Season 4, Episode 17: Prose and Cons

No, please, I’m begging you, show.


We’ve been over this. This is a self-destructive pattern you have. Why do you keep hanging out with these lowlife stories? I saw what it did to Frank, and I see what it’s doing to you.

Like any addict, you’re telling yourself a happy story, set to some upbeat saxophone music. You’re saying that this episode about criminals won’t be like the others.


Harriette knows what’s what, and she quickly hustles Lydia into the elevator before the GeSTOPo–those menacing, somehow indistinct figures–show up.


But even foreigners know how ownership of black women’s bodies works in America, so Balki demands to drive the elevator.


Harriette, deep into contract negotiations for Family Matters, considers the PROSE AND CONS of tearing Balki a new one.*


Larry: Don’t stay off-screen for more than 30 seconds.


Not only can the elevator go really fast, but the acceleration it undergoes matches the rise in volume (not to mention rise in pitch) of both Lydia’s and Harriette’s screams, because gosh darn it physics is a real thing.  We also find that the seventh floor of the Chicago Chronicle, that’s right, you heard right–


this building, is evidently some type of tower silo.


RT (Refuted Testimony) Wainwright, who after a month finally managed to squeeze a few drops out, comes in to congratulate Larry on an article he wrote about a commodities scandal. He mentions that Larry should “try being more assertive”.


Larry considers the PROSE AND CONS of establishing continuity with a previous episode, but decides that 15 weeks is too far back and settles on asking for an office upstairs with Marshall and Walpole. (No.)  For the first time in forever, there’s a brief mention of Balki still making friends with criminals, as he’s the one who found the informant, “Sore Throat”.


He, uh


yeah, he orgasmed there


Balki then becomes one with the ball misunderstands ass/asset, and, you know? That’s not a bad one. I even like that Larry is an adult here and explains to both Balki and RT what happened.

Then the precise midpoint between Steve Martin, Dan Aykroyd, and Rick Moranis comes in from the parking lot, congratulating the cousins on the article, and hands them subpoenas.


Hey, speaking of “second cities”, we see that the gentrification of this part of Chicago is coming along apace, having attracted families with children. Look, even Ritz Discount has gotten a new paint job, like unto a whited sepulchre, within full of dead men’s stereos and all uncleanness.

The cousins fortify themselves with hot brown liquid as they prep each other on how they’ll answer questions from Judge Gideon, son of Judge Joash.


Larry’s really getting off on this, because it’s 1) something he can have them practice, 2) something that lets him put books on the table, and 3) might get him on TV.  Balki starts talking about fashion and then, because he has never, ever been afraid of horror movies, not even ONCE, NEVER…


…he makes a joke about Poltergeist II: The Other Side.


What concerns me more is that Larry is having to shoulder this responsibility himself. The Chicago Chronicle has been established as bigger than the New York Times, and apparently won’t pony up money for a lawyer for the cousins?  Bobo the Elder and Bobo the Younger are seriously going to let their paper be represented in court by two guys who break mimeograph machines, break into administrative offices, and ruin fancy dinner parties? What’s more, Larry reports to Marshall and Walpole, and we see now that those shits deliberately left their names off the article so Larry would take the fall.

Balki asks about when he gets to tell the judge what he knows, and Larry asks “what do you know”, and I actually laughed at that.  Balki tells us that Sore Throat, aka Waldo Gillings, is a driver for a crime boss who makes deals from the back of his limousine. Let’s extend broken window theory here: shouldn’t Chicago just outlaw limousines?**

Larry tells Balki that they, as journalists, have to not disclose their sources. But then Larry finds out that the judge knows how much Larry’s raise is going to be. Haha, just kidding, that was a cool callback, though.  Please subscribe and don’t forget to hit that “Like” button!


I vehemently swore that I would not track Balki’s other catchphrases, and I’m glad I did that, because there’s a ton by now (you really stepped in something good, I’ll be snookered, wwwwwow!, you do/I do, get out of the city, both cousins saying “Hiiii” when someone walks in while they’re fucking).  We don’t see much of “swing it on in” anymore, but here, Balki looks closely at Larry’s mouth while he pronounces a word (incarcerated, instead of incinerated, which was actually another good one).  I want to commend writer John B. Collins for–

ah, shit, now Larry’s talking about how they have to stand up for freedom of the press, and Balki keeps standing up




Anyway, Larry mentions the Constitution, so Balki gets on board with the idea.  Then Larry says that the Judge will not throw them in jail, triggering a Gilligan Cut.


Props to the music department for the harmonica version of the “back from the commercial” music, but god dammit, Donald Trump is only today getting sworn in and already the journalists are being jailed.


Larry and Balki have a good laugh about being prisoners.

Balki reminisces about being jailed on Mypos after he kidnapped a baby goat.


Balki: He liked to hang around with me. I gave him a lot of positive ego reinforcement.

Sounds like that goat had…

wait for it

…Livestockholm syndrome!

Anyway, on Mypos is very simple: the jails have no bars, just a circle drawn on the ground. I have to say, I am really impressed with the writing this week, because this is downright experimental in terms of this show’s conflicts.  Usually, there’s some sort of vaguely-defined middle ground that the cousins can reach, but here, they really are speaking completely different languages.  Balki may give lip service*** to Christianity, but what he’s describing essentially is a sketch of ritual magic: that a “barrier” is created to keep some evil power contained.  But is this episode a culture clash about religion, about how the idea of “magic” originated out of Judaism as a way to stigmatize other ways of contacting supernatural forces? No. Or does the discussion of how the “jails” differ mask the deeper issue of how breaches of social contracts are handled? That the American prison-industrial complex**** is so developed that it has beds? That its methods are so effective that my middle school’s architecture was designed on the panopticon principle? That prison is so ingrained in the cultural imagining that you can make jokes in shorthand (harmonicas, numbers on the walls, rape)? No. The ocean between the United States and Mypos is too vast!  Balki was jailed for sticking his peepee in a goat that was slightly too young; the cousins are now jailed for Larry’s commitment to ideas.  Values and their judges: on Mypos, both are bound to the physical world. You can only sin corporeally, and your neighbors mete out punishment. In America, both are largely unseen, perhaps only existing in an abstract sense. Circles on the ground bar more effectively than permeable walls.  To have an episode with no possibility of middle ground, no possibility of a fight between the cousins, is bold to say the very least.


Nah, j/k, the cousins are given blankets and

the guard


the cell door.

The Guard tells them that another reporter is still in jail for not revealing a source, and has been there for three years.  Geez, they hired a whole actor just to relay that information? Me, I would’ve just put a skeleton in the corner with a press pass in its hat, but wearing no other clothes, because that would make the hat funnier.

Which reminds me:


Larry starts worrying about three years in the clink, since he won’t have anywhere to plug in his Waterpik (which he, what, smuggled in up his ass?).


Larry starts shouting that he’ll talk and Balki reminds him of what it means to be a reporter. Um?

Wouldn’t Sore Throat have the possibility of being granted immunity if he gave information on his criminal boss… who is now behind bars anyway? Is he just trying to stay in the good graces of all the other limo crime lords? Where’s Waldo, anyway?


I think I may have mentioned once or twice that I’m more of a Larry than a Balki.  Balki gives Larry’s ideals back to him, and Larry says that he doesn’t believe he has the strength to uphold the constitution. The show has completely forgotten that Larry had eight brothers and sisters, but I haven’t.  He constantly had to make his own way, not just to prove himself, but because his parents’ attention was divided 9 ways.  Those of us who get into that kind of self-sufficient pattern often don’t know how to ask for help.  Some of us may find ourselves in jobs where our superiors either offer no support, or open disdain for us. I don’t like when Larry turns into a baby, but damn if it ain’t earned here. The Chicago Chronicle has distanced itself completely from the cousins.  Kind of makes you wonder what they’re hiding on floors 7-30. I bet Frank knows.

There’s actually a callback to the stand up/sit down bit from earlier, and then Balki remembers stuff from his American history class!  Balki says that people like Nathan Hale and Paul Revere were just regular Joes until they had to be heroes.  Balki even says forefathers without a dumb joke!

Larry has plenty of fetishes: dating women who are one standard deviation above the average height, getting beaten up by men wearing denim anywhere that has a liquor license, wet-and-messy-bismol (I told you I’m more of a Larry), but Balki knows which one his cousin needs now: the outward trappings of being an American citizen.


Balki starts singing “America the Beautiful” (public domain).


what the fuck


The Guard brings two more prisoners, and Larry, desperate for that middle ground between cultures, calls upon Generic Deity:


One of the prisoners is named Dutch, in the grand tradition of criminals being named Dutch going back at least to 1934’s The Big Shakedown. The prisoners are quickly established as rude dudes. I mean, look, that one guy’s wearing motorcycle gloves! Plus he threatened to kill the guard.


Mirroring his earlier request for a new office, Larry begs to be placed in a separate cell because he knows what types of jokes happen in these situations.  I will say that I like that Dutch accuses the cousins of being snitches, which both is and isn’t why they’re in jail.

I will also say that I don’t like Balki saying he’s defending “the right to arm bears”. Dutch threatens to disembowel Balki.


Balki considers the PROSE AND CONS of making a joke about the word “organ”.


You ever watch old Scooby-Doo cartoons? I remember at one point, about the same time that I understood how cel animation worked, that I could tell which bush the monster was going to jump out of, which suit of armor was going to be haunted, and which stone would open up a secret passageway. So I should have known that the only movable item introduced in this episode was going to drive the physical comedy.


Despite the multiple layers of fat that have built up on Larry’s torso, thighs, and yes, even his pinky toes, he begins to shiver, causing Balki to think there’s an earthquake. Well, I know how to handle this, you both take off your clothes and get under Balki’s blanket.

Balki offers his blanket, but before the audience finishes their “awww”, Balki brings the conversation back to the same thing he always does: how awful sheep smell when it rains and they get wet and you have to be real close to them because no way you’re gonna stop fucking them.

*sees the joke coming of the other prisoner stealing Larry’s blanket*


*watches the joke where the other prisoner steals Larry’s blanket*

*doesn’t laugh*


Balki asks if Cousin Larry is going to let them get away with this, a question punctuated quite clearly by the very neatly-drawn anarchy symbol on the wall. Balki then tries to ask for the blanet back.


Larry starts slapping Balki so that he can establish–

*reminds self that prison rape jokes aren’t cool*

–so that he can establishing pecking order.


Dutch and Jacob start trying to push the cousins through the bars.

*considers the PROSE AND CONS of doing a bit where I tie the opening sequence’s revolving door bit to prison recidivism, and like, how cell doors are revolving doors to prisoners, and another 1,000 words on top of that about how this episode doesn’t truly stand as a counterpoint to the Stanford Prison experiment because none of the prisoners is wearing a uniform, which could include jokes like “Zimbardo Zaggy Badbad” and maybe some mess about rehashing plots vs non-replicable studies*

Nah, too much effort.

The guard lets Dutch and Jacob out, because their mother posted bail. That’s almost funny.

Okay, I was cool with the ways Balki was misunderstanding English this week, and I was dreading what kind of dumb physical comedy they might get up to in the cell, but…

The other prisoners stole their blankets and pushed them up against the bars? I’ve seen scarier episodes of Rugrats.  Couldn’t they have ended up in the cell with the crime boss they exposed?


*sees the joke coming that it’s somebody else playing*

*watches the joke that it’s somebody else playing*

*laughs at the idea of the joke*

*doesn’t laugh at the execution*

The Guard comes back and messes up his fourth line.  Cousin Larry, sensing weakness, says he ain’t gonna sing. The Guard then uses his 21” black zinc telescoping corrections baton (with jeweled endcap) to stifle this nascent riot.

Oh, no, wait, Waldo came forward and testified when he heard that the cousins went to jail for him.


Balki points out that Larry did the heroic thing, even though it ended up having no effect.  And that’s great that Larry did that, but I know that Larry’s like me.  Larry understands confounding variables.  He was rewarded… but not for what he did.

Instead of leaving, the cousins just stand around in the cell talking about what hot shit they are.


Then they run away from this pointless episode.

See you next week for “Car Wars”!


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

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

*where “one”=”urethra”

**similarly, if Star Wars VIII doesn’t have the First Order blowing up every desert planet in the known universe, they deserve to lose

***and oh what lips they are

****come on, somebody’s got bingo by now on my academic theory references

Season 4, Episode 11: That Old Gang of Mine

Before I get to this week’s review, I want to plug a couple of things.

Next Saturday, December 17, Phil (the ALF dude) is hosting his fourth annual Xmas Bash!!!! He’ll be streaming 7 old Christmas specials and a bunch of other audiovisual holiday cheer. The event also raises money for the Trevor Project, which provides suicide prevention services to LGBTQ+ youth. Click this sentence to get all the details about the Xmas Bash!!!!

Second plug: I made some art for the event! There’s virtually no Perfect Strangers merchandise, so here’s your chance to get a Christianized version of those little chub-sportin’ cherubs:


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

And please come watch the Xmas Bash!!!! on the 17th!


We open at the Caldwell, only to find the absolute quickest exit the women have ever made from the apartment.


15 seconds in and they’re gone! This season, it’s Mary Anne (Sagittarius) who has a new job. Let’s do some comparison here, shall we?

Last season, Jennifer–who admitted to liking Larry with the same enthusiasm as someone agreeing to, well, like Larry, I guess–spent a third of an episode telling Larry that she wasn’t sure she should take a new job in Los Angeles.  When you spend your life not necessarily liking things because they are good, choosing which is the better intangible (nice weather or Larry’s penis) is a tough choice.  Here, Mary Anne–who has almost always taken the lead in showing affection to Balki–has wasted no time accepting a promotion.  Sure, there’s a difference between being hasty and being thoughtful, but tell me who’s the dumb one again.

Larry says Balki must be feeling pain at her exit.


But Balki didn’t fully learn his lesson about the stages of grief last season, and is currently in denial.  In the face of his cousin’s protests that Mary Anne’s feelings for him won’t change, and that she’ll stop by when she’s in town, Larry stresses that she’ll be living in London.


Again, THANK YOU, props department, for the fancy British typeface and the clipart airplanes that also act as proof that Larry and Balki steal office supplies.

Cousin Larry says he had a traumatic experience in 5th grade, when he was in love with Caroline Smeiser. They were the perfect pre-pubescent couple until

Larry: One day, she dropped a bomb on me.

Balki: She was a terrorist?

Holy shit! Not only was his country needlessly bombed during the Vietnam War, Mypos’s army uses child soldiers?

Then Balki just keeps talking about different kinds of bombs, becoming markedly dumber over the course of a minute:

Balki: A water bomb?…. A flea and tick bomb?…. Lip bomb?


Get a fucking context clue, Balki!  Like, I’m beginning to worry, here.  And not just about Balki, who’s barely even said his catchphrase this season.  I’m worried about the show.  I wondered a long time ago about how this show could keep up the central idea–a sheepherder whose ideas of America didn’t match up with the reality that his cousin knew.  But these guys have been through a lot by now. They’ve interacted with everyone from their neighbors, to criminals, to businessmen, to celebrities. They put people in prison, got a woman fired, put a grocery store out of business, risked the lives of themselves and their loved ones. Balki’s graduated from high school, even!  He can’t be this dumb, and the show shouldn’t keep pushing him in that direction.  If they were still in the discount store, I could accept that any episode I’m watching could happen at any time. But no matter how slowly these guys progress in their lives, they do progress. Every time Balki’s dumb in the same way as he was in season 1, it feels like a step backwards.  I’m worried about you, show. You’re acting like the past isn’t long gone and that audiences will still feel the same way about you and stop by on Friday nights. Anyway, go ahead, Larry, finish your story.

Caroline Smeiser’s father bought a cattle ranch in Texas and she wrote Larry every day, and then every week, and then every Christmas, and then never.  Hey, Larry, don’t give up hope yet! Maybe the pattern is asymptotic, and you’ll hear from her soon!


Balki said that it sure was a sad story, but it wasn’t long enough to get them to the commercial break, so Larry needs to explicitly tie it into the plot of the episode.

Larry says that Mary Anne may be so dumb that she’ll spend three hours flipping through television channels trying to find King’s Cross station when she gets to London, but there is where she’ll stay.

This makes Balki sad.


If the top of the episode gave us the quickest setup and quickest women’s exit ever, this scene ramps up the internal/external disconnect.  From the outside, we see two windows, one with the shade drawn, but one with a view to the outside world; between them, a straight, orderly fire escape.  On the inside, everything’s out of order in Balki’s world. He sits in the dark, his posture poor, his head pointing a different direction from his body. He sits in the kitchen, not eating, listening to the refrigerator–sounds that aren’t even meant to be heard. His view of the outside world is incorrect now: the fire escape askew, the only object that we can see worth looking at–which was nowhere to be found without–is out of his field of vision. This last, I should point out, is a deep and layered symbol: this type of window is often called a Catherine window (Catherine and Mary and Anne, all Catholic names, “Mary Anne” doubly so, referencing the matrilineage of Jesus himself), but is also known as a Rose window, a shade that Mary Anne has decided that she wants the world to see her through.  It’s an external symbol for the audience in one more way–Balki has, we could say, taken off the “rose-colored glasses” and faces his despair head-on–but it is also a symbol of Balki’s inner world.  Only he knows that the window is there, but no longer where he can enjoy it. Perhaps he looks at the moon, far away in the sky, a little moon, a lunette, half a circle, a window to nowhere, to empty space where planes don’t fly.


Poor Balki can’t do anything these days but think about Mary Anne. He makes the same face I did when I typed out the words “I’ve lived alone for 3 and a half years” last week.

Larry tells him to take up a hobby–like how he took up photography and joined a photography club when Caroline Smeiser dumped his gibbous ass.


Balki ponders whether that actually did any good for Larry.

Larry says there must be something Balki has always dreamed of doing. It turns out to be “sheep vaulting”, which is the #1 spectator sport on Mypos.  Balki tells the story about how a famous sheep vaulter (Tony Tomopolous) landed on a sheep and killed it during a jump.  And, yeah, I believe that. After all, we’ve learned that Myposian child soldiers spend their time off the battlefield watching headless chickens and underfed dogs run around until dead.

What I don’t believe is that, even though it’s been established that there are no cameras on the island–just a guy who draws really well–there’s a Myposian version of “Wide World of Sports”.

Balki: The thrill of victory, the agony of the sheep.

Oh, fuck you, show, with your stupid Manglish.  You can’t–you’re making a rhyme based on–the guy didn’t have a victory if–


Larry mentions Mary Anne and Balki cries some more.

The next day, at the Chronicle, Harriette (dressed here as Ed Grimley) and Lydia run out of the elevator to ask where Poochie Balki is.  Larry explains that he took the day off beginning a new hobby.  Larry suggested things like coin collecting, model building, and historical walks, which is deep cut all the way back from the Vegahhhhhs episode.

Lydia says that Larry’s advice stinks, and yeah, come on: what happened to Balki playing baseball? What happened to Balki liking music? What happened to playing with squeaky toys? What happened to Balki taking in prisoners? Even Harriette agrees with her.


(and then insults her)

Balki rides a 1988 Harley Springer Softail into the basement office.


After the commercial break, Balki’s just sitting there, fucking revving the bike.


The archives is through one of those doors! Think of the smoke damage!  I blanched when they were tearing up those books at the beginning of the season, but this is unforgivable!  The archives of the newspaper of record for the city of Chicago–probably the whole world–is irreplaceable stuff!


Balki says that he’s joined a club called the “Motor Psychos”. I feel like Balki’s outfit is trying to embrace two almost-discordant things here. Yes, many pop culture objects and trends in the 80s were indeed people working through–and mashing up–the 1960s. I mean, if Peggy Bundy’s animal print outfits weren’t supposed to evoke the popularity of same in the 1960s, then I don’t know what their purpose was.  Similarly, yes, there was some actual overlap between that rockabilly fashion sense and being into motorcycles*, but leather and animal prints diverged paths a long ways back. Thanks for indulging me in talking about something I don’t know much about. All you missed was the cousins repeating the words “Motor Psychos” over and over.

Before I move on, I’d like to point out that this motorcycle gang has given this new initiate into their gang a brand new motorcycle.


The women in the audience yuk it up at the fact that there’s a hole in the knee of Balki’s jeans.  Larry notices that Balki is stealing his usual bit of pretending to be something he’s not; he knows the dangers.


Larry comments on Balki’s tattoo, and Balki says that it’s “a loaner”. Larry thinks for a second about how that joke doesn’t make sense, no matter which of two ways you try to interpret it.


Balki says that Larry should join so they can ride their hogs together, and somehow there’s not a joke about riding real hogs in this, the show about the guy who thinks that every word of American slang has something to do with the agricultural lifestyle he left behind.


Balki leaves to go to his initiation, and even though the motorcycle is relatively quiet (like, quieter than the cousins whispering about Mrs. Bailey), it’s enough to drown out Larry.

I’m cracking up because that is the absolute stupidest name for a bar I’ve ever seen.


There’s a story there. Like, somebody opened up a bar called “Wild Bill’s” first, and then somebody opened “Wild Bill’s Saloon”, and then someone was forced to pick “Wild Bill’s Bar”… you’ve all dealt with coming up with a unique username.  There’s a really shitty Yosemite Sam-a-like with the widest possible hat brim on the sign, too. I mean, like, worse than daycare cartoon character ripoff shitty. But I guess we are overdue for a bunch of big men with no sleeves to beat up the cousins, though, so let’s get to it.


Balki runs into a likely candidate, who is SO BIG that any information traveling from his nerve endings gets tired before it reaches his brain, and he doesn’t notice instantly.


And there’s that Balki walk again, last seen in “High Society”! Here it’s a symbol of how he fell down.

The giant biker’s name is Cobra; I’m going to assume that he is the younger brother of Snake, whom we met in season 1.

Balki thought he was getting 1000cc, but finds himself faced with a catch-22 instead: he must have an “old lady” to have the initiation.

…wait for it…


…yep, there’s the joke: Balk tried to kidnap an old woman from a rest home.


Cobra offers Fran as Balki’s old lady. But no Motorcycle Maiden she: Fran sniffs and puts her leg up on the table.


Larry shows up to save his cousin and THANK YOU to the wardrobe department for allaying my earlier fears. There’s some decent biker outfits here. I’m grooving in particular on the requisite biker with granny glasses and engineer’s cap. Today’s television and film makers have forgotten about this guy.


Balki tries to do the Dance of Joy, but Larry knows that the gayest dance you can get away with in a place like this is the one Pee-Wee did.

Can I please, PLEASE get a good shot of the Motor Psychos patch?

Cobra calls Larry a “pocket yuppie”; Larry proves him right by complimenting his Bolo tie. Then we get another clunky joke setup (#45 in a series, collect ‘em all!) that has an actual good punchline.  Let me show you how this plays out so you’ll know what I mean.

Cobra: The kid stays. He makes us laugh.

Larry: Well, you know, if it’s laughs you’re looking for, uhh, I could send you some comedy albums. You like Steve Martin? Robin Williams? What about Jay Leno? He rides a motorcycle!

Cobra: Jay Leno’s funny! But! …he’s no Garry Shandling.


I laughed out loud at that line, but I kid you not: I had to go back just to remember how they got from point A to point D.

Cobra Patchman has his assistants hang Larry’s jacket–with Larry in it!

Balki says that Cobra’s just a big meanie and that he doesn’t want to be in the Goonies anymore. So they hang Balki.


Also, THANK YOU 1950s Biker Cap Guy, now I can sell t-shirts!


A biker runs in saying that a beer truck overturned, so they all run away to… lick it up off the ground?




if you–




Look, guys, what works in the bedroom doesn’t always work in a new setting!


Reaching for a piece of wood worked when they were in quicksand, so they try it again here, struggling to grab a chair. I’ve probably said it a dozen times by now, but physical comedy on this show seems to work better when the cousins are restrained.  Balki gets the chair, he gets down, and–


Balki starts saying “do it for me” and Larry protests, knowing exactly what he means.

Balki: Please, Mr. Scarecrow, which way to the Emerald City?


The setup, the implications, and the payoff are all funny.  Something that funny coming out of left field is rare for this show. And now, back to Gay Joke Theatre:


Do beer trucks, in addition to carrying cases of branded boxes of canned and bottled beer, also carry kegs? Was it delivering to this very bar?


And I saw it coming that the bottle would not break in Larry’s hand, but I’m enjoying this. Balki’s dumbass pastiche of biker clothes, the fact that somebody in wardrobe earned their paycheck this week, the Wizard of Oz joke, the quick plot setup. Plus, this episode sets its sights incredibly low: Balki joins a biker gang and Larry says “no, don’t do that”.  This gives us room for visual humor, physical comedy, and funny guest stars like the guy who played Sloth breaking the beer bottle on his head.


The cousins can just stand there and babble about what Larry was trying to do and I don’t even care that it doesn’t advance anything. This episode is just enjoying where it is at any given moment.


Gee, I don’t know, sometimes things are funny and sometimes they’re not, I guess. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


The bikers recognize that Larry is Balki’s old lady and proclaim that it’s initiation time. Larry points to the restrooms and says “there’s Elvis”** and even though the tallest guy is standing in the back of the group, they all just stare for awhile as the cousins run away.


They run into the apartment and verify that they’re safe from the bikers. Balki milks it so that Larry is scared for his life longer than necessary, like the kind shepherd we know him to be.

Larry digs into the alternate meanings of “old lady” and Balki cries, thinking of Mary Anne. How she was so dumb she thought a V-twin was just a W; so dumb she thought a sissy bar was a place where gay guys went to drink; so dumb she thought dual sport meant trying to play baseball and football at the same time; so dumb she thought riceburner was, you know, kind of a racist term…

There’s a knock at the door, and even though Larry was scared that someone would come through it and kill him not 45 seconds ago, he opens it up right away.


It’s Mary Anne!

She compliments Balki’s outfit while Balki rubs her face. Mary Anne came back because she missed Chicago and Balki.


Both women have now turned down success in favor of these guys. Successful jobs… guys with jobs in the basement… god damn, do I really have to talk about sexism again? Two weeks in a row?  Well, what the hell, this was basically this season’s Fat Marsha episode, let’s lean into it.

America was once a novelty–the country that reached all the way from one ocean to another.  As early as the 1890s, Frederick Jackson Turner saw the societal potentialities that such a country had open to it; his “frontier thesis” was that America was defined by its frontiers.  Whereas the initial colonization of America had freedom from the Church of England as one of its goals; the frontier promised freedom from church itself.*** Though even Turner wondered at how the dynamic would change one the frontier was lost, it was a promise made anew with the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways.  The 50s gave way to the 60s, where the reality of biker gangs was noticeable enough to become fixed in the media through such films as The Wild Angels and Easy Rider.**** However, by the time of the airing of “That Old Gang of Mine”, the Interstate system was three years away from completion.  You could argue that the frontier, and perhaps America itself, was pretty much completed. Perhaps it had already entered a period of decadence, now that biker gangs were off the open roads and had found a new home in the city.

The world had grown smaller; but the world had grown wider.  New opportunities were opening up. Job promotions weren’t limited to one country, or even one continent, or even one gender.

Claiming freedoms often obscures intent, like the aforementioned split from the Church of England.  You can basically assume a silent (men’s) within lots of stuff throughout history; black (men’s) voting rights after the civil war; (men’s) right to protest the Catholic church; the beginning of the (men’s) university system in the Middle Ages.  I’ve never liked the word “herstory” because I am (a guy who is) into etymology and pretty anal retentive to boot, but it’s a valid damn point.  The show is right to reject the outdated and corrupted idea of freedom represented by the bikers; it leads to crime and stupid business names. In one sense, the show is trying to say that civilized society comes down to a nicer type of necktie.  But this show is also staunchly committed to carving out an inoffensive middle ground, and the polar opposite it presents makes the whole message clear: women should not be allowed freedoms.

On the biker side: the bikers are free to dress as they please, talk as they please, take what they please. But they are also so free that Fran belongs to whoever wants or needs her.  Whose old lady was she before? It doesn’t matter, Balki needs one now. Women shouldn’t be allowed these freedoms, whether it’s to reject keeping their knees together as a true lady would…


…or whether it’s having control over their own bodies, even if they are still part of the capitalist machine…


…or whether it’s accepting the next stage of global social & labor evolution, sprouting wings and flying halfway around the world. Wild Angels, indeed!

The cousins don’t have specialized skills. Couldn’t Balki sort mail in London? Couldn’t Larry write two sentences a month in California? Jennifer and Mary Anne, we are left to assume, are the Chicago natives, and they were willing to move. Larry and Balki are the newbies to the town and they’re way more tied to the city they never explore.  Larry may have gotten a degree in photography, but Mary Anne (Summa Cum Laude) studied in a field where she had to write a thesis. She’s flown around the globe multiple times; she doesn’t know the meaning of the word “frontier”. Why not support her success?

Best I can tell, no conversations were ever had about whether the men should move to where the women would work. Okay, okay, I’ll grant you this: the show had not clarified Larry and Jennifer’s relationship last season, and that very episode did.  And while it’s never explicitly said what Mary Anne and Balki are to each other



the fuck




I guess… no matter how serious you are, if the woman leaves, that’s that? And it’s just a rejection of you? Don’t get me wrong, we learn anew each week just how fragile Larry’s ego is, but god DAMN.


Season 2’s “Get a Job” made the statement that men should fear women controlling them. “That Old Gang of Mine” reinforces that men should be in control of women. A woman owned by everyone is as bad as a woman owned by no one. One man should own one woman.

Join me next week for “Crimebusters”, which will probably turn out to be a subpar remake of the 1982 film “Night Shift”.


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

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

*That overlap was called “Elvis”; and I feel that its late-80s version is best understood by looking to Nicolas Cage’s performance as Sailor Ripley in David Lynch’s Wild at Heart.

**he was last seen on a toilet, to be fair

***The downside of this thesis, you could argue, is that it pushed all of the criminals westward, resulting in the sinful state of California, where you could *shiver* turn right on a red light. By the way, take a wild guess where the Hells Angels started.

****Disclaimer: I’ve watched neither of those, but I did see Werewolves on Wheels, which I’m sure was essentially the same plot

*****If you can read this, Jennifer didn’t necessarily fall off