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
WHAT DOES ANYTHING MEAN ANYMORE YOU GUYS
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
*****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!