Season 4, Episode 22: Wedding Belle Blues

Hey, y’all!  Before I get to the review, I’ve got some big news!

Now that we’re (kinda) halfway finished with this blog, it’s time to celebrate with a livestream!  I think that’s what we do now when we reach milestones for dumb 80s sitcom blogging.  I’ll do one here, and one towards (or at) the very end, sometime in 2024.

So what I’m going to do is stream 6 or 7 full episodes of Perfect Strangers on Friday, April 14, from 8PM EST until triple question marks. The episodes will be interspersed with some choice tidbits, as well as


That’s right, you heard right, I have written parody lyrics for a bunch of songs and I then offered my first-born child to a bunch of different people to sing them.  (Shh! don’t tell)

I’m definitely going to show you the best (“Get a Job”) and the worst (“The Break In”), but you all get to decide the others!  Here’s a Survey Monkey survey:

All you do is let me know what your favorite two episodes from each season are.  I’ll do some hot data-wrangling and figure out what the top four (or five?) are and put ’em in a queue.

So do that survey, come to the stream, listen to Larryoke songs.  The episodes will be family-friendly, but the songs won’t be, and neither will the chat. In fact, I highly recommend that you all coordinate beforehand so you don’t all show up with the same swear word.

For now, on to the season 4 finale!



The Caldwell Hotel: where previously indicating death, or uncertainty, now is shuttered to us.  This whole season has been a series of failed attempts to get the cousins into or through a party, stopped alternately by their own individual faults, or their focus on each other.  Sound, as always, is ruled by a different physics here, meaning that we hear “Happy Birthday” loud and clear.  It is an announcement to the world that the cousins have rejected all other festivities in favor of their own, and that they alone choose who attends.  It is we few who are privileged enough to see Balki’s birthday party.


Jennifer and Mary Anne (Sagittarius) are there, as well as Harriette (*sniff*), Gorpley, PaulAndre, PaulAndre’s wife (?), that woman from the basement, that guy from the basement Balki tried to kiss, and a couple of others. I assume Harriette gave Carl his own cake so he wouldn’t eat everything there.  I don’t see Lydia, so she must be off with the clown she “hired” to “perform”.


Hey, look! Someone got Balki a plush cat. After 4+ years, Dmitri must have been stiff as a board.  Balki says that at the age of 25, a Myposian becomes a man.

Mary Anne asks what he was before, which is a reasonable question about how stages of development are split up in a foreign culture. I mean, after all, here in America we have plenty of fuzzy age categories: newborns, babies, infants, toddlers, children, adolescents, pre-teens, tweens, teenagers, 20-somethings, young adults.


A guy has come to visit! He has slightly darker skin, black hair, and a weird shirt.  Forget that he speaks better English than Balki does now, he’s definitely a foreigner!


They touch each others’ faces as a greeting. This man is named Verbos Verazones, and he is from the island of Pathos, which lies to the east of Mypos (another island, Skeptos, lies to the west).  Balki says that Verbos doesn’t “look pathetic”.  First of all, GEE I WONDER WHAT PEOPLE FROM SKEPTOS ARE CALLED?? Second, that is a perfectly written joke about how foreign languages are actually English.

Now that the show has spent a whole minute on the island names joke, Balki and Verbos keep thanking each other in very abasing ways because they are both foreign.

Verbos gives Balki a “mooko cookie”, which was a funny joke until Gorpley is forced to step on it (the joke, not the cookie). But there’s another gift from Balki’s mom!


Aww, Balki’s mom remembered that her son is on a sitcom and would need something to choke on when he got the news that he’s going to be married to Kiki Karadopolous.  She’s so sweet (his mom, not the cookie, I can’t vouch for the cookie).

Later, Balki says he got Kiki and Verbos settled “in the hotel” and Larry assumes the flowers are for an upset Mary Anne. Mary Anne was upset because the gift she got for Balki now symbolizes what he’s going to get from Kiki.


Balki, in what must be a Myposian tradition, rips the petals off the flowers, turning it into a festive garbage plant.

Balki starts talking about how it’s the end of the season and with this many speaking roles, there’s no way there’s room left in the budget for a third location, so they should have the wedding in the apartment.

Cousin Larry can’t believe that he’s going through with it, but Balki explains that the dowry (a goat) has already been paid.  There’s some high-falutin’ language there (the goat is a standard short-form inter-island marriage agreement), meaning that Mypos, with its Flintstones-era photography and its use of vegetables in sport, has made some effort to keep up with the changing world around it.  Mypos has adopted the language of the business world to legitimize its traditions to the new generations.  Also, you may remember from the episode “I’m Balki, Fly Me” that a woman could cost multiple goats.  This means that Kiki’s not exactly a catch.

Another throughline for this season has been the tortured joke setups.  Balki starts decorating the apartment with yet more items that were packed into that one backpack he brought with him in the first episode.

Larry: I’ve had it with traditional Myposian bull.


Larry pushes Balki. Are you going to be happy with this woman? Huh? Do you even know her? Does she even have nipples?


Hey, lay off, cuz! I mean, look, Balki’s been trying to get Myposian stuff into a season finale for a few years now.  He only managed to write the letter E all weird on a banner in season 1; he created folk art using Larry’s belly button lint in season 2; he tried getting a real person from Mypos in season 3, but, as you well know (say it with me now)


And even though this whole scenario brings up a couple of questions (why didn’t Balki’s family come? why isn’t this taking place on Mypos? how did Balki not suspect that being given a bride was a thing that happened often on one’s 25th birthday?) I want to say that I really do like it. It’s not like Balki was ever running away from his origin. He wanted his experience in America to be additive as well as transitive.  But in the past four years, he’s become more American than he predicted, and certainly moreso than his family knows. For all that he holds on to some of his past–medicine, wisdom, cuisine–he embraced his future.  It was a lesson he learned last season around this time, when his Yaya died, but Mypos didn’t stay buried.  Its ghost has come back and thrown his life into peril. But not Yaya Biki’s ghost!  Can you imagine if this show did episodes about, like, actual ghosts? That’s too silly, even for you, show.

Balki is Myposian to the core, and here, his internal struggle is the focus.  Usually we see the cousins mudwrestling about whether the toilet paper roll should go over or under, but only Balki is fighting now. He’s bound by tradition, but must give up his gains (here, Mary Anne). Balki must make a choice between mother/land and love/American style, and that choice may well define who he is from now on.  As if Balki’s identity being at stake weren’t enough, this situation throws the cousins’ relationship–their life–into peril. No matter what Balki does, someone will be hurt.

It’s a good setup! So I assume that by 15 minutes in, the cousins will be writhing on the floor covered in wedding cake.

Ah, one more point: Kiki would be shunned in the eyes of her fellow Pathetics if she returns home rejected. No other man will ever take her as a bride. There’s a joke setup about how she’ll have to wear a “scarlet letter”.

Okay, this is a first for me and this blog. I am going to type out the punchline that I think would be funny before hearing the show’s. You have no reason to believe me that I’m being honest, but here goes.  Punchline: something along the lines that she’s wearing a copy of the book.

The show’s punchline:  R for Returned

Cousin Larry asks if there’s any way out of the marriage. Evidently, Zapotsi Polipopolou got out of an arranged marriage to Michi Boomba only because the earth opened up and swallowed him.

Since Family Matters hadn’t even started yet, there’s no way for Balki to time travel and have his wife rebel against Moses. Too bad.


Have you ever watched Clue? I’ve watched it a couple of times, but it’s one of those movies where you have to pay attention to so many things–like who’s not in which scene, and might be a suspect in a given murder.  Well, Clue’s got nothing on this, because it turns out that Lydia wasn’t at the birthday party because SOMEBODY had to ask for a recap in this scene.

She knows all about falling in love quickly and asks if she needs to dress up like a man to repay the favor they did for her.


Harriette tells Larry that knowing that Balki’s marriage was arranged is enough for the audience and takes Lydia away.


At last, we see Larry’s bedroom and… it’s the most boring bedroom in all of Chicago.  I mean, look, he’s got a Norman Rockwell painting framed and matted, and probably some of Larry’s substandard photographic efforts. No doubt there’s a George Michael poster on the ceiling.


Larry and Balki are finally together in the bedroom, and I think you can all understand why the cousins are acting awkward around each other in this scene.  This moment was supposed to happen so differently.  Not with a bunch of people in the living room. Not in the middle of the day.  They each had varying fantasies about what physical comedy scenario would get them here.

Changing lightbulbs, putting a bug bomb in Balki’s room, replacing Larry’s mattress, taking a sign language class so Balki could invite all his new friends to stay over. It would certainly happen eventually, right? But neither wanting their advances spurned, they waited too long. They talk about Balki’s sword for a minute and about how the wife uses it to get the sheep out of the bedroom so her husband doesn’t get confused and go for any ol’ vagina.

Larry sits Balki down and Balki thinks it’s because Larry is going to teach him about sex.  “You learn a lot from watching sheep”. Yeah, haha, if you pay close attention, even from behind you can tell whether they’re into it or not!


Larry wants to say goodbye, but he’s having trouble expressing his emotions. For those of you keeping count at home, Larry says they’ve been together three years, even though Balki said four last week.


Balki and Larry don’t kiss one final time.

Larry’s surprise for Balki is that he got Mama on the phone to hear the ceremony. Couldn’t buy him some art, ya fuckin’ cheapskate? Balki leaves to say “dazoo odoyeye”* to his mother.

Here, for the second time in this blog’s history, I am going to type out the punchline that I think would be funny before hearing the show’s. You have no reason to believe me that I’m being honest, but here goes.  Punchline: Balki’s mom says “Balki!” in that shrill way of hers and also says “Kiki!”. Why else would they have named her Kiki?

We’ll come back to that, because we’re sticking here with Cousin Larry and Verbos for a minute.


UH-OH, Verbos is sad. You’d never guess why, so I’ll just have to tell you: he’s in love with Kiki.


I guess I have to assume that this is Jennifer’s bedroom. After all, it has Jennifer’s personality all over it: what your grandparents’ guest bedroom must have looked like when they first decorated it.

Since Kiki is here, this is a wonderful opportunity for Jennifer to let her know what America is like, what Balki’s like, how being in America has changed him.


Oh, no, wait, we just get the same exact scene about secret crushes, but with women saying the lines. I’d say this scene is about, oh, 66% the length of the other one.**


Kiki says she would sooner throw herself into the ocean than walk around Pathos with an R on her chest and the studio audience laughs.




Fuck you, studio audience.

Fuck you, Robert Blair. Robert Blair is the guy who wrote “Assertive Training”, where Larry tells his girlfriend that she can’t see a friend who’s visiting because it’s some threat to his masculinity. Robert Blair is the guy who wrote “That Old Gang of Mine”, where Mary Anne turns down the career opportunity of a lifetime (not to mention escape from her “friend” who insults her constantly) just so she can be around a guy who, by any assessment, would never realistically be promoted past mailboy. Robert Blair is the guy who wrote “The King and I”, the sole joke of which was that Balki had palsy.

He did okay in season 3 (“To Be Or Not To Be” and “The Graduate”), but Robert Blair is a fallen angel. Look: he’s the guy who “wrote” “Piano Movers”.**

This “joke”–that one man rejecting a woman means the population of three islands will reject her as a person, leaving her with no better option than death–may be the worst thing I’ve seen this show do. I am very relieved to see that Robert Blair is not credited with any episodes after this point. Since you don’t see this as a reader, I want to tell you. You’re going to keep reading the next paragraph right after this one. But I’m having a lot of trouble even hitting play again on this episode.


Balki leaves the apartment and runs into Mary Anne and god DAMN it they’re never going to use that fire extinguisher, are they?

Balki: It will take me years and years before I feel about Kiki the way I already feel about you.

What feeling is that?  Mentally superior?


Balki asks if they can still be friends, and, um, no. They won’t be. How many times have you remained friends with someone you dumped? Friends have to do things together.

Balki tells Mary Anne to sit right up in front so she and Kiki can count each others’ tears.


Balki hugs Reverend Bacon and apologizes for his raging boner.

(Balki acknowledges that the usual guy who performs the marriage ceremonies (Mooki, who lives on Mt. Mypos) would die if he came to America!)

Reverend Bacon says he’s used to doing strange weddings because he used to live in California!  Californians are just so dang nonspecifically WEIRD, amirite?


Harriette used to be some hot shit on this show.  She had all the dirt on everybody, she wasn’t afraid to tell anyone what’s what. Now, in her final moments, she just says the lines that need to be said to move things along She’s been on the phone with Mama, so she hands it to Balki (the phone, not the cookie, Balki ate the cookie 13 minutes ago, why do you keep thinking it’s the cookie).

Cousin Larry is right by Balki’s side, to give the groom away (that should register as a simple cultural difference, but the audience laughs, their brains long since withered to the size of bibibabkas).  Giving the groom away involves the cousins walking and shaking their asses, symbolizing the tender moments they’ve shared, and also what they’ll never have from one another again. Showing you the whole thing because Mark Linn-Baker is great right at the end.

Butts are funny.

Kiki comes in, approaching the altar to the tune of Richard Wagner’s “Treulich geführt” (“Here Comes the Bride”), but it’s with different instrumentation because Kiki is FOREIGN.


We learn from Reverend Bacon that Kiki is the daughter of Atilla and Chichi Karadopolous.  Haha man it’s so good to know that the islands where women can’t hold positions of power in society–or their own personal lives–still has a fuckton of silly names.  Makes it all balance out!


While Reverend Bacon talks about, like, love or God or some shit, Jennifer and Larry exchange the admirers’ secrets, whispering very loudly.


Larry suddenly remembers that they all have five-year contracts, and that ratings have been great this year, so he jumps up and yells to stop the wedding.

This whole episode has been a question about how few people can be hurt by any choice. So I have to say that Larry revealing Kiki’s and Verbos’s feelings and trying to call off the wedding is one of the most effective “Larry tries to help but makes things worse” I’ve seen, because now all three of the foreigners end up sadder than they already were. Even Dmitri is wearing black, as if in morning.


Larry tries to do the Dance of Joy, but Balki says that tradition demands he still get married.

I’m not qualified to get into it much, but there’s been a long-standing debate about how where to draw the line in critiquing other cultures. Critiquing them implies that the critic is from a “better” culture; but this runs the risk of not understanding another’s values, thought processes, and personhood. We are all bound by our culture’s values to some extent, and our individual lives are often stories of negotiation with those values.  Here, we see which side of the debate Larry supports:

Larry: What is it with you people?

Mama calls for her son, saying that Kiki’s parents will not give the goat back (the goat is named “Linki” and is “gifted”).


Harriette gets one last confused look in at the strange things white people do behind closed doors.

Balki says that the marriage must take place.


Balki gives the penis symbol to Verbos and Mary Anne cheers because she is happy SO GODDAM DUMB FUCKING FUCK


Let’s tie things back to the first scene up there: Balki has celebrated becoming a man by letting his mother fix his problems for him. Nah, I’m just being a shit. Balki’s mother getting to flout the law makes women’s status in the Tri-Island area much more murky.  Is it okay because she’s doing it to honor Balki’s wishes? Is it okay because she’s a matriarch? Is it okay because she has a mustache? Is it okay because she’s saving a woman from suicide? Given everything we know about Mypos, it fucking ought to be that last one.

But did Robert Blair even consider this question?


Later on, Mary Anne takes pity on the scrawniest of my running jokes, saying she wants to imbibe brown liquids with Balki.

So how shall Balki sum up his feelings about not having to leave the woman he might be dating?

Balki: Dead horses couldn’t drag me away.

Larry gave the newlyweds a present: a night’s stay in the bridal suite of the Evanston Econolodge. Larry and Balki take pride in having facilitated the boners of another.


The internal balance of the world of Perfect Strangers has been restored. The cousins will stay together, the women have left the room, and nobody that matters had to make any tough choices. But is it still a soft reset in a broader sense? Balki did get his $100 back two weeks ago, but now we find that Mama is still on the phone.  Remember, kids, this was the 80s, where international calls cost by the minute.

Mama’s talking in Myposian, but I’ll translate: she wants to know why nobody thought to have her yell “Kiki!”.


She won’t get off the phone until they do the Dance of Joy. She knows it’s a real crowdpleaser, and a great way to end any episode, not to mention a whole season.


Next week: sex, lies, and videotape


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

Boner count: Balki (0); Larry (0); Verbos (let’s just say Kiki doesn’t feel pathetic anymore)

Dance of Joy running total: 14
*”dazoo odoyeye”=”you’ve ruined my life forever”

**the correct wage gap percentage for 1989. BOOM

***evidently Blair would write his scripts very quickly, for whatever that’s worth:

Season 3, Episode 22: Bye Bye Biki


Oh man, I’m so excited. Season 1 ended with a party, Season 2 ended with a nailbiting setpiece atop Twinkacetti’s roof*. I don’t know exactly what “Bye Bye Biki” has to offer, but I’m sure it’s going to be a real showstopper!  You know why? Because once you get enough episodes under your belt, you can not only make callbacks, but you can start stacking them on top of each other.  Think about the time Michael Scott burned his foot on his George Foreman grill, and then used it at a cookout. Think about basically any later Firesign Theatre album. Think season 3 of Arrested Development.

Consider the possibilities of what jokes I can mix!  Maybe somebody else drinks some Bismol and I can talk about how Larry shouldn’t drink after them because of his immune system!  Or maybe Jennifer will get a hot tip from Gus about eyeliner! Or maybe Mary Anne will be so dumb that she thinks that a callback joke involves humorous use of vertical service code *69!

Speaking of dirty jokes, I’ve also been saving up my “Larry and Balki are super-probably totes gay” gags during the past few weeks’ moratorium.


Ain’t no party like a gay callback party, y’all!


We open outside the Caldwell, where we find the window open. Last season ended with a double X, a sign of death and deletion.  Here, the windows signal two levels of uncertainty. The open window to a fire escape signals an exit; but as with any sitcom, renewal is always a concern, and we don’t know yet whether the escape would be up, or down, that ladder.  Also the little pattern below the other windows is a symbol of how Larry gives Balki handjobs!**

Larry is urging his Cousin Balki to leave his room so they can get the “good donuts” at work!  Good donuts! Haha, yeah, good donuts are the ones you can stick your penis through! Larry’s gay! Also he’s fat! Also crullers are the bad donuts, which is a callback I’m making to “Happy Birthday Baby”!

But Balki is still putting his clothes on, probably because they were boinking right before this.


But the phone rings and Larry, having finally learned patience, hangs his coat. Remember this. This is important.

Is it a hot tip from Gus?  Is he going to tell Larry to forget the donuts so he can get some photos of Mr. Casselman cheating on his wife with Fat Marsha?


Oh, no, wait, it’s Balki’s mom, screaming “Balki” into the phone. Well played, show, I see you’re trying to beat me at the callback game.


Oh, no, wait, it’s not Balki’s mom, it’s his “Yaya”, which is Myposian for grandmother.  So Balki just talks Myposian at her for a minute while Dmitri does Dmitri in the background.

Balki ends the call by saying “bye bye, babe” in a deep voice. Larry assumes that Yaya Bartokomous is coming, and is confused when Balki corrects him. I guess we can add incest to the Quiverfull aspect of Larry’s family of origin. Ooh! Ooooh!  This explains why Larry’s got no immune system to speak of!  Or at the very least, he does have a fragile one, which is nothing to sneeze at.  (I’ve been holding onto that one for 38 episodes.)

Anyway, Balki’s maternal grandmother, Yaya Biki, is coming to visit. Also, she’s 106 years old! Around this time last season, we established that Balki is Jesus, so they must be counting years the way they did in the Old Testament, where one season is a year.  So Yaya Biki’s only, you know, Larry’s age.


While Balki finishes covering up his nakedness, he talks up his gramma some more. Every morning she wakes up, takes the sheep 6 miles up a hill, then comes back and makes breakfast for 26 men; after which she does aerobics.  I guess that’s supposed to be impressive compared to the 11 men thing from way back, but what, she doesn’t have a baby in the middle of all that?


In the next scene, the cousins are right back home. Balki finishes hanging some garlic wreaths because the walls have come down with a cold.


Cousin Larry comes in, and his first instinct is to look to the right, and behind him. He shdh at the garlic, and then he hangs his coat. Remember this. This is important.


The next joke is that Larry almost runs into a cow which is standing right behind the couch.  It’s a good thing everyone looks to the right and behind them when they enter their home, or else there was no way that joke would have landed.  I have three jokes for the cow.


The cow is Yaya Biki.

This will be the first cow Larry hasn’t had to share with eight brothers and sisters.

Balki and Larry will have to eat grass to try to hide the cow from Twinkacetti.


Thank you. Mooving on.


Oh, no, wait, I have more.

This is an udderly ridiculous situation.

Larry, can you get pasture Cousin’s most recent flagrant breach of the lease terms?


Okay, really, I’m done.

I bet that chew cud be upset with me for milking this cheesy bit.


Mark Linn-Baker does a nice line reading saying “Balki”–it’s half scared Larry, half Balki’s Yaya over the phone.


Balki pops up from behind some plants he probably pulled out of a dumpster and asks what’s up.

Cousin Larry beats around the bush for a bit trying to soften the blow of telling Balki he’s upset about the cow. In one way, that’s growth for Larry that he’s not instantly upset. But Sarah Portland talked in the comments about her Myposian roommate a couple months back, and now that I can see this through her eyes, Larry, you’ve got every right to eat that whole cow. You’re fat, Larry.


Speaking of developments in character growth that really aren’t, and that shouldn’t have been necessary, we see that Balki has made his Yaya a blanket. For once, it’s not the same damn green one they keep trotting out any time Balki needs a blanket.


But it’s always two steps forward, one step back with this show, because we then find that Yaya Biki watches Letterman.  And I think it’s time I talked about character creep.


No, no, stop, not that. I’m borrowing here; I first encountered the idea of “creep” in a project management course, where we read about “scope creep”. The Letterman line is another one of those jokes that erodes the rustic feel of Mypos for easy yuks. And this points up a bigger problem for the show at this stage. Again, Sarah Portland hit the nail on the head with this one three months ago when she said that the show tries to have Larry be the stable one and Balki the manic one, while it’s obvious now that the opposite is true.  Larry is the adult character, so it’s fun to have him act like a child. Balki is the foreign character, so it’s fun to have him speak in an accent-less deep voice. Mary Anne is the dumb character, so it’s fun to have her say something smart. Jennifer is the desirable character, so it’s fun to give her absolutely zero personality.  But in the same way that the show ends up undercutting its lessons by tacking a joke onto the end of them, it’s eroding these characters, and the statements it has made about them. It’s fine if you want to show that Larry’s still a little kid inside to illustrate how he’s trying his best to put on the vestments of adulthood, but at least let him still have a base of cultural knowledge that Balki can benefit from!

Anyway, holy cow, we’re a third of the way into the episode and not a damn thing’s happened. Seriously, I hit play again right after I wrote that paragraph and Balki’s just pointing at a chair he bought. I can only imagine that Larry and Balki are not having sex right now because they’re worried their leather pants would offend the cow.


Goddam, finally, we go to the Chronicle building. I was worried there for a minute I was going to have to write a good callback joke about how the sound effect of the cow lowing was on the flip side of the LP they used for Little Frankie’s crying back in season 2.


Balki is teaching Larry, Harriette, and Lydia how to sing a Myposian song. Hey Gorpley, here’s your chance! Come out and fire this guy!


This is a nice visual indicator of the acting skills of these three. Harriette is happy to do something for Balki, but Larry and Lydia are both thinking to themselves “is this really a song?”.

The last word of the song is “babasticky”, and the song is supposed to be “For she’s a jolly good fellow”*** and maybe the “babasticky” is meant to convey the impossibility of denial part at the end of the song?  I’m trying to make sense of this language, but who cares. Larry and Balki are primarily concerned with the language of love.


Harriette: W-wait, wait, hold on, honey

*sigh* You’re right, Harriette. I’m kind of forcing the gay jokes. I’ll get us back on track with some callbacks. (You are Harriette, right?)


Balki repeats the exposition about Yaya Biki coming, and tells us that there’s going to be a party.  I’m glad he did that! If this scene had been Harriette and Lydia at the party, we would have had no explanation whatsoever as to how they knew to show up.

Harriette insults Lydia on her way out, and then the phone rings.  It turns out that Carol is actually dating a guy named Jim.


Haha, nah, j/k, Yaya Biki changed planes in New York and her heart stopped. She’s dead. That’s really sad. Huh.

I guess she must have sexually harassed one of the Delta terminal’s desk staff and threatened to have him fired!


Mary Anne (Sagittarius) and Jennifer are there to recreate the scene from the end of Season 1, even down to there being potato chips and Mary Anne wearing a lot of eyeliner. Balki has even regressed to saying “potata chips”.


Usually it just takes 18 minutes for the cousins’ roles to be reversed, but here we see one two seasons in the making: Cousin Larry makes the party guests leave. He makes his own callback by telling the women that Harriette and Lydia are wearing the same outfits, and that they should go upstairs and change.


Mary Anne drops her guard for a sarcastic split-second; she knows what’s up (Larry’s penis up Balki’s butthole, usually).

Larry has some difficulty saying that Yaya Biki is dead, and the guys in the audience think the way he hesitates about it is HILARIOUS.

Balki sits down and says he’s been running around “like a chicken with its head glued on” and damn. I… did not expect that I would ever need to make a callback to how Myposian youths amuse themselves by watching animals die.


Larry says that Yaya Biki bought the farm and Balki is so happy that he makes the same face & arm motions that I did when I found out that my apartment building’s fire alarm is just two decibels shy of bursting my eardrums.

But on Mypos, unlike in 1980s America, farms were still a thing that got used instead of subsidized, and a misunderstanding is as good an opportunity as any for Balki’s catchphrase, isn’t it?


Larry says that Yaya Biki is dead. Alright, the Biki plot is out of the way and we’ve got 10 minutes left.  The women are gone, the door’s locked, let’s drop those trousers and party down!


Balki decides to go out and buy more chips, and wow, when has Balki not been upfront with his feelings?


Balki comes back with the CEO of Unichip, Inc., demanding that he count all the potato chips in Chicago.


Nah, j/k, the cousins come back from the circus. Balki’s wearing a balloon hat, and so is his familiar, Dmitri. Did… did Dmitri time travel?

Balki: Doesn’t this balloon hat lend itself well to a joke about phalluses? We’re really gay, Cousin!


Heehee! This move’s called the “Bozo Bucket Bonanza”!

Balki’s obviously really into having fun right now, and nothing’s more fun than the fun they sure do have when the four of them get together, so Balki suggests they invite the women to watch a movie. (Pizza is the only thing Larry eats.) (Larry is fat.) (Larry does not poop.)

Balki: I’ll make some popcorn and we can practice catching it in our mouths!

Hee, hee, “catching” is a gay sex word. Larry and Balki are ‘mos!


Then they argue about whether Balki is happy.  I thought Balki never lied, and that Larry would believe anything Balki says?

Larry finally (after three friggin’ weeks?) asks Balki if he’s really happy that his Yaya Biki died. Balki admits he’s not happy, and explains to his cousin that his Yaya had asked him to go on with his happy life when she dies. He’s holding on tight to that highest of Myposian ideals: the Promise He Made.


If Balki playing with squeaky toys indicated the shallowness of a lesson, Balki dropping popcorn kernels one at a time into a pan tells us the depth of his sorrows.

Larry says that you have to mourn someone when they die.


Larry: I had an uncle whose wife died…

So… your aunt?

Larry says that this uncle wrote a letter to his dead wife, and that it made things a little better. Look, show, this is a comedy, can we just have a goofy seance at a third location?

Balki doesn’t want to say goodbye.  Larry leaves to visit the womenfolk.


Balki keeps trying to start talking to the chair, and again only the men in the audience laugh.

Balki talks to the chair he bought, about how he wanted his Yaya to see more of the country than LaGuardia’s filthy bathroom stalls. Yaya Biki had told Balki stories about the Statue of Liberty, how she was bringing light to the world.


Balki: So I — so I’ve got Yaya Biki sitting here.  And you — I was going to ask you a couple of questions.  But — you know about — I remember three and a half years ago, when you sheared that sheep. And though I was not a big supporter, I was watching that night when you were shaving that thing and they were talking about hope and change and they were talking about, yes we can, and it was dark outdoors, and it was nice, and people were lighting candles. They were saying, I just thought…


I just can’t. I can’t, you guys. I can’t follow through on that Clint Eastwood joke. It was going to be really great, but what

what does it





I’ve been trying so hard to keep this blog funny, I’ve been trying to make gay jokes and I wanted to really make you all laugh with some stellar callbacks about there not being any party horns and, like, Moonlighting, and suicide… I even had a Biki with the good hair joke all ready to go, but it’s all just been a giant clown nose to hide my pain.


Susan’s gone, you guys. We never really got to know her, but she always seemed like she had such great potential. And not just Susan, but all those others! Tina, Carol, Gina, Linda, Gorbachev, Suprides, Eddie, Donald Twinkacetti, Edwina Twinkacetti, their children, Wistful and Woebegone… They’re all gone.  I’ve been trying to keep myself happy by honoring the promise I made**** to make this the funniest sitcom review blog around.  But I’ve got five more seasons of this; if I’m any good at it, I’ll pick up new readers. And will they even know what I mean 50 reviews from now when I say that  ennifer: — ?



It’s obvious now that I remember more about seasons 1 and 2 now than season 3 does.  I love this show, my awkward, frustrating, clumsy child; but it’s growing up. This show outgrew its clothes. It learned to use the toilet (well, after breaking it, anyway). It’s not going to remember its beginnings, but I will. We’ve probably all gone through phases where we had to demand that our parents stop seeing us as babies, or children, or teenagers.  It’s hard.  My show’s changing, and I have to change with it. It’s been scrubbing the specificity off its characters’ pasts all season, and I see what I’m supposed to learn from that. I can’t make a callback to everything; everything can’t be a running joke.

Balki, to Biki, regarding the Statue of Liberty:

I remember the first time I ever saw her. I was sailing into New York Harbor on the steamer, and the sun was coming up, and… there she was. Just like you said. Bringing light to the world. And it was the most wonderful day of my life. And… you… made that day possible.

I knocked this show so hard all season long for watering down its own lessons (with poop water, no less) that it took me by surprise when there was a lesson for me waiting here at the end.


Balki’s realizing that he is the new generation, that he has to leave behind his past and forge his new life in the greater world.  Man, the scene where Luke finds his burnt uncle and aunt got nothing on this!  The lesson here is that Balki has to honor his past by enjoying the opportunities it gave him, rather than feeling like he had to keep up every aspect of his culture.


And me?  I have to roll with the changes. I know I’m capable. I know I’m funny. But as much as this blog is about me, it’s just as true that it isn’t. I don’t know where Perfect Strangers is going now; I’ll talk more about this in the season review, but I don’t think it did either. I’m in a dialogue with the show, and I have to follow it where it goes.  It’s still my dream, and some weeks it seems to take over my life. But the show and I are long past “hello”, and I can’t keep talking to it like it’s a baby.

Or like it’s an empty chair symbolizing a dead body in legal purgatory, sitting in the Delta baggage claim and stinking of fish parts.


As the camera pulls back towards the windows, we ask: will it escape down the ladder, or up?

Season 3 est mort.

Vive Season 3.



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

Boner count: how dare you, Balki’s Yaya Biki died


**it’s complicated, send me a DM and I’ll explain it

***public domain, not reason #whatever

****to Satan

*****Psychology Sidebar: the “five stages of grief” model was developed by Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in the late 1960s


NAH, J/K, y’all mofos oughta know by now I always roll three deep with callbacks. I stack jokes better than Balki stacks motor oil cans. I can get ex-girlfriends back with the mere mention of egg rolls and saxophone music. My stuffed sheep even has tiny callback jokes! You butter believe it!

Season 3, Episode 11: The Break In

We open at the Chicago Chronicle, where we find Larry giggling to himself.


Harriette and Balki arrive in the elevator, but because she finally gave in and let Balki the Kid operate it, they have gone too far down.


Larry is still laughing over something he wrote (I can relate), causing Balki to come over and start laughing with him. This causes the audience to laugh. Balki voices my own thought (“what are we laughing at”?) prompting the exposition.  Larry spent half his day covering a “stupid dog show” and it really stressed him out, so he decided to write a “funny” article about it.

Are you… are you making fun of me, show?


Larry’s article is about how snooty and fat the dog owners’ wives are, but Balki isn’t laughing, because that’s mean.  He gives us Rubble Rule #39: Iffi bighi hoch pdooie ocho pidi badhbadhsticky, or in other words, “If you spit into a windstorm, you better carry an umbrella”. And because I’m hung-up on trying to make sense of the Desperanto that Balki spouts, I’m going to focus in on “badhbadhsticky”, because we’ve had “babasticky” a few times now. Sticky=sheep; baba=shit, bullshit (lies). So for “umbrella”,I’m going to guess that “badhbadh” might translate to “skin”, telling us the construction of the tool; or “shield/screen”, to indicate its purpose (like, I dunno, are you supposed to keep sheep dry?).  Anyway, none of you cares about that.

Larry cites Don Rickles as a precedent, and because Rick-les is Wayne Newton’s favorite comedian, Balki is 100% down with the idea. He almost instantly tries it out by insulting Larry’s nonexistent lips.


Larry plans to send the article to his brother Billy, I guess to impress him with yet another article that didn’t get published. He puts it and the real article in identical, unsealed envelopes.  Harriette returns, bringing with her a man named Frank.


Harriette: Frank, what’s a 5 letter word for life?

Frank: (thinks)  Hell.

*dingdingding*  We have a motif established!  Frank has also, evidently, gone too far down.


Mr. Burns rushes in, gets Larry’s name wrong, and even insults his intelligence, but he’s still no Twinkacetti.  He gives us the last two pieces we need for this week’s situation: the Chronicle’s publisher, R.T. Wainwright, sponsored the dog show, and wants Larry’s article on his desk by that evening. He then asks Larry where the file on the “Fornzak” baby is.  And since Larry can’t possibly do one thing, and then do another one, he asks Balki to take the article up to the publisher’s office.  (I’ll let you know when the show gets to the “comedy” side of the sitcom coin.)


So, if I’m to understand correctly, Balki’s job is to sort mail.  His job consists of making sure the right envelopes go to the right places. He has, we assume, done an impeccable job, since Gorpley has been looking for even the slightest reason to fire him. So! I assume that the cousins will just have to slapfight over the Fornzak baby files or something. They really painted themselves into a corner here.


Later, the cousins, Jennifer, and Mary Anne (Sagittarius) watch Moonlighting. They spend a while talking about how great the show is, in case you missed the lesson about not watching cable television last week. Balki tries out his new American knowledge:

Balki: Mary Anne, is that your hair or did your head just explode?


Mary Anne doesn’t get it because she is dumb (so dumb, in fact, she thinks that moonlighting is a technical term used by porn directors). Anyway, back to the A plot: Balki also wants their prospective girlfriends to hear Larry read his jokes about women.


Larry’s so taken with his own writing that he has multiple orgasms (I can relate).


Since the audience has forgotten already that there’s another article, or even that other spaces exist in this world, Balki lets us know where the joke article is. These four sure do have a lot of fun when they get together, don’t they?

The mid-episode exposition over, Jennifer and Mary Anne leave, allowing Larry and Balki to touch each other–you know what, gimme a second… okay, I just programmed a hotkey for pasting that phrase in.


Larry says he should have known it would happen, citing “Appleton’s Law”. It’s basically just Murphy’s Law, and I needed this reminder. It’s comforting to think that simply because good jokes can happen on a sitcom, that if a show runs long enough, it’s bound to happen eventually.

Balki wants clarification on whether insult humor is funny, and all Larry can say is that sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t.


Balki realizes that he insulted Mary Anne, but Larry stops him. He explains that they’re long past season 1 when Balki could mess something up and learn a lesson about the way America works; this is season 3, and only Larry gets to be wrong. And this is the worst thing that’s ever happened to him, no doubt. I mean, his life is just over. If only there were some way to undo this damage to his career.

10 minutes into Perfect Strangers and chill and he gives you this look


Larry guilt trips Balki about doing his job incorrectly, and that breaking into the publisher’s office is the only way to fix it.  Larry makes it seem like he’s doing Balki a favor by coming with him, and that’s super-shitty, but yeah, Balki’s got to undo his irresponsibility, because man, if I were in that situation and couldn’t fix what I’d done, I dunno, I might just give up on life.


It turns out the building does still exist at night, and here’s proof.


The cousins are out breath because they took the stairs and have never once gone to the gym or taken a Karate class.


And here we are, the office of R.T. Wainwright, locked, lights out.  Alone in an empty building, no one there to help them. Things are looking bleak, guys. This may be the end for the cousins.

Larry misquotes the mailman’s oath, but Balki calls him out on his bullshit. Larry drops his mask, admitting his deception and shifting gears to begging. You see, “R.T.” stands for Reigning Tyrant and Larry knows that he’ll be fired if Wainwright reads the joke article.  Larry begins to beg for Balki’s help, offering whatever he wants, he’ll even reconsider the love egg.


And, okay, yes, that garbage with Moonlighting earlier was blatant product placement.  But then it pays off with Larry saying they’ll do what they do on Moonlighting to get through the locked door, and Balki starts in with that you do? I do! stuff. This is something like the third time that the show has had a setup that seems so out of place which then pays off pretty well.  Maybe I should stop knocking this show so much…

*turns to fourth wall*



Larry tries that credit card trick, another indication that the show has forgotten that these dopes are supposed to be poor.  But they might soon be poor again, because the card breaks, the half with Larry’s name stuck in the door, and the size of the piece of plastic left in Larry’s hand is no mistake: it is of a size with the newspaper clipping of Larry’s first published article. A subtle clue that in a world where no one appreciates your hard work, and never gets your name right, maybe it’s better for that name to just disappear from that world forever. No byline, just… “bye”.

When you’re in an unwinnable situation, sometimes you turn to your drug of choice. The cousins try to physical comedy their way out of this mess.


It provides a temporary reprieve, allowing them to switch out the article, but –oh no! The elevator dings!


The cousins turn out the light, but–oh no! They’re on a sitcom so after a second’s delay, another, softer light turns on!


And the publisher’s office is somehow the smallest room in the entire building, so there’s nowhere to hide!


Psychology sidebar: have I talked to you all yet about the idea of “averageness”?  Basically, we find others more attractive the closer they come to some sort of societal (read: racial) “average”, especially when it comes to faces. This was first “discovered” in the late 19th century by Francis Galton, who studied the faces of criminals and vegetarians. He found that by creating composite images of multiple faces, the result was more attractive than any of the components.  It was another century before this was tested out with computer-generated composites of faces. Long story short, composites of faces tend to be rated more attractive in general by subjects, and the composites made from higher numbers of faces were rated more attractive than those made from lower numbers of faces.  Anyway, the reason I’m saying all this is that the theory is now officially dead and buried because the security guard here is a walking composite of Dick Van Patten and Lance Kinsey (Proctor from the Police Academy movies), and it’s not a good look.


Anyway, OH NO!!! Lance Dick has closed the window!


The cousins say variations on “the guard locked the window” like, seven times, and I sure am glad I’m watching the syndicated version.  Larry calls upon God himself to save them.


But there’s not enough room for physical comedy, much less the front-to-front kind. These guys are fucked. GAME OVER, man. A bunch of firetrucks and police show up and Larry thinks that by moving half an inch backwards they won’t be seen.


And, hey, look, it’s Frank! I wonder what Frank’s doing here? Whatever it is, it’s sure to be comedy gold!


He’s up there to commit suicide, which somehow Balki knows about (possibly from that dialogueless episode of Mr. Ed he watched last week?) So Larry learns an important lesson: that losing your job–even if it’s for something unjustified, like someone mistakenly giving your boss an article that you wrote in a fit of pique because you had to spend all of one day focussing on something that you felt was beneath you–cannot compare to the traumas of mental illness, which can drive someone to give up on life.


Hey, wait, the music didn’t turn on. We’re still on the ledge. That wasn’t the lesson. Balki insists on talking to Frank, and Larry cautions that one wrong word and Frank will jump.


Balki: Fingyprints.

*FRANK jumps*


Nah, j/k, they stay up on the ledge all night talking to Frank about his family.  Frank mentions that his son, Frankie, Jr. is a natural at tee ball, and Balki mentions that he was a Caesarean birth.  (And here I thought on Mypos was very simple….)

Larry starts in telling Frank that the idea of suicide makes no sense because he has a wonderful family.  Yes, that’s right, folks! The best way to handle a severely depressed person is to let them know that, on top of everything else they’re going through, their perception of the situation is wrong!  Yeah! You should smile more often, sweetie! Even though (as Larry so helpfully points out) Frank is one of the leading journalists in the city, Frank is sick of it:

Frank: I’ve been covering crime for 12 years! All I see all day are people doing terrible things to each other. I can’t take it anymore!

*counts number of episodes left on fingers, divides by 52, carry the bonus posts*

*turns to fourth wall*


Balki suggests that Frank goes home to his family, who will be hurt if he kills himself. He goes on to mention that Frank would only become another terrible person that another journalist would have to write about.

Frank says he feels humiliated.

Balki says “if you come out on this ledge again, there’s a good chance we won’t be here”, and the audience laughs.

In the final scene, Larry says he wants to forget the whole thing happened.


Balki says he never wants to go through something like that again.


The final joke is how funny it is that Balki and Larry don’t get any sleep because they stayed up all night keeping Frank from killing himself.

Okay, fuck this.

*turns off plastic megaphone*

*writes the rest of the review in my real voice*

I’ve contemplated suicide. I own a copy of Final Exit. I know how I’d do it. I’ve determined that it would take 2 months to get my affairs in order, update my will, post an outline for the rest of my webcomic, and visit people to tell them good-bye.  My one “attempt” consisted of me refusing to get out of bed one morning.

I’m 31 and I know how I want my remains handled: cremation, ashes kept in a Hamburglar cookie jar. I had to face mortality early, because I had (have) kidney disease, and I was on dialysis for 3 and a half years, half of that time living alone, just me, my dialysis machine, and no promise of anything but the same day, the same week, indefinitely.  I got my transplant kidneys quicker than the “median” wait time, thanks to a change in the allocation algorithms. But in the time I was waiting, there was no way to know how long that would be. I can’t tell you how much sleep I missed from my dialysis machine waking me up. Every week, I threw away three 39-gallon bags of plastic & rubber dialysis supply trash. Combine that with the costs to insurance, and the fact that my productivity at my job, and on my webcomic, had seriously declined… for a while, I was producing more garbage than anything else. From a strictly utilitarian viewpoint, it was debatable whether I was worth keeping alive.

And you know what? My situation was at the lighter end of the depressing spectrum. Some people need heart transplants; have cancer; get raped; get emotionally abused. Some never get a break from it. Some people don’t have anyone to talk to. I’ll admit that there was a light at the end of my tunnel, curved though it was, so I can only speak to my own depression.

It sucked! In part because of some of the responses I got to it, from well-meaning friends.  “I love you” is an honest, compassionate thing that people said, but all I could hear was “…but not enough to give you a kidney”.  My family and co-workers will be upset that I killed myself? They’ll get over it. People will misunderstand my reasons? Story of my life anyway. Even the friends who went the “you’re a great person and I’ll miss you” route? All I could wonder was how long I should suffer for their sake. I wanted a reason to stay alive, but it had to make sense. One thing that kept me going was knowing that every day I tried to decide whether suicide was reasonable was one day closer to getting a kidney, and thus daily less reasonable. The other was the friend who told me that she understood my feelings, and acknowledged that even though she disliked the idea, it was my decision to make.  And emotionally, that’s something I was searching for: acknowledgment that I was having a normal, not-crazy reaction to a shitty situation with no outs and little opportunity for fun outside of drawing for about 30 minutes every evening.  I don’t know, ultimately, what kept me from killing myself. Maybe both of those things, maybe neither. I don’t know what would keep others from it. I refuse to try to give advice.

I guess my point here is that suicide and depression are seriously complex fucking issues. I kept my mouth shut about Larry’s eating problems (I’ve had one), and even Balki’s addiction (I’ve had one), but as Ren Höek would say, kee-ripes, man! This episode was a case study in how to tell yourself that you’re helping someone while not giving a shit about their situation.  Balki and Larry tell a depressed guy that he’s wrong for feeling depressed, and then complain to each other about how much it drained them to do so.

Oops! I just wrote 600 words about suicide on a blog that’s supposed to be about boner jokes.  And yes, I was making suicide jokes myself before I went off. So let’s revisit the episode’s opening juxtaposition of laughing while a friend is halfway buried in the earth. Let’s talk about why sometimes jokes are okay, and other times not.

Neither of the cousins really learns that put-down comedy works when a) the recipient is in on it/understands the intent (celebrity roasts), or b) the joke is delivered in a “comedy” setting, like a stand-up routine, or a sitcom, or even c) when the object of ridicule holds a position of power/is actively hurting others.  Larry only goes so far as to explain that you shouldn’t make offensive jokes when you could get fired.

So thanks for reading? And thanks for understanding that when I make a suicide joke, I’ve been there, and one of my intentions is to ridicule the subject’s handling.

*turns on plastic megaphone*

And thanks Balki and Larry for never getting so depressed that they can’t pop boners!

Join me next week for…oh for fuck’s sake… ”To Be Or Not to Be”.


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

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

Burns misnomers: Appleman