How I Spent My Summer Vacation: 1989

Here we are again, with another round of seeing what our beloved cast did in their downtime in 1989.  Let’s go ahead and get this one out of the way:

Melanie Wilson


Okay, now that–

Rebeca Arthur



Belita Moreno


–okay come on–

Jo Marie


Jo Marie Payton chari Bari Ruchi-pip Peri Pembo was on the screen for about 1 whole minute in the film Troop Beverly Hills. She plays a sassy black woman who works in a uniform store and says the word “shit” in front of a bunch of kids.


She also showed up on the “Jailbirds” episode of Small Wonder. She plays a sassy black cop, but she goes undercover–as the only black Misfits fan ever–to scare the robot kid because the robot kid was spraypainting. I don’t know enough about this show to make jokes about it, but that’s okay, because from what I can tell the writers didn’t know enough about making jokes.


FJ O’Neil


On that same episode of Small Wonder, my man RT (Remanded Trial) Wainwright plays a judge. Big whoop.


He was also on an episode of Tales From the Crypt (“The Man Who Was Death”) playing a priest who says a bunch of, ahem, Religious Talk at a prison execution.  What can I say, this man looks good in robes.

Mark Linn-Baker

Mark was on Valerie’s Family: the Hogans (a show that underwent more name changes than an early EC comic*) playing somebody named Stan Forrest. The episode title was “Stan and Deliver”. I wonder who played Deliver HAR HAR HAR. Sorry, no screenshot.

Sam Anderson

Star Trek: The Next Generation

Assistant Manager, “The Royale”

This is the only ST:TNG episode I’ve ever seen, but it lives up to the hype! The bald dude said “Make it so” and everything!  Here, Sam Anderson is–


a slightly menacing assistant manager in a suit! Surprise!

Alien Nation

Thomas Edison, “The Game”


Fun fact: Sam Anderson didn’t need the usual alien bald cap for this episode; he just shaved his head.

Slick Sam was also on an episode of Hooperman playing somebody named Dr. Lazlo. I can’t find it to watch it, but I bet he wears a suit in it. A doctor suit.

I wonder what Bronson’s up to…

Bronson Pinchot



Well, this continues to be the most disappointing feature on my blog. I mean, this is a lot of work just to get across the point that Perfect Strangers was the best thing these actors had going back then. But, hey, Bronson’s big movie was due to come out soon!  Certainly that would elevate the visibility of every member of the Perfect Strangers cast, and we’d see them all rise to stardom.

But for now, let’s do the news & magazine articles from May 7, 1988, through May 6, 1989. Reviewing the news coverage of seasons 1, 2, and 3 all at once was illuminating and worthwhile because those articles told a story about stories that morphed over time. Who Bronson is. How he rose to stardom. Where he’s going. How Perfect Strangers started. How stingy Mark Linn-Baker was with his words and money. To further that analogy, I’d have to say that I’m writing another chapter here. But ultimately, what I want to get from these is whether they a) support, or b) challenge what’s come before; the overall tone of how the show is being treated; whether Bronson says which toe he likes to suck on most.


Season 4

“Bronson Pinchot is a survivor….”

“The problem was, Pinchot wanted to be a real actor.”

I’m a reference librarian, and one of the traits I try to instill in students is to be inquisitive and skeptical.  Part of this includes making sure that at least two independent sources agree on the information you’re using.  So it makes me very happy that I now have another source (the second article is a condensation of the first) to prove Rebeca Arthur was not lying on Pat Sajak’s show when she said that she was going to be the Azalea Queen at the 1989 North Carolina Azalea Festival.  She replaced some unrepentant whore named Julie McCullough, who had appeared in Playboy.  But since Arthur–who studied dance and theater at the University of Maryland–had no primary or secondary sexual characteristics, she was determined to be perfect for the festival.

It should be no surprise by now that Mark Linn-Baker  had definitely been busy in his off-time.  He was one of the producing directors of the New York Stage and Film Company, and that the organization had grown large enough that they wanted to start another such program for theatre students in Sarasota.

Other than that, the article is mostly a collection of all the other quotes that Mark has rehearsed to give during interviews, which seems to hold up across publications, as well as television interviews. I enjoyed making My Favorite Year, I like theater but I am proud of the funny stuff I do on TV, Bronson and I hit it off quickly, the press is disappointed there isn’t behind-the-scenes drama, I’m not quite the straight man, unless you’re talking about Jackie Gleason in the Honeymooners…

god fucking dammit they’re going to do a Honeymooners episode, aren’t they

A couple of choice quotes from that article:

Mark: “…I wanted the next film to be something special. So I ended up turning down a lot of films that came my way. I wasn’t looking to do a mindless comedy. I tried to be very picky.”

Well, that certainly explains him voicing a penis.

Mark (he’s a different Mark who wrote this article): “…the two stars say they’ll be willing to stay as long as ABC wants them.”

Turns out Mark (the actor) has a sister who got married in the summer of 1988, but only after proving to him that she was ready for it by having sex with her fiancee in a piano bar.

.October 9, 1988: the day nothing of any interest came on television.

There’s honestly not a lot here about how good the show is or isn’t.  Again, I have no doubt that there were such articles; they’re just not curated on the fansite. And that’s not a knock on the fansite; weekly TV publications without “guide” in the title were generally thrown away after people were done cutting out the coupons from the Sunday paper.

One reviewer obviously hadn’t watched the show because she uses words like “hilarious” and “laugh” and at one point claims that “Balki… improved his English”. Dusty Saunders of the Rocky Mountain News TV Times claims that not enough people were watching Perfect Strangers, even though it’s funny, really, we promise. Did you see the one where they were in the grocery store? Solid stuff.  In fact, the actors were still trotting out that old Lucille Ball quote. Even Rebeca Arthur admits she thought the show wouldn’t last when she first saw a commercial for the first season. But almost 30 years later, it’s still shown every Friday night at 8:00 on ABC. Wild!

Bronson Pinchot remains the same bundle of insecurity and hauteur.  He claims that he “need[s] to do a certain kind of comedy which is not grown on trees” (emphasis mine). It’s your basic human mental gymnastics that lets you think that you caused your success, because the alternative is that no one, not even you, especially not you, is in control of your life.

But that article is lousy with boasts: he has two homes (one in Hollywood, another in Malibu), superstardom is just around the corner, he had played “bigger parts” before Beverly Hills Cop, he’s the one who recommended Joel Zwick be the director for the upcoming (*ahem*, blockbuster hit) film Second Sight, in which he not only plays the lead, but also rewrote the part.

Bronson also claims that he was the first choice to play Liberace in a TV biopic on ABC. He of course turned it down. After all, sitcom actors who try to take on serious roles are just trying to prove something to people. They look so silly! I mean, it’s not like Bronson can’t do serious roles, everybody at Yale wanted him for serious roles because he was so good at it, but he just doesn’t feel the need to show off, after all, most people prefer comedy because they’re not snooty, it has nothing to do with making money.

He mentions the cousins being on a talk show whose purpose was “dragging men through the mud”. But I don’t think we can trust Bronson’s take on the tenor of the questions, since he claims that all of the women in the front row were openly masturbating over him.

But we again get some articles that give us a more nuanced picture of Bronson. In this 1989 TV Guide (Canadian edition) article, he brags about his success, but also says that he was still doing research on Balki.  Bronson found his father–who left his wife and four kids, as you recall–in 1988, in an “old age” home (this was the 80s, where “retirement” had not been invented yet). According to Bronson here, Daddy Pinchot had “nothing to say. He just doesn’t know me. I don’t see him.”

The easy working relationship between Pinchot and Linn-Baker has been mentioned so many times now (here, by Linn-Baker) that I’m tempted to believe it completely.  Either that’s just the illusory truth effect talking or it really was true.  I think it’s a little bit of both, but I still suspect there’s more to it that Mark’s not saying.  Sure, he’s the one with the more extensive theater background, so when he says that he and Bronson “have a shorthand that only the two of us understand”, I believe him. Like any close relationship, Bronson says he can tell when Mark’s angry–which I bet was hard enough to do, given Mark’s curt, possibly guarded, answers to everything.  (Evidently, Mark’s breathing changes and “his hair starts to fluff up” when he’s angry.)

We get another brief glimpse of Bronson’s admittedly shitty adolescence. Says Bronson: “They say your subconscious has no sense of time, so the part of you that was 11 years old and miserable is still alive inside you”.

And… I think we get a little bit of honesty from him.  In aggregate, the articles I looked at last time ended up portraying Bronson as having thought he was too good for television, and did Perfect Strangers because he was broke. I still think that’s true, but here he frames it as having not been sure that he could play a nice character. And even though Bronson says he enjoys playing a loving character like Balki, the article ends with him saying that he uses the nice character as an excuse to justify acting like an ass to others in real life.

In an article from the San Francisco Chronicle, however, he swears he “won’t play evil”. The author here, John Stanley, made me laugh in a way I don’t think he meant to.  He starts the article trying to describe Bronson as thoughtful, mysterious, distant, and nervous.  But then Stanley says that Bronson comes to life after eating food.  It honestly reads like Stanley has never heard of blood sugar.

Bronson gives us some insight into how he sees and inhabits the character of Balki–or the reverse, as it reads here–and we get yet another indication of Bronson’s relationship to the other sex.  “Women fall in love with the character of Balki and expect to find that quality in me. And when they meet me they suddenly realize I’m either more interesting than they thought, or I’m not interesting at all.”  Gee, sometimes jokes are funny and sometimes they aren’t huh?

Another choice morsel from this article is that, according to Bronson, “Bini” is Balki’s middle name.

Bronson was in Starlog in May 1989, huh?  No wonder that rag folded 20 years later!

The article goes behind the scenes of Second Sight, which was intended (sort of) as a vehicle for Bronson.  Evidently it was the 1988 writer’s strike that resulted in the movie taking so long to come out. The way this article reads, the script had to be “reinvestigated” and rewritten largely by the actors (gee, why is it that actors are always the ones who turn out to save the script when the actors are interviewed?).  I’ll admit I haven’t watched much of John Larroquette’s work in recent years (other than when I go to the gym and Night Court is on one of the televisions), but this Starlog piece paints him as being not at all happy with the movie, or the production of it, or the other actors’ performances. Second Sight evidently had a small enough budget they couldn’t even buy extra ice cream for a second take of one scene. One of the actors tries to describe the movie as “the Three Stooges meets Ghostbusters”, which is nicespeak for “who the fuck knows what this movie’s about”.

A second article about Second Sight makes me wonder why Me and Him didn’t get this much promotion.

Finally, it’s amazing to me how so many details are scattered across these articles; it really has turned out to be necessary to read everything I can to get anywhere near a complete story.  This time around, I learned that the comedy album Bronson had written was done at the request (and payment) of A&M Records, who then turned it down when it was completed.  It’s also implied that Bronson turned down the role of Ben Jabituya in Short Circuit.  Just think!  Bronson could have been remembered as the guy who did brownface, instead of Fisher Stevens! Instead, he’s the guy who’s remembered for saying one sentence.  I’m sure we can all agree who got the better deal in the long run.

Join me in something like 30 weeks for reportage up through season 5.

But join me next week for the actual Season 4 Review!


*Psychology sidebar: priming.  The joke about EC Comics titles was lost on probably 100% of you, but the reason it was on my mind is that F.J. O’Neil was in a show based on an EC Comic.  Priming works this way: subject is shown a stimulus (the word “slavery”) and is then asked a somewhat unrelated question (“name as many presidents as you can”); the stimulus influences the response (subject is more likely to start with Lincoln in their answer).


Susan Campbell


Ah, Susan, will you ever find love?


Is that even what you’re trying to find?


Are you searching for rock bottom, just to see if it’s worth rebuilding on?


Love the new haircut.


How I Spent My Summer Vacation: 1988

If all of those articles we looked at two weeks ago were telling the truth, everything Perfect Strangers touched turned to gold, and its actors would see nothing but success from 1987 onwards. I mean, after all, it and Full House built the powerhouse of TGIF. And Bronson was so sexy. I mean, those lips! That hair! The promise of being his girlfriend for only three weeks!

*mops sweat from brow with the corner of a Myposian tapestry*

Sorry, I’m getting off-track here.

Last time, there wasn’t much to say about what our actors did to get paid the rest of the year. Let’s see if 1988 is any more fruitful.

Melanie Wilson (Jennifer)


Okay, well, that one’s not a surprise, certainly Pinchot was–

Bronson Pinchot


Okay, well, he said he was going to be in a movie come Christmas ’89, so he was working, movies take a lot of time. Let’s move on to *ahem* established actors.

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson already had a decade of television work under his belt by 1988, so it’s no surprise that he showed up in an episode of 21 Jump Street as “Dan Finger”.


I’ve never watched 21 Jump Street, but I watched one of the scenes with him in it. I’m going to guess (and part of this comes from his IMDB page) that Anderson got a lot of work as guys in suits. He definitely pulls off the air of someone who would comfortably occupy an official role as some part of a bureaucracy.  After all, we first saw him in season 1 as a guy in a suit working at a bank.  In both cases, he’s been a frustrated-bordering-on-suppressed-anger kind of guy, and that’s how I like my authority figure characters. It gives the kids something to rebel against, and the parents something to identify with.

And hey, look at that, he was guy in a suit on Growing Pains, working as a frustrated part of an educational bureaucracy!


I don’t know how in the world I forgot that Sam Anderson was in Critters 2: The Main Course. This lets me talk about Critters!


The Critters series of movies is one of the better thought-out, better written, and most cohesive of the 80s/90s horror series I’ve watched (and I’ve watched a lot). That’s really not saying much, especially for what began as a Gremlins clone, but what makes Critters work is that it has a lot of heart, and what gives it that heart is the character of Charlie, played by Don Keith Opper. I could talk all day about Critters, but anyway, Sam Anderson plays Mr. Morgan, who oversees the publication of a small-town newspaper, the Grover’s Bend Gazette. Not a suit, but working in an established, official capacity.  I probably forgot him because you’re supposed to forget this type of character. He makes the newspaper real, has a little bit of personality (here, dealing with the minor headaches of placing rural “news” stories in order of importance), and then the movie gets down to business with killings.

Eugene Roche

He did a bunch of stuff, and then he died. From the looks of it, he may have been well-known for his role on Dave’s World. I really felt like breaking the law today, but I can’t find that show for download.

R.I.P. Eugene Roche, and R.I.P. Harry Burns.  I hope he finally got ahold of Lance’s column.

I’ve saved my favorites for last:

Jo Marie Payton

I couldn’t find Payton’s appearance on The Slap Maxwell Story or Frank’s Place (haha, what’d she do, stand on a grave and dispense wisdom? god it’s fun to make jokes about suicide), but she was also in a film called Colors. She played “2nd woman in recreation center”, so you decide whether that one’s worth tracking down to hear what “Mm-hmm, baby” sounds like with different acoustics.

Belita Moreno

When she wasn’t working with two idiots in Chicago, Belita worked with Two Idiots in Hollywood. I’ve never heard of it, which means it was a garbage movie for babies. It wasn’t released on DVD, but it would cost me four times as much to get a copy of it on VHS than it did to get Going to the Chapel (see below), so I’m sure it was at least better than that. She played some character named “Dreamhouse Barbecue Mother”, which coincidentally is also what I was planning on calling the first prog rock album I release.

As far as television, she was on Valerie, The Slap Maxwell Story, and Family Ties. I’m trying so hard to take money away from actors and executives, but I’m not finding the episodes of Valerie or The Slap Maxwell Story to download. At the very least, some degenerate soul uploaded the episode of Family Ties:


Looks like she may have been somewhat typecast as only being able to stand beside short, fat, sleazy men. I expected a more prominent role for Moreno; here, all she does is smile, shake hands and say “I’m Norma”.

Rebeca Arthur / Mary Anne (Sagittarius)


Finally, fuck and yes, I got to download a movie illegally! In one of those cosmic coincidences, Rebeca Arthur played a be-eyelinered character at a party named Tina in Scrooged. I was always intrigued as a kid by the skeleton hand lighting Bill Murray’s cigar but it wasn’t until now that I finally had the motivation to watch it. (Spoiler: that scene doesn’t even happen in the movie.) The script needed a sexy blonde who was hot for Bill Murray, so Rebeca Arthur was a sexy blonde who was hot for Bill Murray.


Would that she were a sexy blonde who was hot for me.

Mark Linn-Baker

As we saw two weeks ago, Linn-Baker spent any time he wasn’t working on Perfect Strangers teaching and acting in New York. I’m having trouble finding anything about what plays he might have been in in 1988, but it’s safe to say he likely wasn’t in Cats, or Rodney Dangerfield on Broadway!.

He was in a couple of movies that summer, though. God help me: I was a model citizen and bought them both on VHS.

Me and Him (Sept. 1988)


Mark Linn-Baker plays the voice of Griffin Dunne’s penis. It’s kind of like Stranger than Fiction, but with a penis instead of an author.  It fits with Linn-Bakers depiction of Larry–basically trying to pull someone towards their baser urges. So it’s kind of like Perfect Strangers, but with vaginas instead of Sears Tower ice cream sundaes.

Going to the Chapel (Oct. 1988, also released as Wedding Day Blues)

This movie was released mere days before season 4 began.  Here’s the front of the VHS box:


Look, I like Linn-Baker and all, but if his name is listed first on the packaging, then “All Star Cast” is kind of a stretch. And to give you an idea of the budget for promotional photos: they took a picture of John Ratzenberger while he was asking if he was standing in the right spot.  This movie was much harder to pay attention to than Me and Him. It’s meant to be one of those ensemble pieces where all of the wacky relatives threaten to ruin the wedding and cause stress for the bride and groom.  The problem is, no one is wacky enough, or has enough impact on the plot.  Also, no one character is meant to be particularly prominent, which makes it obvious that Linn-Baker’s role was expanded in the first act of the movie.  I have no clue what the impetus of this movie was. I can’t imagine someone wanting to write it, or then writing it and thinking it was good. I can’t imagine the actors thinking it was good. I can only see this as a paycheck for everyone involved–but who the hell wanted to spend money on it?

Anyway, this is likely the only time that you’ll ever see Linn-Baker and Max Wright on-screen at the same time. And yes, they touch each other.




Susan’s cowboy boyfriend comes back and almost immediately lands in jail. He’s going to be hanged, so Susan tries wearing a nice dress to help him out.


It works, but then Cowboy Boyfriend leaves again.


I love you, Susan, and I know that you’ve moved on. I’ve gotten over my own sadness enough to start hoping that you’ll find happiness. But will you ever find true love?


There were no changes to the opening credits in Season 4 other than the title losing the shiny reflection effect, so join me next week for “The Lottery”, which involves Larry pulling the slip with the black spot on it.

Also, many thanks to a real-live Jennifer for the art at the top of this  post!

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!