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 7: Karate Kids

Hey, everybody.  I’m still pretty down about how there weren’t any horns last week.  I mean, the show usually does a solid job of figuring out the worst possible reference that includes something in the episode.  “Knock Knock Who’s There” had somebody knocking on a door, “Hello Elaine” had Balki saying hello to Elaine, so I’m not even certain that there’s going to be any kara–wait. wait. Is this it? Will we have actual proof that women were willing to be seen in public with these dodos?




Balki is happy because it’s his first Happy Hour, so he makes the same face I do when I’m trying my damnedest to get one of those little slivers of cocktail toothpick out from between my top molars with just my tongue.

Balki wonders out loud how lounges like Edward’s make any money giving away food. Larry starts to explain, but rather than a discussion between two adults, Balki mistakes “inducement” and “illusion”. You’re giving me whiplash, show! But then Balki points out that Larry is a thieving scoundrel because he doesn’t buy any drinks.

In fact, there’s a lot going on in this first minute, with a lot of background noise to boot, and it feels kind of disorienting for this show, since most extras aren’t paid to talk. Also nothing’s being repeated or anything. Weird.


Jennifer asks if Mary Anne (Sagittarius) is coming to the table, and the joke is… she loaded up on food? Mary Anne is so dumb… she’s hungry?  I don’t know.


Then Chuck “the Love Machine” Vestman starts hitting on Jennifer, so Larry comes up and tries to gently put him down. He uses a pun to do so (pull the plug), and Balki loves puns, so here comes Balki thinking it’s all part of the fun and games of Happy Hour.


But Chuck keeps hitting on Jennifer, Larry keeps putting him down, and…


Yep, Larry knows what he’s after when he goes out–gettin’ hisself thrashed by big guys at the bar.  Loyal cousin Balki stands up for Larry, resulting in him getting thrown over the bar too. Somehow, the scene doesn’t end with Chuck clubbing Jennifer and dragging her by the hair back to his denim-clad apartment.


Later, Larry is humiliated, but Balki is upset because this was his first Happy Hour and it was RUINED.  Okay, we’ve got a couple of character-driven things going on in this scene, but the show is not handling them the way I know it can.  On the one hand, the idea of “Happy Hour” is the perfect kind of thing for Balki to focus in on and inflate the importance of–but we don’t go anywhere with it.  And yes, I could have told you Larry has been bullied his whole life; there was probably only a small reduction in college, when he learned that taped “kick me” signs don’t stick as well to high pile sweaters.  But can we have some friggin’ details? Could we have 10 seconds of dialogue about how football players picked on the chorus kids and stole Larry’s girlfriend?  But Larry folds his arm in a really overdone manner, so at least Linn-Baker’s bringing some childhood upset to the dialogue, even if it is horribly nonspecific.  Larry says there’s nothing guys like he and Balki can do about it.

So… the lesson this week is going to be that the American viewpoint of eminent domain is reinforced not only at the level of mating, but also as a promise dangled before the eyes of the consumer, that they can get a free lunch, that something is there for the taking.  Even those savvy to the catch that you must pay for drinks–someone like Larry who goes to Happy Hour and orders ice water–respond to cheating with cheating, perpetuating evil.  Beating someone at their own game means playing it better. Being American, ultimately, is becoming part of a societal tug-of-war for luxury resources; while being Myposian, on the other hand, means getting excited at the promise of one solid hour of happiness, a break from the drudgery and boredom of the 9-to-5.  That’s going to be the lesson, right?

Balki: What about David and Goliath? What about Jack and the Beanstalk? What about the Captain & Tennille?

Oh, that’s right, last week’s lesson was not to trust predictions.


Balki does some sort of goddam bird pose and says he’s the Karate Kid.

No, go back to Balki listing pairs of things for the next 18 minutes. Turn back the world.

Larry says that learning Karate takes years, and we get an actual subtle line from Balki:

Balki: I saw that movie. I went back for popcorn, and when I got back, that kid was kicking everything he could get his feet on.  

This is a much more honest way for Balki to be dumb than to have him think that the shrimp he’s eating are holographic.

Larry: I don’t know… Larry Appleton, Fists of Fury, it just doesn’t sound right.


don’t you tempt me, show

Balki: Cousin, your fists can be just as furry as the next guy.



Balki’s all like “This is America” and reminds Larry that you can do anything  and then we get reason #7 seasons 3-8 are bound to collect dust in an offsite storage facility: Balki sings “The Impossible Dream (The Quest)”.

“Larry gets inspired” was seen early in Season 2 when Larry pumped himself up thinking about Eisenhower, but it’s kind of weird that Larry’s getting inspired by a song.  Damn, I really wasn’t far off with that undercurrent of those in power selling ideas and dreams of conquest to the idiot masses.

Now they’re both singing.


Larry take your damn feet off the couch.


But we go to commercial before we see Balki unzip Larry’s pants, though.  Stupid syndication cuts.


Welcome, everyone, to “Karate Studio”!

Balki hugs Sensei Pete Nakima and asks him if he knows about Happy Hour.


Larry spins his visit into a tale about how he’s writing a news story, even saying it’s a story about the “urban male ego”, without a trace of self-awareness.

Karate Pete’s all like, yeah, I’ve heard that one before.  Then he shouts and keeps saying “uhhhh” at the end of sentences just like a real Japanese Karateman would!


Pete: Bartokomous-san, I want you to attack Goldstein-san from the back.

Balki, sensing that Goldstein’s butt must be hiding a secret Karate weapon, fearfully asks “Why?”

We’ve already established that some things are funny just because Balki says them, and Balki talks funny, so Pete Nakima, being WAY MORE FOREIGN because he’s from further away, just dials that up to 10 and basically the audience laughs at whatever the last word of each sentence is simply because he puts emphasis on it.


For instance, that shot there? Pete said the word “different”, but he emphasized it and made a face. I’ll pause so you can all get over your laughing fit.

The scene ends with the cousins cowering in fear from the Asian and the Jew.


And for the second or third time ever in this show, we are given an indication of how much time has passed.  Three weeks! Holy shit!  Think what kind of lessons we must have missed!  Larry learning not to lie!  Balki scolding Larry for taking two newspapers from the coin-operated box, but only paying for one! Larry learning not to lie!


Larry comes in the apartment acting like he’s really stealthy and calls out to Balki. He then shuts the door, wheeling around and kicking toward it as he does so.  Part of this is the writing, part of this is Linn-Baker’s acting.  You can see the honest worry on his face, and you know that Larry has been through this at least 10 times by now. I don’t care if they spend the next three minutes explaining every aspect of the joke, this was Linn-Baker selling one half of the joke, and Bronson just sitting there to sell the other.


Why the fuck was I worried they’d explain the joke, this show’s got shittier fish to fry. I knew this was coming at some point, that time-efficient scene at Edward’s should have tipped me off they were saving room for physical comedy.

Guess what kind of noises they make














Then Larry whips out a sausage nunchuck and geez, there’s most of 6 seasons left to go and I’m already almost out of gay jokes.

I guess, okay, I guess it slipped out of his hands. Um. Because he oiled it. Whatever, 10 minutes left, let’s just keep going.

The phone rings, okay, phew, time to trot out my joke about hot tips from Gus, that’s always a good standby to–HOLY SHIT it’s Mrs. Schlaegelmilch!


She’s calling to complain about the noise! (BTW, I count this as a clue they’re still in the Caldwell Hotel.) Larry promises they’ll keep it down, then they scream some more.

Larry and Balki start talking about how great their reflexes and skills are, and Balki, here in perhaps his happiest hour, reminds Larry about how they’re not supposed to want to fight, and how sensei says that the most powerful weapon is the voice of love.  I hate that kind of explaining shit.  If I were Larry I’d be all like, yeah, look man, I was in that class too, Pete emphasized the word love, it was funny, but I got it.


Larry opens the window to shout at some lady. *Sigh* He’s not even working at Ritz Discount anymore, but he’s still making sure nobody goes in. Hey, look, Raisin Puffs.

Then, without any dialogue that they’re going to the restaurant again, they go to the restaurant! There’s hardly any gags being stepped on this week. Who wrote this? Huh. Two of the producers stepped in to write this one. How does that work, do you figure?  I mean, I get that there’s a room full of writers, and they all work on the show, probably most of the episodes to some extent, and sometimes they get the credit, I guess if they did most of the work.  But this, as well as a later episode, are the only writing credits for James O’Keefe and Alan Plotkin.  Like, not just for this show–for their careers, according to IMDB.


Mary Anne doesn’t want to be there, because the lighting makes her skin look “sallow”.  Try and tell me again that Mary Anne’s so dumb that she thinks karate is a type of artery.

Turns out that Larry lied to the women about Balki wanting to come to Edward’s.  The roof caves in, burying everyone in 50 feet of hard-packed snow, the end.

Nah, j/k, Larry slips Freudian, saying he’ll pick up the “Chuck”.  I guess if there’s one thing I can count on, it’s this show confirming every joke I’ve made about these guys being gay.


So Larry picks a fight with Chuck “The Love Machine” Vestman despite Balki speaking the voice of love to him.

Chuck, having spent the past three weeks in a coke-fueled tryst with Olivia Crawford and Claire Hayden, doesn’t remember beating up Larry and Balki.

Larry: Are ya chicken, Chuck?

But the way he says Chuck comes out “CHERK” but they didn’t have enough extra film that week to reshoot.

Larry actually does a fucking chicken sound, then he starts doing this Sylvester J. Cat “ffffine ffffeathered ffffriend” bit.  Stop, Cousin Larry, mixing up stuff like that only works when Count Floyd does it.


Balki comes in and tries to defuse the situation by saying that the chicken is the Myposian national bird, that it’s a symbol of bravery, and that if they’re going to touch weiners in the parking lot, he wants to come too.


So, Chuck comes at Larry, Larry flips him, Chuck slides him down the bar and chokes him.  I think I get now why we don’t usually see it when Larry gets maimed. It’s customary to do the artful cutaway for sex scenes, the camera pans to the flowers on the nighttable, or the curtains billow in.  Seeing Larry beaten twice in one episode is downright pornographic!


Jennifer and Mary Anne walk the cousins to their apartment, solemnly deliver a joke about how Larry’s a weenie, and then leave.  So… the lesson is that if you want to impress a woman, she needs to be on screen long enough to figure out what her interests are? That’s the lesson, right? Can I go to bed now?

Larry talks out loud about his various wounds… getting beaten up, getting humiliated, both of those happening in front of Jennifer… and Balki pours salt in every one by repeating the word “again” (there’s a joke in there somewhere… quoth the Dale McRaven?)

Larry bemoans how he’s changed from peacenik to beatnik (as in… beatings…? sorry, it’s late), that he’s no longer the nice guy he was.  Balki draws out the joke of hesitating to agree with Larry on that one, but backs off when it’s obvious Larry is about to cry.


Balki points out that Larry always goes too far — that he takes a good thing and pounds it into the ground.  I mean, I guess? There was that time when he took being a parent too far and incorrectly scolded the surrogate son character for stealing a bike?  Or when making dinner for women turned into a pissing match because they didn’t plan the meal until three minutes before they came over? I dunno, okay, sure, whatever, Larry’s a ground-pounder. Being a ground-pounder gets you pounded.

Balki mentions that Karate Pete thinks Larry’s a natural at Karate.


Anyway, Larry says he’ll keep taking Karate because he enjoys the classes.  Oh, cool, so we’ll have another Karate episode next w–


oh, no, wait, Larry tries to get Balki to do some karate with him and Balki punches him in the gut.


So, okay, let me talk a little bit more about this one.  I think there’s a solid season 1 episode somewhere hiding inside The Karate Kids. It’s essentially a message about the American male trying to dominate.  It begins with a nondescript tough guy trying to hit on Jennifer, and Larry trying to communicate his ownership. (Somewhat important to this is how Chuck didn’t even care whether he got Jennifer or not, as well as how he didn’t even remember Larry.  But, being American, Larry just plays whatever game is offered to him.  That characteristic is introduced immediately by Larry stealing shrimp, and followed through by him assuming that he must play the game of winning fights.  And if it weren’t enough that his foreign cousin is there to remind him of “the voice of love”, the star student at the Japanese-run karate school is Jewish.  That’s laying it on pretty thick for signifying that Karate is a symbol for all those that the American spirit has trodden underfoot, replete with a warning that the truer strength is being able to fight that way–or better–but choosing not to.  But Larry takes on the fighting style without its philosophy. He tries to be the best American he can be, and tries to use karate as loaded dice.  But this is season 3, and since Dale McRaven has staunchly refused to make his audience feel guilty, we get “Balki chases Larry around but this time they make karate noises”.  The whole of the karate philosophy is boiled down to “the voice of love”, and while there’s a nice parallel between the organic and the industrial (“The Love Machine”), the lesson we end up with rings false.  In season 3, not only is Larry’s past nondescript, but so is his present.  The lesson is not “karate teaches you not to seek things out”, the lesson is “Larry takes things too far”.  And damn if that doesn’t sound exactly like every single time that someone has told me I “think too much”.  As if thinking too much isn’t why medicine advanced enough for me to have working kidneys again. As if thinking too much isn’t the solution to half of the (good) courtroom dramas I’ve ever watched.  Besides, you have to take things too far to take things all the way, and isn’t that what every philosophy demands?  The problem is that the show picked a philosophy and turned it into a McGuffin for Larry to be wrong about.  This episode could have been great–I mean, look at how many subtle jokes there were. And I could seriously have done more with Balki grappling with the idea of Happy Hour and what he assumed it would involve. Ultimately, though, Balki walked out during the “hard work” portion of the movie: popcorn over perseverance.

There’s a concept in psychology of the “simulation heuristic” that comes up often in the context of regret.  Basically, the human mind tries to imagine how easy certain actions can be done, and how likely certain outcomes are.  How often have you heard a grieving person talk about how things would have been different “if only I’d been there”–been there to stop the deceased from driving, been there to save someone from a fire, been there at home more than at the office?  And the easier it is to imagine undoing something you regret, the harder it is to deal with. This episode is frustrating because it came so close to having some depth. But I couldn’t say where the blame should be placed.  Was the initial concept of this episode “Larry swings sausage nunchuks around” or was the episode written first and ABC (ahem) forced the sausage in?

Anyway, what the fuck, who cares, tune in next week to see what kind of noises Balki and Larry make in “Night School Confidential”!


Catchphrase count: Balki (0); Larry (0); Karate Pete Nakima (everything Pete says is a catchphrase)

Boner count: Balki (0); Larry (0); Chuck (1); Goldstein (?)