Strangers Episode Guide
17 - A Christmas Story
First Air Date:
December 17, 1986
Nielsen Rating: 15.7 HH
TV Guide Description: Larry
is crestfallen when a blizzard closes the airport and strands the guys in
Chicago on Christmas Eve.
Created by: Dale McRaven
Written by: Dale McRaven
Directed by: Joel Zwick
Bronson Pinchot: Balki Bartokomous
Mark Linn-Baker: Larry Appleton
Ernie Sabella: Mr. Donald Twinkacetti
Belita Moreno: Mrs. Edwina Twinkacetti
Rebeca Arthur: Mary Anne
Melanie Wilson: Jennifer Lyons
Jay Gerber: Marvin (Christmas tree salesman)
Erica Gayle: Marie Twinkacetti
Matthew Licht: Donnie Twinkacetti
Appearances: Dimitri can first be seen sitting on the chair by the sofa
wearing a thick white wool coat. He is later sitting on the partition to
the kitchen wearing glasses and Balki picks him up and carries him out the door
when they decide to try driving instead. Finally Dimitri can be seen
sitting just behind the Christmas tree in front of the stereo with a little
package in front of him in the final scenes.
"Five onion rings!"
"On Dancer, on Prancer and on Donna Dixon! On Comet, on Cupid, on Reagan,
"Iím busting my buttocks trying to make a nice Christmas for you and all
I get is Bah Hamburger."
"Youíre acting just like Ebenezer Stooge."
" . . . when the tableís upside-down you act like a big baby."
ridiculous: Said once.
Other catchphrases used in
"This is America . . . "
"Now youíre making Balki mad."
Other running jokes
used in this episode:
- Balki watches television and comments on it
- Balki picks up Larry and carries him around
- Mary Anne giving Balki a back-breaking kiss
Twelve Days of Christmas" - sung by everyone (except Mr. Twinkacetti) at
the Ritz Discount Christmas Party
"Over the River and Through the Woods" - sung by Larry as they head
out the door to attempt to drive to Madison
"The First Noel" - sung by carolers on the street outside the
Balki makes and gives Larry the tapestry which would later hang in their house.
- By far, this episode is the one that seems to really touch people and
watching it has become a yearly Christmas tradition for many fans. There
is something very familiar about being unable to get home for Christmas and not
being with family for the holidays that goes straight to oneís heart. So
many people can also relate to Larryís story about the potholder and the
meaning behind a truly thoughtful gift. It is also one of the few
Christmas-themed sitcoms to address the true meaning of Christmas and reference
the birth of Jesus directly in a very sweet and open-minded way.
- One of the reasons the
character development is so strong in this episode is because it was penned by
series creator Dale McRaven.
- This is the second and last time the Twinkacetti children, Donnie and
Marie, would be seen.
The snow effects on the transition shots of the building were added on to
the regular stock footage usually used . . . either with a matte painting effect
superimposed over the original footage (notice the lack of snow laying on the
lower half of the frame where movement is taking place).
- When Balki comments that "Thatís no angel
. . . thatís Little Jo Cartwright!" heís referring to the series Highway
to Heaven starring Michael Landon (who played Little Jo Cartwright on Bonanza
years before). The funny thing about this is that Highway to Heaven aired
on NBC opposite Perfect Strangers on ABC, so Balki watching that show
while it was actually on was especially funny. In addition, the music
playing that is supposed to be on the television is incidental music used often
on Perfect Strangers (one example was when Balki hits the baseball in The
- During the first scene in the apartment there is
instrumental Christmas music playing in the background until just after the
girls enter. It was unusual for background music to be used in such a way
in this series but it adds a nice effect as Balki and Larry reminisce about how
important Christmas has been to them.
- Rebeca and Bronson worked out a way in which she
could give him such a back bending kiss while he could still hold his own weight
(note the position of Bronson's right leg acting as support). However in
one article Rebeca explained how when they went to shoot the scene in front of
the studio audience they fell right over, and her ski suit was so tight she
couldn't stand back up again! "Now it never fails," she
explained, "that whenever Bronson and I kiss, we start laughing."
- Larryís sister Elaine is again mentioned in
this episode. She would be making an appearance in person later in this season.
This is one of the few episodes in which we get to see Larryís red Ford
Mustang featured so prominently in the opening credits.
- Balki Clause made a brief appearance (sans
costume) in the first season episode Check This and would make another
appearance in the fourth season Christmas episode The Gift of the Mypiot.
- Balkiís reference to actress Donna Dixon is
particular cute since she starred in Bosom Buddies which was another
popular Miller / Boyett series.
In the final scene when Larry tells the story about the potholder the
angle goes from a medium shot to a close up. If you look closely you can
see this was achieved by simply using the original medium shot footage and
technically zooming in on it, which is why the shot seems slightly grainy.
Itís likely that this was done to focus on Markís performance and create a
more intimate moment when a close up take was not available for editing.
- This episode ends with Balki and Larry looking
out the window at some Christmas carolers. The shot is filmed through the
fire escape from the outside. This was one of several times a sentimental
episode ended with a final shot looking in from outside.
- When the girls first arrived you can see the
shadow of one of the cameras moving left to the very far left of the screen.
(Spotted by Cousin Quidget)
- When Larry dials the phone for the bus company he punches in eight
numbers instead of seven (maybe he had to dial a "1" first?).
In the scene outside the Christmas tree lot when Larry is sitting in his
car he doesnít have snow in his hair for the long shots but in the close up
his hair is covered with snow. In the same shot, when Balki says,
"Let's go home," his lips aren't moving at all. This dialogue
was either taken from another shot or recorded in later.
- When Balki and Larry decide to try driving to
Madison Balki has Dimitri with him. They abandon the car and take nothing away
from it when they leave and yet Dimitri is sitting in the apartment during the
final scenes. How did Dimitri get back to the apartment? (Note they
also leave the car sitting there with its driverís side window still open!)
- The tapestry which Balki made for Larry would
later turn up in the episode Sexual Harassment in Chicago where Balki
would say it was made by his sister. It was later hung in the house the
characters shared in the last couple of seasons, displayed prominently next to
- Larry seems to have nothing but fond memories of
Christmas with his family in Madison. And yet in the final episode of the
seventh season, Get Me to the Dump on Time, Larry recounts being
traumatized by not being woken up for Christmas by the rest of his family and
missing the festivities one year. Maybe he blocked this incident from his
mind or perhaps his anxiety about missing Christmas in Madison in this episode
stems from that incident. Only a television character psychiatrist (or a
good continuity person) could tell for sure!
The episode begins at the Ritz Discount storeís Christmas party, which is a
small gathering of Twinkacettiís family plus Balki,
Larry, Jennifer, Mary Anne, and four unidentified men and one woman.
Everyone is gathered around a small table with refreshments and are singing
"The Twelve Days of Christmas." "Seven swans a
swimming," Mrs. Twinkacetti sings, then she points to people to sing each
line in order. "Six geese a laying," Mary Anne sings.
"Five onion rings!" Balki sings. "Four calling birds,"
Larry sings. "Three French hens," Jennifer sings. Mrs.
Twinkacetti points to Mr. Twinkacetti, who is standing glumly with a black eye
and doesn't bother singing the next line. "And a partridge in a pear
tree!" everyone finishes together. "Um . . . on behalf of Donald
and myself and our children, Donnie and Marie, we'd like to wish you a very
Merry Christmas and a happy and a healthy new year," Mrs. Twinkacetti says
sincerely. Everyone clinks their plastic cups full of punch.
"All right, all right," Mr. Twinkacetti growls, "You've had your
fun, you've had your food, the party's over. Appleton, you and the turnip
clean up." "We'll put the food away," Jennifer offers as
she and Mary Anne help.
Mr. Twinkacetti walks to the counter and
Mrs. Twinkacetti follows him. "I think it was a lovely party, don't
you?" she asks. "I don't even
like these people," Mr. Twinkacetti complains, "And you spend a
hundred dollars feeding them meat!" Donnie and Marie are near the
front door playing with some store merchandise. "Donnie and Marie,
put that stuff down and get in the car!" Mr. Twinkacetti yells.
"Oh yeah? Try and make us!" Donnie challenges. The
children run out the front door and Mr. Twinkacetti chases after them, yelling,
"That's it! That's it! No presents! No candy!"
Mrs. Twinkacetti approaches Balki and Larry. "Boys, I'd like to thank
you for working so hard all year," she says, handing them each an envelope,
"and, I uh . . . want to apologize for my husband. He really wasn't
mugged on the way from the bank with your Christmas bonuses."
"Then who give him that black eye?" Balki asks. Mrs. Twinkacetti
laughs uncomfortably and says, "Never mind about that. Uh . . . Merry
Christmas, boys!" "Merry Christmas! Thank you!" Larry
and Balki reply as she walks out the door.
"Boy! A Christmas bonus!"
Balki smiles with some confusion, "I can always use another envelope."
"Balki, there's money inside,"
Larry explains. "Money?" Balki asks excitedly, "And . . .
and Mr. Twinkacetti just said we could . . . we could leave off work ten minutes
early. When will it all stop?" "Balki, it only gets
better," Larry promises, "You haven't seen anything yet. Wait
'til we get to Madison. My Mom will open the front door and there'll be
the smell of . . . " " . . . hot apple cider on the stove,"
Balki finishes for him, then continues as Larry tries to tell it, " . . .
and date nut bread baking in the oven." "Right," Larry
says, "There'll be a roaring . . . " " . . . roaring fire
in the fireplace and the whole family will be standing around the piano singing
carols," Balki fills in. "I guess I've talked about Christmas in
Madison a lot," Larry surmises. "Only since June," Balki
confirms, "But I like hearing about it." Larry puts an arm
around Balki's shoulder and says, "Balki, I have a feeling this is going to
be the best Christmas ever." "I can't wait," Balki smiles.
We see the apartment building and it has
started to snow outside. Balki and Larry are packing for their trip,
although Balki is watching television as well. "Give me a break . . .
thatís no angel!" Balki scoffs, "Thatís Little Jo
Cartwright!" Balki starts to tie up his
knapsack when he happens to look out the window. "Snow!" he
gasps, running to look, "Cousin, come and look!" "In a
minute!" Larry calls, walking from the bathroom to his bedroom. Balki
runs into Larry's bedroom, calling, "Come and look! Come and look!
Come and look!" Balki picks up Larry around the middle and carries
him to the living room window, setting him down to look at the snow.
"Isn't it beautiful?" Balki asks. "If you think this is
good, wait'll you see the snow in Madison," Larry says. Larry walks
to the kitchen to pour out some hot cocoa from a pan on the stove. "I
can't believe even the snow is better in Madison," Balki says, sitting at
the window. "Oh yeah," Larry says, "You're gonna love
Christmas morning. My Mom always tries to trick us by setting the clocks
back but you can't fool nine kids. Oh! And do you know what this
year is?" Larry hands Balki a cup of cocoa as Balki guesses,
"Well, yes . . . it is," Larry
nods, "What I meant was this year . . . I'm the Christmas Boy."
"Well, of course you are. Don't be ridiculous," Balki agrees,
then asks, "What is that?" "It's my turn to hand out the
presents," Larry explains, "I've waited nine years
for it to be my turn again." Larry and Balki walk to the couch and
sit down. "Boy, I love Christmas with my family," Larry smiles.
"This is the . . . the first Christmas I'm going to be away from my
family," Balki notes, "and, uh . . . I'm going to miss my little
nieces and nephews laughing and the smell of baklava in the kitchen and the joy
of decorating the Christmas turtle." "Well, of course you're
gonna miss all that," Larry says sympathetically, "Anyone would."
After a moment, Larry asks, "Did you say Christmas turtle?"
"Well, of course," Balki replies, "On Mypos, at Christmas the
whole family goes down to the seashore and we catch a big sea turtle and we
bring it home and we decorate with, eh . . . glass balls and, eh . . . angels
and little strips of tin foil, but you wouldnít know about those things.
Anyway . . . the day after Christmas we take him back and put him in the ocean
and he swim away. But . . . the same turtle keeps coming back to us every
Christmas and . . . Iím gonna miss Bernie."
"You know what I can't
understand," Balki continues, "Why do American decorate trees instead
of turtles?" "Well, one good reason
is a tree wonít slowly crawl out of the living room," Larry explains.
"Thatís what the Christmas lettuce is for," Balki says, "I'm
gonna miss those things." "Well hey, buddy," Larry sighs,
"I know Christmas isn't gonna be the same for you but it can be just as
good. Sometimes you have to adjust to the changes in your life and move
on." Balki sighs and nods. "Thank you for inviting me to
share your Christmas." "Well, I wouldn't have it any other
way," Larry assures him. There is a knock on the door.
"Come in!" Larry calls as he and Balki set down their cups on the
coffee table and head for the door. Jennifer and Mary Anne enter and stand
in the doorway. "Hi," Jennifer says, "We're on our way.
We just thought we'd say goodbye." "Well, have a wonderful
trip," Larry offers. "Oh, we will!" Jennifer says,
"With the storm coming in the skiing's gonna be terrific."
"Yeah, I always heard it was better with snow," Mary Anne adds.
"Have a Merry Christmas,"
Jennifer smiles and turns to leave with Mary Anne. "No, hold it!
You can't go yet!" Larry stops them, then
points to the doorway above where a sprig of mistletoe is hanging, "It's,
uh . . . mistletoe." The girls giggle shyly. Larry kisses Mary
Anne very sweetly then turns to Jennifer, bending her over backwards in a kiss
that leaves them both stunned and speechless. Larry motions that itís
Balkiís turn and Balki sweetly kisses Jennifer on the cheek. He turns to
Mary Anne, who bends him over backwards in a passionate kiss.
"Merry Christmas!" Mary Anne says cheerfully and the girls leave while
the guys remain stunned. "How did you make that happen?" Balki
finally asks. "Mistletoe," Larry points out, "It's an old
tradition. You hang it over the door and women have to kiss you."
"What a gimmick!" Balki smiles, "Why donít we hang it up all
year long?" "Unfortunately, it only works at Christmas,"
Larry explains. "Then Iím takiní it with us!" Balki says,
reaching up to take it down.
you all packed?" Larry asks. "Letís go to Madison!" Balki
says excitedly. "All right," Larry says, closing the front door,
"Let me call first. No point in sitting at the airport if our plane
is late." Balki starts setting their bags by the front door as Larry
dials the phone. "Hi, yes. I'm just calling to be sure that
flight twelve to Madison is on time," Larry says into the receiver.
After a moment he looks startled and says, "What? W . . . what are
you talking about? Well, yeah . . . yeah, but . . . but it's Christmas
Eve! People have places to go, I . . . yeah, well sure. Merry
Christmas." Larry hangs up the phone as Balki approaches, holding
their coats. "What is it?" Balki asks. "The airport
is snowed in," Larry replies. "Is that bad?" Balki asks.
"Our flight's been canceled," Larry explains, "We canít get
home for Christmas!" On their shocked looks the scene fades to black.
two begins a short time later. Larry is on the phone outside the kitchen
with his mom in Madison explaining the situation. Balki is standing next
to him holding a phone book. "Hello, Mom? It's Larry."
"Hi, Mrs. Appleton!" Balki calls out. "That's Balki,"
Larry explains, "Mom we . . . " He pauses and looks to Balki,
telling him, "She says hello." In the receiver, he continues,
"Mom, the airport is closed but don't worry. We'll be there, I
promise. It'll just be a little later. Mom, please, whatever you do
. . . don't let anyone else be the Christmas Boy. Especially Elaine.
You know how much she loves to . . . . Elaine, get off the extension! All
. . . all right, Mom. I'll see you as soon as I can. Yeah,
love you, too." Larry hangs up the phone. "Cousin, I found
the bus company," Balki reports, "It really is easier when you let
your fingers do the walking." Balki walks his fingers across the
Larry picks up the phone receiver and
dials the number. "Balki, we're gonna get there," Larry
promises, then when someone picks
up the phone he says, "Yeah, hi. I need your . . . hmm? Yeah,
Merry Christmas to you, too. I need your next bus to Madison. The
road is closed? What do you mean a blizzard?" After a moment
Larry insists, "I know what a blizzard is!" and hangs up the receiver.
"Cousin, we're running out of ways to get there," Balki says
worriedly, "What we going to do?" "Balki, we're going to
get there," Larry insists, looking in the phone book, "This is
America. We have one of the most sophisticated transportation systems in
the world." Larry dials the phone again and when someone picks up he
says, "Hi, I'd like to rent a snowplow. What do you mean you've given
them all to the police? Your . . . your . . . your ad says 'Serving the
public for over forty years.' I am the public! What?
Yes . . . hello? Hello?" Larry hangs up the fine and sighs,
"Great. If I don't get home, Elaine is gonna get to hand out the
presents. And it won't be my turn again until 1995! There's got to
be a way to get there!"
Balki thinks about it, then says,
"Too bad we can't just take your car." "Hmm," Larry
hums, and then they look at each other, Larry
shouting, "Yes! Yes! I've got three hundred dollars
worth of snow tires on my car! Of course! We'll just drive
there!" "But . . . but Cousin, if the . . . if the plane and the
bus can't get there, how you going to get through with a car?" Balki asks
as they gather their bags. "Balki, blizzards stop wimps," Larry
says, "Not men like us! Men with a mission! Just think . . .
there'll be no traffic, we'll just breeze on in." "Okay, let's
breeze," Balki agrees, picking up the last bag. They head for the
door. "Are you sure we can make it?" Balki asks. "Of
course we can make it," Larry insists, "It's just snow!"
"Right! It's just snow!" Balki agrees. Larry opens the
door and they leave as he sings, "Over the river and through the woods, to
Appleton's house we go . . . . "
the next scene we see Larry's Mustang rolling slowly through the snow as Balki
attempts to push it. But Balki's feet are slipping on the snow and they
aren't going very far. "Come on!" Larry shouts encouragement,
"Come on, Balki! Balki, what are you doing? Don't stop now!
Push harder!" Balki stops pushing and walks to the driver's side
window to ask, "Why am I doing all the pushing?" "Because
I'm the better driver," Larry explains. "Is that why we're on
the sidewalk?" Balki asks, "This car isn't going anywhere 'til Spring.
Let's go home." "I can't believe this is happening to
me," Larry complains as he climbs out of the car and kicks at the tires
angrily, saying, "And they call these snow tires!" "Look, a
Christmas tree store!" Balki points out, motioning to the lot behind them.
"What good is that gonna do us?" Larry asks. "Well, we're
not going to get to Madison so we're going to have to have our Christmas right
here in Chicago," Balki notes. "I don't see how," Larry
whines. "Just watch," Balki says.
and Larry walk onto the lot and knock on the door of a mobile home there.
A man named Marvin opens the door with a napkin tucked in the collar of his
shirt and a turkey drumstick in his hand. "Yeah?" he asks.
"We want a tree," Balki explains. "What, are you
kidding?" Marvin asks, "I sold the last one four hours ago. I'm
havin' dinner." "Come on, Balki," Larry says, "The
man's eating." "Please, I want a tree," Balki repeats.
A woman's voice calls out from inside the mobile home, saying, "Marvin!
In or out, just close the door!" Marvin steps out into the cold and
closes the door behind him, commenting, "I knew we should never have moved
in with her mother. Look guys, I'd like to help ya but I got nothin'
here." "What about that tree?" Balki asks, and he hurries
over to a dumpster and pulls out a sparse, sickly-looking tree. "Balki,
when they chopped that tree down it was a mercy killing," Larry comments.
"I think it will perk up once we put
it in water," Balki says hopefully. "Oh right . . . letís buy
it and throw it in Lake Michigan!" Larry suggests. "Youíre in
a bad mood, arenít you?" Marvin asks Larry. "Heís leaning in
that direction," Balki confirms. "Look, you guys
want this tree, you got it. It's yours," Marvin says, "I'm
freezin' to death out here!" Marvin hurries back into the mobile home
and Balki says, "Thank you!" "Balki . . . this'll never be
a Christmas tree," Larry sighs. "Cousin, it's not perfect but .
. . but it will be pretty when it's decorated," Balki smiles.
"No matter what we do, it's not gonna be Christmas," Larry says sadly,
"It's just not there." "What's not there?" Balki asks.
"The Christmas feeling," Larry explains. "Cousin, you're
going to get the Christmas feeling when we take this home and decorate it, it'll
be beautiful," Balki promises, "You'll see." "Fine.
You do that," Larry says, "Have yourself a merry, little Christmas.
I'm going for a walk." "I'm going with you," Balki says.
"No . . . I wanna be alone," Larry insists. Larry pulls the hood
of his coat up over his head and walks around the corner of the lot while Balki
takes the tree and heads for home.
Itís already dark when Larry returns to
the apartment. His coat is covered with snow. He looks around to see
that Balki has put up
cheap Christmas decorations all around. A fire is burning in the
fireplace. The shabby little tree stands decorated by the window.
Larry takes off his coat and walks to the closet to hang it up. When he
opens the door, Balki pops out, dressed as Santa Claus. "Ho!
Ho! Ho!" Balki exclaims, "I'm Balki Claus! Merry
Christmas!" Balki suddenly looks serious, and starts to recite,
"It was the night before Christmas, and all through the house . . . "
Larry shuts the closet door and throws his coat over the chair, looking
frustrated. After a moment, Larry gives in and opens the closet door.
Balki continues "The Night Before Christmas" without missing a beat.
" . . . not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse." Stepping
out of the closet to walk to the back of the couch, it's clear Balki has
something bulky stuck under his coat for the belly. "When what to my
wondering eyes did appear, but a little, tiny sleigh and eight tiny
reindeer." Balki kneels down behind the couch and mimes the reindeer
running with his hands.
"On Dancer, on Prancer and on Donna
Dixon!" Balki continues, "On Comet, on Cupid, on Reagan, on
Nixon!" Larry watches this with
an unhappy expression. "Feel free to jump in any time!" Balki
encourages. "Where did you get that Santa suit?" Larry asks.
"The same place I got all these great decorations," Balki answers,
leading Larry to the tree, "Downstairs in our very own Ritz Discount Store.
Look! What do you think?" "I think the proper thing to do
is to cover the tree with a sheet," Larry says, "Let it rest in
peace." "Cousin, it's no Christmas turtle but wait 'til I turn
on the lights," Balki says, then tells Larry, "Cover your eyes."
Balki walks behind the counter to turn on the lights. Larry is just
standing there. "Cover," Balki urges, motioning for Larry to
cover his eyes, "Cover." Larry sighs and puts a hand over his
eyes. Balki plugs in the lights and they start to flicker.
"Okay, okay!" Balki says. Larry looks at the tree just as the
lights give a final flicker and go out. Balki jiggles the plug, then walks
over to the tree to check.
"The . . . the lights don't
work," Balki notes, fiddling with the bulbs. "They always work
in Madison," Larry sighs, turning away. "Okay,
wait, wait!" Balki says, stepping to the kitchen table which is covered
with a sheet, "There's more! I finally found a food store that's open
on Christmas Eve! We're going to have a big Christmas dinner after
all!" Balki removes the sheet with a flourish, "We've got potato
knishes, gefilte fish, matzo ball soup and brisket." "I'm not
hungry," Larry states, walking away. "Okay, we sing Christmas
carols!" Balki suggests. "I don't feel like singing," Larry
insists. "Okay, we'll string popcorn," Balki tries, "We do
any of the things you do in Madison." "Balki, you want to do
something to help me celebrate Christmas?" Larry asks. "More
than anything in the world," Balki assures him. "Then leave me
alone," Larry states, and he stands in front of the fireplace with his arms
crossed, looking sullen.
"Okay . . . now youíre making Balki
mad," Balki warns, taking off the Santa hat and beard, "I am
busting my buttocks trying to make
a nice Christmas for you . . . and all I get is bah hamburger." Balki
opens the front of the Santa suit to reveal he has the cushion from the chairs
stuck into his pants. He takes it out and puts it back on the chair.
"You're acting just like Ebenezer Stooge," Balki scolds, "I'm
sorry you can't have Christmas at home with your family. What about me?
You think I don't miss Christmas on Mypos with my family? Passing the
Christmas bota bag . . . roasting radishes over an open fire."
"Roasting radishes?" Larry asks. "You're the one that told
me that . . . that I have to adjust to changes in my life and move on. You
give real good advice but when the tableís upside-down you act like a big
baby. Maybe itís time you grow up." "I donít wanna,"
Larry pouts. "Well, youíre gonna have-tuh," Balki states,
"Just because this Christmas is . . . is different doesn't mean it can't be
good. And thatís another thing you told me. Why am I telling this
"Balki, I know what you're saying and
I know it's true, but it's just not that easy to let it go," Larry
explains, walking to the couch and
sitting down, "Maybe you can and . . . and I admire you for that but I
can't. It . . . it just doesnít feel like Christmas." Balki
kneels down next to Larry and suggests gently, "Okay . . . maybe the
feeling will come if we open presents." "No, no, no, we always
open the presents on Christmas morning," Larry whines. Balki grabs
Larry by the shirt roughly and pulls Larry's face to his.
"Look!" Balki snarls, "Iím Santa Claus and I say we open the
presents now!" "Okay," Larry agrees.
Balki lets go of Larry's shirt and smiles, then says, "You can be the
Christmas Boy!" Larry smiles like a happy little kid, and walks to
the tree to get a big package which he sets on the coffee table in front of
Balki, who has moved to sit on the couch. "That's yours," Larry
explains, as Balki looks excited. Larry then gets a small, bundled package
from under the tree and sets it on the coffee table as well, sitting on the
couch again. Balki is anxiously shaking his hand, ready to open his
present. "You go first," Larry says. "Okay,"
Balki agrees, then adds, "I was hoping you'd say that."
Balki unties the ribbon and opens the box,
looking thrilled. "Oh!" he gasps, as he sets the box on the
floor and pulls out a boom box,
"A home entertainment center!" Larry points that thereís
something more in the box and Balki reaches in to pull out a cassette tape.
"And . . . a Wayne Newton tape! You read my letter to Santa!"
"Well, yeah, I did," Larry admits. "Thank you," Balki
offers sincerely. "You're welcome," Larry smiles. Balki
motions for Larry to open his gift. Larry pulls the tie from the package
and opens it, reaching in to pull out a beautiful tapestry. "Balki,
this is beautiful," Larry says in awe. "I make it myself,"
Balki says. "You made this?" Larry asks in amazement.
"I started it the night I come here to America and you took me in,"
Balki explains, "And every night after you go to sleep I work on it for one
hour. So . . . happy birthday." Larry looks at Balki in
confusion. "Thatís what we say on Mypos . . . because Christmas is
not just Christmas turtles and presents itís also the birthday of baby
Jesus." "Yeah, I guess I . . . forgot that, too," Larry
admits. "Well, the sheepherders never forget it," Balki says,
"We were the first ones to get the news, you know."
you, Balki, thank you very much," Larry says sincerely. Balki notices
that Larry's eyes are tearing and asks, "Are you okay?"
"Yeah," Larry says, "I was just remembering a . . . a Christmas
when I was six years old. It was the first time that I realized that my
dad buying presents for my mom and saying they were from me wasnít enough.
I . . . I wanted to get her something myself but I didnít have any money.
So I made her a . . . a potholder. And it was really pretty ugly.
But when she saw it she . . . she cried and she hugged me and she told me it was
the nicest Christmas present anybody had ever given her. And I didnít
really understand what she meant . . . Ďtil now. Balki, this is the
nicest present anybodyís ever given me." Balki places a hand on
Larry's arm. Larry suddenly brightens and says, "Wait a minute.
Balki asks. "Yes! There it is!" Larry realizes.
"There what is?" Balki asks. "It's the Christmas
feeling," Larry explains, "It's back." Just at that moment,
the lights on the Christmas tree come on and stay on. "The . . . the
Christmas lights come on," Balki observes, "Itís a Christmas
miracle!" "You know, Balki, I thought I was missing Christmas
with my family and my friends," Larry says, "But Iím not.
Youíre here." They embrace warmly. As they part, they hear
children caroling singing "The First Noel" outside. They get up
and walk over to open the window, looking down at the young carolers and sharing
a smile with each other. "Merry Christmas!" Balki offers.
"Happy birthday," Larry adds.
There are some major differences between the first draft
of the script dated October 8, 1986 and the finished episode:
- The Ritz Discount party only includes the
Twinkacettis, Balki, Larry, Jennifer and Mary Anne. It's described as
being super cheap with only a bag of potato chips and two six-packs of soft
drinks for refreshments. Everyone finishes singing Jingle Bells instead of
The Twelve Days of Christmas. After telling Balki and Larry to clean up,
Twinkacetti says to his wife "Come on, Edwina. The quicker we get to
your mother's, the quicker I can hit the egg nog." Edwina sweetly
threatens him with "When I'm ready, Donald." Twinkie becomes
milktoast and says "Didn't mean to rush you, beloved. I'll get the
children in the car." The interaction between him and he kids is the
same but as he's chasing the kids out the door Balki comments "Mr.
Twinkcetti is sure in the Christmas spirit. He can't wait to play with his
children." Larry adds, "Yeah, and he went all out on this party.
A bag of potato chips and a six-pack of discount grape soda." Mary
Anne asks, "When does this party get rolling, anyway?" "I'm
afraid it's already rolled, Mary Anne," Larry answers. "Oh, was
I late?" Mary Anne asks in a disappointed tone. "No, you were
here and having the time of your life," Jennifer replies. The girls
- As Larry is talking about the sights and smells
of the Appleton home at Christmas he adds "Brother Billy crawling under the
tree switching the names on the presents." Balki says "I'm going
to miss my family, too. But it was my choice to come to America, and I
guess I'm going to have to live with it. This confuses Larry. Mary
Anne enters and says "Balki, the radio says there's a snow storm on the way
so we need to get an early start tomorrow." Balki says, "I'll be
ready, Mary Anne." She leaves and Larry asks Balki "What is she
talking about? An early start for what?" "Mary Anne and
Jennifer . . . (pointedly) . . . my closest friends . . . invited me to go
skiing with them. I've never been skiing, but - - Wow! - - this is going
to be some fun." "But . . . you're not going with them,"
Larry says. "You bet your Herbalife I am," Balki answers.
"I can't wait to hit those slopes. I just hope I don't hit them with
my face." Larry is disappointed. "But, I thought you were
coming home with me. I made our plane reservations, I called my folks.
I've talked so much about you they think of you as an adopted member of the
family. They even have a stocking with your name on it. It was going
to be a surprise." "How thoughtful," Balki comments.
"I mean, I guess I can understand why you'd rather go skiing than go back
to Madison Wisconsin with a family you've never met. I just thought . . .
" "Why did you think I was going home with you?" Balki
asks. "We talked about it. Remember, we talked about how much
fun it'd be to get sleds and slide down the hill behind my house? And we
talked about helping to decorate the house with mistletoe and pine branches . .
. " "I remember, and it sounded like fun. But . . . you
never invited me." Larry says, "Now that's just plain
ridiculous." Balki points out, "You never said, 'Balki, would
you like to spend Christmas with me and my family?" "Of course I
did. Remember last month I said . . . (Balki shakes his head) . . . Well,
maybe it wasn't last month. But I remember a couple of weeks ago . . . (Balki
shakes his head) . . . I distinctly remember . . . (Balki shakes his head again)
Will you stop doing that!" Balki says, "I remember you never
said, 'Balki, would you like to spend Christmas with me?'" Larry
says, "Okay, maybe I never said those exact words, but our
conversations were riddled with heavy insinuations that you were invited.
I just assumed . . . " "On Mypos we have a very strange custom.
We never plan to sleep in someone else's house, unless they invite you.
They usually say something like, 'Balki, would you like . . . ?"
Larry finished the sentence with him: " . . . to spend Christmas with me
and my family?" Balki says, "Well, I don't know. I have
plans . . . with people who actually asked me . . . in advance."
"Oh, don't do this to me," Larry sighs. "What do you want
me to do? Beg?" Balki folds his arms, waiting for Larry to beg.
"Okay. Please, Balki, will you spend Christmas with me and my
family?" Balki says, "I thought you'd never ask. Now we do
the Dance of Joy." And they do the Dance of Joy.
- In this version Balki does not get as excited
when he sees the snow, instead he says "Cousin Larry, we should be leaving
for the airport." Larry assures him they have plenty of time, that he
already has their tickets and seat assignments - - they're sitting next to the
emergency exit - - "and I've ordered kosher food. It's the only thing
they make fresh." When they sit down to reminisce about Christmas
Larry also says "We all run downstairs and there's my dad in his ridiculous
Santa suit. My mom has homemade cinnamon rolls." The girls show
up and Mary Anne says, "It's still not too late to go with us, Balki.
You can sleep on the sofa." "In your room?" Larry asks,
interested. "No," Jennifer answers. Larry points up and
tells the girls there's mistletoe and they get their kisses. After the
girls leave Balki says, "We don't have mistletoe." "I
lied," Larry smiles. "Uh-oh!" Balki says, "Santa's
keeping a list and checking it twice. You're in big trouble. Me, on
the other hand, got free kisses, and I'm on nobody's list." Larry
says, "You know, I feel sorry for Jennifer and Mary Anne. It'll be
fun skiing, but to me, if it isn't Madison, it isn't Christmas."
Balki asks, "Will I get to help decorate the Christmas turtle?"
"Of course you will," Larry answers, then asks, "Turtle?"
"Yes," Balki says, then embarrassed he says, "Oh, what a dopey
guy I am. They've probably already decorated it." "I doubt
that," says Larry. "What's a Christmas turtle?" Balki
look at Larry as if he is crazy. "You're pulling Balki's hair.
The big sea turtle you decorate and put your presents under. What do you
call it?" "I'd call it a Christmas turtle," Larry agrees.
"One we don't do that in this country. Or any other country in the
civilized world. We decorate trees." "Nooo!" Balki
gasps in disbelief. "You know, I saw that in a movie once. I
thought Walt Disney made it up. Why would you decorate a tree?"
"Well, I suppose someone hundreds of years ago started doing it and it
caught on. It's fun. And a tree won't slowly crawl out of the
living room." "Good point," Balki admits. "Well,
it won't be the same. But I guess if you don't have steak, eat the
potatoes." "I was searching for those very words," Larry
says. "Just out of curiosity, how does it work with a turtle?"
Balki then explains about the Christmas turtle but does not call him Bernie.
After saying the turtle comes back every year he adds, "We don't even have
- In the next scene when Larry is trying to figure
out how to get to Madison he says "That's it! No busses.
Hundreds of people are stuck in the airport with no way out. Hundreds of
people are stuck in the snow on the highways around Madison. Why does
everything happen to me?" Balki is already resigned to having
Christmas in Chicago and says "Christmas is supposed to be a happy time and
you should try not to be so upset." "Upset? Just because
I'm not having Christmas this year? I'm not upset." "Well,
then you're definitely on edge," Balki observes. They hear children
caroling "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" outside on the street as Larry
says, "I'm not on edge!" Larry throws the window open and yells
out, "You kids stop that racket! Not everybody's celebrating
Christmas!" The kids stop singing. Larry adds, "You with
the blonde curls, stop that sniveling." Balki runs to the window and
yells out "Don't listen to him. He's on edge." He turns to
Larry and says, "You should be ashamed of yourself, yelling at
children." "They started it," Larry says.
"You're very cranky," Balki comments. "Okay, I'm cranky,
I'm on edge, I'm upset. Who wouldn't be? I'm missing
Christmas." Balki gets their coats and hands Larry's to him.
"You're throwing me out?" Larry asks. "I'm taking you
out," Balki explains. "We're going to make our own
- Balki takes Larry to the Christmas tree lot.
Larry says, "I don't want to be here. I want to be in Madison.
Right about now they're having the family snowman contest."
"Then we'll make a snowman," Balki says. "Not the same.
The snow here is gritty," Larry says. Most of the tree buying scene
is the same except the salesman doesn't have a nagging mother-in-law.
After Balki gets the tree Larry says, "No matter what you do to that tree,
you can't make it pretty." "Yes, you can," Balki insists,
"That's the difference between you and me. I see a glass half full of
water. I'm an optimystical. You see a glass as half empty.
You're a pessimystical." "I see a tree with no branches,"
Larry replies, "That's an ugly-mystical." "There's no such
word as uglymystical," Balki scolds, "We're taking this tree."
- When Balki jumps out of the closet dressed as
Santa he says, "I'm Santa and you, Larry Appleton, are on my naughty list
for kissing without mistletoe. But I'll let it go this time."
When Balki finally has had enough he says, "You've finally gotten my
goatskin." Balki also says he'll miss roasting potatoes on an open
fire, not radishes. Part of the dialogue in this version goes like this:
"And don't you think I'm disappointed I can't go have Christmas with your
family and light your Yule log, whatever that is?" Balki asks.
"Well . . . I didn't think about that," Larry admits. "No,
you didn't. You were too busy thinking about yourself. You were too
busy being a big baby. Everything you say about Christmas sounds like
you're eight years old. Maybe it's time to grow up." "But
Christmas is for kids," Larry says. "It's for grownups,
too," Balki points out. "When I left Mypos, I knew some things
were never going to be the same. That's the way it is when you grow up and
go out on your own. Grownups have to make Christmas wherever they
are." After Larry says it doesn't feel like Christmas, Balki ad-libs
angry Myposian and says, "You Americans. You have to feel
everything." "I'm trying," Larry insists. "Deep
down inside where it doesn't show, I'm really trying." It's then
Balki suggests opening the presents. After Larry opens the tapestry Balki
asks "Do you like it?" Larry says, "Yes . . . I do."
Balki says, "Well, I'm happy about that. I hoped you would . . . but
I couldn't tell. You looked like you were getting tears in your
eyes." Larry then tells the story about the potholder, which is
almost exactly the same as is in the final show. The rest is also the
on to the next episode . . .