE JEFFRIES

Let me get political again here. YOU MADE A RACIST JOKE, SHANE JEFFRIES

At the risk of back-patting, what I hear/read from women and African-Americans and other minorities is that one of the best things white cishet middle-class guys without disabilities like me can do is call out this kind of bullshit when we see it and say that it’s not okay.

SHANE THAT IS NOT OKAY IT IS 2017

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Please note the difference. On Facebook, I was asked a question by someone going under a false name, and at first glance the question read as entitled, but there’s just an interested fan behind the avatar.  I didn’t say that person’s name.  “Rambo Homer McFly” doesn’t deserve that level of respect, or privacy. You’re an asshat, Shane. Go back to where you belong.

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As far as I’m concerned, that kind of joke disqualifies you from writing about the show. I’m glad you went on to other things!  But I’m afraid that if I review Family Matters, I’ll end up making jokes that are just as racist–or be so cautious that I end up making fewer jokes, and still be racist. Because… I’m racist! I have racist thoughts about real people. I’ve done racist things, and I’m certain I still do in ways I don’t see. I benefit from racist structures and systems. Yesterday was the first day I tried calling a government agency to express my view about a nomination; why the fuck did I wait so long?

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I have taken a test developed by Harvard researchers and gotten back hard data that the associations in my brain are racist. I’m from Georgia; my grandfather was in the KKK. I’m ashamed of that, and I’m responsible** for the bad aspects America he helped create. It’s unavoidable that my brain is going to continue to come up with ignorant racist bullshit for the rest of my life; my hope for the future is that each generation will be less so.

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An important aside: I make numerous jokes about Larry and Balki being gay. I know only a few gay people. If I make insulting jokes, or say anything in bad taste, or anything that puts you down for being who you are, I want you to tell me. I need to know. I may ask questions, but I won’t argue with you. I don’t want to hurt anyone.

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Family Matters was a show for black people and, sure, it was also a show written so it would have broad appeal for white people. But I feel that any white person is going to have less to say about the show than it deserves. Because black people know their own experience; and they also know the experience of how they’re supposed to present themselves to white people.  I know next to nothing about the latter, and even less about the former.

Family Matters Pursued

I think Family Matters could use some love (and some hate) from someone qualified to write about it. I illegally downloaded the entire run of the show–only to find out it wasn’t complete. There were numerous episodes missing that I had to purchase from iTunes, which really has more to do with the DVD releases than anything. Much of the season 9 rips were recorded during what was obviously a marathon, because I kept seeing the same show advertised in the bottom third of the screen. Also there’s one episode that’s lost a few minutes in the middle because a storm warning cuts in.  At any rate, for big movies, you can download them as soon as they’re released in Asia, which precedes the DVD release in the US, generally. But I downloaded these in November, a couple weeks after season 9 was released on DVD.  I honestly would have expected it to be on torrent sites, but then again, I’m an impatient criminal. At any rate, it’s out now! If you’ve been waiting to review Family Matters because African-Americans are disproportionately jailed for crimes that white people like me are more likely to commit, now’s your time!

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By the way, yes, that’s Donna Summer in some sort of gas-powered egg timer. Family Matters went to some weird places. Just a heads-up.

I’d love to hear what a black woman my age has to say about the show. I’d love to hear what a black guy my age has to say about the show. I’d love to hear what any black person has to say about this show. Because god damn there’s a lot to say.

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Maybe Family Matters and its reviewer haven’t found each other yet; maybe they never will. Maybe they have, and that person hasn’t acted on it yet. Maybe it’s there and I haven’t seen it? (down there, the comments, tell me) But here’s a message for that person (or the cooler self they become when they use the “boss sauce”):

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Doing this kind of review blog certainly hasn’t been entirely a cakewalk***.  I have a lot of fun with it. It tells me a lot about myself, and about others, and about television, and about comedy, and about fans, and about nostalgia. But the more I invest in it, the worse it hurts when the show goes bad. When it acts like suicidal thoughts can be done away with in the time it takes to microwave a TV dinner; when it decides to let women stay around only if it helps the main characters get laid; when a character takes a moral stance that is then reversed in the next episode, or the very next joke they make; when it tells you there’s something wrong with you for being the way you are, or thinking the way you think.

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And if you’re black, or if you’re a woman, or if you’re a black woman? I’ve seen enough to know that when you say anything online, you get hateful comments at the very least, and at worst, death threats (or worse?). And that may not even be the half of what you’d have to deal with if you took this on. Yeah, it’s a dumb old sitcom, but I’ve seen people who look like me get upset over far less. The worst I’ve had so far is a message on Facebook. You’ll likely be surrounded and policed by fragile white eggshells, jealous of your strengths and courage.

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But if you’re out there? And you take this on? I will eagerly, hungrily read it. I will sit, and I will listen, and I will try to understand the interiors I cannot see. I will know that this is a larger, harder endeavor than Perfect Strangers Reviewed is in more ways than one. I will share your work, and I will encourage your work, and I will defend your work, and I will make stupid jokes in the comments about Waldo, or about Myra. And you’ll tell me I’m racist. And you’ll tell me I’m sexist. And I’ll learn, and I’ll try harder not to be.

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Seriously, though, I’m totally ready to make stupid jokes about Myra.

And will anything I’m saying here make a difference to you? Do you need my allyship at all? Those aren’t questions for me to answer. If and when you show up, let’s talk about those things. Meanwhile, I’ll be over here.

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Here’s what I know: Balki and Larry didn’t show up in the first episode; Harriette got a new job all by herself; I’m not reviewing Family Matters.

Ding Ding Mahmoud

So, back to the regularly-scheduled programming of white guys and their arguments that matter only to them. I’ll talk about Family Matters again at some point.  After all, it’s informed my readings of long-running sitcoms in general, and Perfect Strangers specifically, so it will be hard not to.

But I wanted to make sure that I said all this, because 80s/90s sitcom reviewing is a thing I’m doing right now. I think it’s a burgeoning community and I even see its potential as an art form. (I try to be an artiste with this blog.) Independent snarky sitcom reviewing is now a domain I have a voice in, and I’m invested in this, and I’d like to see it become more of a “thing”.  I want it to be a good “thing”, because there were plenty of times when the shows themselves certainly weren’t.

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Oh yeah, by the way, there’s a Perfect Strangers Reviewed Facebook page, where you can ask me whether I’ll review your favorite show.

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Urkel count: I lost track of how many different Urkels there were sometime around season 6

*for some goddam reason

**not “guilty of”–I see some white people confuse the two and try to reject the former

***yet another of the many instances of awful and racially-unaware uses of language you’d get if a white guy reviewed the show

How I Spent My Summer Vacation: 1987

So.

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the first time Balki and Larry didn’t kiss on national television.  Anniversaries are arbitrary, and really, how precise can you get with an anniversary? Do you celebrate simply the half-hour in which the show aired?  Is it the whole day? Is it the calendar day, or are we basing our calculations on true revolutions around the sun?  Because we have to correct for that every four years (and even that, if I remember correctly, doesn’t catch the entirety of the offset), and let’s face it, 30 doesn’t divide evenly by four, even on Mypos.  And besides: when did they start filming these episodes? Do we count the anniversary of when the pitch for the show was first given? When the actors were chosen? When the first script was written? Anniversaries are really just exercises in trying to recapture some long-lost feeling related to a point in time which, quite honestly, you may have romanticized in the interim, boats against the current, borne (as Balki might say) sneezelessly into the past.

It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that I used a version of this speech once in a long-term relationship, and the reason now is the same as it was then: I didn’t buy you a present, show.

Luckily, other people have legitimately fond memories of Perfect Strangers, and one of them is putting on a livestream of episodes (is it legal? don’t be ridiculous…) this coming Sunday.  This whole sentence is a Facebook link with the details of the Perfect Strangers 30th anniversary livestreamed event.* I’ll try to be there for at least part of it, riffing on the episodes in real time.**  Check it out! SEE the beautiful young shepherd from the far-flung isle Mypos!  EXPERIENCE the terrors visited upon his  misguided undergrown cousin! *cough* dancing girls, etc.

Anyway, Hello Happy Birthday Baby This, Perfect Strangers!

Now, on to what I’d like to become a recurring between-seasons feature…

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

One of the most interesting things to me about Philip Reed’s ALF reviews is how basically you’re getting the rare view of a trainwreck from the inside.  It’s one thing to see a train derail, crash, and burn, destroying the lives inside it. But you usually don’t get to know those lives!  Even without watching ALF myself, it’s easy to get a looming sense of dread.  You see actors, stuck in an awful situation, and you know that they basically never did anything of huge import in the entertainment world again.  One got an eating disorder; one ended up sucking hobo dick for crack. Others just disappeared.  These are real people, and you see the long-term impact the show had on them. You have to ask whether it was worth it just to be the set dressing for an alien joking about Reagan.  Hey, speaking of aliens joking about Reagan:

Balki Bartokomous and Larry Appleton share a tender moment

I’m very curious to see what Perfect Strangers did (if anything) to the actors that were a part of it.  So here’s something I’d like to do between each season, and also once this thing is done (there’s only, what, a thousand episodes left?): I want to see what kind of roles these people were able to get.  We’ve seen that Pinchot was already letting the fame of Beverly Hills Cop and the first season of Perfect Strangers go to his head.  He knew damn well he was a hot commodity.  And we’ve also seen that Mark Linn-Baker was doing this show to feed his theater-acting habit. But I won’t be looking at live shows, just TV shows, TV movies, and Hollywood films.  Also, I won’t really be watching these things in full; just enough to get a sense of what each actor did.

Rebeca Arthur / Mary Anne (Sagittarius)

Rebeca Arthur is my favorite

Rebeca Arthur appeared on one episode of The Charmings, a show about Snow White and Prince Charming living in the suburbs.  She played Rhonda, a hairdresser, who was going to go on a date with Luther (one of the seven dwarfs).  Arthur had more lines here than in any episode of Perfect Strangers so far; but somehow she had even less personality. (An artificial Rhonda, if you will).

Melanie Wilson / Jennifer

nuthin’

Belita Moreno / Edwina Twinkacetti

Belita Moreno is also my favorite

A little bit past the summer, but Moreno did an episode of Full House where she plays the director of a commercial for Danny’s TV show. I know I’ve seen it before, but given that Full House Reviewed didn’t even have a screenshot of her, she seems not to have been in the episode for very long.  But the character’s role was to be overbearing and pushy, so ABC knew who to look to.

Ernie Sabella / Donald Twinkacetti

Ernie Sabella is my favorite also I have three favorites

Ernie Sabella went on to enjoy a long and fruitful career in television. Since Perfect Strangers, he’s done a lot of bit parts (Hunter, She’s the Sheriff, Married… With Children, Roxie) as well as recurring roles. Most people probably remember him best as Mr. Carosi from Saved By the Bell.  But did you know what Sabella was also Pumbaa in The Lion King? I sure didn’t, but voicing that warthog has been something like half of his CV since 1994.  Also he was the naked subway guy on Seinfeld. I’m sure that the top search terms leading people to my blog will now be “Ernie Sabella nude”.

Mark Linn-Baker / Larry Appleton

nuthin’

Bronson Pinchot / Balki Bartokomous

nuthin’

Boy, those movie offers were just pouring in for Pinchot in 1987, weren’t they?

Lastly, let’s check in on where Susan (*sniff*) went after “The Rent Strike”:

There is no Lise Cutter

Susan, having managed to escape from the prison that was the Caldwell Hotel, sets out to lend a helping hand to others behind bars.

There is only Susan Campbell

She ends up making out with Robert Carradine, who was in prison for some reason.

the RN stands for replaceable never

But they got into a real big argument about whether Lewis Skolnick actually committed rape in Revenge of the Nerds, so she took off, heading further west.

come back susan

She tries her damnedest to free another soul from a physical–and metaphorical–prison.

I miss you Susan

She ends up doin’ it with Alex McArthur, but he leaves, and Susan is sad.

life has no meaning without you

1987 was certainly an emotional roller coaster for Susan Campbell, Medicine Woman.

Okay, so, admittedly, that wasn’t much of a post! I’m experimenting! It’s my life, and my blog!

But to be honest with you, I wanted a little bit of a breather before I dive into season 3.  Maybe we need to ease ourselves into it by seeing if the new opening credits tell us what Balki and Larry did during their summer?

Balki and Larry share a tender moment

We start out with Balki and Larry on a boat.  And you know what? For those who had been watching the show up to this point, that’s a pretty good statement that, despite learning the same lessons over and over again, the cousins have actually made some progress. There’s a tentative synthesis here – Balki’s still on the boat, but it’s in Larry’s city.  And look! The logo’s shiny now. Don’t you just want to touch it?

I want to touch it

I’m guessing ABC simply didn’t want to lay out the dough to film anything in Chicago for the first two seasons, but after the executives bought their fill of coke, New Coke, Ice Cream Cones Cereal, higher-end VCRs, Burger King Burger Bundles, and hookers, there was enough left over for a few on-location shots.  There’s some seriously shortened backstory for the cousins.  Balki’s still got his America or Burst box, and travels on a boat; but Larry just pulls out of a driveway after which he instantly gets to Chicago.

Boating Fun Balki comes with Dmitri in Admiral OutfitLarry go right

Balki and Larry run in the park!

Run Balki Run

Balki touches a horse!

Bronson Pinchot with unidentified horse 1987

The cousins face an obstacle!

they dont call it the windy city fer nuthin

The cousins run out into the street!

Balki and Larry share a tender moment

The cousins just fucking stop in the middle of the street, daring someone to run over them.

Balki and Larry continue this particular tender momentthe chicago cubs share a tender moment

Because we really needed to see Larry hand Balki that ticket in addition to them running toward Wrigley Field, and Balki wearing a baseball shirt, and a hat, and holding a tiny bat.

The cousins do that bit with the revolving doors, foreshadowing that there might be a LOT of covering the same ground this season.

what comes aroundcomes around

The cousins straighten their ties without the aid of mirrors. I’m guessing they’re going to do physical comedy out in front of the Chicago Theatre with an upturned hat on the ground in front of them.

no sunburns yetlets all do a physical comedy bit in the lobby

Basically, this opening says “here’s two guys who are from different places who sure do have a lot of fun in Chicago, but they probably never get laid”. But all I can think about is that we just saw six potential episode premises that probably won’t happen this season. Just imagine–Balki gets a job chauffeuring a horse-drawn carriage because he wants to wear a top hat, but he keeps saving the horseapples so he can celebrate a Myposian holiday. Larry keeps standing up at the baseball game to verbally trash the umpire until Jerseyman beats him up (Jerseyman 3: Assault & Batter’s Box). Or just a whole episode of Balki and Larry running through the park (it’d be better than that Christmas episode, let me tell you).

What can I say, folks. They got renewed. Not a damn thing’s going to stop them now. God help us all.

Join me next week for another Perfect Strangers review!
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