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 6: The Horn Blows at Midnight

Hey everybody!  I’m really looking forward to some good horn-blowing this week.

Inside the basement of the Chicago Chronicle building, we find reason #3 you likely won’t get anything past season 2 on DVD: Balki shakes his ass and sings the Box Tops’s “The Letter”.  See? All we had to do was put Balki in a new situation and on-topic songs would come.


Shoot, I got too excited and Balki–instead of blowing a horn–throws a bunch of letters onto the table, spilling many onto the floor.


Larry, no horn visible, comes out of the elevator griping about how the Chronicle pays good money to a “psychic” for its “predictions” (not horoscopes) section.  Harriette, obviously having no other work to do as well as no horn to blow, follows him out of the elevator to add her own two cents: that Claire Hayden “happens to be the world’s greatest psychic”. But Balki’s a huge Claire Hayden fan, so he jumps into the conversation, and now the conversation is all about Balki getting the “funny” lines.  When he finds out Claire Hayden is there, in the building, that very day, he says “get back, funky cat”; when he finds out that Larry is driving her to the airport, he says “Cousin, you are one lucky dude”.  Why did Black Balki have to show up today of all days, when company’s coming over?


Instead of slapping Balki, Harriette just lets Larry continue with the exposition.  Evidently, Claire Hayden flies to Chicago once a year to make her predictions.

okay okay okay stop

  1. Balki says he reads her predictions every day.  She seriously does a whole years’ work of writing predictions in one day?
  2. Evidently some of the predictions are about celebrities–there’s a timely joke about Sean Penn–so what if a celebrity dies in an accident halfway through the year she just wrote?
  3. Why does she need to be in Chicago to do this? Can she not just send a letter for Balki to handle? Does Chicago have no psychics? Is the city a sacred earth vortex and she needs to be there? Is the Chicago Chronicle really a more powerful paper than the New York Times, to the extent that it has the exclusive predictions of the “world’s greatest psychic”?

Then Larry makes a joke about her predicting the earth revolving around the sun, Balki gets scared, and I remember that I’m not supposed to ask these kinds of questions. On Mypos, according to Balki, they only teach science up through the Bronze Age–and I’m not even touching that one, we’re only three minutes in here.


Mr. Burns and Claire Hayden come down in the elevator, neither holding a horn. Claire is wearing a large necklace because she is a psychic and psychics are new age and so are big necklaces.  Mr Burns moves three feet away from Claire Hayden so he can talk in a normal voice to Larry about how he can’t stand to be around the woman. Larry leaves to start the car, and Claire pretends to read Mr. Burns’s future.


The show, predicting its audience’s expectations, throws in a little sci-fi whistling sound effect.  Mr. Burns is better at predictions than anyone, so he runs away from this wreck of a plot as fast as he can.


While signing an autograph for Balki, Claire does her little seizure-and-sci-fi-noise thing again.


Claire: I see a terrible storm


Claire: I see a man


Claire: …a small man


*sigh* Balki knows how predictions work, but he also knows he’s on a TV show.  We had a small glimpse of this when Balki said “bummer” a few weeks ago, but there it is, folks, Balki holding out his hand for rain was the exact moment where this show became smug in its assumption that anything Balki does is gold.  Balki can do Balki things whether or not they would make sense for a real person in his situation.  Balki can misunderstand the word “revolve” if it can lead to a couple of jokes.  Balki can love a psychic, but not recognize when she makes a prediction.  Balki is a character. Balki has lost depth.  For season 2, creator Dale McRaven said that people didn’t want to feel guilty. For season 3, people don’t want to think. I guess I should thank my (ahem) lucky stars that Claire’s last name wasn’t Voyant.

Anyway, the prediction: a small man eating a golden ring and sitting on a sheep, a clock striking midnight, a knock at the door, death is at the door. The small man will go away forever.

But–oh no! That pen was Larry’s lucky pen!  Holy shit! Larry’s going to die!


So, you know, whatever, there’s the setup.  But one thing strikes me as odd.  If this woman is a charlatan, what the heck could her game be? Someone asks for an autograph and she tells them that someone they know is going to die later that day?  Or is she banking on the idea that no one in a building the size of the Chronicle’s offices can ever hold onto their own pen for very long, and that statistically, someone on the staff had a good chance of dying that very day?


In the next scene, we see that Balki is getting dumber by the second when he tells the person on the phone to read his lips as he tries to order plane tickets to a place with no rain and no sheep. (It’s called a desert, Balki.)


Larry comes home and hangs his coat. Remember this. This is important.

Balki puts Larry’s coat back on him and tries to shuttle him out the door with a couple of suetcases while Larry complains about Claire Hayden.  In addition to the smugness, another thing stands out to me about this episode: I don’t remember so many up-to-date pop culture references in season 2.  But Larry makes a Witches of Eastwick reference, and there’s a joke about Claire predicting that Anson Williams would win an Oscar in 2025.  (I had to look that one up, but it’s a good joke, and a tidy way of saying that Claire’s full of shit, whistling noise or no.)


Balki picks up Larry, hoping that a little lovin’ will act as a prophylactic against ill omens (this position is called “the stargazer”).  Balki tells Larry they won a free vacation and gives us reasons #4 and #5 we likely won’t get seasons 3-8 on DVD:  “On the Road Again” and “These Boots are Made for Walkin’”.


We get a bunch of messing around with Balki picking Larry up a few times, and then there’s even more padding where Larry keeps trying to get Balki to say what’s wrong.

Balki says that Larry’s going to die and Larry instantly loses it, pacing around the apartment, talking about how many things he’s never gotten to do (have an apartment to himself, touch a boob, start his own quiverfull).  He even asks if it was the results of his physical, since he’s fully aware of his awful diet and sedentary lifestyle.


Balki spills the beans, relaying Claire’s prediction. But he also adds that “Mr. Death” will come and take Larry away.

Cousin Larry, because he promised not to laugh at what Balki would say, starts laughing.  Pinchot leaning over to cradle Larry’s hand makes Linn-Baker laugh for real, which makes Pinchot laugh and say “let it out, cousin”.  I’m surprised they left this in, but I do enjoy seeing these two be real people.  I’d prefer Balki breaking character this way than what the show usually gives us.


Then Larry makes a Jack Nicholson joke.


Larry points out that there’s no storm.  He even takes Balki over to the window to point out that they’re indoors, and that the city skyline is just a matte painting four feet away.


Cousin Larry! No! Don’t you remember that two-parter about snow last season?  Satan controls the weather on Earth, not you!  You’ve really done it now, Larry, you’ve insulted the Dark One himself!


We return from the commercial break to see that it’s raining outside the Caldwell. Yep, that’s a “terrible” storm right there.

Larry says the storm came out of nowhere, but I saw it coming across a span of almost thirty years.


Larry just keeps making fun of Balki’s fear, expanding on the myth of Mr. Death, asking if there’s a Mrs. Death.  Then the knock at the door happens.


Larry goes to open the door, but Balki remembers how there’s a rule on this show that the two of them have to dick around and shout at each other for a full 30 seconds before letting anyone in.

It’s Jennifer and Mary Anne (Sagittarius), who in their haste to get to the cousins’ apartment, left their horns at home. After Balki left a message on their answering machine, they bought into this bullshit too! Jennifer is sad.

Jennifer: There’s so much we should have talked about… so much we should have done.


Larry says it’s not quite midnight yet, there’s enough time for him to go to the shop a few blocks down and buy a strap-on, steel wool and raisins, whatever she wants.

Once it’s revealed that Balki’s scared because of a prediction, the women laugh it off.  Balki tries to get the women on his side by shouting, which always worked for him on Mypos.  Mary Anne takes one for the team by telling Balki she believes him just to get him to shut up.


Larry says he’ll call Paoli’s to order a pizza and they’ll stay up until midnight to wait this thing out.  Hell, why not? If he’s going to die at midnight, he won’t have to worry about taking a shit the next day, or gaining another 7 pounds.


Soon, we have our tarot laid out. Mary Anne, the Hierophant, informs the group of the sacred knowledge of the motions of the spheres (it’s five until midnight).  The Magician has whipped up a batch of “Myposian death repellant”, flinging it onto the Fool, who laughs, drinks, makes merry with game (gin rummy), laughing in the face of what fate has decided.  Jennifer remains a blank card. But where’s Death?

Then we finally get a scene that really makes this episode shine. Balki’s means of “repelling death” leads to a conversation about why exactly Larry thinks that he won’t die.  There’s mentions of support systems (Jennifer, Mary Anne, Larry’s family), health insurance, Chicago having some of the “world’s greatest doctors”.  They even get into some WHO statistics on mortality rates! But Balki points out that Larry never goes to the doctor, cluing us into this episode’s core: a critique of the accumulated hubris of the industrialized Western world, whose males believe that they are “supermen” who will never die. About how we ship our dying elders off to hospitals and no longer see death as a natural part of life.  Balki, wrongheaded though he may be about the means of death (what can a nonscientific culture assume but that somebody showed up and killed your family members when you weren’t looking), retains an important perspective: no matter what efforts we make against it, death is truly the greatest mystery, and can strike anyone, at any moment.

Really had you going for a moment there, didn’t I? Nope, you get this mess:


Larry yells towards the window for Mr. Death to come get him, and then Larry is scared of lightning.


Then Balki puts more crap on his head, and then Jennifer is scared of lightning.


Larry sits on Dmitri and Balki screams.  (Dmitri is wearing nothing, the lack of horn signifying how we both enter and leave this world possessionless.)


Larry eats a donut and Balki screams. Larry spits out the donut. Balki shakes Larry again.


The power goes out right at midnight and everybody screams.  It’s so uncanny how everything’s happening just as predicted! I’m halfway tempted to believe this whole 22 minutes was scripted.

Jennifer’s really glad that Larry’s not dead! But when he tries to hug her, he gets the same reaction I do when I use “I’m not dead” as a pick-up line.


Balki experiences some legitimate cognitive dissonance after the women leave. Why did an episode not go his way?

The cousins head off to their respective bedrooms, Larry casually checking his watch and saying “it’s almost midnight”.


We get a scary new camera angle, but still no horns.  Mary Anne’s watch was fast!  She’s so dumb she synced it with an egg timer!

Oh no!  There’s a knock at the door!

Since Mr. Death is obviously just some dude and not a real cause of death, Larry says all they have to do is not open the door.

Larry sobs, and Balki goes to open the door and offer himself as a sacrifice. But 30 seconds have not yet passed, so Larry picks Balki up and swings him around, hoping for one last cuddle before the big sleep.



Oh, no, wait, Jennifer’s just there to awkwardly and hornlessly retrieve her purse. She keeps her comments to herself, inscrutable as always. Is she upset that she didn’t take the opportunity to ride Larry’s rodney? Is she satisfied that all her suspicions were correct – that she and Mary Anne are constantly having to leave so these two can try out positions from the Mypos Sutra?


Now that we’ve run out the clock on midnight, it’s just a matter of running out the clock on the episode, so the cousins just stay locked in that tangled position until the music comes on.

But it does come on, and here’s what we’re supposed to learn:


Balki’s fears shouldn’t have been ridiculed, even though they were wrong, because he was willing to give his life when he truly believed Larry would have died.  Larry has to apologize for putting Balki down and laughing at his fears.  That kind of logic can work in tricky legal proceedings (if I believe you have a gun and are threatening me, it doesn’t matter whether you do, I’m justified in defending myself), but it’s not working on me, show.  Larry was right! Balki was wrong!  Balki’s usually the one that has no filter – repeating things that Larry said that were supposed to stay between them, calling executives err-heads. But when Larry has no filter? When he laughs at a grown man’s fears because they’re irrational? He has to apologize. Okay, fine, he’s not tactful about it, and if we’re willing to suspend disbelief and assume that the cousins have only lived together for as many weeks as we’ve seen them, maybe he should be a little more gentle. I will concede that Larry should know by now a little better how to handle Balki’s shit. But there’s not a single line of dialogue where Balki apologizes for making his cousin afraid that he would die, for making everyone stay up until midnight in the middle of the week, or for making Larry smell like a doo-doo pie.


Anyway, Larry learned his lesson and says “I’m glad you’re my cousin”. Maybe two people in the audience clap and then realize no one else is doing the same and then stop, and that made me have to pause this episode so I could laugh for about a minute straight.


The cousins decide that they won’t sleep that night after all, so they decide to watch TV. Astoundingly, Larry turns on the TV at exactly midnight, because we hear the very first notes of the Twilight Zone theme, reason #6 there’s little chance of seeing this or any subsequent seasons on DVD.  They go to bed instead.


See you next week for “The Karate Kids”!


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

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

Post-mortem (where do I come up with them?): I’m just going to go ahead and assume that Larry got his lucky pen sometime last season while working at Ritz Discount, that the small man who died was Twinkacetti, and that eating golden rings, riding sheep, and playing his saxophone were just his usual manner of winding down in the evenings.


Season 2, Episode 16: Tux for Two


Welcome back! Now that I’m 22 episodes into this show, I’m finally beginning to ask the important questions. That’s a big apartment building, and there are multiple businesses on the ground floor there. Does Twinkacetti manage all of them? Is that why he’s always either running into or running out of his office? Just think, there could be a sitcom happening in each one of these businesses. Do you figure “Constant Imports” is about a clandestine illegal immigrant operation, with a different loud foreigner as a guest star every week? Does “Seoul Corp” pair a streetwise black guy with a booksmart Korean and they go on zany corp-related adventures? And what about “The Two Brothers Trade Inc.”? Is there… ANOTHER Twinkacetti?


Anyway, whatever. Balki the Kid is sucking up paper into an industrial vacuum. He ends up getting his fingers, face, and hair sucked up into the hose. Before he can become a modern-day Struwwelpeter story, though, Cousin Larry comes in and shuts the vacuum off.


Larry is ecstatic, because one of the writers finally remembered that he has a career goal of becoming a photographer. Hooray! It only took us more than 2/3 of the season, and Balki realizing 83 different American dreams, but here we are!

Larry received a letter in the mail from Roger Morgan, the man who inspired him to become a photographer. According to Larry, Roger Morgan is the best photographer in the world. How convenient that he lives in Chicago, right? Roger has invited Larry to be a guest at a black tie event, because Larry won 10th place in a photo contest that Roger was a judge for. This does alleviate some of my worries about Larry’s arc. It’s good to know that he has been putting in effort for his dreams this whole time, but why does the show let us know so late? I mean, I get that dialogue-less scenes of Larry moving around and frowning while he tries to get the perfect shot doesn’t make for good TV, but there’s a definite pattern here with the show. It took forever to mention that Twinkacetti was their landlord, or to mention that Jennifer and Mary Anne live in the same building. I sense that it’s simply lines and scenes getting cut from these syndicated versions, but who knows. Anyway, here we are, and I’m glad we’re getting a Larry episode. Let’s see how he fucks this one up for himself!

Balki just isn’t getting Roger Morgan’s place of prominence in the photography world (and seriously, how does that work anyway?), but he ventures a guess that meeting Roger Morgan is for Larry what meeting sheepherder Zimdog Zaggy Badbad. I think the similarity between the two is that it’s not explained why either of them was great in their field. Just go with it, folks, we’ve got to get this thing moving.


For instance, we have to establish a conflict for these yoyos. Balki instantly assumes that he’s going to be Larry’s guest for the event, and that there will be limbo there. Larry stops him short, saying that he plans on taking Jennifer, because EVERYBODY gets hot for 10th place guys (I’m tugging on my collar just writing about it). He promises Balki that if Jennifer can’t go, Balki’s next on his list.


Balki knows what’s what. It’s still early in the episode, and rule #1 is these guys can’t be apart, ever, so he knows Larry’s going to have to make good on that promise.


Twinkacetti bursts out of his office, headed for the door in that awkward “I just shit myself a little and am trying to make sure it doesn’t escape the crack” walk of his. And he actually speeds up the moment Balki starts shouting at him about Larry’s news. I love this man.

But such comic nuance is too good for this show, so he leaves. Besides, he’s due to insult Andre and Kwang-Hee in about 45 seconds.


But not to worry, Jennifer and Mary Anne (Sagittarius) enter immediately. They’re even still fighting! Looks like the show found a character trait that stuck.

They’re fighting because Mary Anne is dumb. (Man, don’t you love character-driven comedy?) She mixed up where they were flying to next, confusing New York with New Zealand, meaning that Jennifer won’t be back in time for the black tie event. Yeah, haha, Mary Anne’s dumb, but Jennifer, why the fuck were you relying on Mary Anne for information? I think you’re dumb, too. In fact, I just came up with a great joke for Mary Anne in my head, something along the lines of “I knew it was a place that England colonized, so sue me!”; so you’re dumb too, show.


Balki’s super jelly about the women going to New Zealand, which he refers to as “the sheep capital of the world”. I don’t know what things were like in Spring 1987, but right now, China has the most sheep. Don’t make me call you dumb again, show.

Is it limbo time, Balki?


Oh yeah, it’s limbo time.


Later, Larry hangs tuxedos. This is important. Remember this.


But Balki’s already got a suit, and it even comes with curly-toed shoes, but I have to ask at this point how many outfits and sheep dolls and heavy winter wear he brought with him in that one backpack and that one cardboard box. Larry explains that “black tie” means “tuxedo”.


I will say once again that I love little things like this, where linguistic shorthand leads to misunderstandings. I mean, there are worse ways to get Balki into ethnic dress (“on Mypos is custom to wear curly shoes when cousins win 10th place because Hangdog Ziggy Batman had misshapen feet”).

Then, in rapid succession, Balki lets us know that he 1) doesn’t know what a tuxedo is, 2) doesn’t understand how renting clothes works, and 3) doesn’t think people will be able to tell them apart if they wear the same outfit. (I just looked it up and face blindness (prosopagnosia) is a real thing; and what the hell, so is never-nude (gymnophobia). As Larry would say, “damn”.) Balki then complains when Cousin Larry explains that the party won’t be fun, either. I GUESS PHOTOGRAPHY CONTEST EVENTS ARE DIFFERENT WHERE YOU’RE FROM, HUH?


Balki makes the same face I did when I played saxophone in the high school marching band; my feet were too narrow for the men’s sizes of the shoes that came with the band uniform, but slightly too wide in the heel for the women’s sizes; I wore the women’s size shoes which, after weeks of doing our 20-minute show (one year’s set paired Candide and Johnny One-Note, of all things) at football games and competitions, left my ankles raw and chafed. I made that very same face then.

Speaking of football games, this must be slapstick’s “bye week”, because what follows is more in line with the driving episode from season 1: Balki and Cousin Larry fill the middle section of the show with “practicing” how they should act at the black tie event. Larry sets the scene (we’re looking at photos, we’re holding drinks) and Balki wants specific details (Balki asks for a caffeine-free diet Coke).


Balki makes a joke and does a bunch of stuff with his hands. I mention this because it sparks a memory for me. If anyone else watches this episode, can you tell me if this is “from something”? As in, was it part of somebody’s bit? I ask because I used to see one of my older coworkers do something similar when she made a funny.

Okay, I want to make clear here that I’m not against scenes like this where they practice something, and then do it. What I dislike is how it feels a little padded. Something that does work about this scene, and something I feel has been poorly lacking in recent weeks, is Larry having to explain the seeming illogic in American social situations. Larry tells Balki that you can’t let on that you like a photograph, or even that you dislike it. You have to find out what the other person thinks, so that you can kiss their ass and agree with them about it. And even though they don’t make this explicit, it’s a nice thing for Balki not to get, because even though he’s probably used to being subsumed into a greater social community, it’s always been for the community’s benefit.

Cousin Larry, on the other hand, is trying to downplay his own identity, and take on the outer form of those he wants to impress. He wants to trade in his minor success for a date with a woman who he desperately wants to like him. Larry has already likened Jennifer (tall, blonde, thin) to the cheerleaders he went to high school with; so we know that he sees her as a status symbol. This is taken away from him, as is the plan for Balki to wear a tuxedo. Larry is constantly losing the ground he thinks he needs to hold.

Balki, on the other hand, is also slowly conceding his ideas of what he will take part in. The party won’t be fun, he won’t get to wear his Myposian clothes, there probably won’t even be pictures or puppy dogs; and though he fusses and complains, he doesn’t push back very hard, and takes every new restriction in stride. His playful approach evinces that his inner state is not terribly disturbed, and that his identity is maintained. So we have here, on the one hand, a character putting his identity on hold to achieve his desires; on the other, a character putting his desires on hold to maintain his identity (as a supportive family member). I don’t have to tell you which character is being rewarded along the way.


(Speaking of scenes cut for time, whattaya wanna bet that the cost of the damage to the tuxedo was $50?)


Oh man, here’s the third location, “The Milgram Gallery”, and I’ve got to hand it to the props department again for making a Roger Morgan signature (as well as “The Milgram Gallery” sign) that you only see for a few seconds. Balki comes in rockin’ those Myposian threads, meaning that EVERYONE’S LOOKING AT YOU, LARRY.


Larry pops boners extends his zoom lens over all of the hoi oligoi he recognizes (Frank Lambrey, photo editor of Shutter Magazine; Dick Jorgeson, who won “a Pulitzer Prize”; and Margaret Milgram herself).

Balki extends his… um… shepherd’s crook when he finds a woman at the gallery who isn’t post-menopausal or already with a man, saying that he wants to “rub her elbows”. There you go again, show, stealing my jokes about Balki and shoulders.


Larry does a shitty job of hiding out so he can hear what Margaret Milgram thinks of a photograph (titled “Hitchhiker on the road to bitterness”; it’s actually an apt title for Larry’s arc in this episode). But Balki steals Larry’s thunder in trying to play up the gallery owner, who looks Balki up and down.


YES. Call me old-fashioned, but I love cartoon tropes like this. A chicken in every pot and opera glasses in the hands of every society lady. There’s even a nice moment where, in the midst of parroting her opinion, Balki punctures the imagined distinction between refined and popular art by mentioning that the photograph in question is September in the Roger Morgan calendar they have hanging over their toilet. And it just gets better because Balki keeps misunderstanding her.

Margaret Milgram: A toilet? Please!

Balki: Oh, it’s right out the door, to your left.

Margaret Milgram: Well, I never!

Balki: Well, in that case let me suggest a high fiber diet.

Pinchot comes so close to ruining it by laughing, but who cares, he just talked about poop to a society lady!


Anyway, Larry and Balki talk about the picture, and Larry actually does have an opinion about it; something about using a different lens to enhance the emotion of the shot. Balki salts Larry’s game by pointing out that he still hasn’t sold a picture. As they say: in theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; in practice, there is.


A waiter comes up with a tray of hors d’oeuvres and Balki takes the whole tray. They’re just going down the comedy of manners list, aren’t they?


Hey, everybody, Roger Morgan’s here! We must be getting close to the end of the episode!


Larry fumbles over his words and keeps trying to wipe the sweat off his hands while trying to talk to Roger Morgan. He then runs to stage right so that everyone won’t have to stand around, silently patient, while Balki gives him a pep talk.

When that doesn’t work, he gives him… wait for it…

a pep walk!


Where do I come up with them?


Balki lets Roger Morgan know how Larry feels about his work. Balki brings up the part where Larry would have used a different lens, Mama’s Boy Milgram gets a line, and Balki makes a joke about Margaret Milgram’s vagina. Roger Morgan takes it all in stride because, hey, we’ve all been there, right? (Awkward situations, not… you know.)


Larry runs away and Balki gets mad enough to shout out the episode’s lesson (“People should just be themselves”) and put down Mama’s Boy. Given that he’s barely gotten any lines, the put-down seems unearned, which once again smells like dialogue being cut for syndication. I mean, look, the guy reads like he’s a loser, but, come on.

Dennis Milgram: Those are they!

Give him some credit for impeccable grammar, at least. The Milgrams and the Cousins engage in some verbal sparring, making explicit one of the ideas of the comedy of manners: that “rude” has multiple meanings. But Roger Morgan was intrigued by how Larry would have used a different lens; after pressing for the explanation as to why, Morgan admits to having wanted to use the very same lens Larry suggested.


Balki is overjoyed at how well the point of the episode landed: Larry, finally willing to show his identity, has his desires fulfilled. Balki exclaims “Oh, po po po!”, which I remember from an earlier episode but I’m not sure what it means. Roger Morgan says that, if the judging committee had listened to him, Larry would have placed better than 10th. (I thought Roger Morgan was the best photographer in the world? So… wouldn’t he have the best opinions…? Whatever.) He asks Larry to bring some of his photos by his hotel, and that he’ll see if he can help Larry out.

But that’s not all, folks! There’s one more present under the tree! Morgan also recognizes Balki’s outfit for Myposian, and they talk gibberish to each other.


Roger Morgan: Dakh makh bingbing!

He leaves, probably to go help Constant Imports find a safe haven for a political refugee from Iran.


The last scene hammers home the yet unstated part of this week’s lesson: that everybody has an opinion, Larry’s matters too, and he doesn’t need to mimic other’s tastes to gain their respect.

Oddly enough, there’s no tender music for the lesson this week. I wonder if that’s because–




Balki fucking poses for the freeze frame. Good grief.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this incremental progress towards Larry achieving his dream. I assume we’ll revisit his photography career again at some point in season 5.

See you next week for “Ten Speed and a Soft Touch”, which just sounds like it’s going to be an episode about vibrators.


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